Library collections, archives and other information that aren't accessible online, and how to find them. Use the links at top right to ask a question or submit a post. Contact: jacquelinekbarlow [at] gmail [dot] com or tweet @thatsnotonline

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Smell, part five: Musée international de la parfumerie, Grasse, France

Image courtesy Vanity Fair.

The Musée international de la parfumerie, in Grasse, birthplace of the luxury perfume trade, boasts 50,000 items related to the history of perfume. Since its 2009 renovation the museum offers olfactory tours, allowing participants to sample various scents in the perfumery’s collection. Also available are interactive exhibits for children, a contemporary art collection, and a garden of sweet-smelling plants such as centifolia rose, jasmine, and orange blossom.

The collections of the Musée may be searched here, along with those of the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire de Provence and the Villa-Musée Jean-Honoré Fragonard (search facility in French only).

The Musee received much attention when it reopened in 2009, after a four-year renovation. You can watch a report from France 24 on the Museum’s 2009 reopening, listen to this NPR story, or read an article from Vanity Fair.

Click here to download a guide and schedule of exhibitions at the Musée, and for contact information.

Click here to see previous posts in That’s Not Online’s series on smell.

Controversial Children’s and YA Literature, part one

Image courtesy

The Internet, and by extension digital media, has been hailed as a great equalizer. It has been feared and revered for its capacity to broaden our horizons by transmitting sensitive, scandalous, revolutionary, or revelatory information to those who would not otherwise have seen it, those whose information diet would previously have been limited by governments, by schools, by prejudice, or just by sheer geography.

Books, journals and newspapers can be banned or their import made difficult. Online information is not as vulnerable to censorship; in some ways ungovernable, digital information has a way of seeping through. So we’re told, anyway. As it turns out, many banned children’s and young adult books — often one’s first experience of censorsip — are not available in ebook format. It’s worth noting that nearly all of these can be ordered online in book format, and that goes a long way toward getting around local, though not national, censorship. However, the dearth of controversial children’s ebooks, many of them considered classics, does raise questions about who makes those decisions, and why.

Following is a list of children’s and young adult books that have at some point been challenged, that this blogger has not been able to find in ebook format, from any vendor, on any platform.

Forever… by Judy Blume

Stirred up controversy with its frank treatment of teenage sex, sexuality and birth control. It would seem that most of Blume’s oeuvre is available in ebook format, including the similarly controversial Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, Deenie and Tiger Eyes. Forever… is a glaring omission. However, in response to a tweet from That’s Not Online!, Blume tweeted that the ebook version is coming soon. She did not give a reason for the delay.

UPDATE: Judy Blume tweeted that Forever… has a different publisher than her other books, meaning its e-book format has to be negotiated separately.

The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier

By this blogger’s count, five other books by the prolific Robert Cormier are available in ebook format, from various platforms: Heroes, Fade, We All Fall Down, Frenchtown Summer and The Rag and Bone Shop. The Chocolate War was listed as one of ALA’s most-challenged books in 2001-2005, 2007 and 2009 and the third most challenged book from 2000-2009; typically, it has been challenged for offensive language, violence, and depictions of sexuality.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

According to The Houston Press, Lee sent a letter to O, the Oprah Magazine in 2006 that said,

Can you imagine curling up in bed to read a computer? Weeping for Anna Karenina and being terrified by Hannibal Lecter, entering the heart of darkness with Mistah Kurtz, having Holden Caulfield ring you up — some things should happen on soft pages, not cold metal.

It is more than likely, then, that Mockingbird's absence from ebook stores has more to do with its authors distaste for the format than any kind of censorship. Lee, 85 years old, is still living. Her Pulitzer-prize-winning book has been challenged for a variety of reasons since its publication.

Show Me! by Will McBride

This post at Swiss Army Librarian describes a reference interview in which a patron was looking for further information on a book called Show Me!, which she had spotted at a neighbour’s house and worried would classify as child pornography. This book, which has been challenged in several countries (see Wikipedia for a summary), was written as a sex education book for children and is notable for its explicit photography. According to the New York Times, publication of the book ceased in 1982. Unavailable as an ebook, Show Me! is barely available in print. AbeBooks lists used copies of various imprints and conditions ranging in price from £97.52 to £809.41.

Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman

Published in 1990, Heather Has Two Mommies quickly gained notoriety for its nonjudgmental depiction of a girl growing up with two mothers, a lesbian couple. According to the American Library Association it was the ninth most challenged book in the United States from 1990-1999.

EDIT: These two records from OCLC show that Heather Has Two Mommies has been digitized and the copies may be held at some libraries. However, it is not clear whether the book is available for purchase and download via the internet.

And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell

This tale of two male penguins bringing up a baby penguin, based on a true story, is among the most-challenged books in the USA, according to the American Library Association. It has consistently made the list almost since publication.

(And Tango Makes Three is an ebook! My mistake!)

The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

Like To Kill A Mockingbird, this book’s failure to be adapted into ebook format may have more to do with its author’s attitudes. As The News Herald points out, Salinger always resisted adaptations of this classic book, and since his death in 2010 his lawyers have taken the same tack, not so much as hinting that an ebook version is on its way.

A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

From Banned Books 2011:

This collection of poetry was challenged mainly due to two of its poems. “How Not To Have to Dry the Dishes” was said to encourage messiness and disobedience while “Little Abigail and the Beautiful Pony” was objected to because it describes the death of a girl after her parents refuse to buy her a pony. The ever-popular reasons for challenges - supernatural, demons, devils and ghosts – were also voiced.

It would appear that none of Silverstein’s corpus is available in ebook format, suggesting that reasons other than censorship might be at play.

Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite

Depicts a small boy whose parents are divorced, and who lives with both of them. His father is gay and has a “roommate” named Frank.  Controversy, Censorship and Children’s Literature has a summary of political actions against the book. Searching the book on Amazon shows its rarity; one “like-new” hardcover edition is listed at US$98.30.


If I am mistaken and any of these are available in ebook format, please reply with this information in the comments.

Gloucester Cathedral library

Image courtesy Charles Dyer.

The library at Gloucester Cathedral houses several thousand items relating to the history of the cathedral. As the building dates back over a thousand years, it is not surprising that the collection includes some true treasures. It is of great interest to those who enjoy English history, historical bibliography and music.

Of particular interest to historians are books bearing the signature of William Laud, later an important figure in the English Civil War, who served as Dean of Gloucester from 1616-1621. One example is a register from the King’s School, signifying the connection between the school and the Cathedral. The Cathedral library did in fact serve as the school library for many years, and some of the oldest items in the collection are related to the school. The library also stores the original charter that granted the church in Gloucester, formerly St. Peter’s Abbey, cathedral status. It is a beautiful illuminated manuscript, complete with a Tudor rose.

The library does have some other early manuscripts and printed books. Among the collection are books with luxurious leather bindings and embroidered bindings.

Because Gloucester Cathedral is one of three cathedrals that participate in the rotating Three Choirs Festival, the library is also building a collection of sheet music. Much of it is choral, but there is also a sizable collection of organ music.

Many other cathedral libraries do have some of their collections online. A list of Church of England cathedral library websites is available here.

How to find Scalamandre fabric archives?

Hello, sorry to make you wait so long! For those who don’t know (and I didn’t), Scalamandré is a venerable (est. 1929) house of fabrics, upholsteries, wall coverings and the like in New York City.

As far as I can tell, they do not have an online archive. The best I can do is to suggest that you visit their company website. It appears that, to view most of their products and collections, you must become a member, so it could be that all kinds of archival goodness is waiting behind that wall. This blogger has posted a few pics of items from the archives that he has seen. Happy searching!

Special Collections at the University of Pretoria

Image from the Netherlands Cultural History Library, University of Pretoria

The University of Pretoria Library Special Collections consist of seven collections, including a digital research repository which can be searched here. Non-digital collections include: the Africana collection, consisting of “books in all disciplines limited to Africa south of the Sahara” as well as the collections of “eminent persons” and a pamphlet collection; the South African Music Collection, consisting of sheet music, photographs, and ephemera relating to South African musicians; the Jurriaanse Collection, which “covers the classics in literature and medicine”; the UP collection or works written by University of Pretoria scholars and/or relating to or funded by the University; the Reserved Collection of non-Africana, antiquarian collections; and perhaps most significantly, the Netherlands Cultural History Library, “the most extensive Dutch collection in the Southern Hemisphere”.

With the exception of the digital research repository and the Netherlands Cultural History Library, little information on these special collections is given online. Of the latter collection, we know that it consists of about 40,000 books and 40,000 journals, and that some are accessible only via card catalogue. Items that have been catalogued electronically can be found via the online catalogue.

Contact information for the Special Collections library can be found on their home page. Policies state that the special collections are freely available to University of Pretoria researchers, and that private researchers may access the collection at the rate of 50 rand per day.

The Webometrics Ranking of World Universities (compiled by the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas in Madrid), whose mission is to promote web publication, support open access initiatives, and increase electronic access to academic materials, rates the University of Pretoria 4th in Africa and 646th in the world in terms of academic web presence. Eight of the top ten African universities in this ranking are South African, a statistic that mirrors listings of online African museums by Africom, according to which South African museums are far more likely to have an online presence. We reported on Africom here.

Materials Library

Image by Jennifer Morrow

The Institute of Making , a project based at King’s College London, describes itself as

a multidisciplinary research club for those interested in the made world: from makers of molecules to makers of buildings, synthetic skin to spacecraft, soup to clothes, furniture to cities.

All sorts of materials, ranging from the lightest solid in the world (aerogel) to a material that can smash concrete without getting damaged (a silicon nitride ball bearing), are kept at the Institute. The aim is to explore the scientific properties of physical objects, but also to look at how the materials themselves inspire creativity and innovation. The Institute recognises the significant amount of information that can only be gathered physically.

The Institute is a result of the growth of the Materials Library

an interdisciplinary collaborative team that make objects, events and exhibitions that foreground materiality.

While most of the research happens in the lab, the Institute (and Library) have gained international attention. It regularly receives samples from around the world, and have participated in various art installations. It also has a presence on Facebook and Twitter.

While the Institute of Making and That’s Not Online! have different reasons for being interested in exploring the physical world, it is great to know that there is someone else out there who recognises the importance of physical information.

There are also several other materials libraries, and many of them do have websites in spite of the nature of their collections.

Smell, part four: Perfume Strips and Scratch ‘n’ Sniff

Image via Bubbledog’s Scratch ‘n’ Sniff Stickers.

One of our first really popular posts on That’s Not Online! was this one about old magazine and journal advertisements falling victim to digitisation. For the fourth installment of our series on smell (brought to you by watchful reader Vassiliki Veros), I would like to call your attention to two more casualties of the decline of print journalism: perfume samples and scratch and sniff technology.

According to, the technology behind Scratch ‘n’ Sniff was invented in 1965 by an organic chemist working for 3M who was trying to make carbonless paper. The chemist, Gale Matson, succeeded in his goal, but the marketing department at 3M was tasked with coming up for some alternate uses for the patented micro-encapsulation technology, and Scratch ‘n’ Sniff was born. See HowStuffWorks for a more detailed explanation of the science behind this. Pull-apart perfume strips, another 3M brainchild, followed in either 1981 (as per or 1984 (says The New York Review of Magazines).

Scratch and sniff in popular culture, from Wikipedia’s entry on scratch and sniff, lists some unusual uses of scratch and sniff technology, such as scratch ‘n’ sniff inserts in video games or music albums, and the 1981 John Waters film Polyester, which was released with Odorama — a card containing 10 scent samples to be scratched at intervals throughout the movie. The most popular use of scratch ‘n’ sniff technology was for scented stickers, though it would seem these are not produced as often as they once were and have in fact become a collector’s item. Mad Magazine included scratch ‘n’ sniffs for many years (if they still do, please let us know).

Perfume samples are still being included in magazines, of course, and this recent Forbes article reports that the technology is now also used for household cleaning products, hygiene and health products, and medicines and other remedies. The catch? They’re not available on the iPad edition.

Smell, part three: Museu del Perfum / Museo del Perfume, Barcelona

While the Osmothèque in Versailles covers the history of perfumery as a science, Barcelona’s Museo del Perfume (site in Spanish and Catalan) takes it a bit farther than that. With the very grand claim that “la historia de la perfumería es tan antigua como la historia de la humanidad" (the history of perfumery is as old as the history of humanity), the Museo lays claim to over 5000 bottles, miniatures, catalogues, labels, and old advertising relating to the history of perfume from prehistory to the present day, including Mesopotamia, Egypt, Israel, Greece, the Phoenicians and Carthage, Rome, Islamic civilizations, and the Renaissance. All this is organized into two parts: one containing flasks, bottles and jars from ancient civilisations and the Modern era, and the other containing relics from the current, industrialized era of perfumes.

Scent itself is not the focus of this collection, founded in 1961, but rather the receptacles that have held the various ointments, oils and other liquids with which people have perfumed themselves throughout the ages. These containers tell us something about the centrality of perfume in human history, as Ramon Planas, the Museum’s founder, explains:

El perfume, en todos los tiempos ha sido y es, un producto apreciado y valioso, por lo que, los frascos y demás recipientes que los han contenido, han destacado, desde siempre, por ser originales en sus formas, o valiosos en los materiales empleados, o ambas cosas a la vez.

(Throughout history perfume has been and is a valued and valuable product, inasmuch as the bottles and other receptacles that have contained it have always been designed to be original in form, or valuable in the materials used, or both at once.)

For those who cannot visit the museum, una mini visita has been constructed consisting of photographs and information on selected pieces, as well as some information on the perfumes contained within. It is not clear what percentage of the collection may be viewed online. This gallery, like the museum itself, is divided into precommercial and commercial collections. 

Although (according to this reviewer) it does not provide samples of historical perfumes, El Museo del Perfume has been included in our series on smell as a reminder of the importance of smells and perfumes — which, so far, can’t be transmitted via the internet — to the human experience. But the museum has been criticised for “turning the olfactory art into a visual one, which is more familiar and therefore less challenging”: see this 2011 interview with Chandler Burr, former perfume critic for the New York Times and current director and curator of the Center of Olfactory Art in New York City. (Watch this space for more on the COA!)

El Museo del Perfume is located in the back of the Perfumería Regia in the centre of Barcelona. Click here for their location and opening hours, or check their list of useful links for more information on perfumes and perfumery.

Smell, part two: The Sensorium

Image by Lindsay Wilson

While there are several traditional museums dedicated to perfumery (See Smell, Part One for an example), there have also been some more unique interpretations of how fragrances can be used in museums.

Among them is the Sensorium, a pop-up installation that ran from 7 October to 27 November in New York and definitely can’t be duplicated online. The project is reminiscent of one of Andy Warhol’s ideas, quoted in The Science of Scent in Everyday Life, about collecting semi-empty bottles of perfumes in order to better remember past experiences, which in turn echoes the scientific link between scent and memory. As a 4D exhibit, the Sensorium was a unique exploration of “the complex interaction of impressions conveyed by various ingredients and how they blend together" dreamed up by two leading fragrance companies and carried out by two creative firms. The exhibit features a scent deprivation chamber and two more rooms that produce visualisations of scent experiences—for example, videos of blossoming flowers in a room designed to smell like the first day of spring. They were even designed to play in time to an individual’s sniff. Though the experience itself can’t be recreated online, some videos are available.

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