I like to think of the Global Seed Vault as a form of archive and library. I can only imagine how they have catalogued and organised all those seeds!
The vault is supposed to be
an impregnable deep-freeze to protect the world’s most precious seeds from any global disaster and ensure humanity’s food supply forever.
Unfortunately, even deep in the Arctic circle it is still not perfectly safe. An archive/library’s worst nightmare – FLOOD. According to The Guardian, due to climate change and much warmer temperatures than usual, loads of melted snow and rain have breached the vault!!
Thankfully no seeds were harmed. But this questions the vaults ability to preserve the seeds for eternity, and also shows the dramatic effects of climate change. I’ve seen flooding before in a library, and its not a pretty site. Paper clearly does not withstand water very well. I can’t imagine having the responsibility to preserve my library items for eternity!
Here are two very interesting and LARGE projects being undertaking by two different libraries.
First, Harvard Law Library is digitising around 40 million pages to create a searchable and FREE database of American case law! Usually you have to pay a lot of money for subscriptions to databases that supply this information, so this is an exciting step in providing knowledge to the public as well as increasing access to justice. Entitled the ‘Free the Law’ project, I hope to see other institutions follow suit, as well as the incorporation of other legal information in addition to case law. As a law graduate and a librarian, it is worrisome to see how little the layman understands and can source information on their own rights within our society. This leads to a lack of autonomy and power over ones life and choices, as well as fear due to lack of knowledge, which in the end means large corporations and governments have the ability to take advantage of the general public.
Of course, the thought of all those books spines being ‘chopped off’ to enable scanning is a little unsettling, but such is the price of progress! They do say all the spines are re-attached though thankfully. You can read about the project, due to be completed in 2017, in the New York Times article here.
Second, The National Library of Australia’s preservation team has managed to very cleverly remove stains from old adhesive/sticky-tape on many of their items in the display for their William Strutt exhibition, Heroes and Villains: Strutt’s Australia. Seeing the comparison photo’s makes it look like the team has waved a magic wand – I hadn’t realised it would be possible to so perfectly remove such stains without affecting the works in any way!
Reading the process is fascinating, the library must have had a team of scientists helping – I can barely even pronounce the chemical names let alone fully understand how it worked! You can read their blog post about how they achieved this feat and see some pictures.
These projects show the amount of care and patience librarians have for their collections and their work. We are a fabulous bunch aren’t we? 😉
Last night I attended the annual Whyte Memorial Lecture run by Monash University. It is a free event and one worth attending if you are in the GLAMR field.
“The annual Whyte Memorial Lecture celebrates the legacy of the late Jean Whyte and her sister Phyllis. Professor Jean Whyte was the foundation professor in the Graduate School of Librarianship at Monash University. The sisters left generous bequests to Monash to support research in librarianship, archives and records, and to support the library’s research collection in English literature, librarianship and philosophy.” (Monash University website)
This years topic was ‘Keeping, forgetting, and misreading digital material: libraries learning from archives and recordkeeping practice’ presented by Professor Ross Harvey from RMIT University. The event was live tweeted and you can get a broad idea of the event from Jaye Weatherburn’s storify here.
In the invitation I received to attend (as a Monash alumni) the topic was described: