Archive | Libraries

The Love Letter: Sharing Wisdom on a Curious Kinship

It’s fall, or leaning towards fall, and I’ve been thinking these days about the wisdom inadvertently passed on from any given collection of personal papers. As an archivist, I recognize my curious kinship with the collections on which I work … like the reader who stumbles onto marginalia wedged into the inner margin of a book page, I can’t help but read between the lines and imagine a back story.

These days, I’ve been immersed in a collection of love letters. I am working on companion collections held at Vassar’s archives and special collections library. Most archival collections generally contain only correspondence received by the collection’s donor. In the case of these two complementary collections of beloved faculty members, I am faced with the somewhat unusual opportunity of reading through letters from both author and recipient. read more

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Using Archival Collections as a Source for Creativity and Inspiration

The night before an impending blizzard landing in Manhattan felt like the perfect time to gather with friends deep in the bowels of New York City’s Municipal Archives.  The goal was to test out a creative writing workshop I’ve been pondering over this past year, which focuses on using archival material as a resource for fiction writing and visual art making. Our host was Sylvia Kollar, Director of the Municipal Archives, who conjured up extraordinary records for us to ponder together as a group.  In particular, we worked with selected Bertillion Cards pulled from a collection of early 20th century mug shots held within the city’s archives. read more

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In a Library, Shelf Life is Literal

41d242_aef9080ee1f44a25a19f55f65b194252I visited old haunts in my hometown a few weeks ago and ended up floating through one of my favorites – Chester C. Corbin Public Library. I learned that time had finally taken its toll on this landmark. The peeling paint and tattered linoleum signaled that perhaps the end was near. I learned that after a few attempts to find a way to save at least the façade of this structure, it became clear to the architects involved that a full demolition and rebuild would be necessary. Chester C. Corbin Public Library will be disassembled at the end of this summer. I felt a huge surge of nostalgia upon hearing this news, and immediately began stalking its corners during my visit, documenting as much as my cell phone could capture. read more

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It’s a Snow Day So Why Not Take A Luxurious Float Deep into NYPL’s Digital Rabbit Hole


I’m snowed in and pondering the blustery vista seen from my window here in the Hudson Valley. It’s a muffled-silent day. I’m somewhat stranded by this impressive weather pattern, yet here I sit, traveling great distances within the expanse of the NYPL Digital Collections.   I return to these collections as a bustling hub of creative space, where I truly love to roam — and cobble together digital assemblages based on the theme of (my) day.

The image above is the result of a photoshop conversation I had a while back with my pal and graphic designer extraordinaire, Tom Smith.  He and I have had a number of purely image-based conversations, unfolding from the passing back and forth of archival images we have both hoarded from a variety of collections. read more

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