“Death-Bed Conversion of Robert G. Ingersoll”
August 18, 2014

The Ingersoll Conference occurred this past weekend here at CFI, and while I was preparing some display cases for the event, I re-discovered many interesting items that are part of our libraries’ collections. I also discovered some history about Ingersoll and his supposed conversion while on his death-bed back in 1899.

R.V. Pierce Collection
August 6, 2014

I have worked for the last five or six years on digitizing various items of historic value in my role as an adjunct instructor at the University of Buffalo. I have used the class I taught to not only teach the students various issues that arise while digitizing, but also to help small cultural institutions in the WNY area learn about digitization and get them started in making their collections available to a larger pool of people; namely those who are aware of, a repository of digital items from the various libraries of New York State. One of the first collections we converted to digital was the R.V. Pierce Collection of Medical Artifacts.

“Religions Are For a Day: Robert Green Ingersoll Appreciated”
July 18, 2014

The folks here at the Center for Inquiry have published a new book on Robert Ingersoll. Tom Flynn, director of the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum and editor of Free Inquiry, and Julia Lavarnway, assistant editor of Free Inquiry, put together this work which includes a biography of Ingersoll, several short pieces by Ingersoll himself, and descriptions and stories of some of the more interesting pieces at the RGI Birthplace Museum. The Freethought Trail, another of Flynn’s related projects, has several chapters devoted to it in this work.

“Reason: The Only Oracle of Man”
June 16, 2014

This work, first published in 1785, is considered the first work critical of Christianity published in the New World, but is also considered a Deist work, and a freethought work as well. Given the fact that there was a limited run and a fire in the print shop where it was created, it is a wonder (dare I say miracle) that it survived and we are lucky to have a first edition here at CFI’s libraries.

The Information
May 28, 2014

The advent of the Information Revolution that began in the late twentieth century caused such a significant change in the way we work, play, and even just exist on a day-to-day basis that some context is helpful to understand how these changes came about. Technology changed the way we work: high-tech service jobs are now more prevalent than manufacturing jobs, which were created as a result of the Industrial Revolution. The sharing of information over distances of both time and location are the focus of James Gleick’s The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood (New York: Pantheon, 2011).

Libraries in an Information Age
April 18, 2014

Whenever you hear the word library, what is the first thing that pops into your head? For most people, it connotes a musty room or building with many, many books, a few other media sources such as magazines or microfilm, possibly a computer or two, and a quiet place to read. What if I told you that libraries are about information first and foremost?

March 31, 2014

Another April 1 is upon us, and, as always, someone will try to prank, fool, or hoax us. The media usually tries to hoax us in some way at this time of year, and one of our specialties here at CFI is to examine these types of things. From the War of the Worlds radio broadcast to the Cardiff Giant to the Piltdown Hoax, we have accounts of many hoaxes in our libraries.

The Thornton Page Papers at CFI
March 4, 2014

With interest renewing due to the upcoming follow-up to Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, I was reminded of one of our more interesting sets of papers here at CFI, namely, some items donated by the family of Dr. Thornton Page.

To Digitize or Not to Digitize, That Is the Question
February 17, 2014

I am an adjunct at the University of Buffalo, and the main course I teach is Digital Libraries. We take a hands-on approach to the whole digitization process, from planning, grant processes, and procedures through the physical scanning of objects to the actual uploading and presentation of the images online. I also discuss in detail the various reasons we should or should not digitize because it also will help determine what to digitize and also what are the next steps in the process.

The Gordon Stein Collection
January 30, 2014

My seventeen-year anniversary working as the director of the various libraries and archives at the Center for Inquiry (CFI) is fast approaching. When I started here on February 2, 1997, we had around twelve thousand books between the various collections. Currently, we have about seventy thousand books, about 40 percent of which is not yet cataloged; plus, we have acquired numerous collections of mixed materials and periodicals from a variety of sources. One of the most interesting collections we ever acquired is the Gordon Stein Collection.