Contributions

“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?

Hoaxes
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.

Corliss Lamont Sings
January 7, 2014


While going through some of our audio/visual holdings, I discovered this piece of history that is held in only a few places: a vinyl LP titled Corliss Lamont Sings for His Family and Friends.

Martin Gardner Papers
December 31, 2013


Here at the Center for Inquiry Libraries, we are lucky enough to own some very interesting materials from famous skeptics, scientists, and scholars. One of the most important collections relating to both skepticism and the history of the skeptical movement are the papers of Martin Gardner.