The Digital Public Library of America launches!

April 18, 2013 : The DPLA launches!

As part of the ever-expanding role of libraries in the digital age, the launch of the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) must count as a remarkable event. Fully open, that is, without any gated components whatsoever, the DPLA will provide platforms for contributors to build on, with the almost mystical goal of amassing and making available all manner of information sources, with an emphasis on that which is not currently accessible, thus multiplying the benefits of the Internet for generations to come.

Anyone of us who at some time has valued primary sources—correspondence, working papers, diaries, minutes, inventories, genealogies, photographs, maps, blueprints, sound recordings, in sum the documented traces of human history—has occasion to celebrate this “greatest digital history project of all time” as those steering at the helm envision it. Inspired by Europeana Library and the Trove Project of Australia, and vastly more capacious than commercial initiatives such as Google Books, the DPLA not only has partnerships underway with a myriad state and university archives, but also with the national libraries of France, Ireland, Great Britain, Netherlands, Germany, and Norway.

Innovations such as “Workstream” collectives charged with governance, finance, and constructive channeling of input, to say nothing of the idea of the “Scannebago” (a mobile scanning unit designed to be sent out to digitize local archives), have engendered a certain excitement. A chronicle of how the idea got off the ground, owing to the efforts of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, has been cheerfully and succinctly outlined by Robert Darnton in the New York Review of Books:




Library staff recommendation: The Dharma Bums

The Dharma Bums
by Jack Kerouac
Greenfield Open Stacks 813 K459d

The Dharma Bums, written in 1958, is one of Kerouac’s greater works, in my opinion. It follows the story of Ray Smith (Kerouac), a gritty young man travelling about with nought but his rucksack, and his friend Japhy Ryder (poet Gary Snyder) as they explore the meaning of zen and life in jazz clubs and on mountainsides. A number of other notable figures appear as well, including Allen Ginsberg (as Alvah Goldbrook) and Neal Cassady (as Cody Pomeroy). To me this book is an ideal companion for those seeking some truth in themselves and in nature. I  believe there is something zen-like that occurs when The Dharma Bums is read in the company of grass, birds, and sun. The rhythm of Kerouac’s prose always reminds me of spring.

Dharma [dahr-muh, duhr-]
noun Hinduism, Buddhism.

  1. essential quality or character, as of the cosmos or one’s own nature.
  2. conformity to religious law, custom, duty, or one’s own quality or character.
  3. virtue.
  4. religion.
  5. law, especially religious law.

Zen [zen]

1. a Japanese school of 12th-century Chinese origin teaching that contemplation of one’s essential nature to the exclusion of all else is the only way of achieving pure enlightenment.


Recommended by Casey Murphy

ARTstor Digital Library drops Java: upcoming changes in ARTstor

ARTstor will be performing an upgrade on Tuesday, April 16th between 6:00 AM and 1:00 PM that will eliminate the need for Java in the ARTstor Digital Library. After the upgrade, single image downloads will be delivered as Zip files.

Users downloading single images will receive a Zip file that contains a JPEG image and an HTML file with the image information. ARTstor has step by step instructions on how to download single images as Zip files here. Mac users should have no problems opening the Zip files, but Windows users may need to install new software. ARTstor recommends 7-Zip, available free at

The change to Zip downloads will only effect single image downloads; image group downloads into the Offline Image Viewer will remain the same.

During the upgrade, ARTstor will still be accessible, but users may experience some slowness. If you experience any difficulties after the update, please clear the cache on your browser and restart your image browser. If you have any questions or concerns about using ARTstor, please contact Laura Grutzeck, The Visual Resources Librarian, at




Library staff recommendation: Furoshiki: The Art of Japanese Wrapping Fabric

Furoshiki: The Art of Japanese Wrapping Fabric
By Kanako Hamasaki, Kazuya Takaoka
and Hiroshi Yoda
Greenfield Open Stacks 746.0952 H172f

“Beginning in nothing and ending in nothing.”

Furoshiki are traditional Japanese wrapping cloths used to transport wares or to decorate and protect gifts. These promote caring for the environment and reducing waste. They represent varying symbolic meanings and often convey compliments or feelings of thanks as well as politeness, dignity and respect. They are designed so they display beautifully when wrapped and the methods used to do the wrapping can also convey a whole language of meanings.

This book features 160 pieces of furoshiki from the collections of manufacturers in Kyoto, Miyai, Okaju and Chiso.

Recommended by Barb Danin