Rare Book Monthly

Articles - March - 2011 Issue

New Thinking about Some Old Ideas

Change

The Library of Congress in 35 minutes

The news arrived on page D2 of the ever-thinner San Francisco Chronicle on Friday 25th that “Thunderbolt ups new MacBook’s speed, power.”  The story focuses on a new technology – Thunderbolt – “to speed up the transfer of data between different components of a computer and eliminate the restrictions of copper wire.  Using the technology, it would be possible to transfer a full-length Blu-ray movie in less than 30 seconds, and a digital version of the contents of the Library of Congress within 35 minutes…”.  Hum….

I’m not sure who will want to have a personal copy of the Library of Congress inventory but its nice to know that, if the LOC permits, I can have one in thirty-five minutes.  I don’t think I’ll need one however.  I have, as do you, access to the same records online and I don’t use them much.  They are so yesterday. 

As for downloading a Blu-ray movie I don’t do that either although there is talk in our house about doing it.  By comparison, no one here has mentioned downloading a digital copy of the Library of Congress but I’ll keep you posted.

Implied in the Chronicle piece is the assumption that the LOC inventory, like a Blu-ray movie, contains something I should want but I’m not so sure.  A generation ago it was de rigueur to have an encyclopedia in the house.  Now we look online.

Movies are going through their own transition but their appeal is not in question.  The digital content of the Library of Congress is another kettle of fish.  The importance of the LOC records is primarily relational.   It is what they have.  As such the information in the LOC is probably not something I’ll need a copy of, only access to when records in it resonate with results in other databases.

Google will in time create an Internet relational database experience and all records in the LOC become part it.  They won’t be lost or become irrelevant but their power will be in their relationship to other records.  On a small, but complex scale, this is what we have already done on the Americana Exchange by combining three databases into a single search:  material in upcoming auctions, in Books for Sale and in the historical records in the AED.   It contextualizes the search and we are moving into a world of contextualized results.

 

The internet will in time retrain the human mind to think relationally – that is to see, feel and understand the relationships between things and concepts - from the closely associated to the widely disparate.   The LOC, as a single set of facts, will be useful but not crucial as we become ever more reliant on the emerging meta-data approach.   

 

In a few years this will be a common experience.  When it becomes the Google experience it will transform, by reordering, our thought processes.  For today those using the triangulated search on AE are early adapters of what will become an extraordinary transition in how we think.  It’s just a beginning.  It turns out old books can still teach some new tricks.

Rare Book Monthly

  • <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> Scott Joplin, <i>Treemonisha: Opera in Three Acts,</i> New York, 1911. Sold March 24 — $40,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Louisa May Alcott, autograph letter signed, 1868. Sold June 2 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Anne Bradstreet, <i>Several Poems Compiled with Great Variety of Wit and Learning, full of Delight,</i> Boston, 1758. Sold June 2 — $21,250.
    <b>Swann:</b> William Shakespeare, <i>Comedies, Histories, and Tragedies. Published according to the true Originall Copies. The Second Impression,</i> London, 1632. Sold May 5 — $161,000.
    <center><b>Swann Auction Galleries<br>View Our Record Breaking Results</b>
    <b>Swann:</b> John Bachmann, <i>Panorama of the Seat of War,</i> New York, 1861-62. Sold June 23 — $35,000.
    <b>Swann:</b> Charlotte Bronte, <i>Jane Eyre,</i> first edition, London, 1847. Sold June 16 — $23,750.
    <b>Swann:</b> Elihu Vedder, <i>Simple Simon, His Book,</i> 1913. Sold June 9 — $12,350.
    <b>Swann:</b> Frederick Catherwood, <i>Views of Ancient Monuments in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan,</i> London, 1844. Sold April 7 — $37,500.
  • <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> George Washington ADS, One of the Earliest in His Hand, A Survey from 1752, the Same Year He Inherited Mount Vernon.
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    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Benjamin Franklin Signed Receipt for “Pennsylvania Gazette,” Important & Beautifully Displayed
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Lincoln & His Civil War Cabinet: 8 Signatures, Beautifully Presented!
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    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Jefferson Davis ALS: “the negroes are humble and generally inclined to cling to their masters…neither crop or stock could be protected from their thieving” – Incredible!
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Lee Harvey Oswald Signed Letter: “if we finally get back to the states…maybe we’ll…settle in Texas,” Warren Commission Exhibit.
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Babe Ruth First Edition Biography Signed Just Months Before His Death, Excellent Signature!
    <center><b>University Archives<br>Rare Autographs, Manuscripts & Books<br>August 17, 2022</b>
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> “B Arnold” ANS on Pre-Revolutionary War Promissory Note Dating From His Days as a New Haven Merchant
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Bob Dylan Signed LP “Blonde on Blonde” with Jeff Rosen COA.
    <b>University Archives, Aug. 17:</b> Marilyn Monroe & Joe DiMaggio Signed Checks, Handsomely Displayed.

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