From the Cataloger's Desk: An island unto oneself

by Iris Lee on

Library News

After nearly a month of hosting an unwelcome guest in my household (cough, Covid-19), the cataloging desk is again open for processing: I present to you the new book list for the months of April and May. 

Coming back to the Library after isolation in my apartment, I was struck by the beauty of one of our gift books, Islands (Islas). It is a photographic journey capturing the wildlife and landscapes of islands across the globe, with content in both English and Spanish. Perhaps I was more susceptible to the friendly portraits of these island dwellers out there trying to survive in a rapidly changing climate, but this volume was a cozy comfort and office companion during my weeks back from isolation.

In my profession as a cataloger, I participate in the collaborative efforts of cooperative cataloging. Through OCLC, the global library organization better known to casual users through one of its many services, WorldCat, catalogers (like myself) benefit from the work of many of my fellow technicians. When there is a “full” record to link our local holdings to, it saves me time -- the descriptions are present and accurate (for the most part!), and I can focus on adding local metadata for our users. We call this “copy cataloging”. With Islands (Islas), there was no English language catalog record to “copy”. So, I got to do “original cataloging” with this wonder of a book, and the libraries who use OCLC, will be linking their copies of Islands to the catalog description I provided. How’s that for teamwork? We may be islands unto ourselves at times, but ultimately, we are all connected. I was really feeling this Galápagos Land Iguana (pictured below), by the time I submitted my final original catalog record to the global database.

Image of book page, Conolophus subscristatus, Galápagos Land Iguana pictured opposite Table of Contents in the book, Islands = Islas (2018)
Conolophus subscristatus, Galápagos Land Iguana pictured opposite Table of Contents in the book, Islands = Islas (2018)
I. Lee/© AMNH

Ancient households on the north coast of Peru
by Ilana Johnson, David Pacifico, Robyn E. Cutright
2021
Not limited to one time period or civilization, provides insight into the development of complex, urban, and state-level society in the region, showing how observed domestic patterns inform a new archaeological perspective on general processes in domestic life in and beyond Andean prehistory. 

Evolution of magmatic and diamond-forming systems of the Earth's lower mantle
by Anna V. Spivak, Yuriy A. Litvin
2019
This book sheds valuable new light on the genetic mineralogy of lower-mantle diamonds and syngenetic minerals. It presents groundbreaking experimental results revealing the melting relations of ultrabasic and basic associations and a physicochemical peritectic mechanism of their evolution. The experimental investigations included here reveal the key multicomponent, multiphase oxide-silicate-carbonate-carbon parental media for lower-mantle diamonds and syngenetic minerals. This book addresses the needs of all researchers studying the Earth's deepest structure, super-deep mineral formation including diamonds, and magmatic evolution.

Extinction and the human : four American encounters
by Timothy Sweet
2021
Extinction and the Human brings some of the human/animal distinction's motivating concerns-morality, communicability, historical destiny, sovereignty-to case studies of human-animal relations in which animal species have become extinct or endangered. This book focuses on mammoths, whales, and the North American bison beginning with the moments that these species' extinction or endangerment began to generate significant print archives. Throughout the cases in this book, various accounts of the distribution of agency and responsibility give rise to different accounts of the human role with respect to nonhumans. 

Iconotypes : a compendium of butterflies & moths or : Jones's Icones complete : an enhanced facsimile
introduced by Richard I. Vane-Wright, entomologist & taxonomist; in partnership with Oxford University Museum of Natural History
2021
Jones's 'Icones' contains finely delineated paintings of more than 760 species of Lepidoptera, many of which it described for the first time, marking a critical moment in the study of natural history. With Iconotypes Jones's seminal work is published for the first time, accompanied by expert commentary and contextual essays, and featuring annotated maps showing the location of each species. Jones painted the species between the early 1780s and 1800, drawing from his own collection and the collections of Joseph Banks, Dru Drury, Sir James Edward Smith, John Francillon, the British Museum and the Linnean Society. For every specimen painting he provided a species name, the collection from which it was taken and the geographical location in which it was found. In 1787, during a visit to London, the Danish scientist Johann Christian Fabricius studied Jones's paintings and based 231 species of butterfly and moths on them. In this enhanced facsimile, Jones's references to historic references are clarified and modern taxonomic names are provided, together with notes on which paintings serve as iconotypes. Contextual commentary by specialist entomologist Richard I. Vane-Wright gives an account of Jones's life and his motivation for collecting butterflies and creating the Icones, and evaluates the significance of his work. Interspersed at intervals between the pages of Jones's paintings are modern maps showing the location of each species painted, and expert essays on the development of lepidoptery and taxonomy after Linneaus, and the roles of collectors and natural history artists from the late 1700s to mid-1800s. Between the early 1780s and 1810, Jones, a wine merchant, painted in painstaking detail hundreds of species of Lepidoptera, drawing from his own collection and the collections of prominent amateur naturalists. For every specimen, Jones included the known species name, the collection, and the geographical location in which it was found. In this enhanced facsimile, Jones's historical references are clarified and modern taxonomic names are provided together with notes on which paintings serve as iconotypes. Contextual commentary by specialist entomologist Richard I. Vane-Wright gives an account of Jones's life, his motivation for collecting butterflies and creating the Icones, and evaluates the significance of Jones's work. This lavish volume intersperses contemporary maps showing the locations of each specimen, expert essays on the study of lepidoptery since Ancient Egyptian times, the development of taxonomy after Linnaeus, the roles of collectors and natural history artists during the late 1700s to mid-1800s, and the steep decline of butterflies and moths over the last fifty years. Iconotypes is a beautiful collector's object for fans of natural history and illustrations of butterflies and moths, as well as artists, designers, and bibliophiles.

Image encounters : Moche murals and archaeo art history
by Lisa Trever
2022
In this book, Lisa Trever develops an interdisciplinary methodology ("archaeo-art history") to interpret artworks located in deep history, long before the use of written scripts. In order to "read" these murals, scholars must be sensitive to the material evidence and visual perception in deciphering these images. This is the first truly comprehensive study of Moche murals of northern Peru, which represent one of the great, still largely unknown artistic traditions of the ancient Americas, as well as the first art historical analysis of newly discovered murals at the site of Pañamarca that make a striking aesthetic break from earlier Moche sites. Trever also endeavors to place Moche mural art within the broader South American contexts of deeply ancient (ca. 5000 BCE) Pacific coastal traditions of bodily image-making and figural "graffiti.” 

Islands = Islas
by Nicholas D. Holmes, Olivier Langrand, Russell A. Mittermeier, Anthony B. Rylands, Thomas Brooks, Dena R. Spatz, James C. Russell, Wes Sechrest, Federico Méndez-Sánchez; foreword by Sir Richard Branson
2018
Simply and aptly entitled, Islands celebrates our planet's more than 460,000 islands--which have long inspired human imagination. From islands as large as New Guinea to small, unnamed offshore rock stacks, they feature not only forested tropical paradises and coral atolls, but also offer majestic, desolate, and windswept mountains. While they make up only five percent of the land on our planet, islands are home to an estimated 20 percent of all birds, reptiles and plants, and an extraordinary concentration of endemic species. Their isolation and the absence of competition have enabled founding species to evolve in diverse and astonishing ways, many on just a single island. On a global scale, conservation has compelling reasons to focus on our earth's islands. In our modern age, islands have seen the highest numbers of extinctions. Today, they are home to almost 40 percent of all known critically endangered animals. Invasive species, habitat loss, and climate change are major threats to native island species--from Arctic and Sub-Antarctic islands, where climate change is melting sea ice and glaciers, to the islands of Melanesia, Wallacea, and Sundaland, where the sea level is rising rapidly. Islands is the 26th edition of our combined CEMEX Nature and Conservation Book Series, and it will surely inspire our global audience and continue to create awareness of the importance of preserving our planet's diverse natural resources. Although there are many threats to native island species, Islands elegantly underscores how islands enjoy numerous examples of significant conservation successes.

Mapping nature across the Americas
edited by Kathleen A. Brosnan and James R. Akerman
2021
Maps are inherently unnatural. Projecting three-dimensional realities on two-dimensional surfaces, maps are abstractions that capture someone's idea of what matters within a particular place; they require selections and omissions. It is these very characteristics, however, that give maps their importance in our understanding of how humans have interacted with the natural world over time and that give historical maps the capability to provide rich insights into the relationship between humans and nature overtime. That is just what is achieved in Mapping Nature Across the Americas. The essays in this book argue for the greater analysis of historical maps in the field of environmental history and for greater attention within the field of the history of cartography to the cultural constructions of nature contained within maps. This volume thus provides the first in-depth investigation of the relationship between maps and environmental knowledge in the Americas, from sixteenth century indigenous cartography in Mexico to the mapping of American forests in the US during the early conservation years of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries 

Rethinking the Inka : community, landscape, and empire in the Southern Andes
by Frances M. Hayashida, Andrés Troncoso, Diego Salazar
2022
A presentation of long-term and new research on Qollasuyu by leading scholars from South America and the United States. Previously, English-language texts have focused on the area that is now part of Peru, but the majority of recent research on the Inka has been produced by scholars working in Qollasuyu, the largest of the four quarters of the empire, which extended from the Inka capital of Cuzco into what is now Bolivia, northwestern Argentina, and Chile. This research has hitherto been published primarily in Spanish by South American scholars; this volume seeks to remedy that. 

The art of the anthropological diorama : Franz Boas, Arthur C. Parker, and constructing authenticity
by Noémie Étienne; translation from the French, Chris Miller
2021
Dioramas are devices on the frontier of various disciplines. Their use developed during the nineteenth century, following reforms aimed at developing the educational dimension of museums. This book examines the anthropological dioramas of two North American museums in the early twentieth century: the American Museum of Natural History, New York, and the New York State Museum, Albany. Dioramas featuring human figures are now the subject of harsh criticism; this thorough study of the work of the artists and scientists who made them sheds light on their genesis. Sites for creating and mediating knowledge - combining painting, sculpture, photography, and material culture - dioramas tell a story that is always political. They create visions of otherness and of ancestry within the museum. 

The gems of Hiddenite, North Carolina : mining history, geology and mineralogy
by Mark Ivan Jacobson and Wade Edward Speer
2016
Emerald-green hiddenite, a gem so valuable that it is said "a June bug can carry away $1,000 worth," is only found in one area of North America: Alexander County, North Carolina. Now known as the village of Hiddenite, the area has continuously produced gems of great beauty since 1875, including the largest natural emerald and the largest faceted emerald in North America. The beauty of the area's free-standing minerals of emerald green beryl and spodumene, as well as amethyst, smoky quartz, calcite and rutile, have attracted collectors, adventurers and miners since their discovery. The search for emeralds and other gemstones over more than 100 years has generated true drama: controversies about mineral names, who discovered what, tragic fatal accidents, and physical strife between individuals. This book reveals the whole story. Alongside the fascinating history of the area, it includes detailed information about the geology of the region, and will be of interest to the historian, mineral enthusiast and the curious reader alike. 

The girl explorers : the untold story of the globetrotting women who trekked, flew, and fought their way around the world
by Jayne Zanglein
2021
"Don't take women when you go exploring!" In 1932, Roy Chapman Andrews, the president of the Explorers Club, told hundreds of female students at Barnard College that women and exploration could never mix. He obviously didn't know a thing about either... The Girl Explorers is the inspirational and untold story of the women who broke apart the stuffy men's club and founded the Society of Woman Geographers (SWG), and how some key members-including Blair Niles, Amelia Earhart, Gloria Hollister, and Anna Heyward Taylor-paved the way for women scientists by scaling mountains, exploring the seas, flying across the Atlantic, and recording the world through film, sculpture, and art.

The museum in the cultural sciences : collecting, displaying, and interpreting material culture in the twentieth century
edited by Peter N. Miller
2021
Berlin and its museums have been at the center of museum thinking for the last hundred years. Debates about the role and structure of museums played out in 1907 and 1910 with two striking series of articles that appeared in the journal Museumskunde: Journal for the Administration and Technology of Public and Private Collections. The first was a six-part essay by Otto Lauffer on history museums, and the second was a ten-part piece by Oswald Richter regarding ethnographic museums. Together, they initiated a century of significant dialogue. The Museum in the Cultural Sciences offers the first full English translations of these articles, which remain influential in conversations about the implications of art, historical, and ethnographic museums. They show how sophisticated the discussion of museums and museum display was in the early twentieth century and how much could be gained from revisiting these reflections in the current age -- just as the same collections discussed in these pages are reorganized yet again, and searching questions about patrimony, display, and repatriation reemerge.

Types of kinship terminological systems and how to analyze them : new insights from the application of Sidney H. Gould's analytic system
by David B. Kronenfeld
2022
This essay presents Gould's distinctive system for analyzing kin terminologies showing the system's power, importance, and usefulness-and showing its relationship to other approaches and the payoffs each aims at. In revealing significant new empirical regularities and simplifications, Gould's analytic system implies important constraints on future analytic and interpretative approaches to kin terminologies. Some of these new insights involve the demonstration of the effect of distributed collective cognitive systems over and above the effects of repeated iterations of individual cognitive constraints or pressures. It is the peculiar nature of the kinterm domain that allows these findings to be so directly shown, but the implication is that these findings apply more generally to the collective cognitive systems that make up language and culture.

Can’t get enough? For additional new books see our New Books page!

The AMNH Library is not currently open to the public. Resources are available to Museum staff and items may circulate to staff members with full borrowing privileges. Staff can submit an application for access here: https://www.amnh.org/research/research-library/staff-access-and-registration

This entry was written by Iris Lee, Cataloging and Metadata Librarian.