Thomas J. Watson Library, the Museum's central library, is the heart of research and scholarly activity at the Museum. Its collection, together with the distinctive collections of the Museum's departmental libraries, comprises one of the preeminent libraries for research in the history of art.
Posted: Wednesday, September 30, 2015
When deciding on new titles to acquire, books are easy; each is a discrete and complete package. Should we have this book in the library? Yes? Great: order it, add it to the collection, barcode and label it, and then shelve it so people can begin requesting it. That's it, you're done. Journals (also known as serials, periodicals, continuing resources, and/or monographic series) complicate all of these processes, since they are intended to be published indefinitely and in multiple parts.
Posted: Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Looking for inspiration for your next crafting project? Perhaps something vintage? The Museum's libraries have pattern books and instructional manuals dating back to the eighteenth century, with projects ranging from infant pinafores to macramé bikinis.
Posted: Wednesday, September 16, 2015
It's hardly a secret that librarians strongly frown upon the idea of anyone scribbling away and leaving marks inside the books in our collections. However, there are instances where annotations and marginalia can shed light on the thought process of a work's previous owner. Notes and observations handwritten onto the pages of a book can tell us which titles in a personal library most compelled a historical figure, they can elaborate or clarify an author's feelings on a work she'd published years earlier, and they can illuminate what one great author found most notable in the work of another. Even a recent exhibition held at the New York Society Library focused exclusively on interesting annotated items from their collections.
Posted: Friday, September 4, 2015
Most of the world celebrates International Workers' Day, or Labor Day, on May 1, which was established by the Second International to commemorate the Haymarket affair (or "massacre" or "riot," depending on who's telling the story) that saw violence and persecution descend on Chicago as workers demonstrated for an eight-hour workday. To this day the Haymarket affair is one of the most significant events in United States labor history, and workers the world over continue to honor it with annual May Day celebrations.
Posted: Wednesday, September 2, 2015
Over the past ten years, Watson Library has built a rich collection of facsimiles of medieval illustrated Haggadot, the texts read at the Passover Seder meal. These purchases, made possible by Friends of the Thomas J. Watson Library, support the Museum's ongoing series of installations focusing on single masterworks of Hebrew manuscript illumination such as the Washington Haggadah, the Lisbon's Hebrew Bible, and the Rylands Haggadah. These facsimiles also complement Watson's collection of research material on Latin illustrated manuscripts from the same period, since illuminators occasionally worked on both Hebrew and Latin manuscripts.
Posted: Wednesday, August 26, 2015
If you have something to sell, it makes sense to let people sample your wares before buying. That's why gelato shops will hand you those tiny plastic scoops with a delicious dollop of gelato: they want you to know firsthand what an outstanding product you will be getting. Businesses have been giving out such samples for ages, sometimes as a bound book. Naturally, there weren't books for ice cream samples (that would be messy), but rather for things like wallpapers, textiles, and fabrics—anything that could be mounted more easily on paper. Salesmen could take these books to show door to door, and businesses mailed them directly to customers. Thomas J. Watson Library has a number of these sample books in our special collections, and here in this post are two of my all-time favorite sample books.
Posted: Wednesday, August 19, 2015
¿Sabías que Nolen Library tiene libros para niños en varios idiomas? Or should I say . . . Did you know that Nolen Library collects children's books in many languages?
Posted: Wednesday, August 12, 2015
In our previous post, we discussed the safe handling of books with a specific emphasis on headcaps. In this post we'll review book joints and hinges, which also easily incur damage—often as a result of opening books too quickly and/or without adequate support. We'll then conclude by offering a few simple solutions to prevent this type of damage from happening to your favorite books.
Posted: Wednesday, August 5, 2015
For a few days in the spring, summer, and fall of 1917, the buildings and public spaces of New York City were festooned with decorations to welcome the visiting commissions of America's wartime allies—namely the British, French, Italian, Russian, and Japanese war commissions. Watson Library has digitized four albums documenting these visits with photography by the Wurts Brothers Company, whose studio, founded in 1894, specialized in architectural photography.1 The photographs are fascinating both for the historical context in which they were produced—the United States had just entered the war on April 6, 1917—and for the evidence they provide of buildings and monuments which have remained, have been altered, or have disappeared altogether.
Posted: Wednesday, July 29, 2015
From finials and doorknockers to gateways and stair railings, ornate iron has been an important medium for decorative expression since the Middle Ages.