The New York Public Library Lets Patrons Check Out Ties, Briefcases & Handbags for Job Interviews

Once upon a time, pubic libraries’ circulating collections were limited to books and other printed materials.

Then audio recordings and movies entered into the mix.

Telescopes…

Board games…

There's a library in Ohio that lets its patrons check out guitars.

And now, New York Public Library cardholders can borrow a necktie, briefcase, or businesslike purse for a one-time, three-week lending period.

The New York Public Library Grow Up program at the Riverside branch is modeled on similar initiatives in Philadelphia and Queens.

The branch is situated across the street from two high schools, and librarian Thaddeus Krupo told Crain’s New York Business that the program was launched in response to the high number of students taking advantage of the library’s free career resources, such as printed sheets of job interview tips.

Most of the kids from Fiorello H. Laguardia High School Of Music & Art and Performing Arts (aka the “Fame” school), one of New York City’s most competitive public schools, can be presumed to have a tie or two in their closets, along with whatever else they’re required to wear onstage for their various concerts and performances. They're also being trained in how to present themselves in an audition-type situation.

Such universal assumptions don’t necessarily apply to the massive Martin Luther King Jr. Educational Complex next door. Students there tend to have a rougher time of it than their neighbors across 65th street.

While Laguardia coasts on its reputation, MLK has never really gotten out from under the troubling stories left over from its bad old days. (Its original incarnation was ordered closed in 2005 as part of sweeping citywide educational reforms. These days, the building houses seven smaller schools.)

Hopefully, the library's teen patrons won’t seek to complete their professional look by checking out pants and pumps. The Grow Up program isn’t set up to provide the full-body coverage offered by likeminded non-profits Dress for Success and Career Gear… though its borrowed bags and ties are cleared to attend prom and graduation.

via Mental Floss

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Join her in NYC on Monday, September 24 for another monthly installment of her book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

Conserve the Sound, an Online Museum Preserves the Sounds of Past Technologies–from Typewriters, Electric Shavers and Cassette Recorders, to Cameras & Classic Nintendo

The unmistakable zip and whirr of a rotary phone, the ungodly squeal of dial-up modems, the satisfying thunk of a cartridge in a classic Nintendo console, a VCR rewinding, the click-clack sound of a Walkman's buttons…. I date myself in saying that these sounds immediately send me back to various moments in my childhood with Proustian immersion. The sense of smell is most closely linked to memory, but hearing cannot be far behind given how sound embeds itself in time, and most especially the sounds of technologies, which are by nature fated for obsolescence. A museum-quality aura surrounds the Walkman and the first iPods. These are triumphs of consumer design, but only one of them makes distinctive mechanical noises.

As analog recedes, it can seem that noisy tech in general becomes more and more dated. It is hard to hear the rubbing of thumbs and fingers across screens and touchpads. Voice commands make buttons and switches redundant. How much tech from now will one day feature in Conserve the Sound, the “online museum for vanishing and endangered sounds”?




Its collection gives the impression of a bygone age, quaint in its dozens of examples of mechanical ingenuity. The visual juxtaposition of handheld film cameras, typewriters, car window handles, electric shavers, boom boxes, stopwatches, and so on has the effect of making these things seem all of a piece, assorted artifacts in a great hall of wonders called “the Sound the 20th Century.”

At the top of the site's "Sound" page, timeline navigation allows users to visit every decade from the 1910s to the 2000s, a category that contains only two objects. Other displays are more plentiful, and colorful. The 1960s, for example showcases the incredibly sexy red Schreibmaschine Olivetti Dora further up. It sounds as sleek and sophisticated as it looks. The virtual display case of the 30s holds the sounds of a twin-engine propeller plane and a handful of beautiful moving and still cameras, like the Fotokamera Purma Special above. It also features the humble and enduring library stamp, a sound I pine for as I slide books under the self-checkout laser scanner at my local branch.

Given just the few images here, you can already see that Conserve the Sound is as much a feast for the eyes as for the ears, each object lovingly photographed against an austere white background. In order for the full nostalgic effect to work, however, you need to visit these pages and hit “play.” It even magically works with objects from before our times, given how prominently their sounds feature in film and audio recordings that define the periods. You’ve likely also noticed how many of these products are of European origin, and many of them, like the robotic head of the Kassettenrekorder Weltron Model 2004, are perhaps unfamiliar to many consumers from elsewhere in the world.

Conserve the Sound is a European project, funded by the Film & Medienstiftung NRW in Germany, thus its selection skews toward European-made products. But the sound of a fan or an adding machine in Germany is the sound of a fan or adding machine in Chile, China, Kenya, or Nebraska. See a trailer for the project at the top of the post, and below, one of the many interviews in which German public figures, scholars, librarians, technicians, and students answer questions about their mnemonic associations with technological sound. In this interview, radio presenter Bianca Hauda describes one of her favorite old sounds from a favorite old machine, a 1970s portable cassette recorder.

via WFMU

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

The New York Public Library Puts Classic Stories on Instagram: Start with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Read Kafka’s The Metamorphosis Soon

I'd be happy if I could think that the role of the library was sustained and even enhanced in the age of the computer. —Bill Gates

The New York Public Library excels at keeping a foot in both worlds, particularly when it comes to engaging younger readers.

Visitors from all over the world make the pilgrimage to see the real live Winnie-the-Pooh and friends in the main branch’s hopping children’s center.

And now anyone with a smartphone and an Instagram account can “check out” their digital age take on Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderlandno library card required. See Part 1 here and Part 2 here.




Working with the design firm Mother, the library has found a way to make great page-turning use of the Instagram Stories platformmore commonly used to share blow-by-blow photographic evidence of road trips, restaurant outings, and hash-tagged weddings.

The Wonderland experience remains primarily text-based.

In other words, sorry, harried caregivers! There’s no handing your phone off to the pre-reading set this time around!

No trippy Disney teacups...

Sir John Tenniel’s classic illustrations won’t be springing to animated life. Instead, you’ll find conceptual artist Magoz’s bright minimalist dingbats of keyholes, teacups, and pocket watches in the lower right hand corner. Tap your screen in rapid succession and they function as a crowd-pleasing, all ages flip book.

Elsewhere, animation allows the text to take on clever shapes or reveal itself line by linea pleasantly theatrical, Cheshire Cat like approach to Carroll’s impudent poetry.

Remember the famous scene where the Duchess and the Cook force Alice to mind a baby who turns into a pig? Grab some friends and hunch over the phone for a communal read aloud! (It’s on page 75 of part 1)

Speak roughly to your little boy,

 And beat him when he sneezes:

 He only does it to annoy,

 Because he knows it teases

CHORUS

 (In which the cook and the baby joined)

 ‘Wow! wow! wow!’ 

Navigating this new media can be a bit confusing for those whose social media fluency is not quite up to speed, but it’s not hard once you get the hang of the controls.

Tapping the right side of the screen turns the page.

Tapping left goes back a page.

And keeping a thumb (or any finger, actually) on the screen will keep the page as is until you’re ready to move on. You’ll definitely want to do this on animated pages like the one cited above. Pretend you’re playing the flute and you’ll save a lot of frustration.

The library plans to introduce your phone to Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” and Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis via Instagram Stories over the next couple of months. Like Alice, both works are in the public domain and share an appropriate common theme: transformation.

Use these links to go directly to part 1 and part 2 of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland on Instagram Stories. Both parts are currently pinned to the top of the library’s Instagram account.

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Join her in NYC on Monday, September 24 for another monthly installment of her book-based variety show, Necromancers of the Public Domain. Follow her @AyunHalliday.

New York Public Library Card Now Gives You Free Access to 33 NYC Museums

If you're one of the 8.5 million people living in New York City, take note of this: When you sign up for a library card from the New York Public Library, you can get access to 30,000 free movies (including many from the Criterion Collection) and also some 300,000 Free eBooks. But that's not all. A new initiative lets members of the New York Public Library (plus the Brooklyn and Queens libraries) to sign up for a Culture Pass and thereby gain free entrance to 33 museums across NYC. The list of participating museums includes some big ones--the Met, Morgan, Whitney, Frick and Guggenheim. Also the MoMA, Brooklyn Museum, and Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and more. Find a complete list below.

The Culture Pass website has more information about this new program. The website is also where you will need to actually make reservations to visit the museums. According to Hyperallergic, "Each cardholder is eligible for one pass per cultural institution annually and allowed to reserve two impending visits at any given time."

New Yorkers, you can sign up for library cards via these links: New York Public Library, Brooklyn Library, and Queens Library.

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Participating Museums

  • Brooklyn Botanic Garden
  • Brooklyn Children's Museum
  • Brooklyn Historical Society
  • Brooklyn Museum
  • Children's Museum of Manhattan
  • Children's Museum of the Arts
  • Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
  • The Drawing Center
  • The Frick Collection
  • Historic Richmond Town
  • International Center of Photography
  • Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum
  • Jacques Marchais Museum of Tibetan Art
  • The Jewish Museum
  • Louis Armstrong House
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • The Morgan Library & Museum
  • Museum of Modern Art, MoMA PS1
  • Museum of Chinese in America
  • Museum of Jewish Heritage - A Living Memorial to the Holocaust
  • Museum of the City of New York
  • New York Transit Museum
  • Noguchi Museum
  • Queens Historical Society
  • Queens Museum
  • Rubin Museum of Art
  • SculptureCenter
  • Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian
  • Society of Illustrators
  • Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
  • Sugar Hill Children's Museum
  • Wave Hill
  • Whitney Museum of American Art

via Hyperallergic

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Dozens of M.C. Escher Prints Now Digitized & Put Online by the Boston Public Library

In addition to the iconic scene in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth, or appearances in animated TV shows and video games, M.C. Escher’s work has adorned the covers of albums like Mott the Hoople’s 1969 debut and the speculative fiction of Italo Calvino and Jorge Luis Borges. A big hit with hippies and 1960s college students, writes Heavy Music Artwork, his mind-bending prints became associated with “questioning accepted views of normal experience and testing the limits of perception with hallucinogenic drugs.” While he appreciated his cult following, Escher “did not encourage their mystical interpretations of his images.” Replying to one enthusiastic fan of his print Reptiles, who claimed to see in it an image of reincarnation, Escher replied, “Madame, if that’s the way you see it, so be it.”

Rather than illustrate higher states of consciousness or metaphysical entities, Bruno Ernst writes in The Magic Mirror of M.C. Escher, the artist intended to create practical, “pictorial representation of intellectual understanding.” Illustrations, that is, of philosophical and scientific thought experiments. The son of a civil engineer, Escher began his studies in architecture before moving to drawing and printmaking.




The challenge of creating built environments—even seemingly impossible ones—always seemed to occupy his mind. Along with themes from the natural world, a high percentage of his works center on buildings—inspired by formative early years in Rome and his admiration for Islamic art and Spanish architecture.

In the 50s and 60s Escher’s art piqued the interest of academics and mathematicians, an audience he found more congenial to his vision. He corresponded with scientists and incorporated their ideas into his work, meanwhile claiming to be “absolutely innocent of training or knowledge in the exact sciences.” In the 50s, Escher “dazzled” the likes of mathematicians like Roger Penrose and HSM Coxeter. In turn, notes Maev Kennedy, he “was inspired by Penroses’s perspectival triangle and Coxeter’s work on crystal symmetry.”

For all the excitement he created among mathematicians, it took a bit longer for Escher to get noticed in the art world. When Penrose’s uncle showed Escher’s version of the perspectival triangle to Picasso, “Picasso had heard of the British mathematician but not of the Dutch artist.” Escher’s fame spread outside of the sciences in part through the interests of the counterculture. He may have shrugged off mystical and psychedelic readings of his prints, but he had an innate penchant for the marvelously weird (see his copy of a scene, for example, from Hieronymus Bosch, above, or his surreal print Gravity, below).

See the prints pictured here and a few dozen more digitized in high resolution at Digital Commonwealth, courtesy of Boston Public Library, who scanned their Escher collection and made it available to the public. Zoom into the fine details of prints like Inside Saint Peter’s, further up—a finely rendered but otherwise not-especially-Escher-like work—and the labyrinthine Ascending and Descending at the top. Whether—as Harvard Library curator John Overholt confesses—you’re a “nerd who loves M.C. Escher” for his mathematical mind, an artist with a mystical bent who loves him for his hallucinatory qualities, or some measure of both, you’ll find exactly the Escher you’re looking for in this digital gallery.

via Kottke/John Overholt

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Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

1,600 Occult Books Now Digitized & Put Online, Thanks to the Ritman Library and Da Vinci Code Author Dan Brown

Back in December we brought you some exciting news. Thanks to a generous donation from Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown, Amsterdam’s Ritman Library—a sizable collection of pre-1900 books on alchemy, astrology, magic, and other occult subjects—has been digitizing thousands of its rare texts under a digital education project cheekily called “Hermetically Open.” We are now pleased to report, less than two months later, that the first 1,617 books from the Ritman project have come available in their online reading room. The site is still in beta, so to speak; in their Facebook announcement, the Ritman admits they are “still improving the whole presentation,” which is a bit clunky at the moment. But for fans and students of this literature, a little inconvenience is a small price to pay for full access to hundreds of rare occult texts.

Visitors should be aware that these books are written in several different European languages. Latin, the scholarly language of Europe throughout the Medieval and Early Modern periods, predominates, and it’s a peculiar Latin at that, laden with jargon and alchemical terminology. Other books appear in German, Dutch, and French. Readers of some or all of these languages will of course have an easier time than monolingual English speakers, but there is still much to offer those visitors as well.




In addition to the pleasure of paging through an old rare book, even virtually, English speakers can quickly find a collection of readable books by clicking on the “Place of Publication” search filter and selecting Cambridge or London, from which come such notable works as The Man-Mouse Takin in a Trap, and tortur’d to death for gnawing the Margins of Eugenius Philalethes, by Thomas Vaughn, published in 1650.

The language is archaic—full of quirky spellings and uses of the “long s”—and the content is bizarre. Those familiar with this type of writing, whether through historical study or the work of more recent interpreters like Aleister Crowley or Madame Blavatsky, will recognize the many formulas: The tracing of magical correspondences between flora, fauna, and astronomical phenomena; the careful parsing of names; astrology and lengthy linguistic etymologies; numerological discourses and philosophical poetry; early psychology and personality typing; cryptic, coded mythology and medical procedures. Although we’ve grown accustomed through popular media to thinking of magical books as cookbooks, full of recipes and incantations, the reality is far different.

Encountering the vast and strange treasures in the online library, one thinks of the type of the magician represented in Goethe’s Faust, holed up in his study,

Where even the welcome daylight strains
But duskily through the painted panes.
Hemmed in by many a toppling heap
Of books worm-eaten, gray with dust,
Which to the vaulted ceiling creep

The library doesn’t only contain occult books. Like the weary scholar Faust, alchemists of old “studied now Philosophy / And Jurisprudence, Medicine,— / And even, alas! Theology.” Click on Cambridge as the place of publication and you’ll find the work above by Henry More, “one of the celebrated ‘Cambridge Platonists,’” the Linda Hall Library notes, “who flourished in mid-17th-century and did their best to reconcile Plato with Christianity and the mechanical philosophy that was beginning to make inroads into British natural philosophy.” Those who study European intellectual history know well that More’s presence in this collection is no anomaly. For a few hundred years, it was difficult, if not impossible, to separate the pursuits of theology, philosophy, medicine, and science (or “natural philosophy”) from those of alchemy and astrology. (Isaac Newton is a famous example of a mathematician/scientist/alchemist/believer in strange apocalyptic predictions.)

Given the Ritman’s alacrity and eagerness to publish this first batch of texts, even as it works to smooth out its interface, we’ll likely see many hundreds more books become available in the next month or so. For updates, follow the Ritman Library and The Embassy of the Free Mind—Dan Brown’s own Dutch library of rare occult books—on Facebook.

Enter the Ritman's new digital collection of occult texts here.

Related Content:

3,500 Occult Manuscripts Will Be Digitized & Made Freely Available Online, Thanks to Da Vinci Code Author Dan Brown

Isaac Newton’s Recipe for the Mythical ‘Philosopher’s Stone’ Is Being Digitized & Put Online (Along with His Other Alchemy Manuscripts)

Aleister Crowley Reads Occult Poetry in the Only Known Recordings of His Voice (1920)

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Download 150 Free Coloring Books from Great Libraries, Museums & Cultural Institutions: The British Library, Smithsonian, Carnegie Hall & More

A news alert for fans of coloring books.

You can now take part in the 2018 edition of #ColorOurCollections–a campaign where museums, libraries and other cultural institutions make available free coloring books, letting you color artwork from their collections and then share it on Twitter and other social media platforms. When sharing, use the hashtag #ColorOurCollections.




Below you can find a collection of 20 free coloring books, which you can download, print, and color until you can color no more. Also find a complete list of 150 coloring books over at this site maintained by The New York Academy of Medicine Library.

To see the free coloring books offered up in 2016, click here. And 2017, here.

The image up top comes from The British Library.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

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