This is what a 16th century e-reader looked like

Figure CLXXXVIII in Le diverse et artificiose machine del Capitano Agostino Ramelli, an illustration of a bookwheel. Public Domain marked. Source: Wikimedia Commons

It’s easy to take thousands of books on holiday with you these days thanks to the e-reader, a device that can store enough books to keep you reading for months. E-readers are especially great for people who like to read lots of books at once as they automatically remember where you left off last time.

But they’re nothing new. As early as 1588, the Italian military engineer Agostino Ramelli invented a device that allowed people to read multiple books at the same time, without having to worry about remembering page numbers. The so-called bookwheel (or reading wheel) could hold many (heavy) books, so it was possible to change books with minimal effort. The device provided a comfortable reading chair and through a sophisticated mechanism — similar to that of a ferris wheel — the books would remain facing upwards while the wheel turned. [read more]

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The Grolier Club: n. 19 of the 50 Obscure and Amazing Places To Visit in 2017


Rare Book Room of the Grolier Club / Allison Meier Atlas Obscura

Established in 1884, the stately Grolier Club is a center for the celebration of the beauty and art of books.  As the oldest bibliophilia club in North America, the private club has been in its current home on the Upper East Side since 1917 and regularly hosts public exhibitions on the literary arts, with past shows focusing on wunderkammers, microscopes, and symbolism, always concentrating on books as art objects.  The Grolier Club also holds a research library packed with texts on the literary arts, such as bookbinding and illustration. Its name is a tribute to Jean Grolier de Servières, a 16th century French bibliophile and collector.
source| 50 Obscure and Amazing Places To Visit in 2017

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Nimble – a concept of using augmented reality in library

Nimble – Augmented Reality book-based library from Sures Kumar TS on Vimeo.

Nimble is a concept by Google engineer Sures Kumar; it is based on using augmented reality in libraries, such as a digital library card that navigates you to the desk, or a mixed-reality library desk which interacts with books and journals that you place on it and acts like an ebook.

As Kumar explains on his website, “Nimble shows what a mixed touch, digital, projection, and book-based library might look like. This is relevant because people still like the tactile feel of books and other printed media and they also like to browse. The project also allows to collect and sort out notes and highlights from the books you are reading.

Rather than trying to find a book with the Dewey decimal system, you can navigate spatially and orient yourself in the direction of your search using the digital search compass.”

Armen Petrosyan, LIS653-01

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Parking tickets are the worst

653 post

But it turns out that a ton of issued tickets aren’t even legitimate. And for that knowledge we have Ben Wellington, a former Pratt adjunct, to thank. Wellington discovered that, thanks to a change in laws that many officers weren’t up to date on, millions of dollars of tickets had been issued to and paid by a plethora of (likely very annoyed) New Yorkers. Wellington requested and was given access to parking ticket data from the NYPD and, from there, plugged in the data and reached the conclusion that New Yorkers were paying millions every year being ticketed for a law they weren’t even breaking. And as it turns out, that’s not the only glaring error that Wellington has caught. Check out his blog for more. Http://

For the full story on those rogue parking tickets, go here.

Melisa McCarthy LIS653-02

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The Digitization and Organization of Alan Lomax’s Music Recordings Online


Alan Lomax, shown here in 1992, envisioned creating a searchable database to archive music that he recorded from around the world. Credit G. Paul Burnett/The New York Times.

For this article, the author, Andrew R. Chow, explains how the Association for Cultural Equity (ACE) is digitizing and organizing the collection of music recordings of Alan Lomax (the founder of ACE, who passed away in 2002) on a new online database, called “the Global Jukebox,” as a way to further Lomax’s musical research.  Alan Lomax spent his life working to archive and share traditional music from all over the world, recording music from famous musicians like Woody Guthrie to more obscure ones from Haiti to the British Isles, all the while developing classification systems to organize this music and discover connections between cultures.  Lomax envisioned a database to store this music with the development of computers in the 1980s, and started to work on a “global jukebox” to store thousands of dances and songs “cross referenced with anthropological data.”  In an interview, Kathleen Rivera, who is a research associate working for ACE, stated that, “The project was very ambitious for the point in time that Alan was working in…He was poring over these punch cards and computing systems for entire days. His vision couldn’t match the technology that he had at the time. Today, we have the system that can make it all very clear for people.”  With modern computer and internet technology, Lomax’s vision is now reality, as “the Global Jukebox” that ACE has created consists of a searchable database online on an interactive website.  This website is free for anyone to use and arranged with a map and by culture, where users can learn about and listen to over 6,000 songs that originate from 1,000 cultures, and many of these songs are from Lomax’s personal collection of musical recordings.  The recordings that were digitized for this database project came from hard copy originals in the collections of the Library of Congress and include songs recorded by Lomax from around the world, such as Romanian harvest songs from 1954 and a 1941 ballad to John Henry from Asheville, North Carolina.  This database also greatly emphasizes analyzing these recordings using “cantrometrics,” which is a system that Lomax created in order “to break down music into variables like tonal blend, melodic range and social organization of vocal lines.”  This article shows how databases are being used to organize new types of information, such as songs, and how this makes them accessible.  Now that these songs recorded by Alan Lomax are digitized and made available online, anyone online can go onto “the Global Jukebox” database and listen to the songs he recorded for free.  In the end, this article shows how databases of digitized collections are making information more free and accessible to users by organized it online.

Posted by Alexander Vastola, LIS-653-02, Spring, 2017

Chow, Andrew. R. (2017, April 18). Alan Lomax recordings are digitized in a new online collection. The New York Times. Retrieved from

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David Letterman’s Unlikely Archivist


Amid the confines of a cramped apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side exists what may very well be the most comprehensive archive of any late night television show. Don Giller, a music typesetter by day and a David Letterman superfan by night, has taken on the unofficial role as archivist of the Late Night With David Letterman. Giller’s collection, which takes up the bulk of his apartment, spans an endless mazes of shelves filled with VHS tapes stacked from the floor all the way to the ceiling. Giller began recording the Late Night, which debuted in August of 1993, from the beginning. At first he recorded only the audio of every show, but eventually he bought a VCR and began to tape the show on a nightly basis. Early on Don began to keep scrupulous notes, which eventually led to his creation of a database that includes his personal accounts of segments, jokes, and Letterman’s infamous top ten lists.

In the 1990’s, Giller joined message boards dedicated to David Letterman, and because of his collection and expertise, he became a celebrity among Letterman fansor what he refers to as “like-minded psychotics”and earned the nickname “The Donz.” Giller’s obsession with collecting dates back to his childhood in Baltimore when in 1963 he recorded the assassination of John F. Kenney with his reel-to-reel recorder. This eventually lead to him documenting his college marching band and later on Academy Award broadcasts, Saturday Night Live, and presidential inaugurations. When asked why he records everything Don’s says “That’s what I do,” and, “I always liked making lists and trying to get a handle on something that interests me.” Over the years Don’s collection of episodes, along with his extensive collection of notes and recollections, has proven to be an valuable resource for Letterman aficionados, journalists, and at times even the staff of the show.

Don is currently in the process of digitizing his collection of all 6,028 episodes of Late Night, a task he hopes to have completed by 2018. When asked whether or not he’s ever met Letterman, Don says that they have met several occasions, but that their encounters did not add up to much. He hopes to someday have the opportunity to meet Letterman again and have a longer conversation, because as Don says “I’d like him to know what I did…[t]he question is: Will he give a crap? I need to be prepared that he won’t and accept that.”

Ryan Marino, LIS-653-02, Spring 2017

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BookExpo 2017


BookExpo, the largest annual book trade fair in the United States, taking place on May 31 – June 2 at the Javits Center in New York City, offers a full line up of events for readers, publishers, librarians and educators.

At BookExpo teachers and students can find books for any grade level, and librarians and educators can discover the latest books, advanced reader copies from the newest authors, and galleys that will be buzzing for the summer and fall seasons. Readers can meet, engage with, and get autographs from hundreds of authors.

In previous years the trade fair was held in Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington.

Retrieved from

Armen Petrosyan, LIS653-01

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The Haskell Free Library and Opera House


The Haskell Library is famous for being built on the border of the US and Canada, in the province of Quebec and Vermont. The black border strip divides the building into two parts, but since all the books – 20,000 volumes – are on the Canadian half of the building, Haskell Library is called “the only library in the US with no books.” On the second floor of the building there is a small opera house for 400 spectators. The theater is also called the only opera house in the US without a stage, because the stage is also on the Canadian side. The library itself has two addresses – Canadian and American, and two telephone numbers with two different international codes.

The collection of books is presented in two languages, English and French, and the books are co-filed. Since the two languages have different rules for spine titling – in American English the title direction is top-to-bottom, in French bottom-to-top – you can easily determine the language of the books.

Retrieved from

Armen Petrosyan, LIS653-01

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LODLAM Summit 2017 – Technical Challenge Entry: Tag The Web Project

The main purpose of this project is to create a universal classification on the Web based on the common sense rather than on a traditional classification system created by domain experts. That is, we believe it is easier to an ordinary user access and retrieve information from a Web created by people to people rather than by experts. The proposed method is a general purpose classification that is able to classify any text-based content on the Web, for instance, from scientific articles to even tweets. At the current stage, the proposed method is able to classify any content in English and can be accessed at Read more here and play.

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FDR Library Launches Holocaust Project


The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum has launched Henry Morgenthau, Jr. Holocaust Collections: A Curatorial Project, which will bring together Holocaust documents dispersed in various collections throughout its archive.

The papers of Rudolph Vrba, who, at 19, escaped from Auschwitz-Birkenau, and was one of the first to write of the Nazi plan to exterminate Europe’s Jewish populations, have recently been added to the FDR library collection, and will be one of the major resources for this project.

Associated Press. (2017, April 24). Holocaust records project launched at FDR Library and Museum. The Washington Post. Retrieved from

Meghann McKale 653:01 Sp17

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by Hugh McLeod

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