Today is the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of Iwo Jima, when the US Marines and Navy invaded and captured the island from the Imperial Japan Army. Almost 7,000 Allied troops and 18,000 Japanese soldiers were killed. The University of South Carolina's Moving Image Research Collections is now helping the History Division of the Marine Corps digitize and make public mostly unseen film footage shot by marines in combat during the battle. There are 14,000 cans of film undergoing the digitization and preservation process. The videos above and below are barely a teaser of what's to come. From the University of South Carolina:
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From the beginning, Marine Corps leaders knew they wanted a comprehensive visual account of the battle — not only for a historical record but also to assist in planning and training for the invasion of the Japanese main islands. Some Marine cameramen were assigned to the front lines of individual units, and others to specific activities, such as engineering and medical units. Films from these units show the daily toll of the battle such as Marines being treated in the medical units or being evacuated off the island to hospital ships as well as essential behind-the-lines tasks of building command posts or unloading and sorting equipment on beaches....
Another goal of the Marine Corps film project is to identify and label as much of the historical information in the films as possible, such as Marine Corps units and equipment. In addition to manually scanning the films for this information, Moving Images Research Collections has partnered with Research Computing and the university’s Computer Vision Lab, a research group within the College of Engineering and Computing, to use artificial intelligence to recognize text in the films to help identify units as well as individual Marines, airplanes and ships.
Antarctica's brutal climate is taking its toll on the historic bases built by the original explorers and scientists. Now preservationists are working to preserve these important sites. Read the rest
A recent mishap sent me scrambling for info on how to dry a wet book. Luckily, Syracuse University Libraries has a handy how-to guide demonstrated by their preservation department. Read the rest
Psst, wanna buy a lighthouse? As more and more are decommissioned thanks to GPS, the market has seen an influx of lighthouses for sale. Read the rest
Peruvian archaeologists and activists have joined with the indigenous Harakmbut people to find legendary Incan lost cities. If they find them soon enough, traditional Harakmbut lands leased to an American oil company might be designated off-limits to drilling. Read the rest
Crystal writes, "'Dark rides' like the Spookarama at Deno's Wonder Wheel Park, those single-cart rides that take you through a haunted house full of ghosts and scares. They're prime for teenage making out, have been around for 100 years -- and they're disappearing. Joel Zika, a 36-year-old art and design university professor in Melbourne, Australia, has been fascinated with the dark rides for years, reveling their connection to early horror effects in movies. So he decided to document them in the only way that would truly do them justice: virtual reality." Read the rest
Yuka died 39,000 years ago, and is so well-preserved that we can tell she was a ginger. Read the rest
In 2000, the US National Recording Preservation Act mandated the Library of Congress to conduct an in-depth study on the state of audio preservation and archiving. The Library has finished its study and one of its most damning conclusions is that copyright -- not technical format hurdles -- are the major barrier to successful preservation. Simply put, the copyright laws that the recording industry demanded are so onerous that libraries inevitably have to choose whether to be law-breakers or whether to abandon their duty to preserve and archive audio.
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"Were copyright law followed to the letter, little audio preservation would be undertaken. Were the law strictly enforced, it would brand virtually all audio preservation as illegal," the study concludes, "Copyright laws related to preservation are neither strictly followed nor strictly enforced. Consequently, some audio preservation is conducted."
While libraries supposedly have some leeway in preserving audio recordings, they find it "virtually impossible to reconcile their responsibility for preserving and making accessible culturally important sound recordings with their obligation to adhere to copyright laws". The problem is that the current provisions in law for audio preservation are "restrictive and anachronistic" in our current digitial age.
There are more problems. While the recording industry undertakes some preservation, they will only preserve those recordings from which they think they might profit in the future (what a surprise). For instance, consider a researcher working on vaudeville who may be interested in vaudevillian recordings on cylinders.
"These performers may have been headliners in their time, but today their names are virtually unknown," the study details, "While scholarly interest in these recordings is high, their economic value to the property holder is negligible.
Friendly holiday reminder, people: The local arboretum is NOT your personal Christmas tree chopping ground.
Last Wednesday, somebody entered the University of Washington's Washington Park Arboretum in Seattle and walked out with a rare south Asian conifer, called a Keteleeria, worth more than $10,000. It's genetic material is likely irreplaceable, Arboretum officials said, because it came from a part of China that's seen rapid development and lost much of its native plant life. As the tree was between 7 and 8 ft. tall and 3 in. at the base, officials believe it was chopped down to serve as a Christmas tree. Ironically, it was also a spindly, Charlie Brown-looking thing and wouldn't even be as attractive as the plentiful Douglas Firs usually used for such decoration. Meanwhile, species preservation suffers.
"We feel as if Christmas has been stolen from us," says David Zuckerman, horticulture supervisor for UW Botanic Gardens.
University Press Release
Pictured: The Keteleeria tree in happier times, photographed by the UW Botanic Gardens.
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Matija Strlic and colleagues write in the ACS's Analytical Chemistry about "material degradomics," a techniques by which the odors emanating from old books are noninvasively analyzed to figure out which books are rotting and need preservation:
Matija Strlic and colleagues note in the new study that the familiar musty smell of an old book, as readers leaf through the pages, is the result of hundreds of so-called volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released into the air from the paper. Those substances hold clues to the paper's condition, they say. Conventional methods for analyzing library and archival materials involve removing samples of the document and then testing them with traditional laboratory equipment. But this approach destroys part of the document.
The new technique, called "material degradomics," analyzes the gases emitted by old books and documents without altering the documents themselves.
'Smell of Old Books' Offers Clues to Help Preserve Them
(Image: Books of the Past, a Creative Commons Attribution photo from Lin Pernille â™¥ Photography's photostream)
Books as planters - Boing Boing
Furniture made out of used books - Boing Boing
Luscious ancient French papercraft activity book scans - Boing Boing
Esoteric classics: a list of books - Boing Boing
Boing Boing: Adopt a book at the British Library Read the rest