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

Jacqueline's posts / Jennifer's posts

Read the Printed Word!

Archivo General de Indias

Located in Seville, Spain, the Archivo General de Indias (Spanish only) preserves the fonds produced by those institutions that were created by the Spanish government to govern their overseas territories.  Services offered are free access to archival documents in their reading rooms, a limited reproduction service, certification of archival documents, and consultation and research.

While the Archivo offers online guides and catalogues for searching their collections, none are available online, with the exception of some documents included in two virtual collections, Paisajes urbanos de América y Filipinas (urban landscapes of America and the Philippines) and La aventura humana en el Mediterráneo (the human adventure in the Mediterranean).

Contact information is listed on the main web page.

Photo by Håkan Svensson.

The Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation a.k.a. The McGill Guide

This guide, which sets the standard for legal citation in Canada, is published every four years by the McGill Law Journal (of McGill University).  Last updated in 2010, the McGill Guide is an essential reference for law librarians all over Canada and is in fact followed by many Canadian provincial courts as well as legal journals.

However, the McGill Guide remains steadfastly offline — or does it?  Their website provides a link to a password-protected page that, based on the description, would seem to contain an online version of the guide.  If the guide is available online, it is only available to participants in the Jessup International Law Moot CompetitionThis 2008 post from Simon Fodden in SLAW, a Canadian legal blog, corroborates the theory that mooters may have exclusive online access to the Guide, or at least parts of it.

SLAW contributor Ted Tjaden asks for an online version here and here, and contributor Gary P. Rodrigues makes an argument here.

National Steinbeck Center Collection and Archives

The National Steinbeck Center in Oldtown Salinas, California interprets the life and works of John Steinbeck through exhibits featuring artifacts, photographs, film clips and other media.  The Center also contains archives, a newspaper collection, and a photographic collection.  None of these have been digitized, meaning that to view the collections you will have to travel to Oldtown Salinas and view them firsthand.  The Center asks that you make an appointment “well in advance.”  The collections, which include items like Steinbeck first editions, personal correspondence, and documents pertaining to local history, among other things, are outlined here.

The world wide web?  Sure, in theory, but think about this: as of 2009, only 0.2% of the people of Sierra Leone had access to the internet.  About 0.3% of Bangladeshis are online, and another 0.3% of people in the Central African Republic, and again in Ethiopia.  1.6% in Turkmenistan.  2% in Nicaragua and Nauru.

That’s Not Online! does not mean to suggest for a second that these people ought to get online, stat.  It would certainly be wonderful if they did so, but ultimately, this blog thinks that the people of these countries should be allowed to improve their lives in whatever way they see fit.

All we are saying is that if you are reading anything online about the people of these nations, there is a very low probability that it was written by them.

*Statistics taken from the CIA World Factbook’s Country Comparison by Internet Users, contrasted with the recorded populations of individual countries.  Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.

Bridging the Gap: QR codes

qrcode

That’s Not Online! was founded in the conviction that the “tension” that is meant to exist between print and digital resources is, in fact, a fiction.  At this blog we believe — nay, we KNOW — that print and digital are meant to be together.  They are different, but they complement each other.  They are a marriage made in information heaven.  Do you know who else knows this?  QR codes!

Generated online (natch) and usually printed, QR codes are a way to transfer information from paper to your smartphone — FROM PRINT TO DIGITAL — at the tap of a screen!

Kaywa has a QR-code generator here.  For more about QR codes, consult Wikipedia.

Many old, pre-internet editions of journals, magazines and newspapers have been digitized and put online, freely or otherwise. But how have they been digitized? Have they been converted into HTML? Are they in slick new pdfs, created from a text document? Or are they digital images of the original print edition? Unless it’s the latter, you’re missing something. Yes, those first two file types are easier to search and store. But they don’t have any ads.

Adverts may serve as an important part of the reading experience for someone hoping to immerse herself in a particular culture or era. The placement of a certain ad next to an article might tell you a lot about a publication, or about the aspirations of the company advertising itself. Scanned images of old ads abound on the net, but they are rarely attached to any identifying information, making them useless for research.  Where a citation is provided, the ad is usually cropped from the rest of the page, depriving us of context.

There have been a few systematic attempts to digitize old ads. This website scans and uploads advertisements from theatre programmes in the Arthur Lloyd Archive.  The Guardian’s online archive is available here, for a price, and contains full-page scans of the paper.  The NYPL digital gallery has this series on old tobacco cards.  And the National Library of Scotland has captured some old advertisements through its digitized Scottish Post Office directories. (If you are aware of another, submit here.)

In general, however, it would seem that digitization is consigning old ads to the dustbin.  To find them, head for any library with a substantial back collection of newspapers or periodicals, or with special archival collections. TNO can report that the Osler Library of the History of Medicine of McGill University has a collection of old medical almanacs that contains some quite telling old adverts.  Or try the British Library Newspaper Reading Room, profiled on this very blog.

This edition of That’s Not Online! was inspired by this post from DaleA at K-State Libraries, who recounts the surprises that awaited her when she left her desk to take a magazine off the shelf.

sadburro:

“I offer myself to be devoured by Spanish peasants,” writes the poet  Federico García Lorca in a newly-discovered manuscript of a poem from  his portrait of the United States during the Great Depression, Poeta en  Nueva York (Poet in New York).
‘Extraordinary’ Lorca manuscript discovered

This draft of a Lorca poem was found “hidden in plain sight” in The Moldenhauer Archives at the Library of Congress.  A guide to the collection is available in  digital format.  This guide contains 130 representative images, and also  acts as a finding aid.  The vast majority of this collection of 3,500 documents  remains undigitized.

sadburro:

“I offer myself to be devoured by Spanish peasants,” writes the poet Federico García Lorca in a newly-discovered manuscript of a poem from his portrait of the United States during the Great Depression, Poeta en Nueva York (Poet in New York).

‘Extraordinary’ Lorca manuscript discovered

This draft of a Lorca poem was found “hidden in plain sight” in The Moldenhauer Archives at the Library of Congress.  A guide to the collection is available in digital format.  This guide contains 130 representative images, and also acts as a finding aid.  The vast majority of this collection of 3,500 documents remains undigitized.

Textbooks: are those online or not?

Image from Ace Online Schools

Image from Ace Online Schools.

Digital textbooks are frequently cited as a way to cut the ever-rising costs of higher education.  While e-books aren’t necessarily cheaper than their print counterparts (see a price breakdown here) they do have distinct advantages for students, including searchability (who reads the whole textbook?), cutting and pasting options, and convenience (more e-readers and affordable e-textbook options might result in healthier backs for everyone).

On the other hand, The New York Times claims that students prefer print, and that e-books don’t work for pedagogic reading.  Mashable counters that students just aren’t readyThe Student PIRGs summarize how to get digital textbooks back on track.  JISC negotiates with publishers to provide affordable ebooks for schools, colleges and universities in the UK.

Textbooks are increasingly moving into digital format, but without a strong response from the student body, will the growth continue?  The cheapest options remain buying a used copy — something that can’t be done with ebooks — or borrowing a copy from your institutional library (ebooks in libraries are still a sticky issue).  For the time being, for practical purposes, textbooks remain squarely in the paper-and-ink department.

Not Online: 57 times the Earth’s diameter in archival materials, at the US National Archives and Records Administration

In response to the common question "Why isn’t it all online?", NARA says:

Laid end to end, the sheets of paper in our holdings would circle the Earth over 57 times!

In addition to all of this paper, we have:

  • over 93,000 motion picture films;

  • more than 5.5 million maps, charts, and architectural drawings;

  • more than 207,000 sound and video recordings;

  • more than 18 million aerial photographs;

  • nearly 35 million still pictures and posters;

  • and more than 3.5 billion electronic records.

The volume grows at about 1.4 billion pages per year. Creating copies for our web site, and preserving those copies, simply exceeds our resources at this time.

Indeed, the sheer effort involved in digitization is not one commonly considered by the average user.  While online searching is offered, it is quite likely that a serious researcher would have to visit one of these archives facilities to get their hands on the right documents.

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