The Conjuring Arts Research Center: Manhattan's hidden library of magic

Atlas Obscura discloses a secret library, The Conjuring Arts Research Center, established to preserve the secrets of magic!

The not-for-profit organization was established in 2003, “dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of magic and its allied arts.” It was started by William Kalush, who developed a love of magic from the card tricks shown to him by his father, a Marine wounded in World War II. This love of card magic turned to a love of collecting magic books, which now form a wondrous collection of over 15,000 books—some dating to over 600 years old—housed in this hidden location.

“I like early books that no one else has ever seen”, Kalush says, sitting in a high-backed, ornately carved wooden chair that wouldn’t look out of place with a wizard sitting on it. “Books of performances pieces, card secrets, many that are unique.”

Browsing through the shelves stacked with all things conjuring, you will find obscure books on sleight-of-hand techniques, mentalism, deceptive gambling, the history of magic, and the mysterious secrets of card tricks. One book is the seminal The Expert At the Card Table, which appeared in 1902, written by an S. W. Erdnase. It’s one of the most detailed collections of sleight-of-hand techniques and card sharping, a book so iconic and well-studied within magic circles it is known as “the Bible.” Appropriately enough, S. W. Erdnase was a pseudonym. The real identity of the writer has remained a century-old mystery.

Read the rest

Watch how librarians digitize a 6-foot wide book

The Klencke Atlas is a massive 350-year old bound book that has graced the entrance of the British Library maps room. Now it's being digitized with the latest technology, and the process is remarkable. Read the rest

NH bill would explicitly allow libraries to run Tor exit nodes

Inspired by the Library Freedom Project's uncompromising bravery in the face of a DHS threat against a town library in Kilton, NH, that was running a Tor exit node to facilitate private, anonymous communication, the New Hampshire legislature is now considering a bill that would explicitly permit public libraries to "allow the installation and use of cryptographic privacy platforms on public library computers for library patrons use." Read the rest

Library where you can check out dead animals

At the Alaska Resources Library and Information Services, anyone can check out skulls, taxidermy mounts, pelts, and other bits and pieces of dead animals for free. Librarian Celia Rozen says that the most popular items are bear and wolf furs used in Boy Scout rituals and also snowy owl mounts requested by Harry Potter party planners. As you might expect, educators appreciate the opportunity to make their lessons more, er, tangible.

“It gets them excited about being in biology class,” South Anchorage High School science teacher Chris Backstrum told the Alaska Dispatch News. “It starts the year off on a good foot."

"Need a wolf fur? A puffin pelt? All you need is a library card and a visit to the ARLIS library" (ADN)

"Something Preserved" (Great Big Story)

(photos by Marc Lester/ADN) Read the rest

Pondok Pekak Library, a hidden gem in Ubud, Bali

Pondok Pekak Library in Ubud
Ubud has been called the cultural center of Bali, and at the heart of Ubud Village sits the literary oasis that is the Pondok Pekak Library & Learning Center. It was one of our favorite hangouts while we visited Bali.

Henry Miller Memorial Library's fallen redwood auction

On Sunday, the hallowed nonprofit Henry Miller Memorial Library in magical Big Sur, California will auction off large slabs of old-growth redwood sliced from a 200-foot, 500-year-old tree that fell on the site a couple years ago.

Here's library staff member Mike Scutari recounting the tree's topple:

Read the rest

Ford Transit modded into mobile library

This post is sponsored by the Ford Transit Connect.

As regular Boing Boing readers know, we are all big library geeks. Nothing beats browsing rows and rows of books where you can take anything that tickles your fancy home with you to read... free! That's why we loved the story of the Batram Trail Regional Library bookmobile, a transformed Ford Transit Connect that replaces the library's 30-year-old vehicle. When the bookmobile and its dedicated librarians visit children's schools, the little ones climb inside while the bigger kids browse their own shelf exposed by opening the Transit Connect's sliding door. If the Batram Trail Regional Library bookmobile isn't parked at pre-K facilities, daycares, and special needs schools, it's likely on its way to a nursing home or making housecalls to homebound readers. Georgia's history of bookmobiles goes back to the Great Depression when custom pick-up trucks piled with books were driven from county to county. Times have changed, but the mission to bring books to everyone remains the same.  Woodworker mods Ford Transit into camper van Read the rest

Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project: how you can help save historic space data

Space history buffs are racing against time to preserve historic lunar mission data stored on dusty old analog tapes. And they need your help.

NY Public Library internship: Timothy Leary Papers

What a way to spend the spring:
The (New York Public Library) Manuscripts and Archives Division is offering an (unpaid) internship to aid the Digital and Project Archivists for the Timothy Leary Papers for the Spring 2013 term to students from a Master’s program in librarianship, archival studies, or preservation with an interest in the born digital materials in the papers.

The Papers document the life of Timothy Francis Leary (b. 1920, d. 1996), American psychologist and Harvard professor, who, through his studies regarding the use of psilocybin and LSD, went on to become an advocate for mind-altering drugs, eastern philosophy, sexual liberation, cyberspace and the cyberpunk genre. He was a prolific writer, lecturer, and counterculture icon (1960s - 1990s). The Papers contain material from notable figures, such as Richard Alpert (aka Ram Dass), William S. Burroughs, David Bryne, Larry Flynt, Allen Ginsberg, Keith Haring, Gerald Heard, Abbie and Anita Hoffman, Albert Hofmann, Aldous and Laura Huxley, Jack Kerouac, Art Kleps, and G. Gorden Liddy. The Papers include over a hundred floppy disks created or collected by Leary in a variety of formats.

"Timothy Leary Papers - Digital Archival Processing Internship" (Thanks, Doug Rushkoff!) Read the rest

Little Free Library can help put a library on your corner

I happened upon this mini-library in my neighborhood and am so impressed with the movement that Little Free Library has started that I am getting one together for our street. The concept is simple: put a charming box full of books in a public place, encourage people to share them and to contribute their own.

From their FAQ:

If this were just about providing free books on a shelf, the whole idea might disappear after a few months. There is something about the Little Library itself that people seem to know carries a lot more meaning. Maybe they know that this isn't just a matter of advertising or distributing products. The unique, personal touch seems to matter, as does the understanding that real people are sharing their favorite books. Leaving notes or bookmarks, having one-of-a-kind artwork on the Library or constantly re-stocking it with different and interesting books can make all the difference.

Little Free Library sells pre-made mini-libraries or will show you how to build your own.

Check out a couple of my favorites from around the country:

Here's a Google Map with many of the libraries on it. Support Little Free Library if you can! Read the rest

Stereogranimator: transform historical stereographs from NYPL archives into animated gifs and 3d images

Above, "Dixon crossing Niagara below the Great Cantilever Bridge," U.S.A., 1895-1903. And you can make your own, with Stereogranimator, a new project from NYPL Labs. Stereogranimator is " a tool for transforming historical stereographs from The New York Public Library's vast collections into shareable 3D web formats."

(thanks, Mikael Jorgensen!) Read the rest

Kosovo's futuristic library

Behold: the futuristic glory of Kosovo's central library.

Kosovo Public Library (imgur.com) Read the rest

OWS library is rebuilding after being trashed by NYPD, needs your donated books

The librarians of Occupy Wall Street saw their carefully catalogued collection of over 5,000 books and archive of original writing, art and other material from the historic protest destroyed by the NYPD. There were early reports (spun and promoted by the office of NYC Mayor Bloomberg) that the library had been carefully stowed in a nearby lockup from which protesters could claim it. But these claims were overstated -- the books were indeed largely destroyed or missing, along with laptops, shelves and other library equipment.

As Xeni mentioned, OWS's librarians are rebuilding, and they're soliciting donations of books for their collection. Tachyon, who publish my essay collections, alerted me to this when they wrote to ask if I minded them donating copies of my books to the effort (the answer was an enthusiastic yes!).

You can donate to the library by posting books to:

The UPS Store Re: Occupy Wall Street Attn: The People’s Library 118A Fulton St. #205 New York, NY 10038

Contribute Read the rest

NYPD raze the #OWS library, throw out over 5,000 books

Some collateral damage in the police raid on Occupy Wall Street: over 5,000 books comprising the #OWS library have been thrown in the trash. I visited the library yesterday and interviewed one of the volunteer librarians who slept in the book-filled tent at night and helped patrons find reading material and conducted information literacy work during the day.

The Occupy Wall Street librarians tweeted the eviction all night: “NYPD destroying american cultural history, they’re destroying the documents, the books, the artwork of an event in our nation’s history … Right now, the NYPD are throwing over 5,000 books from our library into a dumpster. Will they burn them? … Call 311 or 212-639-9675 now and ask why Mayor Bloomberg is throwing the 5,554 books from our library into a dumpster.”

Occupy Wall Street Library Evicted Read the rest

Library to get a hackerspace

The Fayetteville Free Library is installing a hackerspace/fablab with 3D printers, CNC routers and other equipment, available free to the public as a community space for making. The project is led by librarian Lauren Smedley, who is basically MADE OF AWESOME.

Earlier this year, MAKE Magazine’s Phillip Torrone wrote a provocative article asking “Is it time to rebuild and retool libraries and make ‘techshops’?” In other words, should libraries join some of the other new community centers that are being created (such as General Assembly which we covered yesterday) and become “hackerspaces” or “makerspaces”?

“Yes!”, says librarian Lauren Smedley, who is in the process of creating what might just be the first maker-space within a U.S. public library. The Fayetteville Free Library where Smedley works is building a Fab Lab — short for fabrication laboratory — that will provide free public access to machines and software for manufacturing and making things.

So far, the Fab Lab is equipped with a MakerBot, a 3D printer that lets you “print” plastic pieces of your own design. The potential for 3D printers to revolutionize manufacturing as we know it is huge: imagine being able to design and then manufacture — or “print” — whatever you want. Moreoever, imagine the tools of manufacturing being in the hands of everyone, not just giant factories (and remember, since this is a public library, this is really putting the technology in the hands of everyone, not just those that can afford a membership at a traditional hackerspace).

The Public Library, Completely Reimagined (via Make) Read the rest

With a Little Help now available to libraries

Daniel Krause interviewed me in Booklist about my DIY short story collection, With a Little Help, on the occasion of that book being listed in the Ingram catalog, which'll make it easy for libraries to get copies. Read the rest

Anonymous paper sculptures in Scotland's libraries

An anonymous sculptor has been leaving gorgeous carved-book sculptures in Scotland's libraries, along with little notes of encouragement. Some are left out in the open; others are hidden away and may have sat a long time before being discovered.
Having been on display in the Scottish Poetry Library for a few months, the poetree is now kept behind the counter for safety, but if you ask nicely I'm sure they would let you have a look.

The National Library's gramophone is in a display case near the front door.

The Filmhouse's cinematic diorama is currently not on display.

The Scottish Storytelling Centre's dragon is probably going to estivate during the Festivals to avoid any possible manhandling by infant hordes but will surely make a return in the autumn.

Mysterious paper sculptures Read the rest

More posts