Gabriel García Márquez’s Archives Now Online

University of Texas bought Gabriel García Márquez’s archive in 2014, and the Harry Ransom Center in Austin has now released the complete digitized collection. This includes rough drafts and manuscripts, unpublished work, notes, letters, and an audio recording of García Márquez’s Nobel Prize in Literature acceptance speech from 1982.

The online archive, made up of roughly 27,500 items, was digitized over 18 months thanks to a Digitizing Hidden Special Collections and Archives award from the Council on Library and Information Resources. The archive is available for free to a worldwide audience, and is presented in both English and Spanish. All of García Márquez’s works ,along with PDFs of scrapbooks and notebooks, are text searchable. They can be viewed in Mirador as a part of the Image Interoperability Framework as well. The descriptive metadata has also been made available to the general public under the Creative Commons CC0 license.

Typically, a digitization product surrounding an author who’s works are still under copyright faces publication and access issues. However,García Márquez’s family has taken a more generous and access oriented approach, which has allowed the Harry Ransom center to make a vast majority of the archive available for free.

Here is the New York Time’s article on the release of the archive:

Here is the UT News article on the release:


-Katie Wolf, 653-01

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Different Strokes for Different Folks

In a New York Times article published on December 7th, 2017, the repeatedly debated topic of uniting the Brooklyn and Queens library systems under the New York Public Library system comes to the surface again. Instead of directing the audience one way or another, the article educates on why they are separate in the first place, and why some feel it’s better left that way.

When it comes down to the wire, it seems that money is the beginning and the end of the discussion. At a time where there were numerous, independent libraries operating throughout Manhattan, wealthy benefactors such as John Jacob Astor, James Lenox, Andrew Carnegie, and former governor Samuel J. Tilden have paved the way for the success of NYPL. (Interestingly enough, the two iconic lions that watch over the steps of the flagship Bryant Park NYPL branch were nicknamed “Leo Astor and Leo Lenox” in the 1930s).

Image result for NYPL lions

(Image Source)

Carnegie really pushed for the unification of libraries with a whopping $5.2 million donation to create 65 branches. The libraries in Queens and Brooklyn didn’t fall under this effort. The reason for this is that they two boroughs wanted to hang onto their independence and felt their unqiueness would be overlooked if they combined forces.

Since then, the issue has come up over ideas of better controlling costs, but there has been “little appetite” for merging. Queens and Brooklyn libraries feel they are in touch with their own communities’ needs and apply for their funding through the city the same way NYPL does. Therefore, there is really no need.

Not to mention, the way they organize and keep track of their materials varies. NYPL and Brooklyn use barcodes and Queens uses radio frequency identification. If they feel that this works best for their organization, it shouldn’t be forced to change.

  • Jacqueline Black – LIS 653-03

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A Man Who Wanted to Classify the World (review)


A few weeks ago we watched in class A Man Who Wanted to Classify the World, a documentary about Paul Otlet. It was interesting to learn about the man who invented an international classification scheme called Universal Decimal Classification used for books, photographs and other documents. It was clear it wasn’t an expensive production but it was well-done either way. Some scenes were unintentionally funny but kept it interesting. I do wish the Closed Caption was better since I prefer to read the subtitles when I watch a movie just in case I’m not familiar with the word – it helps advance my English as it is my second language. Overall, it’s an informative documentary, and I love documentaries!!


Anamaria Guzman

LIS 653_03

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A Film’s Success Spurs the Long-Overdue Opening of an LGBT Archive in Paris

120_battements_par_minuteIn 2020, a new archive dedicated to LGBT+ history in Paris will open, thanks to the success of 120 Beats per Minute (120 battements par minute), a film about Aids activism in 1990s Paris. 120 BPM premiered at this year’s Cannes Film Festival and quickly garnered critical acclaim, winning the Grand Prix and many other awards since then. As Anna Sansom at The Art Newspaper explains, this archive has been in the works for the past 20 years. Financed in part by the French state and the City of Paris, the archive will potentially open in the Marais, the center of French queer culture, and will place emphasis on accessibility to researchers. Bruno Juilliard, deputy mayor of Paris in charge of culture underlines the importance of this archive, “The City of Paris has a concrete commitment towards appropriating the heritage of this activist battle and preserving its archives, and if there’s a city that is legitimate in archiving this activist battle, it’s Paris.”


120 BPM trailer (English):


Kristen Tivey, LIS 653-01

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The Man Who Classified Music

Meet the man classifying every genre of music on Spotify — all 1,387 of them

Do you prefer ‘neurostep’ or ‘vapor house’? Spotify’s ‘data alchemist’ is using technology to help identify new musical trends.

Songs are analyzed by Spotify’s music-intelligence division for a number of factors including tempo, acoustic-ness, energy, danceability, strength of the beat and emotional tone.

(Headline and photo from The Toronto Star, Jan. 14, 2016)

If Paul Otlet was “the man who classified everything”, Glenn McDonald may be “the man who classified everything in music”. The article I’ve linked to here describes a fascinating effort (by digital music service Spotify) to re-classify all of world music, in a way that’s scientifically based. In Spotify’s virtual musical Mundaneum, computers use algorithms to “listen” to international tracks to identify similarities and differences, and then categorize the songs. Afterwards, Spotify’s human “data alchemist”–McDonald–researches and provides descriptors for each new subcategory. So far, over 60 million songs have been analyzed.

The result is an unusually minute and objective picture of world music (see for McDonald’s highly addictive interactive map). In this tag cloud,  “Nordic house” shares weird similarities with “Italian disco”, “Australian dance” and McDonald’s own category, “deep filthstep”—a collocation which a purely human listener might not have been able to pin down.

(Photo of Star)

Just another top-down taxonomy with non-hierarchical keywords? Maybe. Either way, McDonald has found an appealing and imaginative way to classify some of world music’s less-known “fusion” sounds, which might otherwise have fallen into “the space between genres”.

Posted by Rose Kernochan, LIS 653-01

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University of Iowa cataloging 4,000 tiny literary jewels

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On NBC Nightly News Films on November 30, 2017, University of Iowa has 4000 special collections, which are miniature books. All of them are measuring three inches or smaller. In the video, the School of Library and Information Science student Bethany Kleunder who has cataloged one thousand of them. She showed a copy of Dante’s Divine Comedy printed in nineteen century, some religious books, colorful novelty version of Shakespeare and flip book of a boxing. These tiny prints are called Fly’s eye type and they’re done by hand. Some are religious in nature conveniently carried in a pocket and some tiny books were mailed in an envelope with Christmas card in the 1960s. The intricate art form can be traced back centuries and still retains a strong appeal. Charlotte Smith is the collector and donor of these miniature books.

Hsiu-man Lin ,LIS653-01

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The Mashantucket Pequot Thesaurus for American Indian Terminology

It is fairly well known that the Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) are problematic in endless ways.  However, one way in which the biases and marginalization of people is most apparent is within the Native American subject headings.  Issues only begin with the fact that many personal and tribal names are misspelled or incorrect, information about Indigenous Americans is relegated to the history section, and using biased language to reshape or downplay traumatic history (e.g. using the term “relocation” instead of “removal” or “genocide”).

While there has been efforts by individuals like Sandy Berman to change the LCSH, Indigenous groups have also been making strides.  The Mashantucket Pequot finally obtained federal recognition after many years of having to assert their existence.  The belief was held by many, including the U.S. government, that they were “extinct”.  Following their recognition as a sovereign government many community projects began such as the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center (MPMRC) which included not only the museum but an extensive library and archives as well.

While constructing the MPMRC, the library ran into a problem: categorizing their material.  LCSH were incorrect, misspelled, and at the time didn’t even have authority files for Indigenous Nations (LOC didn’t begin creating them until 2005).  Because of this, the MPMRC began to develop the Mashantucket Pequot Thesaurus for American Indian Terminology.  The purpose of this thesaurus was not only to organize the information within the MPMRC but the idea was that it could serve as a reference guide for the LOC when creating their subject headings.

Though the Thesaurus is still in draft form, it is being carefully developed and recently received a trial run in 2015.  This is a groundbreaking system that relates more to the Indigenous ways of knowing that encompasses more than just documents and text that are so important to the Western way.  This system is highly relational and circular instead of being rigid and taxonomic like “traditional” organizational systems.  It’s hoped that after it’s completion, it will be able to serve as a model for other tribal governments to create their own, specific organizational structures.  Again, despite differences in beliefs among groups and tribes, this would be possible because of the relational nature of the Thesaurus: no one concept is more important than the others.  In this way, it can easily be adapted to other Indigenous belief systems.

I’m excited to see this project once it has been completed and the impact this will have on the subfield of Indigenous knowledge organization.  Not only that, but I hope that the LOC will indeed use this thesaurus to create accurate and meaningful subject headings for materials in their collection.  Below are links to both the MPMRC and the article detailing the Thesaurus and how it operates, was conceived, and examples of application.

-Joshua Coty, LIS-653-03

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Mapping Paintings

This past summer, Boston University professor Jodi Cranston created Mapping Paintings.

Hyperallergic describes Mapping Paintings as “an open-source, searchable platform for compiling provenance data for individual artworks (not just paintings, despite its name), from owners to past locations to details of sales or transactions.”

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The project grew out of Jodi Cranston’s earlier website focused solely on mapping the provenance of Titian’s work (Mapping Titian).

The Kress Foundation and Boston University fund the new expanded project, and the current effort is the addition of works from the Kress Collection, which are primarily Italian Renaissance paintings. Cranston also adds works from other museum collections (if the data is available), and users are encouraged to add provenance information, which is published on the site once approved by the administration team. This is particularly helpful for art historians looking for a visualization and/or a record of provenance. If their painting(s) are not on the site, they can create their own record(s).

As of now, the art represented on Mapping Paintings is overwhelmingly Renaissance. However, the open agenda and accessibility of the site present clear opportunities for growth.

Mapping Paintings
Twitter: @mappingpainting

Kristen Tivey, LIS 653-01


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Are you Sitting Down?

Herbert Mitchell, a librarian at the Columbia University Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library from 1960 to 1991 was what you might call an “extreme collector” (or maybe a hoarder, depending on your perspective). He couldn’t resist the ephemera of history, collecting everything from photographs to architectural hardware by scouring flea markets and estate sales. In his NY Times Obituary from 2008 his lawyer describes the things he collected in his apartment as his “children”, saying, “If he liked it, he bought it…and he bought everything. That’s why he ended up with no money. He said, ‘I just like having beautiful things around me.’ ”

Mitchell’s collections have been a boon to archives and libraries, with many of his photographs going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Photo Collection in 2007, including nearly 4,000 stereographs of Central Park and New York City.

In addition Mitchell collected countless portraits in the form of tintypes, daguerreotypes, and ambrotypes.  Among these are several photographs from the Victorian era of men displaying unusually close body language that the online magazine Mashable recently published a story on. Although the photographers, origin, and sitters identities are all unknown, Mashable’s cheeky subhed is “brotherly love” and the story is clearly trying to imply a whole lot while saying very little.


Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

To be sure, these postures would have been considered unusually intimate for portraits between men and women too in Victorian times, when rigorous formality dictated everything. The expense and time required to make a photograph was significant and photography was considered more a scientific “copy” of a person’s likeness than an art form.   The casualness and affection displayed in these photos would not have been common under any circumstances, but “heteronormative” images would probably not draw the same scrutiny as these images do.


Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

However, the Victorians were more inconsistent in their attitudes toward sexuality than they have a reputation for. What’s more the very word “homosexual” didn’t yet exist.  In History Magazine, Emma Mason writes, “The key problem when considering Victorian sexual morality, however, is the poverty of language that the society of the time had to conceptualise, and therefore decry or celebrate, sexual diversity. The concept of gay men did not properly exist in Victorian England, for instance, because there were no established words to describe them.”

It is difficult to look at these images with modern eyes and not read the sitters body language with modern culture for reference, to interpret anyone other than a child sitting in an adult’s lap as anything but intimate. However, it seems equally presumptuous to interpret any clear messages about the sitters sexuality or relationships to one another in a larger context outside of the picture itself. The poses in these images immediately made me think of the infamous photo of Donna Rice sitting in Gary Hart’s lap that brought down Hart’s presidential bid overnight in 1987. That’s some serious 20th century baggage to bring to 19th century images.


Courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Is it possible that modern times have effused a man’s every move with even more puritanical inference than the Victorians did?  After all there are cultures where male family members hold hands when walking down the street, where men greet each other with kisses on both cheeks. And if these were photos of women instead of men would we approach them differently? Is jumping to conclusions about a subject’s sexuality as oppressive as denying it?

How should the Metropolitan Museum of Art handle their classification so they may be most relevant and accessible to those who might want them? Assigning classifications based on sexuality is complicated and speaks not only to how we see the past portrayed but how we think our society has “evolved” to view it in the present. The question is do we try to classify these photos as we imagine the subjects saw themselves back then or do we classify them as we see them now?

As for Mitchell’s collecting these, I have found no information as to whether he associated these photographs with each other as a collection of if a curator found their commonality after the fact while sifting though piles of photographs. I think knowing this could be informative, but certainly not decisive, in knowing what to make of them.

-Micaela Walker

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Representing the Legacy of Paul Otlet

When we watched the Otlet documentary “The Man Who Wanted to Classify the World,” I was struck by the contrast between its tone and that of the Brainpickings blog post “The Birth of the Information Age” by Maria Popova that we had read beforehand.

The documentary gives an overall impression of ineffectuality. There was initially a quaintness surrounding Otlet’s privileged upbringing, and then his work with La Fontaine earned a Nobel Prize, flamed brightly on the world stage and was briefly recognized during his lifetime. But ultimately the key takeaway is one of loss: the Nazis destroyed much of his Mundaneum archive, and this tragically only continued in the post-war period, to the tune of 70 tons of materials apparently neglectfully destroyed in 1980, lost to the dustbins of history.

Even though the documentarians promoted the rediscovery of precious archival materials now preserved in the Mundaneum archive, the documentary addressed the more superficial aspects of Otlet’s contribution to the information age.

The Brainpickings blog post is a book review of Cataloging the World: Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age, by Alex Wright. With many quotes from the original text, this post delivers a much more compelling perspective on the influence of Otlet on information science and indeed the whole of the twentieth-century information age.


This review provides a better sense of the power of Otlet’s legacy, which was, as Popova describes it, the inspiration to “generations of information science pioneers, including the founding fathers of the modern internet and the world wide web.” Popova — and through her, author Wright — provide a sense of Otlet’s higher purpose and the huge idealism that drove his ambition to change the world for the better, all beginning with a better cataloguing system. Here Popova quotes from Wright’s book:

“But in his writing he looked far ahead to a future in which networks circled the globe and data could travel freely. Moreover, he imagined a wide range of expression taking shape across the network: distributed encyclopedias, virtual classrooms, three-dimensional information spaces, social networks, and other forms of knowledge that anticipated the hyperlinked structure of today’s Web. He saw these developments as fundamentally connected to a larger utopian project that would bring the world closer to a state of permanent and lasting peace and toward a state of collective spiritual enlightenment.”

The Brainpickings post leaves a much more lasting impression of Otlet’s influence and significance than the documentary can. And for those who are looking for important and influential historical women figures in this world, you will find a valuable hook at the end of the post:

“And lest we forget, it all started with a woman — Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron’s legitimate daughter and the world’s first computer programmer.”

Featured image: Paul Otlet in 1932, months before the Nazis destroyed his Mundaneum (Mundaneum Archive, Belgium)

Mary Ellen Curley, LIS 653-03

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by Hugh McLeod

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