Saturday, July 28, 2012

Newspaper and Current Periodical Reading Room at the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress is the ultimate special library. Taken as a whole it's in a class akin to national libraries around the globe. The library is comprised of many buildings, divisions, and collections. It's too difficult to cover the library in one post. This is the first in a series of posts about the special collections and reading rooms found within the Library of Congress (LOC). The LOC has hosted a series of webinars through Fedlink about Area Studies. I attended a recent one titled "Research Treasure Troves of the Serial & Government Publications Division: Collections and Services" (Link to Webinar) which was hosted by the Serial and Government Publication Division of LOC. The webinar was entirely fascinating, however what impressed me most was the revelation that Library of Congress preserves an impressive collection of Comic Books.

The Library of Congress has many reading rooms for researchers to access the plethora of materials in the collections. The Newspaper and Current Periodicals Reading Room is inside the Madison building, one of three LOC buildings on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

I have not yet found the time to visit this reading room, but hope to eventually. For those not able to make a trip in person, some resources are available online through the division's work with national programs such as the National Digital Newspaper Program, some webcasts about the collection, search tools, and a bibliography of Internet resources outside of the Library of Congress. The bulk of the collection is only available inside the reading room, however some duplication services may be available for off site patrons, for a fee.

The Comic Book Collection at LOC is probably one of the largest in the United States. Full access to the fragile materials is limited to serious researchers, but there are an extensive number of titles available in the Comic Book Fiche collection which can be photocopied following the general photocopy guidelines. For some instant gratification, and fun times also check out the digitization project at University of Nebraska - Lincoln Libraries, Government Comics Collection. These two covers, taken as screenshots from the digital copy online link to the full online version. These are just two of the many gems worth browsing through in the University of Nebraska Libraries digital collections.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Vacation, all I ever wanted...

The blog is on hiatus for three weeks. New posts will start again July 29th. For updates about new posts, follow me on twitter @catzegcat, or Subscribe to the Feed

I would also like to take this moment to encourage any readers out there who would like to contribute to this blog, to contact me at catzegcat (at) Pictures, a full post or even just a tip about a great special library I should research is much appreciated. Let me know about the great special libraries in your area and I'll write about them here so we can all become a fan.

Bondi Beach, Australia

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Libraries without Books

Merriam Webster defines 'library' as "a place in which literary, musical, artistic, or reference materials (as books, manuscripts, recordings, or films) are kept for use but not for sale" or "a collection of such materials" as the first definition. The second definition is the topic of this week's post as well as an ongoing series of "collection[s] resembling or suggesting a library." There are many library collections that comprise physical materials. These are considered libraries because they function as a library, a "collection of materials that are kept for use but not for sale." Museums tend to be look don't touch to preserve objects for posterity, while libraries (and archives) are for the most part hands on working collections.

[I wrote this post before the news broke about the ATF losing 1,400 guns in an unrelated project, but still wanted to feature the tracing library despite the news.]

First up, the ATF Tracing Center's gun library, which was featured on Minnesota Public Radio in 2011. The tracing center is, among other things, a resource for law enforcement to trace guns used in crimes. The center receives over 300,000 requests to trace in a year, and keeps a library of over 12,000 firearms as reference for their work. This picture taken from the article is one of many fairly impressive shots of the extensive collection. Check out the article for more photos. Lucky the person who scored the job as library staff here.

Another common library of physical objects are tool lending libraries. The Berkley Public Library tool lending program. Their program began in 1979 through a grant and is one of the earliest public library tool lending programs.
There are many tool lending libraries in the United States, and Share Starter provides a handy online guide for starting a tool lending program in your area. For more heavy duty projects, there are also subscription services such as Tech Shop where you can gain access to very expensive equipment for those projects you just can't do at home. Here's a shot of the gardening tool collection at the Fletcher Free library in Burlington Vermont (taken from this Wikipedia Article)

There are many more libraries of physical objects outside the standard print, audio, and video media collections than can be covered in one post. These libraries will appear as an ongoing theme of libraries without books, keep checking back for more special libraries to love.