Turing archives finally find a home

This is a Tuesday, June 25, 2002 file picture, showing a four-rotor Enigma machine, right, once used by the crews of German U-boats in World War II to send coded messages, which British World War II code-breaker mathematician Alan Turing, was instrumental in breaking, and which is widely thought to have been a turning point in the war. AP Photo/Alex Dorgan Ross. By: Jill Lawless, Associated Press

Although Alan Turing is celebrated for his contributions to code creation and translation, his personal relationship with Britain was not always as favorable. Finally his papers, which recently went untouched at auction, have found a new home thanks to aid from the National Heritage Memorial Fund.

Art Daily has more on the acquisition. 

Hot baths extra – a glimpse into the making of Earth sciences – Research – University of Cambridge

“The best analogy of how an archivist approaches an archive is that of investigators arriving at a crime scene- you have to be really careful not to destroy any of the tiny clues within it.” 

-Sandra Marsh, Archivist, Sedgwick Museum, Cambridge

Read about Ms. Marsh’s recent processing and discovery into the personal lives of scientists and scholars at the University of Cambridge


Weird collecting

Brian Herzog’s re-cap of the re-defining libraries PLA conference lecture has got me thinking again about what it means to collect and how that benefits your user groups. Centralized libraries of course are obligated to collect materials from a wide range of subjects to offer the best of every discipline for their patrons. But what really brings the masses through the doors? Why, specialized collections, of course!

Understanding your community and it’s needs is essential to any business. Why should libraries act any different? Herzog gives a few key examples:

Seed library

San Mateo is a “food desert” so this encourages people to eat healthier. Partnered with a group called Collected Roots – they help people created a raised bed in their backyard, and teach them how to plant (all for free).

How it works

  • all seeds are donated
  • people write down what seeds they’re taking (comes with info on when and how to plant
  • people don’t need to return seeds (also don’t want seeds that have been cross-pollinated


Total cost to set up: $30 – seed boxes from IKEA ($3/3 boxes), a binder (library already had). Shelf to hold boxes was donated by local artist who built it from recycled wood.”

This is an amazing way to not only teach, but involve the patrons in the beautification of their own surroundings. What’s interesting as well are the possible patron reactions:

“What? Seeds at the library? I’ve GOT to see this.”

And there you have another person walking through your doors.

Here are some weird and wonderful collections that are found by simple Internet searching; most of them accurately representing the communities they serve:

Showgirl Collections-University of Las Vegas
Westerville (Ohio) Public Library– Anti Saloon League Museum and Prohibition collections
Duke University– Medial Library collection of glass eyeballs

Does your local library have any weird collections? What collections keep bringing you back to the library?