What in the World?


Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. Right off the elevator on the 3rd floor there’s an interactive video presentation of What in the World?, a 1951 Penn Museum-sponsored and produced show that highlighted their collections in a popular game show format. Hosted by then- Museum Director Dr. Froelich Rainey, each show featured two academics and one special celebrity guest. (Vincent Price appeared on more than one episode!)

Dr. Rainey was an anthropologist and teacher, who later worked as an Archaeologist for the University of Pennsylvania. Rainey saw the post-War roles of Museums as that of teaching tools rather than closed academic repositories. Bringing people to Museums proved difficult, so he instead decided to bring his museum to the people through the new advent of popular television.

The exhibit, created by New York-based artist Pablo Helguera, features an Introduction to the show and Rainey [which YOU can view by clicking on the image above] as well as several museum artifacts. Each artifact corresponds to video footage of the show’s ‘contestants’ trying to decipher its ages and historical significance.

Several episodes of What in the World? have been digitally archived and are available for viewing  at the Internet Archive.

Until visiting, I was unfamiliar with Penn Museum and it’s contributions to the community.  This introduction to Rainey, his achievements as Museum Director, and his television program aimed at open, entertaining education provided an excellent stepping-off point to the rest of the exhibits!



Let’s all read some comics outside tomorrow!

August 28 is Read Comics in Public Day!


Well, its not a registered holiday fit for greeting cards, but it’s an important day nonetheless. When I read comics outside I get the opportunity to talk to people on a personal level about reading comics in a non-judgemental, constructive fashion! People get to bypass the antiquated stress associated with walking into a comic book shop and ask simple questions about the joys of reading.

Grab a comic and join in the conversation! Take a photo of yourself reading outside and submit it to encourage others! 

Twitter:  @comicsinpublic
Flickr:      flickr.com/groups/readcomicsinpublic


The History of the Olympic Pictograms

An amazingly articulate, informative, and insightful history of graphic design and our cultural history as it pertains to our beloved international meeting of the bodies, The Olympics.

Of all the instances in which graphic communication is necessary to transcend language barriers, the Olympic Games are, if not the most important, probably the most visible. We take the little icons of swimmers and sprinters as a given aspect of Olympic design, but the pictograms were a mid-20th Century invention—first employed, in fact, the last time London hosted the games, in 1948 (some pictographic gestures were made at the 1936 Berlin games, though their mark on international memory has been permitted to fade because of their association with Third Reich ideology).

The 1948 London pictograms were not a system of communication so much as a series of illustrations depicting each of the competitive sports, as well as the arts competition, which existed from 1912 to 1952 and included architecture, literature, music, painting and sculpture. In 1964, the Tokyo games took pictogram design to the next level by creating a complete system of typography, colors and symbols that would be applied across Olympic communications platforms.

Pictograms for the 1964 Tokyo Olympic, designed by Katsumi Masaru (image: Virtual Olympic Games Museum) [Smithsonian blog]

Read more here, at the Smithsonian blog. Hat tip to BoingBoing for the original posting

It’s what’s inside that really counts

So recently, Google and Google Maps have created the option for retailers, museums, airports, etc. to upload indoor floor maps to their already-existing Google Map locations. Awesome, right? For example, let’s take The Mall of America, a frequently visited yet-oft-lost-in location. Here’s a screenshot from a GoogleMaps  Blog page from before, and then with the new features:

See how awesome the additional detail could help a shy, confused customer? 

I’m sure folks have already thought about this, but wouldn’t this feature really be excellent for libraries as well? Some libraries are so large and so filled with wonderful things, that a patron could easily get lost, mesmerized, or sidetracked from their intended purpose; Sometimes librarians are too preoccupied with another request to give simple directional assistance; Sometimes patrons just want to explore on their own!

Library map features could include:

  • Floors labeled by call numbers
  • Locations of specific pieces of art, terminals, and Info spots with real, live help
  • Locations of self-service checkouts (if any)
  • Locations of bathrooms
  • Locations and links to any archives or special collections
  • Hours of Operation, Exits, and how to sign up for a library card

It’s really up to the library and how they cater to the community! What do you all think? Does your library have something like this already? Let me know!

Happy Birthday, Automat!

Courtesy of the Atlantic and Wikipedia Commons

“@NYPLMilstein: Today in 1912: 1st automat opens in NYC on Broadway @ Times Square.”

Celebrate the Automat in style, both digitally and in person! 

Lunchtime was supercool. Let’s learn more! 

StLL–Save the Louisiana Libraries!

From the Los Angeles Times:

Citing budget concerns, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed a $25-billion budget that eliminates almost $900,000 in state funding for its libraries. In a statement, the governor’s chief budget aide, Paul Rainwater, said, “In tight budget times, we prioritized funding for healthcare and education. Operations such as local libraries can be supported with local, not state dollars.”

From LibaryJournal:

Amanda Taylor, library director for Concordia Parish, sounded a similar note. “There’s no longer a food stamp office; there’s no longer a social security office. In our rural parish a lot of our people have low literacy skills and very few computer skills. They come to the library because all of that has to be done online. There are some offices in some bigger areas but there’s no mass transportation and a lot of our people do not have transportation to a place that’s two hours away. A lot of our people have children in the military and they come to email their children that are all over the world on these bases. And almost all of the companies require you to do a job application online, even if it’s just for a truck driver who doesn’t need to be great at computer skills, so it is very important that we offer this service.”

Concordia formerly got $12,000 per year from the state, which it used to “keep up all of the maintenance [on its 52 PCs], buy new software, and to buy new equipment as needed.”

With that money gone, Concordia plans not to buy anything new, and hope all its old equipment keeps working. Maintenance costs will have to come out of the materials budget. In the meantime, Taylor is already working on getting the funding restored. “We are already talking to our legislators about the next budget,” she said. “We are going to work really hard to make the legislators understand how important it is in these rural areas because citizens depend on the public library. We’re going to hope for the legislature to open their eyes to what we do every day.”

The story broke yesterday. If you happen to see any fundraising happening, or Online Kickstarters, let me know and I’ll pass it along to the masses! 

Fraser Valley Regional Library’s (BC, Canada) Library Live and On Tour

Thanks to BoingBoing for alerting the masses!

The Fraser Valley Regional Library set out to  ‘create a mobile initiative to promote adult literacy’–and they did just that!

The result is a mobile initiative that delivers the library to people who do not know about our libraries or have some obstacle to visiting them. Unlike bookmobiles, Library Live and On Tour stresses service through community development, access to information, adult literacy advocacy, and awareness, rather than being exclusively about books.

Check out this local news segment, which features  Smitty Miller, Fraser Valley Regional Library Community Development Librarian and her outlook for taking the more ‘alternative’ parts of their Library to the community.

Attracting patrons with stereo beats and video games is great in itself; what I’m really excited about is the vast array of ereaders and gadgets she’s brought with her for patrons to discover and use. Take the technology to the people, let them try it out in a safe, comfortable environment, and you’ll have an inquisitive learner for life that won’t hesitate to come to you next time they want to try something new. Rock on, Smitty!