The Infill: 6 February 2016

The Infill: more entertaining than Donald Trump’s hairdo

We still love you

So how are those New Year’s resolutions coming along? Are you fluent in Flemish yet? Been busting your bum in the gym every morning at 6? Finally organised the last ten years’ worth of holiday snaps? No, you say? Nah, us neither. But there’s one resolution we’ll never break: to bring you the finest cultural and conservation updates from every corner of the globe. Our correspondents in countries from Chile to China have been working their poor fingers to the bone to unearth the nuggets of news that will educate, entertain and, if we’re lucky, end your hunger pains. So let’s jump right in…

News you can use

Unprepared for disaster? It’s not too late to change your resolutions for 2016. Let the Scottish Council on Archives’ Preservation Committee, courtesy of the University of Glasgow Library, get you in top fire-fighting shape with more tips and advice on planning and salvage than you could spray a fire extinguisher at.

Too much humidity in your paper collection? Then stayed tuned for the results of a Yale University Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage study on the Effects of Relative Humidity Fluctuations on Paper Permanence. This could be big.

Wish you were smarter? Then ditch the keyboard, tablet and smartphone (oh, the irony): it turns out that writing things out by hand makes you clever. Not to mention gives us more stuff to conserve.

Smell something strange? It might be new books. But it might also be old books. And if you’ve ever lost sleep at night wondering why new books smell like new books and old books smell like old books, then this handy, free infographic will explain all about the chemistry behind ‘The Aroma of Books’.

Hungry but think spending time in the kitchen isn’t going to get you any closer to multilingualism? Then why not try whipping up a batch of adorable little cuneiform tablet cookies… but spice things up (giggle) by doing them in the lost ancient Assyrian language archaeologists recently discovered in Turkey. That smug Jane from the book club will be positively seething with envy when you rock up with a batch of these babies.

‘Many things that cannot be privately owned’*

Public Domain, we’re ashamed to admit it: we forgot your birthday this year. Again. And by the time we realised it, we were far too embarrassed to send a card. We even thought we could just pretend it never happened and get you an audaciously expensive gift next year. But then we realised that if we didn’t fess up, we’d only be depriving our readers of the art entering the public domain in 2016. Now, that only applies to the US, but here’s another fascinating infographic for you: a colour map of worldwide copyright terms, possibly the most intriguing aspect of which is the revelation that Laos has no copyright. We weren’t surprised by Iran, but Laos? Go figure.

In other ‘free stuff’ news, we can all now, from the comfort of our own homes, enjoy a (frankly overwhelming when you look at the site) ‘public domain remix’ of 187,000 high-resolution images from the New York Public Library, the entire 51-volume set of The Harvard Classics (a Victorian-era ‘compendium of literature, philosophy, and the sciences… [that] served as a “monument from a more humane and confident time”’) and a selection from 1.5 million pages’ worth of digitised ancient manuscripts from the Vatican Library. Better fire up the kettle… we’re going to be here a while.

What have you conserved for us lately?

Parting is such sweet sorrow

It is with heavy hearts that we’ve bid farewell to the UNESCO International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies. But that won’t stop us from reporting on light-based technologies in conservation, such as projected-light ‘restorations’ at the Met’s Temple of Dendur. As for UNESCO 2016? Well, they certainly haven’t made it easy for us. But if there’s a conservation angle on chickpeas, lentils and peas, then dammit we’ll find it. So bring on the International Year of Pulses!

Your video treat:

Pleasing to both your ears and your eyes, it’s a recreation of Matisse’s La Leçon de piano.

The final word…

… goes to Mindell Dubansky, author of the two-part ‘It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: Crazy Book Repairs‘. Her observations make for amusing reading (‘these Frankenstein-like repairs are not attractive and they constrict the opening of the book pages’; ‘it is difficult to imagine a less effective binding solution’) but her final analysis, ‘Just like doctors, we endeavor to do no harm, yet subjective choices still need to be made when repairing books’ is seriously spot-on.

At The Gathering, we’re serious about helping you reach for the stars and fulfil your dreams. So the next Infill will be written entirely in ancient Assyrian cuneiform. Sometimes tough love is the best kind of love! xoxo

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