Category Archives: Access to information

We the People face the challenge to aim high

Tolerance is another word for indifference. W. Somerset Maugham

The spirit of tolerance, though true and essential, is a vague concept. I have always grumbled – sometimes raged – at the word and concept of “tolerance.”  In most situations and on most issues I care too much to passively tolerate.

The challenge we face today demands more energy, more passion.  Today’s challenge is to embrace, to work shoulder to shoulder, to share the values, the burden and the benefits of the society and the culture envisioned by our founders.  It’s the principle we as Americans have always celebrated with pride.  We honor the fact that no individual, even the president, is the center of the universe.  The core value of the democracy we share rests on the stated principle that it’s not “me” but “us”.

The Constitution goes so far as to spell out just how we go about achieving the goal of creating and living in a democracy.  As a matter of fact, the Constitution is fairly explicit about the presumption –- and commitment — that We the People are responsible for making the democratic system function.

The good news buried in today’s political debacle is that the challenge to the democracy evokes the best from the nation’s residents and, in many cases, from the institutions that We the People have created over time.  As we practice the fine art of crafting an enduring democracy we are increasingly aware of the means at hand – the law, the press, open elections, a just judicial system, free speech, history, education, technology (managed with care.)

At the same time, we have come to understand the sophisticated and systemic ways in which any of these can be “weaponized.”  Experience is teaching us the subtle in which malevolent manipulation of the tools can undermine democracy processes and principles.   Over time we have grown to realize the extent to which accepted democratic institutions and structures can be shaped to create a society and a culture that we cannot and will not tolerate.  We know in our souls and feel in our hearts that we must join forces to resist with the fierce persistence and unflinching integrity democracy demands.

Once we get outside of our own shadow we begin to comprehend, if dimly, that the whole of our democratic society really is greater than the sum of the parts.  We can no longer be indifferent….

Our Founders always wondered about how long it would last. The price of liberty is everlasting vigilance. You’ve got to be on your guard every minute or you will lose it.  Michael Novak

 

 

Places to go, things to do in the new year!

I find television very educating.  Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.  Groucho Marx

The Water Bar & Public Studio celebrates the reopening of their great gathering place Friday, January 26, with a Winter Social and Exhibition Party.  Theme of the evening, marking the Water Bar’s first exhibition, is River Relationships: Portraits of a River and Its People.   It’s 6:00-9:00 PM at the Water Bar, 2518 Central Avenue NE.  Details here:  https://www.water-bar.org/events/2018/1/26/winter-social.

The Super Bowl inspires different strokes for different folks.  Take a Knee Nation tackles themes of “sports, social justice, labor and race” at the Take a Knee Nation conference set for February 3-4.  Learn more about the origins of the event here:  https://www.thenation.com/article/colin-kaepernick-was-mocked-and-threatened-for-taking-a-knee-hes-also-winning/  The East Side Freedom Library offers a preliminary kickoff to the conference with a free and open discussion on Wednesday, January 24 – details here:  https://www.thenation.com/article/colin-kaepernick-was-mocked-and-threatened-for-taking-a-knee-hes-also-winning/

Also opening this weekend at the ESFL is Nidoto Nai Yoni, John Matsunaga’s exhibit of photographs from the remains of WWII: Forgetting and Remembering the Wartime Incarceration of Japanese Americans.  The project, supported by the Minnesota Japanese American Citizens League and the Council on American Islamic Relations-Minnesota, portrays the experiences of immigrants confined in camps in Thailand, Kenya, Laos and other sites.  The exhibit opens Friday, January 26, 6:30 PM.  On Saturday, February 17, 1:00 PM there will be a discussion of the roles of artists as observers and resisters. http://eastsidefreedomlibrary.org/events/representing-and-resisting-historical-injustices-through-art/

MN Writes MN Reads is a digital age program offered by Minnesota libraries.  It’s for writers interested in easy-to-use, free resources for publishing and sharing e-books, and for readers interested in reading e-books by local writers.  Learn more at https://www.mnwritesmnreads.org/ or at your local public library.

Mizna is meeting the challenge of anti-Muslim, anti-Arab and anti-immigrant sentiments by taking the renowned Arab Film Festival on tour.  Mizna will tour independent Arab cinema to six Minnesota college campuses and their neighbors.  Campuses include Macalester, Hamline, St. Catherine’s, Concordia (TC’s), Metro State and St Benedict’/St. John’s.   The tour begins this week and continue through April.  Details here: http://mizna.org/articles/events/183.shtml

You might also want to check out yet another timely event at the ESFL here: http://eastsidefreedomlibrary.org/events/mooz-lum-black-history-month-film-screening-discussion/

Poken Sword offers a unique and “luminous evening dedicated to the love of language” on the regular fourth Friday evening of the month, i.e.7:00 PM on January 26 at 2001: A Space, 2001 5th Street NE in Minneapolis.   Local emerging and established writers will read on works related to this month’s theme, “torment.”  The evening will begin with bluegrass ensemble Pants on a Chair and their songs of heartache and murder: https://www.pokensword.com

The Minnesota Independent Scholars Forum takes a look at an earlier time when the press was cast as the “enemy of the people.”  Independent scholar Beth Johanneck will speak about a time in the 1930’s when the Minneapolis underworld was ruled by not-so-Minnesota-Nice gangs that failed to appreciate journalists’ efforts to clean up the city.  The MISF meeting, open to all, is at 9:30, speaker at 10:00, at the Washburn Library, 5244 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis.  http://www.mnindependentscholars.org/node/60

 The Minnesota Genealogical Society, and several of its affiliates, have moved from their South St. Paul site to Mendota Heights.  New address: 1385 Mendota Heights Road, Mendota Heights, MN.  As more MGS library and other resources come online MGS can offer ready access to the unique resources of a host of organizations — here’s a good starting point:  https://mngs.org/cpage.php?pt=25

In case you missed the headlines, be sure to check out the new documentary, premiered at Sundance, celebrating the life and times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. “RBG” will restore your faith in the rule of law and the wisdom of this stellar jurist.  Check it out here: http://ew.com/movies/2018/01/22/sundance-ruth-bader-ginsburg-rbg-documentary-premiere/.  More about the filmmakers here:https://www.democracynow.org/2018/1/22/rbg_new_documentary_celebrates_life_of and a fun SNL spoof on RBG’s not retiring here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDXxsRB4s7Y&et=&bu=&cn=&src=&pt=

 Whistling Shade, the literary journal and small press, has issued a fun call for submissions for their Spring/Summer issue.  They’re looking for poetry, stories, essays, whatever the format on the topic “Food and Drink”.  Sounds like a creative way to spend a few snowbound evenings – and to justify some good eats.  http://www.whistlingshade.com/submissions.html

Fun read for a winter’s eve:  Unique libraries share information about their “oldest holdings.https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/oldest-library-books-small-specific-libraries-manuscripts

Should you prefer maps you might want to explore the Civil War Maps series recently digitized and available online from the National Archives. https://unwritten-record.blogs.archives.gov/2017/10/17/rg-109-confederate-maps-series-now-digitized-and-available-online/

Winter in Minneapolis brings out the best in Northeasters – The next Winter Market at the NE Farmers Market is Sunday, February 18, 10 AM-2 PM. Chowgirls Killer Catering will be there with tacos: scrambled eggs, carnitas or mole seitan, white rice and black beans with cilantro and lime spices. DJ theme of the February Market is funk/soul/disco/blues! http://www.facebook.com/NortheastFarmersMarket.

Does The Post (the movie) leave you craving more movies about journalism?  Ever aware of readers’ needs the (real) Washington Post has published a list of the ten best movies about journalism – complete with reviews by noted journalists. Seems like another winter project for an enterprising library or other seeker of truth organization.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/style/2017/12/14/the-10-best-journalism-movies/?utm_term=.92733ffdd1f0

The Blue Ox Review (I love the name!) is a new blog, curated by Lisa Von Drasek, Curator of the Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota – who explains the title of her blog as “a nod to independence.”  Lisa, a veteran reviewer, is somehow  finding time – and “itch – to share her reviewing skills on her own blog:  https://www.continuum.umn.edu/kerlan/

The University of Minnesota-Duluth Kathryn A. Martin Library and Friends of the Duluth Public Library are now accepting nominations for the Thirtieth Annual Northeastern Minnesota Book Awards.  The awards ceremony is set for May 24 –Deadline for entries is soon – February 1!  Find all of the details about NEMBA here:  https://lib.d.umn.du/about/nemba.

Conversation with Books is a tradition at St. Catherine University.  Professors and avid reader graduates will discuss the selected books on Saturday, February 2, 1:00 pm at Coeur de Catherine center on campus.  Details, including the list of books to be discussed, are online at https://www.stkate.edu/news-and-events/events/conversation-with-books-2018

First Fridays sponsored by the U of M Archives and Special Collections continues in the new year.  First Fridays are free and open to the public; light refreshments served at 11 with presentations beginning at Noon.  All are in the Elmer L. Andersen Library. For a full schedule of winter/spring 2018 offerings click here: https://www.continuum.umn.edu/event/first-fridays-february-2018/

CraftBOWL is another timely winter event sponsored by the American Swedish Institute.  Focus of CraftBOWL is “The Handmade” – a broad look at what “handmade” means in traditional and contemporary, local and global terms.  It features the work by three internationally acclaimed craft artists from Sweden: Jogge Sundqvist (wood), Ingegard Raman (ceramics) and Bertil Vallien (glass). https://www.asimn.org/about-us/press-room/craftbowl-exhibition-launches-american-swedish-institutes-2018-year-handmade

Club Book announces the line-up for the Winter/Spring 2018 season. Writers on this winter/spring roster include Omar El Akkad, Peter Geye, William Kent Krueger, Laura Lippman, Ariel Lawhon, Anita Shreve, Patricia Hampl, Emily Fridlund, and Samantha Irby.  Fortunately for the homebound and many others Club Book extends the reach of the writers by podcasting the discussions soon after the presentations.  The series is funded by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.  Events are free and open to the public.  Details about writers and their books, dates, locations and more about Club Book here: http://clubbook.org

The Friends of the St Paul Public Library is the monthly sponsor of Books & Bars, a long-running series of book discussions moderated by Jeff Kamin every Tuesday of the month.  The February 6 book discussion is on Yaa Gyasi’s novel Homecoming.  It’s at the Amsterdam Bar & Hall, 5:00 for happy hour social, discussion at 6:15.  No registration required.  Enjoy Jeff Kamin’s description of the Why of Books & Bars here: https://thefriends.org/2017/06/28/jeff-kamin-on-books-bars-reading-and-why-libraries-are-better-than-netflix/

So much to do, so little time.

 

 

Truth ain’t goin’ away – So what do we do now?

A year ago this weekend we were inaugurating the 45th President of the US.  We were marching with pride in the Women’s March and girding our loins for what was to come.  A year ago I posted these comparatively hopeful comments. https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2017/01/27/information-and-media-not-weapons-but-tools/  Somehow I thought we would recognize and eschew the attack on truth and facts and informed citizenship that was to follow.

As the weeks and months passed, reality happened and hope faded with each proclamation, every disruption of information integrity, every political appointment, every charge that the press is the “enemy of the people,” every assault to truth that emanated from the Oval Office and environs.  The more I observed the more I admitted what a well-oiled army of deconstructionists had invaded the nation.  They came with a diabolical action plan brilliantly designed to attack the very essence of an informed democracy.  As a lifetime protagonist for a free press, an informed public and the fundamental principle of truth, I was and am cut to the proverbial quick.

In truth, hope faltered.  Though I kept writing blog posts, they were sappy – most never posted. Posted blogs were generally limited to calendars of events, posts that passed on information produced by organizations and individuals whose words and acts were braver and more articulate than my own.  Mine was silent resistance here to the insidious and methodical attack on truth.   I started to characterize this blog as Moping Around with Mary……

The anniversary of the inauguration prodded me back to Poking.  It’s clear that industry is not going to honestly address, much less solve, the onslaught of alternative facts, propaganda, foreign interference or any other strategy that cuts into corporate profits.  Consider the latest brain burst from Mark Zuckerberg: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/1611a52828318ba7

Clearly, it cannot remain to the gurus of corporate America to lead the crusade for truth.

And so I’m back to thinking and writing,  sharing on this blog, more about how it remains to us as thoughtful individuals, as institutions and as a society to “speak truth to power.”  It takes work and guts.  And yet, as the great philosopher Elvis Presley who advised us that “truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t goin’ away.”  Though I’ll continue calendar highlights that might fall through the cracks, I’ll go back to more thought posts about basic principles of truth, the right and responsibility to know, freedom of the press and the insidious peril to this democracy.

Words matter.  Truth matters.  Ideas and opinions matter.  Inspired by the weekend Women’s March I’m determined to stop moping and return to poking around and speaking out.  My hope is to “go high” with renewed energy and commitment to truth and to the ways in which the press, education, libraries, civic discourse and individual engagement and action can keep hope alive.

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness. ~~Desmond Tutu

 

Newspapers + Archives = Access

National Newspaper Week cannot be crammed into just seven days.  The deeper you delve, the more resources come to the surface. National Newspaper Week is also co-terminus and a propitious link with American Archives Month commemorated in October.

During this week we celebrate the symbiotic relationship. Newspapers and archives are links in an information chain on which our search for truth depends.  Newspapers determine and share the stories; archivists assure that the words, the statistics, the opinions are accessible over time.

Though newspapers and archives create and preserve the record it is the skill and commitment of those who do the work of each institution that we honor.  Now, more than ever, our focus is on the information chain as an interconnected whole – even more, we focus on the evolving and expanding role of journalists and archivists who work in tandem to facilitate the free flow of information and ideas that fuel this democracy.

To underscore the collaborative role of these institutions, on Day #7 of National Newspaper Week and as we look ahead to National Archives Month the focus is on newspaper archives.

Clearly, the digital age has transformed the process of archiving of newspapers.  As a result, strategies are in flux; at times there is duplication; at other times there are gaps. The challenge for professionals and the public is to remain positive and persistent.  Above all, information seekers need to know that the intellectual process of preserving the record and making it accessible is a human endeavor. Archivists, librarians, scholars, and others are on hand or online to guide the individual search.

Some starting point for searching newspapers – Please note that these are starting points only – guides to other resources

MINNESOTA NEWSPAPERS – RESOURCES

MN Historical Society Newspaper Hub – the starting point which will identify and link to relevant files: http://www.mnhs.org/newspapers/hub

http://sites.mnhs.org/library/content/newspaper-collection

http://mnnews.com/index.php/mn-newspaper-websites/

Minnesota Newspaper Directory:  http://mnnews.com/index.php/mn-newspaper-websites/

Minnesota Newspaper Association. (mna.org)  Membership organization that maintains listing for member organizations http://mna.org/newspaper-directory/

Listing of local newspapers (incomplete) https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&tbm=lcl&q=newspapers+minnesota+local&oq=newspapers+minnesota+local&gs_l=psy-ab.12…0.0.0.183480.0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0..0.0….0…1..64.psy-ab..0.0.0….0.ujHrTkXHq8c#rlfi=hd:;si:;mv:!1m3!1d1055050.836006896!2d-94.0380186!3d44.591910049999996!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i635!2i557!4f13.1;tbs:lrf:!2m1!1e2!2m1!1e3!3sIAE,lf:1,lf_ui:1

RELATED RESOURCES –  Examples

http://www.loc.gov/ndnp/
National Digital Newspaper Program
A partnership between the Library & the National Endowment for the Humanities

http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/about

University of Minnesota Libraries – Archives http://archives.lib.umn.edu/search utf8=&op%5B%5D=&q%5B%5D=minnesota+newspapers&limit=&field%5B%5D=&from_year%5B%5D=&to_year%5B%5D=&commit=Search

INTERNATIONAL RESOURCES – EXAMPLES ONLY

http://www.onlinenewspapers.com – international

https://www.thenews.com.pk  –   International

https://elephind.com –   historic digitized newspaper archives

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Community newspapers serve and create relationships

National Newspaper Week (October 1-7. 2017) is far too little time to learn and think about the robust range of newspapers on which we daily depend but occasionally take for granted.  To characterize the genre characterized as “community newspapers” is an overwhelming task.  In general community newspapers are either targeted to a specific geographic area or to a community of interest.

A good way to get a sense of the character and scope of Minnesota’s community newspapers is to dip into the Minnesota Newspaper Association listing for  “special interest newspapers: http://mnnews.com/index.php/special-interest-newspapers/   If you don’t find what you’re looking for, try this listing: http://www.usnpl.com/mnnews.php   You will no doubt  be surprised at the diversity of newspapers and of the communities they inform, entertain and to whom they give voice.

Community newspapers meet the interests of more than 150,000 of us who read one or more community newspapers on a regular basis.  We read to get a feel for the opinions of our neighbors or members of a shared interest group, to follow our elected officials, to understand a shared history, to shop for bargains, to find out what’s playing at the local theater, musical venue or athletic facility or just to follow the garage sales.

Community newspapers have played a major role in the nation’s editorial history.  It all began on September 25, 1690, when Benjamin Harris published Publick Occurrences: Both Foreign and Domestic.  And therein lies a short history with heavy free press implications: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Harrison

The history of what we now characterize as “community newspapers” reflects the nation’s growth and diversity – social, religious, geographic, and political.   Though today’s community newspapers may be digital rather than paper, the content remains targeted to a special readership. And many community newspapers can still be found at the newsstand, primed to be read on the bus or by the millions of Americans who prefer print or lack access to broadband….

Bottom line, as long as our right to a free press, our commitment to independent thinking, our inclination to connect with like-minded folk, and our freedom vote remain unfettered we celebrate the powerful role that community newspapers play in our communities and in our democracy.

 The bigger the information media, the less courage and freedom they allow. Bigness means weakness – Eric Sevareid, The Press and the People

 ADDENDA –   

 

 

 

 

Minnesota Newspaper Museum shares story of a proud legacy

Journalism is what we need to make democracy work. Walter Cronkite

One way to commemorate National Newspaper Week 2017 is to stress about the decline of print, the intrusion of corporate interests, robots, the proliferation of alternative facts and the perils of weaponized information.

Another way is to go back to the roots, to explore the ways in which freedom of the press lives in the minds and hearts of Americans.  Belief in the right and power of the press is embedded in the Constitution.

The history of the role of the press begins with the ways in which, since the founding of the nation, the news has been shaped and shared by newspapers.  Journalists gathered and wrote the news – newspapers delivered it.  At times this was, and remains, the work of one devoted individual or family.

To understand the history of the ways in which newspapers functioned in earlier times, there is no better place to learn than at the Minnesota Newspaper Museum at the Minnesota State Fair.  Now in its 30th year, the Museum, now located at 1416 Cosgrove Street (street level of the 4-H Building) is a beehive of letterpress equipment operated by volunteers knowledgeable and eager to share digital age visitors with the basics of setting the type that tells the story.

Back in the day, the Minnesota Newspaper Museum received Legacy Grant support to create a videotape record of the Museum, then in a different site on the Fairgrounds. It’s a bit dated, with an emphasis on production, the video tells the story of the commitment to a free press and the role of every link along the information chain that continues to link publishers to readers. http://legacy.mnhs.org/projects/904

Since 1987 the Minnesota Newspaper Museum, sponsored by the Minnesota Newspaper Foundation and staffed by a host of volunteers and Friends, has been one my favorite and most frequently visited exhibits at the Minnesota State Fair.  Several years ago I delved a bit into the history of the Museum, reflected in a post that tells more history, including the story of The Maynard News, a State Fair special edition (https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/tag/maynard-mn/)

Years later I continue to marvel at the power that lies behind those cumbersome machines and in the hands of those press operators. The posters and flyers that proliferate at the exhibit tell the backstory of the journalists who pursued and shared the facts because they believed that words matter and that the strength of the democracy is the responsibility of the informed electorate who receive and act on the print words conveyed by the newspaper.

The Minnesota Newspaper Museum at 30 makes a powerful statement and a chance for Fair visitors to learn and think about the rich legacy of the press in Minnesota.  Here’s the official Fair guide description of the 2017 Newspaper Museum

A newspaper living-history exhibit with demonstrations of the Linotype and Miehle printing press. See how type is set for the newspaper “The Maynard News.” The lead to set type is heated to 550 degrees and creates one “line-of-type” at a time. This Miehle Printing Press prints newspaper pages, one side of one sheet with each revolution. To print the other side of the page, the operator must turn the pages over and print on the back side of each sheet. Demonstrations begin at 10 a.m. and continue throughout the day. Operated by the Minnesota Newspaper Foundation.

Location: State Fair Buildings -> 4-H Building
Date: Sun, Aug 27
Time: 9:00 am – 8:00 pm 
On the map: View on the State Fair Map

And here’s how Facebook captured the response of Fair goers who followed those clear directions at this year’s Great Minnesota Get-together. https://www.facebook.com/TheMaynardNews/ It goes without saying that every visitor learned about letter press publishing – and about the legacy of a free press is Minnesota.

Journalism can never be silent: That is its greatest virtue and its greatest fault. It must speak, and speak immediately, while the echoes of wonder, the claims of triumph and the signs of horror are still in the air.— Henry Anatole Grunwal

 

 

 

 

 

 

DACA guide: U of M Libraries offer range of timely tools

For weeks now I have been trying to follow and understand the facts – true and alternative — as well as the motivation and implications, of DACA.  Paralyzed by the overload of information and prevarications I despaired of unraveling the truth, much less taking any sort of action.

It is with relief and renewed commitment to learn that I am finding a path to understanding.  For this I am indebted to an excellent pathfinder prepared by Kim Clarke and Karen Carmody-McIntosh of the University of Minnesota Libraries.  Students, members of book and study clubs, supporters of community groups grappling with the challenge to probe the depths of the issue – actually anyone who’s paying attention — will find the guide an indispensable resource.

This is one of many guides that the U of M Libraries staff create and share online.  To learn more about and subscribe to  the latest communications from the Libraries, click here: https://www.continuum.umn.edu/2017/07/library-search-gets-new-look/

The DACA resource is just one example of the many reasons that last May the U of M Libraries received this major national honor: https://twin-cities.umn.edu/news-events/u-libraries-named-recipient-nations-highest-museum-and-library-honor

Important update:  https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/09/27/chilling-new-rule-allows-dhs-monitor-all-immigrants-social-media-activity