Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Random Thoughts on Libraries and Books

We’re having a September heat wave here at the beach, not conducive to thinking. So today you get random thoughts on libraries and books, things I’ve heard about recently.
The fairly new Manhattan Beach Library

Earlier this month, I read an article about a new imaging technology that can read closed books. MIT is developing a terahertz wave camera that will eventually be able to read the text on a book without it being opened. There are books in libraries and research institutions that people are afraid to open because they’re so fragile. Once this technology is perfected, they’ll be able to find out what’s in these books without worrying about destroying them. So far it’s in the prototype phase. For more details, including a short video:

Then there’s X-ray microtomography, similar to a CT scan, which scientists have used to read text in scrolls that are too fragile to unwrap. They discovered that the Ein Gedi scroll, discovered in a synagogue that was destroyed in AD 600 and looks like a lump of coal, contains the beginning of the book of Leviticus. This technique was also used on papyrus scrolls from Herculaneum, a city that was destroyed during the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.

Pretty interesting and exciting developments.

Then there’s Benjamin Franklin. I had heard that he was instrumental in the development of the lending library here in the U.S., but didn’t know many details. Apparently, he helped found the Library Company of Philadelphia in 1731, America’s first lending library and the predecessor of our free libraries. Franklin served as the librarian for the Library Company from 1733-1734. So, Ben Franklin was a librarian, however briefly!

While looking into Ben’s activities, I discovered this site, The Library History Buff. It’s full of all kinds of info on libraries and, yes, their history, including vintage postcards of libraries, and all kinds of links involving libraries.

And there’s National Hug a Librarian Day, which is August 25th. And International Hug a Librarian Day is March 1st, though there seems to be some confusion there. Anyway, I’m not sure I’d actually hug a librarian unless I knew them well, but we can show our appreciation by saying nice things to one. Then there’s Library Lovers Day on Feb 14th.

Those are my random thoughts for today. Hope you found some of them interesting.And if you happen to be in Manhattan Beach, CA on Monday, October 17th, I'll be on a panel there with Lida Sideris, Sarah M.Chen and Jennifer Chow at 7pm.

No comments: