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Philosophizing on Bobbleheads
Mark Weiner has posted a video on his Worlds of Law blog, which features our Supreme Court Bobblhead Collection. In “A Philosophical Reflection on Judicial Bobbleheads”, Weiner uses the bobbleheads as a point of departure for a comparison between the judiciary in the U.S. and Germany. You can also view the video on YouTube.
The cataloging of our Bobblehead Doll Collection was completed just this week, and Mark Weiner's video is a direct result. You can browse the entire collection via the record for the Bobblehead Doll Collection in our online catalog, MORRIS. In addition, the records for the Supreme Court Bobbleheads feature thumbnail images (like the one shown here) derived from the "Annotated Bobbleheads" on the website of The Green Bag, the "journal of entertaining law" that issues the bobbleheads.
Thanks to Mark Weiner for the video, to our cataloger Susan Karpuk for her fine cataloging, to Mary Jane Kelsey (Associate Librarian for Technical Services) for linking the thumbnail images, and to Ross Davies, editor of The Green Bag, for designating the Lillian Goldman Law Library as the official Supreme Court Bobblehead archive.
-- MIKE WIDENER
Rare Book Librarian
Fan letters from fourth-graders
I received dozens of wonderful thank-you letters from the fourth-grade students of Ridge Road Elementary School in North Haven, who visited on April 22, like the one pictured here from Chandler. I read every single one of them. Judging from the letters, the Supreme Court Bobbleheads were a huge hit, as were the medieval manuscripts in our exhibit, "Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law
Chandler was one of several students who asked questions in their letters. Good questions from good students deserve good answers.
Chandler asks: "Do the old books need to be in hot or cold temperature?"
Cooler temperatures are better for old books, Chandler. Cooler temperatures slow down chemical reactions that cause the materials in books to deteriorate. Warm temperatures, combined with high humidity, can also cause mold spores to wake up and begin reproducing. It is also important to keep old books at an even temperature, because changes in temperature can cause the books to change their shape. In the Law Library's Rare Book Room, we keep the temperature at a steady 69 degrees Fahrenheit, and a relative humidity of 45%. You can learn more from a leaflet titled Temperature, Relative Humidity, Light, and Air Quality: Basic Guidelines for Preservation, from the Northeast Document Conservation Center.
Sydney writes: "I never thought the sun could destroy or ruin all those beautiful books! So, what sort of things do you put in the exhibits while the sun is out in summer?
Sunlight cannot reach our exhibit cases, Sydney. In addition, we have taken several steps to limit the chance of damage from light. The plexiglass on the exhibit cases filters out almost all of the ultraviolet light. We also have sleeves on the flourescent light tubes, to cut down the general level of light. For more information, see Protection from Light Damage, a leaflet from the Northeast Document Conservation Center.
Ever writes: "I still can't believe that the Yale students get to touch, hold and read the books. Wouldn't the books just break into little pieces?"
We have special rules for handling the books, Ever. The books must stay in our reading room, under my supervision. The readers use special foam cradles to support the books, they must use pencil instead of ink to take notes, and they must handle the books with care. However, we want students to use our books. The books come alive when they are used. Our job is not only to collect and protect these treasures, but also to share them with students and teachers.
Finally, to all the Ridge Road students who said they wanted to come visit again: Please do come back!
Rare Book Librarian
4th-graders from North Haven tour our exhibits
On April 22 the Rare Book Collection hosted 84 4th-grade students from Ridge Road Elementary School in North Haven, CT. They toured our current exhibit, "Reused, Rebound, Recovered: Medieval Manuscript Fragments in Law Book Bindings." They posed plenty of perceptive questions. It was a delight to have them.
They also got a kick out of our display of Supreme Court Bobbleheads...
Thanks to Ridge Road Elementary's librarian, Lydia Westerberg, for organizing this visit, to the other Ridge Road Elementary teachers and parents who accompanied the students, and to my library colleagues Cesar Zapata and Kathy Eow for their help.
Rare Book Librarian
Supreme Court Bobbleheads on exhibit
The Green Bag, "An Entertaining Journal of Law," has selected the Lillian Goldman Law Library to be the official archive of its Supreme Court Bobbleheads. To mark this momentous event, the Rare Book Collection has put a selection of Supreme Court Bobbleheads on display, on Level L2 of the Law Library, in the wall
case at the entrance to the Paskus-Danziger Rare Book Room.
Adam Liptak, the New York Times reporter who covers the U.S. Supreme Court, published an excellent article on the exhibit, "Relax, Legal Scholars: Bobbleheads Are Safe at Yale", in the March 17, 2010 issue of the New York Times.
The Green Bag began issuing its Supreme Court Bobbleheads in 2003 with Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist. Subsequently, the bobbleheads have come out roughly in order of seniority, with Justice David H. Souter being the most recent of the sitting Justices (issued shortly before his retirement from the Court).
The bobbleheads have a sophisticated iconography, as Ross E. Davies, editor-in-chief of The Green Bag, explained in the New York Times article: "The bobbleheads are, not to overstate it, a little bit more than toys. They're portrayals of the work and character of these judges." See "The Annotated Bobblehead: Justice John Paul Stevens," at right, for an example.
So far, The Green Bag has issued bobbleheads of seven modern Justices (in order of appearance they are William H. Rehnquist, John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O'Connor, Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy, Harry A. Blackmun, and David H. Souter) and two historic Justices (Louis D. Brandeis and Benjamin Curtis, author of a famous dissent to the Dred Scott decision). Forthcoming are small bobbleheads of the first Supreme Court Justices (John Jay, William Cushing, and John Rutledge).
Yale's Supreme Court Bobblehead Collection also includes dozens of "draft" bobbleheads, reflecting earlier stages in their design.
The Green Bag bobbleheads are not the first bobbleheads in the Rare Book Collection. That honor goes to the bobblehead of Yale law professor and Dean Emeritus Harold Hongju Koh, which was issued in 2006 as a fundraiser for the Yale Law School chapter of the American Constitution Society.
Thanks to Ross Davies and The Green Bag for making this acquisition possible, and to Fred Shapiro, our Associate Librarian for Collections & Access, who had the inspired idea of contacting The Green Bag.
The Supreme Court Bobblehead exhibit will be on display through the summer.
Rare Book Librarian