Friday, August 31, 2007

Library's Executive Director on the Road

Over the last month, our executive director, Alex Magoun, been traveling: first to the Antique Radio Club of Illinois's RadioFest in Willowbrook, and then to the Antique Wireless Association's annual meeting in Henrietta, NY, south of Rochester. These are two of the premier gatherings of radio collectors, buffs, historians, and enthusiasts, and the amount of information and artifacts they oversee could fill a wiki.

You can see Alex's captioned photo tour of the RadioFest here. It doesn't include the visit to the new Hawthorne Works Museum at Morton College in Cicero. The stunning displays of Western Electric's enormous factory and community during the 20th century offset the factual errors, and they're worth a couple of hours of your time in Chicago. The strength of the Midwest meeting, for now, is its market (the quality of the offerings makes it hard to qualify with "flea"); Alex joined a fine group of speakers with a one-hour PowerPoint presentation on RCA and the Innovation of Electronic Television, 1929-1949.

Three weeks later he drove to Henrietta and the RIT Conference Center to speak on an even bigger topic to an even bigger audience. Over 80 people listened and watched attentively as Alex distilled the 200+ pages of his new book, Television: The Life Story of a Technology (Greenwood, June 2007) into a little over an hour's worth of slides. Despite the controversies and complexities, the crowd was receptive and complimentary. He was surprised and gratified that night at the awards banquet to have AWA president Geoffrey Bourne and long-time member and television historian Richard Brewster present him with the 2007 J. P. Taylor Award for a "significant accomplishment in the field of television." Covering the birth, growth, diffusion, and decline of television as a discrete system in one slim volume is no mean feat. But don't take my and the AWA's word for it: ask your local librarian!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Why A Blog?

Some of you may be wondering why the David Sarnoff Library is re-activating its blog after such a long hiatus. There are a variety of reasons for this -

  • Our website,, is in the midst of undergoing a face lift. While we are waiting to show off its shiny new redesign, the blog is an effective way to remain in communication with our friends and patrons;
  • Even once the website redesign is complete, it's still quicker and easier to get the word out on the blog;
  • Our blog allows our visitors to subscribe to it through RSS. This means that through a service such as Google Reader, you don't have to visit the blog to see whether it has been updated. Instead, the updates will be delivered directly to you;
  • Blogging is a Web 2.0 tool that David Sarnoff would have appreciated - it allows individuals and other entities to communicate with people around the globe quickly and efficiently. As someone who started out as a junior wireless telegraph operator, General Sarnoff would be amazed at the ease of global communication available a century later; and
  • By blogging ourselves, we hope to encourage our friends and visitors to experiment with blogging and other Web 2.0 tools themselves.

For the uninitiated, blogging is an easy way to communicate with others on the Internet. We are using Blogger, simply because we are familiar with its interface, but there are several other websites that support blogging. Systems such as Blogger allow for a great deal of customization. Do you want a private online diary that only you can access - fine. Do you want to publish your thoughts throughout the World Wide Web and allow anyone who reads it to comment? You can do that also, or anything in between.

What happens if you don't like your blog? With the touch of a button (and a second touch of a button to confirm your decision) you can delete it. Poof - it's gone!

While we all know the drill about Wikipedia (don't rely on it as your only source for academic research, etc.), it does provide a nice introduction to blogging for anyone who is seeking more information.

So give it a try. See how you like it. And if/when you do step into the 21st Century Blogosphere, remember to include a link to our blog in your blogroll.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Confessions of a Sarnoff Library Volunteer

Well, confessions is probably too strong of a word. But I figured that this was a good opportunity for me to introduce myself to the David Sarnoff Library community.

My name is Sharon, and I have been volunteering at the David Sarnoff Library since February 2006. You've certainly seen me around if you've attended any of the library's major events since that time. My introduction to the David Sarnoff Library was in October 2005, during the War of the Worlds re-enactment. I had just started my MLIS program at Rutgers, and during this event it hit me like a brick that this was the perfect library for me to use for volunteer experience and field experience credit. I pursued this with Alexander Magoun, the library's director, and was able to convince him that I'd be a worthwhile volunteer to have around.

I got my feet wet volunteering from February 2006 through that November, at which point I started working on the Vladimir Zworykin/Harry Olson archival projects. I was able to use this to satisfy my Field Experience requirement, and to develop a true appreciation for the intricacies of archiving. The lessons I learned while working on this project have been invaluable.

As a result of these experiences, I have become the volunteer that won't go away. I'll be helping out at this year's War of the Worlds re-enactment, and I plan to train to become a Docent at the library.

I look forward to meeting many of you in person at future David Sarnoff Library events.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Getting Ready for the Return of the Martians

Save the date because they'll be back! In two shows on Saturday, October 27: a matinee at 2 p.m. and an evening performance at 7:30 p.m. The Library hosts the Hunterdon Radio Theatre and New Jersey Antique Radio Club's re-enactment of Orson Welles's classic broadcast of the Martian attack on Grover's Mill, New Jersey, in 1938. Subscribe to this blog or check us regularly for information on ordering tickets!