delphipsmith: (BA beta)
Just got back from the SAA conference in Cleveland (if you ever get a chance to eat at this place don't pass it up it is To Die For) and my little fangirl heart is very happy. There was a great lightning round (where lots of people talk one after another very quickly) on collecting fandom, and then later three of us did a panel discussion on archival and primary source material in dystopian/horror fiction. Fabulous.

Pursuant to that, Archive of Our Own recently announced that they'll be importing en masse yet another archive of fanfic, this one relating to Seamus Finnegan and Dean Thomas of the Harry Potter books:

The Seamus/Dean Forever Archive was a Harry Potter archive which was active from approximately 2002-2005...Open Doors will be working with Miss Cora, the moderator, to import Seamus/Dean Forever into a separate, searchable collection on the Archive of Our Own. As part of preserving the archive in its entirety, both its fanfiction and fanart will be hosted on the OTW's servers, and embedded in their own AO3 work pages.

I'm happy to say that this isn't the first time AO3 has taken on a preservation role for fanfic collections. They've imported others in the past, as part of their Open Doors project. They're also encouraging people to document the stories surrounding fan communities via the Fanlore site.

So if you know a fan archive that's become -- or about to become -- defunct, or if you have an archive you can't or don't wish to maintain any more, contact AO3. If you have a story to tell about a fan community, or about how you got into fandom, visit Fanlore and preserve it for posterity.

And please spread the word: what we do has value, don't let it get lost!
delphipsmith: (modern quill)
LetterMo2014squareI wish I'd heard about this a week ago, because this makes me a week late getting started, but I want to participate in Mary Robinette Kowal's A Month of Letters. I love what she says about it: "When I write back, I find that I slow down and write differently than I do with an email. Email is all about the now. Letters are different, because whatever I write needs to be something that will be relevant a week later to the person to whom I am writing..."

To do this properly, I need 20-22 people to send things to, so if you want something -- a letter, a card, a postcard, a small marsupial with a stamp on its back, whatever -- please leave a comment and PM me with your address. I'd love to actually make my target of something every day in February. I have offline friends and family who can fill in the gaps, but I don't know if I can get to 22 without you, so help me out!

In other news, Marvel Comics has launched a site to send superhero geeks into a frenzy: a humungous comic books image archive spanning 75 years. And it comes with an API so clever codey type people can do neat things with it!

Ka-Pow! Marvel Opens Massive Comic Book Images Archive And API To Fans, Developers

The API -- which will include comic book artwork, character histories, creator insights, and expanded stories -- will grant members access to an expansive database of Marvel's library of 75 years of comics, including over 30,000 comics, 7,000 series, and 5,000 creators. This move gives developers the tools to create their own Marvel-based apps and digital offerings...

And for the francophiles in the audience, we have "Farting Angels and Ass-Slapping Aristocrats: A Web Archive Reveals the Weird Side of the French Revolution":

Shackles broke, kings fell, and heads rolled. The French Revolution was one of the most dramatic social explosions in history, and its aftershocks still ripple through Western culture 200 years later. And now, thanks to the French Revolution Digital Archive, any Francophiles with an Internet connection has access to over 14,000 newly released images from the bloodbath. Quel bonheur!

This one appears to be saying that teeter-totters are miraculous, but perhaps I'm misinterpreting...

Also OMG DID YOU SEE BIG BANG THEORY TONIGHT?? (Warning: Spoilers if you click through) First time ever a tv show has actually made me gasp :)
delphipsmith: (snape applause)
Very cool!!

"Over six hundred historic photographs of London, never seen in public before, have been published for the first time...The collection features images of most of London's landmarks, churches, open spaces, statues and buildings, alongside social and cultural scenes from the Victorian to the inter-war period..."

read full article

The entire set of images is published in The Gentle Author's London Album.
delphipsmith: (bookgasm)
I just learned that E. L. Konigsburg died last Friday. She's the author of one of the books that got me started on my long and winding trek towards being an archivist: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, in which two children hiding out at the Metropolitan Museum sort out a donor's idiosyncratic filing system for her archives and thereby verify the creator of a mysterious statue. Made me fall in love with archives, primary source research, and the enchanting quirkiness of people's personal papers, an appreciation I have not lost to this day :) She also wrote what might have been my first introduction to witches*: Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley and Me, Elizabeth** I highly recommend it.

So goodbye, E. L. You will be missed.

* though not magic -- I believe that honor goes to The Book of Three, age about, I dunno, seven?
** and I believe those two titles probably make her number one in average number of words per title.
delphipsmith: (magick)
An early work by Hans Christian Andersen has been found at the bottom of a box near the Danish fairy tale writer's home city, experts say. How amazing is that? A brand new fairy tale by THE author of fairy tales! Apparently it's called Tallow Candle and is about candle that's all neglected until someone notices its worth. Sounds a bit like a wax Velveteen Rabbit (which that one always makes me cry -- I can't even explain the Velveteen Rabbit to somebody without crying).

So yay, new fairy tales :)
delphipsmith: (library)
I'm a sucker for stationery (pay attention, sekrit santas!) but I'm almost as much a sucker for gorgeously illustrated calendars. For years, my mom's traditional Xmas gift was the Brothers Hildebrandt's Tolkien Calendar, and believe it or not I still have all of them.

Therefore I must plug two awesome calendars. The first is Great Moments in Library History, a very clever and funny calendar which includes the introduction of the large print book (20,000 BC) and the first reference librarian (109 BC, "The oracle is in").

The second is the Sci-Fi Fantasy Pinup Calendar, which was conceived and executed by sci-fi/fantasy author Patrick Rothfuss as a benefit for Heifer International. Mine just came in the mail and the Terry Pratchett page is gorgeous. I may have to go as her for Halloween next year...
delphipsmith: (vampyyyr)
CodexThere were two excellent aspects to this book, and two not-so-excellent.

The first excellence was the highly detailed and very true-to-life descriptions of rare books, special collections and archives. In one scene the main character, Edward, visits a fictional rare book library in Manhattan called the Chenoweth. Poor Edward is flummoxed by everything he encounters: the numerous different catalogs (books here, manuscripts there, backlog in the other place; a third of their holdings in the electronic catalog, a third on little index cards, a third uncataloged entirely); reading room etiquette (he tries to talk to someone, can you imagine??); where the books live (only three bookshelves are visible, all full of books about books), and so on. "The whole operation was a model of mysterious, gleaming efficiency, like some incomprehensible ultramodern public restroom."

Plus there are student assistants wheeling squeaky carts, patrons at other tables looking at folders of letters, red velvet bookweights, a "serious little magnifying glass that looked like demilitarized Russian spy gear," and lots of very sharp pencils.

My archivist's heart was deeply, deeply satisfied by this, not to mention vastly amused. Later they go to the Chenoweth's offsite storage in Virginia where, three floors below ground, they find a fenced-off corner piled with dusty, broken-down, moldering boxes and cartons containing donations made long ago and never processed. This also made me laugh. (Thank god the velvet bookweights were red, not green, otherwise I'd suspect that he'd modeled his descriptions on my own workplace!)

The second excellence was the curious story-within-a-story: Gervase of Langford's weird and disturbing narrative, with its stag-headed knight, Mobius-strip storyline, and page covered in black ink. Margaret, the medievalist who helps Edward in his quest, explains how alien this kind of story would have been to the era in which it was written, in almost every way a complete anachronism. She also offers a brief but accurate history of how people's view of the purpose of writing has evolved in the last 500 years or so, including how suspicious people were of the idea of the novel and reading for pleasure.

So yay for the vivid descriptions of many wonderful old and rare books, and the delights of a hunt for a mysterious ancient manuscript.

Boo, however, for a gaping plot hole and an ending both disappointing and anticlimactic. The gaping plot hole is that no satisfactory explanation is given for how the Duchess knew what was in the Gervase of Langford book. If no one had ever seen it, and indeed most scholars thought it never existed, then how could the Duchess possibly know that it contained anything she could use to ruin her husband?? And if the events took place 700 years ago, who would possibly care?? The disappointment of the ending lies in the fact that (a) it all boils down to the cliche of an alcoholic and vengeful woman who wants to get revenge on her husband, for no reason we can see; and (b) Gervase's odd and fascinating tale turns out to be totally irrelevant, since all that matters are the illuminated capitals!! Most vexing.

That said, the two "boo" components didn't outweigh the fun I had with all the rare-book-and-archives lusciousness. If like me you love that sort of ambiance, you can still enjoy this -- just be prepared for a somewhat limp ending.
delphipsmith: (library)
Finally wrapped up indexing the 400+ page book on Masonry (some very interesting stuff in there, let me tell you) and am at last freeeeeee to do something entertaining...for about 15 minutes before I collapse into bed.

So I share with you this, which totally made my day. Anyone who works in special collections or archives, or who has done research there, you'll appreciate this. For those of you who don't, or haven't, trust me: this is really, really, really true.

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delphipsmith: (bookgasm)
Two recent college graduates sit in nameless, faceless cubicles, staring at glowing blue computer screens. One laments, "It's like my four years of college just went down the toilet...I'm not helping anyone!" The other says wistfully, "I just wish we could find something better."

Suddenly, a huge majestic half-naked figure (a bit like an older Thor) appears behind them. "YOU SEEK ADVENTURE AND PURPOSE? SEEK NO MORE, FOR YOUR SEARCH HAS BORNE RIPE FRUIT! BEHOLD, I AM...LIBRARIAN!!!!"

Yup, it's a comic book -- a very funny, original, creative and (I think) effective PR project from Emporia State College's School of Library and Information Management. Read the whole thing here.
delphipsmith: (classic quill)
I don't like sticky posts -- they take up too much real estate on a small screen -- and I'm not prolific enough for the "fanfic" tag to be very visible in my tag cloud, so to make it easier for people to find my other fics I've added links (<= <= over there in the sidebar, see?) to them on AO3 and here on LJ. Hopefully that will be enough for anyone who wants to find them. (For anyone who isn't yet using AO3, I highly recommend it: well organized, aesthetically pleasing, easy to use both as reader and author. I have one invitation left to give out; if anyone wants it let me know.)

I want to do the "fic traffic meme" that's circulating, but don't have time today so perhaps tomorrow. (Perhaps I will be surprised by something and can use it as one of my "100 Surprises"!)

Now back to editing that 300+ page tome for my client from Kentucky (yup, cattle-ranchers write books too!).
delphipsmith: (pretty hair)
Optimistically overlooking my inability to crank out acres of fabulous words for SSIAW, I've signed up for [livejournal.com profile] luciusbigbang. Eek. I have no plot bunnies gamboling about, no drafts lurking in drawers awaiting rescue, no idea what I will do, so it's anybody's guess what the outcome will be. (Sadly, I've already written my Modern Major Death Eater piece, so that's out.) I like Lucius as a character but I find him more difficult to write than Severus, possibly because he's not as complex a character. Of course, as we all know, "It does not necessarily follow that a deep or intricate character is more or less estimable..." etc etc etc.

Other Notes of Note:

SSIAW week 3 is in full bloom, but my buds thus far remain tightly furled, alas. What with words like "doxy" "perdition" and "inoculate" staring me in the face, it's going to be a hard slog. (The moderator CLAIMS she chooses the words randomly, but one can't help but wonder...)

Wrote to my newspaper today as they have cruelly disappointed me by bailing on the Doonesbury/ultrasound story arc. They ran Monday's and Tuesday's, which got my hopes up ("Yay, my hometown paper has GUTS!"), then suddenly replaced today's with a re-run from months ago. Grrrrrr.

Fab article in the New York Times about "the slam-bang world of pulp magazines" exhibit. Since pulps were the original publishers of science fiction, fantasy, and speculative fiction they hold a special place in my heart, so I really enjoyed this piece. Hope to get to NYC in the next few weeks (Alan Rickman, my love, I know you're waiting for me!!) and maybe see it.
delphipsmith: (library)
I love to find representations of archives and archivists in fiction. Dracula wants his books cataloged? Yes! Scholarly commentary on non-existent tomes? You bet! Footnotes with citations to fictional reference works? I'm so there!

So, for anyone else who loves that sort of thing and who's also on GoodReads, I've started a new group called Arrangement and Description: Archivists at Large. Step on over and join if you're interested!
delphipsmith: (roses)
This man rocks. Yes Shakespeare, yes Robbie Burns, yes John Donne, yes e.e. cummings, yes Countee Cullen, you are all wordsmiths of the human condition and I love you all. But if you want it raw, unvarnished, unpolished -- if you want it straight from the gut, perfect in its imperfections -- Bukowski is your man.

Go Charles. Couldn't have said it better.

In my work, as a writer, I only photograph, in words, what I see. If I write of "sadism" it is because it exists, I didn't invent it, and if some terrible act occurs in my work it is because such things happen in our lives. I am not on the side of evil, if such a thing as evil abounds. In my writing I do not always agree with what occurs, nor do I linger in the mud for the sheer sake of it. Also, it is curious that the people who rail against my work seem to overlook the sections of it which entail joy and love and hope, and there are such sections. My days, my years, my life has seen up and downs, lights and darknesses. If I wrote only and continually of the "light" and never mentioned the other, then as an artist I would be a liar.

Censorship is the tool of those who have the need to hide actualities from themselves and from others. Their fear is only their inability to face what is real, and I can't vent any anger against them. I only feel this appalling sadness. Somewhere, in their upbringing, they were shielded against the total facts of our existence. They were only taught to look one way when many ways exist.

This is an excerpt. Thanks to Letters of Note (an awesome site, go visit them) for posting the full letter + transcript.

As a follow-up, read Bukowski's poem about the cat. If this doesn't touch you, you must be some sort of alien observer and not human at all.
delphipsmith: (magick)
For some reason I seem to be on a Russia roll at the moment...

The Library of Congress has a new online exhibit of a whole collection of beautiful color images from Russia -- which date from 30+ years before color photos were actually possible! The first color film (Kodachrome) came out in 1936, but a Russian photographer named Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii came up with a way to create color images (though not print them) way back in the late 1800s/early 1900s. He had the idea of taking three black and white photos of a subject -- one through a red filter, one through a green and one through a blue -- and then back at home he would project the three negatives together, each one through the appropriate filter, onto a white sheet or wall. (His projector looks a bit like a stoplight, with three lenses.) The blended RGB light created color images, just like it does on TVs or computers today. Pretty amazing!

The Library of Congress has his negatives and they've created color prints from the RGB negatives. The photos are GORGEOUS -- this page of the exhibit has some of the best ones with the lushest colors (the Emir of Bukhara has a particularly lively robe). The main page for the exhibit has a bunch of information about the photographer and a detailed explanation of his process as well as the process the LOC used to create the color images for the exhibit.

Go. Look. Marvel.
delphipsmith: (Elizabethan adder)
Just discovered a good aggregator of special collections and archives jobs and internships, right here on our very own LiveJournal. Those of you looking for something new -- or just something, full stop -- take note of [livejournal.com profile] archivesgig!
delphipsmith: (library)
First, the good news. The MARAC conference this past weekend went very well, my bit was well-attended and (I think) effective in getting the basic groundwork of its subject across. Did a little schmoozing and networking. Met an archivist from the Woody Guthrie Archives and one from the Rockefeller Foundation, which was cool. Archivists are found in such interesting places, places you'd never think about. I mean, who wouldn't want to be the archivist for the Metropolitan Opera or Blue Man Group, or the reference librarian for NPR?? There we are, working away in the background, making sure things are where they're supposed to be and questions can be answered. Go us :)

Also -- bonus! -- I had the opportunity for a lovely long chat over wine with the very talented and intelligent [livejournal.com profile] ennyousai. We swapped book recommendations, theorized about why so many librarians and archivists write fanfic, and agreed that Patrick Stewart and Derek Jacobi could read, oh, the telephone book and we would still be giddily enthralled. We also shared our puzzlement over why libraries all seem to feel they must be on Facebook. I mean, if you're a fan of the library, you're already a fan of the library, right? A Facebook page is unlikely to persuade throngs of library non-fans to come to Jesus, as it were, so what's the point? It just becomes a time-suck and yet another place that has to be kept up to date and interesting. Like we don't all have enough work to do, what with backlogs and reference requests and so on and so forth.

The bad news was family: my grandfather died on Friday. He was in his 90s, very frail and in hospice, so it wasn't unexpected, but still...he and my grandmother were married almost 70 years and I don't think they've spent a night apart in, well, ever. So we're leaving Thanksgiving day to go back to my home town to spend a few days with her, and for the memorial service on the 30th.

I have wonderful memories of him -- he was a huge fan of the Bugs Bunny Roadrunner Show and of Hogan's Heroes (he was a pilot in WWII), and I remember sitting on his lap as a child watching them with him. I still think of him when I hear the Hogan's Heroes theme song :) When I was little and staying with them, my grandmother would let me bring him his coffee in the mornings. I remember myself at maybe seven years old, carrying the coffee mug ve-e-e-ery carefully, setting it on the bedside table, and carefully prodding the big mound under the covers that was my grandfather. He would be all covered up with just his wild hair showing, all sticking up like porcupine quills, and he would open one squinty eye (he was NOT a morning person LOL!) and one hand would snake slo-o-o-owly out to get the mug and pull it in. Then in about half an hour he'd finally be awake, and if it was Saturday, we'd pile into his big lounger chair and watch cartoons together. Once when my brother came to visit, he complained about Mom forcing him to eat veggies and my grandfather sent him home with a signed certificate saying he didn't have to eat broccoli LOL! And then there were his sneezes. They started somewhere around his toes and you could hear them rumbling upwards until they arrived with something like Force 5 on the Richter scale :)

He was smart and funny and kind and generous and very, very dignified, and I will ♥ miss him ♥...
delphipsmith: (gumbies)
On outbound train Wed 6am, ten meetings in two days, up to catch homebound train Sat 3:30am. My brain feels like an overstuffed pillow, I have twenty pages of notes and, according to the shoulder that had to carry the bag, brought back seventy-three pounds of documents for review. On the plus side, it was all very interesting, the food in DC was excellent as always, and my hotel was full of highly distinguished looking people from (possibly) the Senegalese Embassy which turned out to be right around the corner.

I'm exceedingly pleased to be home.

Another plus -- the night before I left I got the second of four SSIAW pieces up. Next one is due the 21st, only two days away, and thus far the word list is not inspiring me (cue ominous music...)
delphipsmith: (roses)
Spent the holiday weekend doing THINGS I WANTED for a change. Go me :)

♥ Worked on first SSIAW* for my writers' group; story has a beginning and an end but way too much middle, and the far end of the middle doesn't yet connect with the end. Not sure how to rein this in, and I only have until midnight tomorrow night to sort it out.

♥ Got all my fic posted to Archive of Our Own. I'm impressed with the site thus far -- design, functionality, features, layout, everything.

♥ Spent a radiant half an hour laughing myself into hiccups over Hyperbole and a Half's latest gem, on the Four Levels of Social Entrapment ("Trying to end a conversation in the grocery store is like battling a sea monster that has an infinite capacity to revive itself..."). Go. See. Giggle.

♥ Positively devoured more books than any human being should in three days, as follows:

- Sister Emily's Lightship, a terrific collection of retold/reimagined fairy tales by Jane Yolen. Since it's SSIAW in my writers' group I'm trying to soak up all the tips and tricks I can on short stories, but beyond that she's a great writer. Some of the stories were in the Ellen Datlow/Terry Windling fairy tale collections (e.g. Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears) but most were completely new to me. The title story turned me off -- just a bit too off-beat -- but the rest were excellent.

- The Book of Lost Things, an excellent story that includes remaginings/retellings of fairy tales, by John Connolly. Reminded me in many ways of a darker, more mature version of The Poor Little Rich Girl. His version of the seven dwarves is positive genius! Get the later edition that includes his notes at the end on the various fairy tales, plus the original Grimm versions.

- Faithless, by Joyce Carol Oates. I'm trying Oates yet again, having failed with two of her other novels (them and I forget the other one) and been left permanently scarred by one of her short stories ("Where are you going, where have you been"). So far it's not looking promising. She's an excellent writer, that's clear, but the characters are all so unlovable and unlovely, so damaged or stupid or just plain unpleasant, that it's hard to enjoy spending time with them.

- The Fifth Child by Doris Lessing. Doris is another one that I sometimes have trouble with. I disliked The Golden Notebook, was moderately impressed with A Survivor's Tale, and was captivated by her Shikasta series (which I still haven't finished). With this one I can't tell if it's meant to be a metaphor for the compromises one makes as one gets older, and the pain that results, or if it's meant to be literally about an evil changeling child. Either way, it's gripping, horrifying, and very, very desolate at the end.

Sadly, tomorrow it's back to work and flailing madly in a sea of emails and meetings. Blech.

*SSIAW = Short Story In A Week

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