Showing posts from November, 2011

College students, librarians, and information

Another college survey has shown what is no surprise to me or any of my colleagues at CMU based on pre-tests for our Library 197 class. College students think they know how to find good quality information online for research purposes or critically evaluate information, but they don't. They don't understand how to construct good searches and they don't think librarians are there to help them. I always tell my students "Ask a librarian!" We are there to help. A recent study of IL university libraries showed the following facts:

-students are doing the minimum to get by.
-professors think students have research skills and they don't.
-students don't often recognize that they are having difficulties
-Here's my fav quote "Students showed an almost complete lack of interest in seeking assistance from librarians during the search process." How sad is that? They need help and don't ask for it.
-Students don't know librarians or know why t…

British Library making 18-19th c. newspapers online and searchable

The British Library is making 4 million pages of 18-19th c. newspapers available online. You can search for free but there is a  charge to access pages. Among the newspapers are the Aberdeen Journal, Belfast Newsletter, Western Mail and Manchester Evening News.  A team is scanning, 8,000 pages daily, up to 40 million over the next 10 years.  To read the article from the BBCNews click here   To check out the library's site itself click here. Newspapers is the first link on the left.   It would be nice for our library to link to this site.

2 jobs at MI Tech

how to clean cathedrals with bacteria

Great amazing article on using bacteria to clean ancient cathedrals walls. Who knew germs could do this? Can I buy some to clean my kitchen floor?

wonderful illuminated manuscripts

Check out this magnificently beautiful, elegant and informative short video on illuminated manuscripts at the British Museum, seen in CNN Nov. 11.

kennedy assassination tape now for sale

A tape of Air Force One recordings recorded shortly after Pres. Kennedy was assassinated is now for sale. The tape is of in-flight calls between Air Force One, the White House, Andrews Air Force Base, and a plane with other Kennedy staff on it. The tape was originally part of a collection of JFK materials collected by Army Gen Chester "Ted" Clifton, Jr., JFK's military aide. In 1991 the Raab Collection, a Philadelphia historic documents dealer, bought it from Clifton's widow.  A copy of the tape has been donated to the National Archives and JFK Presidential Library to provide public access. Historians will spend years going over the tape and figuring out what and who is being recorded and what, if any, new light can be shed on the assassination. The asking price for the original tape is $500,000. Don't you all bid at once! An edited version of the tape also exists at the Johnson Presidential Library and has fir decades. For more see the article at http://www.cbsn…

MAC 2012 proposal accepted

Am delighted to officially hear today that my proposed MAC session and my own presentation has been accepted. The session is entitled "Hands on Plus: Working/Teaching with/about Manuscripts." I will be speaking along with Marcus Robyns of the Central U.P, and NMU Archives, Sharon Carlson of WMU Archives and Regional History Collections, and Portia Vescio will chair. We will all discuss various classes we've taught using manuscripts and teaching about manuscripts. It will be a fabulous session. I look forward to seeing everyone at MAC in Grand Rapids April 19-21, 2012.

mysterious cannonball

Sorry I've been out sick or with a sick kid since Mon. Everyone seems to be getting sick with sinus something here at CMU.  Today's post is about a mysterious cannonball. This is for all the kids out there that love things that explode.

There were no battles in Grayling, MI, involving cannonballs, yet Jeri and Dick Selthoffer found one in 1999 during home renovations. Camp Grayling is nearby, but the couple figured the army wouldn't intentionally fire at homes across the lake. Let us hope!  In 2009, Jeri saw a similar cannonball in the Native American Museum in St. Ignace. Research and discussions with expert Matthew Switlick, an artillery historian, determined that it was a 100% lead  cannonball given by the British to the Native Americans for information on the French between 1760 and 1796 when the British lost control of MI. Prized possession though it was, the cannonball was and is very heavy and eventually was lost, traded, or buried. This story was reported in the Cr…

Looted art returned to Italy and the implications for all of us

I'm quite frankly amazed that CMLife and one of my fav mags, Smithsonian, both had an article recently on stolen Italian art. The Getty paid for art whose provenance was questionable. The registrar who acquired is guilty of taking art without a strong provenance, art which was stolen. Now the Getty has returned some 40 odd small pieces and a gorgeous statue of what is thought to be Aphrodite. The book highlights the situation at the Getty but also discuses the international trade in stolen antiquities which has occurred for a long time and remains quite profitable.  I'm not talking about war lootings. Western European explorers, archaeologists, etc., took many treasurers, illegally, home to the US and Britain over the centuries. Some were put into private collections, public collections, or lost over time. Examples are mummies from Egyptian tombs and the glorious Elgin Marbles from Greece. People are still buying and trading looted art.

The implications for museums around the …

Solomon Islands archivists need a technical advisor

I just read this morning on the LinkedIN Records and Archives Research Group that the  "Solomon Islands National Archives  needs a Technical well as specialized advice and further training in all aspects of Records, preservation and management."
First I'm glad to know that the Solomon Islands has an archives. I know I can't go there and help, but I hope someone with the appropriate training, education, and experience will and soon. It is depressing to think about how a country's unique archives could be lost due to lack of appropriately trained staff. Secondly, I'm glad that LinkedIn and other social media sources that help spread news about archives. Of course this also happened in paper newsletters, but this way archivists can communicate more directly with each other. If there is a need, please can offer advice and ask questions more quickly. I wish the SI Archives the best. Archives are everywhere and some need more help than others.Here…

Awesome George Washington letter and story

Very interesting tale about a letter George Washington wrote to members of the Jewish Temple of Newport, Ct. in 1790.  The letter, which strongly emphasizes religious freedom and his respect and warmth for the congregation, is not a federal document, but in private hands and can be seen through private arrangements. It is lodged near a FED EX facility. What is its provenance? What does the letter say? A  link to a transcription of the letter is at the bottom of the article. It is beautifully written, both the penmanship and the elegance of the vocabulary. Who writes like this today?  It is majestic yet warm. English teachers could cry over it. Perhaps our candidates for president should read it.... To read and see click here.

Circus collection being processed

A large circus collection recently donated by Rev. James Challancin is being processed this term. Published materials,  such as books, programs, and serials have been cataloged. Posters and scrapbooks have been processed and now thousands of clippings, all of which have to be photocopied, tickets, advertisements, and other miscellaneous items remain to be processed.

Here is a digitized image of a damaged poster. This Adams Bros. and Seils Bros Circus poster was printed by Neal Walters Posters Corp. of Eureka Springs, Ark., and advertised the circus performance in Caspian, MI (Iron County) in 1960.

The collection has issues. A lot of it has a strong mildew smell, which is not good, and some of it has water or mold stains. Being around this smell is unpleasant even with an air filter and air freshners going full strength. Mold can spread throughout stored collections and cause health problems in people.  Because we cannot expose staff or patrons to mold, we have to withdraw moldy mate…

MAC LA Committee today

I'm gone most of today to meet with the MAC (Midwest Archives Conf.) Local Arrangements Committee. I'm planning the 40th anniversary reception, which will be delicious and fun at the Ford Presidential Museum in GR.  There is a lot of work involved in planning a reception. I'm glad I'm not on the Program Committee. In the past, I served on the Program Planning Committee  for MARAC (Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference) out east. I think it's easier, although, not as prestigious, to be involved professionally on the regional level. It works better if you have minimal or no financial support from your institution, which is increasingly the case these days. You get to know your fellow professionals. I encourage all archivists to try to be involved professionally, if possible. Sometimes there are periods where you can't be because of other commitments, time, lack of institutional support, babies, etc., but it is a great way to become involved, network, help you…

Ancient teeth, excavation archives finds Europeans are really old!

Advances in medical testing and painstaking work in excavation Archives, have helped to prove that a few teeth found in England and Italy belonged to early humans who lived in Europe much earlier than previously thought, 41-44,000 years ago. This means a few very important things. 1) people migrated from Africa and into Europe earlier than thought. 2) They lived during the time of Neanderthals for at least 3-5,000 years, perhaps longer. 3) Humans and Neanderthals share 1-4% of common DNA. This means it is highly possible that the two species interbred and perhaps that the homo sapiens killed off the Neanderthals. 4) Modern humans in Europe are older than previously thought. The teeth were found in 1927 in England and 1964 in Italy, caves there apparently being the first site humans lived in, in Europe. I want to know why. Closer, bigger caves, too tired to go further, chased by a big cat? The teeth were carefully cleaned to avoid contamination from soil and adhesives used to put the p…

Anonymous and drug cartels=not a positive association

BBCNews reported yesterday that a video on the internet since Oct. 6 is linked to Anonymous, the hackers. The video threatens a Mexican drug cartel, Zetas. I admire their spunk. One of the hackers group was kidnapped. The hackers are threatening to expose information about Zetas supporters, including police officers, journalists, taxi drivers and others. In Sept. drug gangs killed 2 people and left signs on them naming two blogs and threatening to hurt other posting info about the gangs online.  How will this end? Does Anonymous now think it is as powerful as the gangs? Will it get its hacking buddy back? For more on this see the article at

Bronze Age hoard found in Pembrokeshire, England.

The BBCNews reported on Oct 28 that a hoard of tools, other items, and a tool were found  in Wales. The hoard dates to 3000 years ago, the Late Bronze Age, 1000-800 BC. Perhaps they were part of a ritual ceremonial burial. Perhaps some guy never got to return to claim it. Fascinating. The hoard will likely be housed in the National Museum of Wales. Hoards and buried Vikings show up all the time in the UK. Is that cool or what?  Sorry no pictures. To read more click here

2 NG stories of interest.

There are two wonderful articles in this month's new National Geographic of interest to anyone with a historical bent. One is an article on the Iceman on whose body an autopsy was completed, an analysis of his tools, weapons, clothes, etc. taken. A full scale reproduction of him has been made, and, yes, he had brown eyes.

The second story in NG of interest is the huge hoard of Anglo-Saxon gold with gems and the bent cross and other objects found in a Staffordshire, England, field.  Fascinating and gorgeous. I discussed this in a previous blog.

For more information see or check out the magazine.