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Art and Judaica Looted by Nazis from Jews Still Largely Unidentified; Review of 50 Countries Shows Little Progress Despite International Pacts

September 12, 2014 Comments off

Art and Judaica Looted by Nazis from Jews Still Largely Unidentified; Review of 50 Countries Shows Little Progress Despite International Pacts
Source: Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference)

Claims Conference President Julius Berman announced that a new report shows that 15 years after the first international agreement regarding restitution of Nazi-era looted art, most countries have made little progress toward returning stolen cultural items to their rightful owners. A survey of 50 countries by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference) and the World Jewish Restitution Organization (WJRO) shows that two-thirds of the nations that have endorsed agreements regarding research, publicity and claims for Nazi-era looted art have done little or nothing to implement those pacts.

The Claims Conference/WJRO reviewed activity over the past 15 years regarding the identification of artworks, Judaica, and other cultural property plundered from Jews by the Nazis and their allies.While there have been some positive developments since the 2009 Prague Holocaust Era Assets Conference, only one-third of the participating nations have made major or substantial progress towards implementing the Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art (endorsed by 44 countries in 1998) and the Terezin Declaration (endorsed by 47 countries in 2009). All of the countries are signatories to the Code of Ethics for Museums of the International Council of Museums (ICOM), which calls upon museums to establish the full provenance of items in their collections, but only a minority of museums has actually implemented this Code.

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Soldiers, Spies and the Moon: Secret U.S. and Soviet Plans from the 1950s and 1960s: Declassified Documents Reflect the Covert Side of Lunar Programs

September 9, 2014 Comments off

Soldiers, Spies and the Moon: Secret U.S. and Soviet Plans from the 1950s and 1960s: Declassified Documents Reflect the Covert Side of Lunar Programs
Source: National Security Archive

Forty-five years ago, astronaut Neil Armstrong took his “one small step” for mankind, becoming the first person to set foot on the moon. The program that resulted in that historic event — managed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) — had been a very public one ever since its announcement by President John F. Kennedy in 1961. Even the Soviet government had publicized aspects of its own effort.

But there were also highly secret elements to the U.S. and Soviet schemes, which are the subject of today’s National Security Archive posting of previously classified records. The documents focus on three topics — early U.S. military plans, including the possibility of conducting nuclear tests in space, the use of the moon to reflect signals for military or intelligence purposes, and U.S. intelligence analyses and estimates of Soviet missions and their intentions to land a man on the lunar surface.

The posting includes:

  • Army and Air Force studies from 1959 – 1961 on the creation of a military lunar base, with possible uses as a surveillance platform (for targets on earth and space) and the Lunar Based Earth Bombardment System (Document 1a, Document 1b, Document 3, Document 4).
  • A study on the detonation of a nuclear device on or in the vicinity of the moon (Document 2).
  • The use of the lunar surface to relay signals from Washington to Hawaii and from U.S. spy ships (Document 15).
  • Collection of Soviet radar signals after they bounced off the moon — a technique known as Moon Bounce ELINT (Document 11, Document 14).
  • The U.S. theft and return of a Soviet space capsule during an exhibition tour (Document 13).
  • A 1965 estimate of Soviet intentions with regard to a manned moon landing (Document 5).
  • Several analyses of Soviet Luna missions, including Luna 9 — the first mission to result in a soft landing on the moon (Document 6, Document 7, Document 8, Document 10, Document 16).

A History of Financial Aid to Students

August 1, 2014 Comments off

A History of Financial Aid to Students (PDF)
Source: Journal of Student Financial Aid

The history of financial aid in higher education covers a board range of philanthropic-, scholarship-, and loan-based approaches. This article comprehensively covers the history of American financial aid to students from influences of European medieval institutions to contemporary aid systems. A broad history of financial aid is covered, revealing an evolution from a system primarily based upon local philanthropic efforts, to a more formal system of scholarships and grants, to, finally, a complex federal system of loans. As the history of financial aid is chronologically covered, attention is paid to describing how financial aid policies and practices were a response to societal and political contexts of their times and how need- and merit-based philosophies have given way to political agenda-based philosophies of aid.

IFLA 2014 eLending Background Paper

July 31, 2014 Comments off

IFLA 2014 eLending Background Paper (PDF)
Source: International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions

eBook Trends

Given the different stages of maturity of eBook publishing in different countries, it is not surprising that digital publishing statistics and trends vary substantially by region and country.

In the United States, the most developed market for eBooks, 2013 saw a significant decline in eBook sales growth. This is dramatically illustrated considering the Association of American Publishers’ first quarter eBook sale s growth (the peak selling period of the year) over the past 4 years:

2010 +252%
2011 + 159%
2012 + 28%
2013 + 5%

When considering eBook sales it is now routine for English language market analysts to use terms like “matured’, “levelled off” and “plateaued”. Having said this it is evident that eBooks now form an important and still growing revenue stream for trade publishers. In the words of one commentator “The e-book may turn out to be more of a complement to the printed book, as audiobooks have long been, rather than an outright substitute”.

Having said this it is evident that eBooks now form an important and still growing revenue stream for trade publishers. In the words of one commentator “The e – book may turn out to be more of a complement to the printed book, as audiobooks have long been, rather than an outright substitute”. In this context it should be noted that in 2013 overall US adult trade hardcover book revenue rose 9.7% in 2013 , while adult eBook revenue rose by 3.8%. In 2013 in the US, overall adult eBook revenue accounted for 27% of all adult trade revenue. By comparison, 2013 eBook sales in Canada (a less mature market for eBooks) accounted for 17% of all book purchases. In non – English speaking EU countries eBook sales revenue is correspondingly much lower, numbering in the low single digits: e.g. in Norway eBook sales account for less than 1% of publisher revenue and in The Netherlands 2.2% of revenue.

Hat tip: INFOdocket

Guidelines for Digital Newspaper Preservation Readiness

July 25, 2014 Comments off

Guidelines for Digital Newspaper Preservation Readiness
Source: Educopia Institute

Libraries and other cultural memory organizations curate a substantial body of digital newspaper content. The genesis of these collections is often a series of iterative and cumulative digitization and born-digital acquisitions with idiosyncratic and ad-hoc data storage structures that vary radically in their file types, structures, and metadata. These institutions have limited resources to expend on the normalization or restructuring of their legacy digital content.

The NEH-funded Chronicles in Preservation project has produced a set of Guidelines that explicitly differentiate between the essential and the optimal in preservation readiness activities and that document the incremental steps that institutions may take to move from the essential to the optimal level of preservation readiness for their digital newspapers.

If institutions believe that they are incapable of readying their content for preservation according to emerging standards and guidelines, they may not take any action at all. If they instead can engage in an incremental process that allows them to begin preserving content now, while slowly and steadily building toward an optimal level of preservation readiness, they will be more likely to participate in preservation activities now.

AU — The arts and culture: a quick guide to key internet links

July 22, 2014 Comments off

The arts and culture: a quick guide to key internet links
Source: Parliamentary Library of Australia

This Quick Guide provides links to:

  • Australian Government organisations responsible for the arts and culture
  • state and territory government websites
  • regional arts websites
  • non-government organisations websites and
  • international organisations.

It also provides links to a range of organisations by art form:

  • ballet and dance
  • film
  • libraries
  • literature
  • museums and galleries
  • music and opera
  • performing arts education
  • theatre and
  • visual arts.

The Future of Driving in Developing Countries

July 17, 2014 Comments off

The Future of Driving in Developing Countries
Source: RAND Corporation

The level of automobility, defined as travel in personal vehicles, is often seen as a function of income: The higher a country’s per capita income, the greater the amount of driving. However, levels of automobility vary quite substantially between countries even at similar levels of economic development. This suggests that countries follow different mobility paths. The research detailed in this report sought to answer three questions: What are the factors besides economic development that affect automobility? What is their influence on automobility? What will happen to automobility in developing countries if they progress along similar paths as developed countries? To answer these questions, the authors developed a methodology to identify these factors, model their impact on developed countries, and forecast automobility (as defined by per capita vehicle-kilometers traveled [VKT]) in four developing countries. This methodology draws on quantitative analysis of historical automobility development in four country case studies (the United States, Australia, Germany, and Japan) that represent very different levels of per capita automobility, in combination with data derived from an expert-based qualitative approach. The authors used the latter to assess how these experiences may affect the future of automobility in the BRIC countries: Brazil, Russia, India, and China. According to this analysis, automobility levels in the four BRIC countries will fall between those of the United States (which has the highest per capita VKT level of the four case studies) and Japan (which has the lowest). Brazil is forecasted to have the highest per capita VKT and India the lowest.

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