Off the shelf

January 8, 2013

“Going virtual” – shifting to an online environment – has huge benefits for library users. But there’s often one thing that people miss about physical libraries: looking around and discovering other useful books or articles just because of their proximity.

The library is aiming to recreate that feeling of serendipity with a virtual shelf browser, which allows users to discover materials just as they would standing in front of a real shelf — and to see physical and electronic collections all in one place.

The Physical Sciences Library is the first to test the new virtual shelf. Start with a search or just scroll through the titles.

“This service is unique in that users can gain a traditional library experience right at their fingertips,” said Jill Wilson, Physical Sciences Library outreach coordinator.

Feedback will help the virtual shelf browser improve and, eventually, be incorporated into many libraries on campus. Leave comments in the forum or email your ideas.


ILLiad’s odyssey

December 17, 2012

Every day, books and other library materials wing their way around the world through an interlibrary loan system — and now, a million different requests have flown to and from Cornell.

This month, the Interlibrary Services departments in Olin, Mann and law reached request number 1,000,000 through its interlibrary loan system, ILLiad. (The millionth title was the novel “Cloud Atlas,” borrowed from Keuka College.)

The system allows users to borrow books, articles and other items from participating libraries or universities. The library began using ILLiad in 2000 and was only the 17th library in the country to adopt the system, now used by nearly 1,200 libraries around the world.

Requests come from as close as the Library Annex to as far away as the National Library of China, and scholars around the world benefit from Cornell’s unique holdings and collections.

Trial by pamphlet

December 11, 2012

Abolitionist John Brown was executed 153 years ago this December. Now the record of his trial is online for the world to see.

Through a grant from the Save America’s Treasures program, Cornell University Library has restored and digitized hundreds of records of early American trials. The project began in spring 2011, and most of the pamphlets are online and available to the public.

These pamphlets, published between the late 17th and the late 19th centuries, were typically sold on the street soon after a trial concluded. The collection includes accounts of some of the most famous trials of the day, including the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson, the trial of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination conspirators and Lizzie Borden’s trial for her parents’ murders.

Search or browse the pamphlets and learn more about the project on its website.

Concrete oases

December 4, 2012

A little piece of the outdoors came inside this week, thanks to students from the Department of Design and Environmental Analysis (DEA).

Small sections of turf create grassy oases of calm in the lobbies of Olin and Mann libraries, as well as Duffield Hall and the Physical Sciences Building. Potted plants and comfortable chairs are placed around the grass, encouraging students to lounge during one of the most stressful times of the academic year.

DEA’s Ryan Allen-Parrot ’13 and Gilad Meron ’12 (a fellow with the Center for Engaged Learning) installed the projects, along with a “small army of people working with them,” said Eveline Ferretti, Mann’s public programs and communications administrator.

“Being in touch with nature helps people be calmer, and they feel refreshed and productive,” Ferretti said. “The library is the perfect place for it.”

Meron first installed a lawn in Mann Library last fall. “It’s great to see people willing to lay down in the grass and just relax there,” he said then.” The main goal is really to make people happy.”

Divine illustrations

November 20, 2012

Dante fans have some new territory to explore: more than 1,000 images from Cornell University Library’s Divine Comedy Image Archive (DCIA). The illustrations are available via Shared Shelf Commons, an open-access library of images from institutions that subscribe to a Web-based digital collections service from ARTstor.

The images of suffering sinners and heavenly rewards come from 11 editions, published between 1487 and 1846, of Italian writer Dante Alighieri’s masterpiece. The DCIA will eventually encompass more than 20 editions and some 2,000 illustrations, many of which are woodcut or metal engravings.

The images are part of the Fiske Dante Collection – a gift from Cornell’s first university librarian, Daniel Willard Fiske, who compiled a huge Dante collection when he retired from Cornell and moved to Florence in the 1890s.

Karen Pinkus, professor of Romance studies and comparative literature, is the faculty lead for the DCIA digitization project. It is part of the 2011 Grants Program for Digital Collections, a collaboration between the library’s Digital Consulting and Production Services and Cornell’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Let’s talk turkey (& chicken)

November 13, 2012

Move over, turkeys: Mann Library has launched a new online exhibition about the recent resurgence of interest in small-scale poultry-keeping.

Backyard Revival: American Heritage Poultry” delves into the history of raising chickens everywhere from private backyards to huge industrial operations. Individual breeds are pictured and catalogued, and digitized photographs, feed catalogs, book covers and more tell the story of the transformation. The exhibition also includes items from the Rice Poultry Collection, which is a major repository of information on current and historical poultry science.

Funding from the Mary A. Morrison Public Education Endowment made the exhibition possible; the original “Backyard Revival” exhibition, installed in November 2009, was funded through the Bondareff Family Fund for Mann Library.

Uncle Ezra is on sabbatical

November 12, 2012

The Dear Uncle Ezra website, created in 1986 as what may have been the world’s first online advice column, is temporarily closed for renovations.

“After heartfelt discussion we decided it was time for Ezra to go through a period of rest and recuperation and revisioning,” said Dave Vernon, special assistant to the vice president for information technologies.

The service was created to answer questions about Cornell rules and procedures and expanded to handle questions from “Why are hot dogs called hot dogs?” to how to mend a broken romance. Interested alumni and worried parents participated as much as students.

Now, Vernon said, Cornell information is available from an array of online sources. “We need to think through how Ezra can add a voice to what’s already there,” Vernon explained.

In the meantime, visit Uncle Ezra’s searchable archive of thousands of questions and answers.

- Bill Steele

‘The Partisan Muse’

October 30, 2012

Age-old sagas of Norwegian kings and nobility are the subject of the newest volume of the library’s “Islandica” series.

“The Partisan Muse in the Early Icelandic Sagas (1200–1250),” by Theodore M. Andersson, is volume 55 in the series, which is published electronically and in print under the Cornell University Library imprint.

Andersson is one of the leading scholars of Old Norse-Icelandic studies. This work draws on the author’s research and publication throughout his career, and serves as a study of the genesis of Old Icelandic prose literature from its roots in oral tradition to the compilation of key early sagas at the beginning of the 13th century.

An ebook of ‘The Partisan Muse’ – which can be read and searched online or downloaded in PDF format – is available on the Islandica website. Print-on-demand copies can be ordered through Cornell University Press’ online catalog.


October 26, 2012

“Terra Nova,” a new exhibition in Mann Library’s gallery space, leads viewers through a landscape of desolate beauty.

Photographer Thibault Roland’s elegant, evocative photographs capture Newfoundland’s icebergs glowing in the dark sea, the sky hanging vast above the moors and the wind speaking in waves and clouds.

Roland is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute postdoctoral fellow at Cornell in biophysics. “Terra Nova” will be on display in the Mann Gallery through Oct. 28.

Man o Mann

October 23, 2012

Mann Library turns 60 this fall and Manndible Café turns 5.

Visit Mann Lobby at 3 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 25, to celebrate the dual milestones with Manndible-made cake, giveaways and raffle prizes.

Those wearing 1950s librarian clothes and get a free cup of coffee.