Lost in the library: The New York Public Library Digital Gallery

A tip from Jonathan Hoefler led me to the NYPL Digital Gallery, now fully searchable and browsable, with low resolution images free for non-profit use (including personal blogs, though not Wikipedia). Some really fascinating stuff, including a number of University of Virginia related items: detailed close-up shots of the pediments of East Lawn, the post-1895 Rotunda, the serpentine walls, two different views of the famous pre-1895 engraving showing the Lawn from the West with the Rotunda annex, a view of the full map of Virginia from which the 1826 engraving of the Lawn is drawn and a separate close-up of that engraving, other early engravings likely not drawn from life (since they don’t show the terraces on the Lawn) but including the pediment around Pavilion X, the exterior and interior of Edgar Allan Poe’s room on West Range following one of the Raven Society restorations of the room, and my personal favorite, pictures from a visit that Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas made to the University in 1935, including a shot with faculty and students, the pair in front of a pavilion, and this nifty shot of Stein in front of the Rotunda.

I’m pretty sure you could kill hours just looking through this site–for me, the old photos from Newport News are just about as fascinating as the UVA material.

Basement library complete

Here’s the after to Tuesday’s before, with my row of Bestå shelves from Ikea fully assembled. The doors went on Monday night, and the books went in the last few nights. I’m still waiting on one glass door and a few DVD organizers for the small shelf to the right, which will help with the clutter there.

The hardest thing about the shelves is probably just deciding where to put them to maximize storage. The shelves that meet the bottom of the glass doors need to stay fixed, and there are LPs behind the bottom doors, so that dictates the position of two shelves; and there needs to be another fixed shelf about a third of the way down for stability. But there are a lot of options for the other shelves. I ended up doing something I swore off years ago: sorting books by size and spacing the shelves accordingly. I bought five extra shelves for the units I bought (comprising four 75-inch bays and one 50 inch bay), and I think I still need to buy one or two more extras.

Bonus: click through on the photo and look at the “original size” version on Flickr, and you can get a pretty good look at the titles in my library.

Houseblog restart: Basement library and guest bedroom

For various reasons, we’ve taken a good long break from home improvement, so the houseblog has been pretty dormant. That changed last week when Lisa and I started to look seriously at what it would take to reclaim our basement as a guest bedroom.

Right now it’s quite a project. Ever since the flood in 2006, we haven’t really used the room as living space. We had a lot of cleanup to do, and ended up parking a lot of junk down there along with my (mercifully undamaged) books and music. The sump pump we installed in 2007 has helped us recover our confidence in the room, though, and we have A Plan For A Guest Room. (I’m capitalizing it so it feels more official.)

The room is not too small, about ten feet wide by fourteen or fifteen feet long, but of that fourteen or fifteen feet only about eleven feet is usable. The fireplace in the basement (which smokes too much to be usable) is made of fieldstone from behind the house, which is nice, but projects into the room about a foot, rendering the foot or so of wall space on either side unusable. And on the other side there’s a corridor running from the foot of the stairs to the door to the laundry room that has to be kept open for traffic. So there are already some floorplan challenges.

Add to that all the acres of leftover boxes, kitchen debris that we “decluttered” from the kitchen only to clutter the basement room, other clutter that accumulates through a few years of family life, extra furniture gifted by well meaning family members, surplus dog beds, and so on, and there’s a bit of a challenge in even seeing the walls.

So here’s the punchlist for the project:

Phase 1: Declutter

  1. Package up in storage crates the stuff we need to keep.
  2. Sell a few items of furniture and maybe some leftover electronics (surplus turntable, CD player, DVD player, TV)
  3. Give away whatever we can’t sell. (Thank you, Arlington List and Freecycle.)
  4. Throw away whatever we can’t give away.
  5. CDs–I have about a thousand CDs left after the Great CD Ripping Project concluded. They need a home.
  6. Before I get rid of the CDs, I need to buy a hard drive to back up my music drive, so that I don’t lose all the music I ripped.

Phase II: Redecorate

  1. Temporarily box up all my books and LPs. (No small feat.)
  2. Collapse the old open bookshelves that currently consume the walls in the main room.
  3. Paint!
  4. Lay new carpet tiles.
  5. Replace the door that covers the access for the main house water valve and the sump (the prior door was damaged in the flood).

Phase III: Reinstall

  1. Purchase and install new bookshelves, with doors, along one wall of the room. (Hello, Billy. Hello, Bestå.)
  2. Load in the books.
  3. Purchase a new sleeper sofa and set it up along the other wall.

The good news: Esta is visiting right now and has already helped with items 1, 3, and 4, and will be helping with #9. That still leaves a lot to be done when I get back from Tanglewood. But it should be fun.