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Smithsonian’s Database of Outdoor Sculpture (and more…)

Nathaniel HawthorneThis is a photograph I took of a sculpture of Nathaniel Hawthorne in Salem. When I added it to Flickr, I wanted to credit the sculptor, but I didn’t know his name. I decided to try looking this up in SIRIS, a database that I had heard about but had never tried, and I was really impressed with what I found.

Smithsonian Institution Collections Search Center — The Smithsonian provides access to much more than information about its own collections. The Inventory of American Sculpture provides authoritative information on nearly 32,000 outdoor sculptures collected from a nationwide survey known as Save Outdoor Sculpture. The information and indexing for each work is extensive and impressive.

For example, see the record for the sculpture shown here: Nathanial Hawthorne. The information includes not only the name of the sculptor, but the names of the architect, founder and fabricator, a complete description and references. The indexing is extensive, and you can click on the links in the record to find other works by the sculptor Bela Lyon Pratt, other works administered by the City of Salem’s Public Works Department, or even other works featuring novelists, canes or hats!

These databases should be really useful to people working on Flickr, Wikipedia, blogs and other personal and collaborative projects. They are also useful to librarians for reference and also for local history projects.

C-Span Video Archives

The C-SPAN Video Library launched last week, opening up access to an amazing reference resource for students, journalists and anyone interested in history and government. This includes over 160,000 hours of political and public affairs events covered by the C‑SPAN Networks since 1987, free, well-organized, searchable, and easy to share. For example, embedded below is the first day of the Scalia Confirmation Hearing, in which Justice Scalia responded to questions about his views on federal-state relationships, the Constitution, death penalty, abortion, national security versus individual rights and more.


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Perry-Castañeda Library’s Portrait Gallery

Florence NightingalePortrait Gallery a service of the Perry-Castañeda Library, University of Texas at Austin, is a collection of pictures of historical figures scanned from books in the public domain. It’s been around for over a decade, and it continues to be a good place to go when you need a picture of Florence Nightingale or Charles Dickens or Joan of Arc, whether you are helping a library user find an image for a project, or looking for something to add to a page on your website.

These are images scanned from books in the public domain, so the images here are all pretty old, and the quality varies depending on the original book source. You won’t find a picture of Martin Luther King, Jr. or Albert Einstein here, and the picture of Winston Churchill shows him as a young man — it’s World War I Churchill, not World War II Churchill. But for pre-20th century artists, authors, composers, explorers, scientists and statesman, it definitely a useful source.

And because these images are all public domain, you can do whatever you want with them — print them out and use them on posters or for craft projects, resize or crop them, colorize them, add text them, or combine them into an artful collage.

They are also fun to play around with using various online editing sites. Go to Big Huge Labs to make a Pop Art Poster or a set of trading cards or a magazine cover. Or go to Picnik where you can add all sorts of special effects, as I did to Marie Antoinette.

The design of this site is simple, elegant and easy to use. The collection is small but useful, and it’s definitely a site worth bookmarking and sharing.

Update: Edited to remove link to Picnik, no longer available. If you miss Picnik, I recommend PicMonkey. 10/4/2014

JoVE : Journal of Visualized Experiments

JoVE describes itself as “a peer reviewed, free access, online journal devoted to the publication of biological research in a video format.” Founded in 2007 by Moshe Pritsker, JoVE is a collection high-quality, professionally recorded videos from the labs of top universities and research institutions, showing cutting-edge research in the life sciences. The emphasis here is on demonstrating experimental techniques which are often difficult to understand or replicate based on written description in journals. JoVE’s videos are included in PubMed, and they recently began adding videos in the areas of medicine and psychology.

JoVE is one of a growing number of sites sharing high-quality science videos aimed at everyone from elementary school students to graduate students, professional scientists and the general public.

Science Video Sites

Links on Science Videos

Quotes Daddy

I’ve always loved collections of quotations, ever since I discovered my mother’s old copy of Bartlett’s when I was around eleven years old. I spent many hours reading through it, and exploring the index. I remember going from the index to a quotation, and then working backward from the quotation to the index, trying to work out which words were significant enough to be indexed. Little did I know how important those searching skills would become many years later!


Quotes Daddy is sort of the Web 2.0 version of Bartlett’s — a large and eclectic assortment of quotations, with tag clouds, personal accounts, and an API for mashability. The most popular feature here, however, is probably the widgets, which make it easy to embed individual quotations in blog posts or webpages, like the one above.
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Building Community Through Photography

I did a presentation on this topic at the Massachusetts Library Association conference in Falmouth this morning, and posted the PowerPoint on Slideshare:

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