11/28/2012

Folk Songs and Light Bulbs

From Wikipedia
Let me just preface this post by saying: I am not a librarian -- at least not in any technical sense. I never went to school... never even thought about going to school... actually, before I started working here, I'm not sure I even knew there was such a thing as a degree in library science. I just hung around a lot of libraries, used them a lot, read in them a lot, napped in them more than a few times before class, so when I started working here as a student it fit naturally. But possibly because I never studied libraries or the science of them, never really considered them in anything resembling a holistic, or comprehensive way, I still, even after a few years working here, find myself astounded at some of the things I find from time to time, usually by accident, doing this or that at work.

I'll share just a few quick examples:

  • The Library of Congress website: If you've ever been to Washington (and this being Baltimore, there is a pretty good chance that you have) more than likely someone -- a tour guide, a cab driver, a cousin -- pointed this building out to you. It gorgeous (see above). The library does exactly what it says it does: it's the library for congress. So unless you're a representative or senator, or an aid to one or the other, you can't actually check books out of the building. But, there is enough on their website to keep even the mildly curious happy for a while. A few suggestions: 
    • The American Folklife Center: Here you'll find digital transfers of wax recordings made around the country in the 1930's and 40's (folk songs, sea shanties, field hollers, Native American rituals, etc.), as well as pictures and maps of historical America.
    • Alexander Graham Bell Family Papers: This site doesn't have quite as much info, but what it does have I think is pretty interesting: scans of Alexander Graham Bell's journal (containing many preliminary drawings for future inventions), and letters to and from him and his family (including one from Mark Twain, where he (jokingly) berates Bell's father-in-law for telephone service that always seems to cut out when he's practicing his cursing).


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