Jacob Nadal was appointed Director Library and Archives for the Brooklyn Historical Society in 2012. Prior to this, Jake has worked on collection management, preservation and conservation, and digital library projects in a variety of different settings, from major research libraries to post-conflict archives in Liberia. He served as the Preservation Officer for UCLA Library, Preservation Field Service Librarian and Acting Head of Collections Care for The New York Public Library, and as Head of the E. Lingle Craig Preservation Laboratory at Indiana University, Bloomington. He teaches in graduate programs in library and information science and leads professional workshops with numerous state and local cultural heritage groups. He received a Masters degree in Library Science from Indiana University, Bloomington and a Bachelors degree in Music from the University of Puget Sound.
Written by Jacob Nadal on May 20th, 2013
BHS actively collects documents, artworks, and artifacts that support our mission ad collection development goals. In librarian and museum parlance, we call this acquisition and accessioning. Accessioning has its etymological roots in Latin, as a concept in property law (think “accessory”, as in the property added to an estate) but for libraries, archives, and museums, it’s just as useful to think of accessioning as providing access, the act of making something usable by researchers.
In the months ahead, we’ll be featuring a few of our recent acquisitions, and pulling back the curtain to give you a sense of what we do to make it possible for people to discover and use our collections. You can probably guess the basics – give it a name, and a unique identifier; list the contents; classify it by assigning subject headings – but I think you’ll be surprised by some of the details of how it happens.
In the rest of this post, I’ll introduce you to the Matthew Lewandowski collection. Lewandowski (b. 1932 Warsaw, d. 2011 Brooklyn, NY) was a tool and die maker based in Brooklyn who specialized in the production of steel dies, called hubs, used for the stamping of hollow-form earrings. Each hub is a unique, hand-made object; an original work and a tool used for mass production. Several of the hubs and drawings are on display outside the Library door through the middle of June.
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Written by Jacob Nadal on May 16th, 2013
It’s quiet in the library for a few more minutes. The staff will start to arrive around 9, the first school tour will flow in around 10 am, soon enough the doors will open for researchers, and then at 5, we’ll strike the set and prepare for tomorrow’s symposium, “Digital Cultural Heritage and User Experience“.
There are all sorts of reasons to be excited for this event. It’s a great lineup of our smartest friends, digging into the way we work now. There will be notes and remarks to follow on the website and live responses all day on Twitter and Facebook. The symposium marks the culmination of a substantial three-year project to make Brooklyn’s photographic and visual materials more easily discovered.
Beyond the excitement of the day, I’m proud that we’re holding it here in the Othmer Library, a 132 year old library in a 150 year old historical society. Sure, we picked the venue because it’s the one of the most beautiful rooms in the city, but we’re on the list in the first place because Brooklyn Historical Society has been a key partner in Brooklyn Visual Heritage.
Technology is an integral part of our work now. Click to continue »
Written by Jacob Nadal on December 18th, 2012
The history of Brooklyn contains many stories of resilience and reinvention and Hurricane Sandy adds another chapter to that account. Brooklyn has come out in force to help this recovery and Brooklyn Historical Society is committed to doing its part by making sure there is a thorough and publicly available collection of material that will document the preparations, response, and recovery efforts.
Soon after Sandy made landfall, Brooklyn History began using email and social media to collect photographs. Our November Photo of the Week series featured “before and after” photo essays about areas impacted by the storm. We have a Storify page where you can see some of these photos, and you can still contribute: tweet photos to @brooklynhistory or using the hashtags #brooklynphotos and #sandy, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, with “Sandy” in the subject line.
Throughout the fall, BHS has turned its efforts to more systematic documentation of the storm. Journalists sometimes refer to their work as the first rough draft of history. I think of the archive’s work coming just behind the news cycle to collect the information that writers and researchers will need to write the second, third, and thirty-fourth drafts of our history. To that end, we have started up collecting efforts in several areas. Some of these projects are already in progress, although the most intense work will happen in the first months of 2013, and some will go on for a few years:
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Written by Jacob Nadal on November 13th, 2012
I moved back to Brooklyn in April to join the staff of the Brooklyn Historical Society as the Director of Library and Archives. Over the last few months, I have met many people with a stake in Brooklyn and the work that Brooklyn Historical Society does for the borough, supporters who have asked me a lot of insightful questions about our plans for the Othmer Library. In the last few weeks, the question of what we do as a library and archives has taken on an added urgency.
One of the essential jobs of libraries, archives, and museums is to help communities remember, and disasters are important points of remembrance. They shape our individual lives, our communities, and our public policy. Brooklyn Historical Society is committed to documenting the ways that Brooklyn prepared for Sandy and weathered the storm, and to document the whole course of the recovery.
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