Category Archives: Libraries and Librarians

National Archives Month – A Minnesota perspective

 

We are the only species on the planet, so far as we know, to have invented a communal memory stored neither in our genes nor in our brains. The warehouse of this memory is called the library― Carl Sagan

 As National Archives Month 2017 enters the annals of history, it seems like a good time to delve into a mix of archival collections designed to pique the interest of Minnesotans- not because they’re writing a doctoral dissertation or going to court, simply because they love to learn about people, events and stories that weren’t in the curriculum.

Though you may have read everything there is to know about the professional contributions of Gratia Countryman, a picture is worth a thousand words:   http://digitalcollections.hclib.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/GCountryman?_ga=2.217022102.1812135875.1508609902-1599511560.1497032955

The photo is one of thousands of archival records preserved and made accessible through the Hosmer Collection maintained at the Minneapolis Central Library.  Celebrate National Archives Month by treating yourself to a leisurely learning break at Special Collections, 4th floor of the Minneapolis Library:   http://www.hclib.org/specialcollections Visit the Athenaeum (http://www.hclib.org/about/locations/minneapolis-athenaeum) and take time to experience the exhibits of treasures mined from the archives.

The University of Minnesota Archives at the University of Minnesota Libraries are world renowned by scholars yet sometimes a bit beyond the reach of the rest of us.  Fortunately, the Libraries are “metaphorically” opening the archives doors in wonderful ways, including, for example:

  • The Children’s Literature Research Collections (aka the Kerlan) embraces the digital possibilities with publication of   Children’s Book Art: Techniques and Media.  The unique resource brings to life the works of over 65 artists whose work is based on primary sources held in the Kerlan Collection of the University of Minnesota’s Archives and Special Collections. (https://z.umn.edu/digital) — (https://www.lib.umn.edu/special)
  • The Minnesota Nice series. First Fridays talks about the holdings and happenings in the U of M archives.  Beginning in 2018 here are the scheduled sessions – all free and open, Noon at the Elmer L. Andersen Library, Room 120.
  • In-depth public lectures and discussions of specific archival collections, such as this forthcoming discussion of the work of James Wright. James Wright: A Life in Poetry is a sweeping biography by Jonathan Blunk, based on extensive research by Blunk in the James Wright Papers, held at the U of M Libraries’ Upper Midwest Literary Archives.(https://www.lib.umn.edu/mss) Note: Reading and discussion of James Wright on Monday, December 4, 7:00 PM at the Elmer L. Andersen Library.( https://www.continuum.umn.edu/event/james-wright-life-poetry/)

National Archives month 2017 is an opportunity for each of us to seriously reflect on the unique and essential role of archives in the digital age.  Archives are everywhere, not only in majestic buildings that bear the name but in local government agencies, public libraries, colleges, places of worship, corporations, nonprofit organizations and myriad other settings. Their efforts are our best and only defense against alternative facts.

One way to get a sense of the expanse of the state’s myriad archival collections is not only easy but seasonal: Clear your calendar, settle into an easy chair, turn off your cell, then click on this “work-in-progress:  Minnesota Reflections (http://reflections.mndigital.org/about).

Archivists work in a complex and collaborative way to meet the information needs of diverse users – from scholars to genealogists to inventors to journalists and curious Minnesotans of every stripe.  To share resources and opportunities to learn, archivists shape networks of various stripes.  The collaborative that links a mix of archives and archivists in this area is the Twin Cities Archivists Roundtable (https://tcartmn.org/about/ (aka T-CART).  T-CART and guests will be meeting this month (https://tcartmn.org/minnesota-archives-symposium/)   The T-Cart website lists the names and contact information for several related archives and archivist networks, including these:

To underscore the urgency of archival awareness and the imperative to tend to preservation of the public record was less worrisome in October 2011 when Archives Month warranted this comparatively frivolous post. https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1078&action=edit 2011

And just to add a bit of flourish to the topic, let it be known that Tom Hanks has been named recipient of the National Archives Foundation Records of Achievement Award.

https://www.archivesfoundation.org/news/tom-hanks-receive-national-archives-foundation-records-achievement-award/

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/tom-hanks-history-national-archives-foundation_us_59ec777ce4b0958c46829e72)

Enjoy this Halloween greeting  from the U of M Archives https://www.continuum.umn.edu/2017/10/underwater-pumpkin-carving-bio-medical-library/?utm_source=continuum+-+News+from+University+of+Minnesota+Libraries&utm_campaign=6d189433b6News_from_RSSFEED_TITLE_for_RSSFEED_DATE_3_17_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_35496412ca-6d189433b6-174925501

 

 

 

Advertisements

Autumn openings and other options

Congratulations to the good people of North Minneapolis – after nearly two decades of political struggle, the new Webber Park Library is open!  (http://www.hclib.org/about/locations/webber-park)  Writing in the Strib, Rick Nelson honors the perseverance of neighbors and advocates – and describes the elegant new library as “a jewel!”  (http:www.startribune.com/rick-nelson/10645521/)

– October 25 – Hmong Cultural Center exhibits and tour:  (https://www.eventbrite.com/e/hmong-101-exhibits-tour-and-presentation-tickets-38512809851?ref=ecal) 5:00 PM

-October 25-28 – Members of friends of the Western Literature Association are meeting in Minneapolis.  (http://www.westernlit.org/wla-conference-2017/)

-October 26 – Out of Pocket, a reading that features Juliet Patterson, Rachel Jendrzewjewski and Brianna Johnson and the poems of Otis Powell.  Sponsored by Spout Press and East Side Freedom Library.7:00 PM. at ESFL (info@eastsidefreedomlibrary.org)

-October 27 – Opening Reception, AutumNE, NEMAA member art show. Solar Arts Building. 711 15th Avenue NE. (http://www.nemaa.org/autumNE)

-October 30 – Thousand Star Hotel: Poetry reading with Bao Phi.  7:00 PM, ESFL Library (info@eastsidefreedomlibrary.org)

-November 2 – Chris Riemenschneider, Strib music reporter, will celebrate the launch of his book First Avenue: Minnesota’s Mainroom will be joined by Danny Sigelman and Daniel Corrigan, creators of Heyday: 35 Years of Music in Minneapolis.  Talk of the Stacks.  Free and open. Minneapolis Central Library, 7:00 p.m. (https://www.supporthclib.org/chris-riemenschneider)

-November 3-5 – The 20th annual Art Attack at the Northrup King Building in Northeast Minneapolis.  Over 300 visual artists, live music, interactive art experiences, food trucks and free parking. (http://www.northrupkingbuilding.com/artattack)

– November 6 – Minnesota Archives Symposium. (https://tcartmn.org/minnesota-archives-symposium/) Minneapolis Central Library.

– November 6 – Reclaiming lives: Pursuing justice for six innocent men.  A book talk with Joan Treppa. ESFL. 7:00 PM.  (info@eastsidefreedomlibrary.org)

– November 9 – Women from the Center Writers: Poetry in action with special guest Taiyon J. Coleman, Anh-Hoa Thi Nguyen and Jna Shelomith.  ESFL 7:00 PM  (info@eastsidefreedomlibrary.org)

– December 4 – James Wright: A Life in Poetry is a sweeping biography by Jonathan Blunk, based on extensive research by Blunk in the James Wright Papers, held at the U of M Libraries’ Upper Midwest Literary Archives. (https://www.lib.umn.edu/mss)  Note: Reading and discussion of James Wright on Monday,7:00 PM at the Elmer L. Andersen Library. (https://www.continuum.umn.edu/event/james-wright-life-poetry/)

-December 4 –The Axe Lectures, a book release event. Readings by Brianna Johnson, Katie Ka Vang, and Shanai Matteson. Sponsored by Spout Press and Moon Palace Books.  7:00 PM, Moon Palace Books, 3023 Minnehaha Ave, Mpls.  Free and open. (https://www.facebook.com/MoonPalaceBooks/)

 

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

NOTES:  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

How real people approach the information challenge

Since about 4th grade we’ve all had the sender/message/receiver communications graphic etched in our Big Brain. In thinking about the path between sender and receiver we have focused mainly on the sender and on how to evaluate the content and validity of a message.  Though we’ve parsed the sender and the message, we have paid less attention to the intangible characteristic of the receiver.

In olden times, before the digital engulfed the information environment, we took for granted that the path between source and receiver was marked by guiderails and a variety of filters.   Research about end users focused on user skills rather than on the unique characteristics of the receiver.  Very little attention has been paid to the complexities that surround the conditions – particularly the attitudes of information consumers.

Clearly, social media has totally disrupted the paradigm. The challenge of the digital age is to think about the delivery system that links source with users, to reassess the role of filters, to address the unencumbered flow of disinformation and misinformation (which are not synonymous terms).  Today the spotlight is shifting in subtle ways to focus on the ways in which the receiver perceives and engages with the unfiltered message – and on how the source embraces the power to pre-determine not only the message but the target audience.

The time has come to take a close look at the characteristics of the receiver.

To some extent the library world has taken a lead in highlighting the power of the receiver, the ultimate information filter.  For decades librarians and educators have underscored, identified, and worked diligently to inculcate the skills and attitudes of information users.  >>>

A recent article published by the Pew Research Center suggests that we need to be thinking now not only of the skills but the attitudes of the receiver Though I am not inclined to test out the latest self-examination tool, what got me thinking is a simple test to determine ‘How People Approach Facts and Information.’

To be honest, I had not thought much about the reality that “people deal in varying ways with tensions about what information to trust and how much they want to learn.  Some are interested and engaged with information; others are wary and stressed.”

Pew researchers created what they called an “information engagement typology” that highlights the differing ways in which Americans deal with cross pressures.  The typology identified five broad dimensions of people’s “engagement with information on a scale ranging from “eager and willing” to “wary”. Researchers concluded that identifiable elements stand out when it comes to the enthusiasm of information gatherers – their level of trust in information sources and their interest in learning, particularly about digital skills.”

Noting that, to date the focus has been on critical thinking skills, information literacy, how to assess both the source and content of the information – not so much on “their interest in learning” the Pew researchers observed:

There are times when these factors align – when people trust an information source and they are eager to learn, or when they distrust sources and have less interest in learning.  There are other times when these factors push in opposite directions: people are leery of information sources but enthusiastic about learning.

The typology has five groups that fall along a spectrum ranging from fairly high engagement with information to wariness of it.  Roughly four-in-ten adults (38%) are in groups that have relatively strong interest and trust in information sources and learning.   About half (49%) fall into groups that are relatively disengaged and not very enthusiastic about information…, especially when it comes to navigating digital information.  Another 13% occupy a middle space: They are not particularly trusting of information sources, but they show higher interest in learning than those in the more information-way groups.

Briefly, their conclusions are these:

  • There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ archetypal information consumer – as with any human activity, “one size does not fit all.”
  • Those who focus on digital divide and information literature also face a mighty challenge reflected by the fact that “about half of adults fall into the groups identified by the researchers as Doubtful and Wary.” These are the individuals who have lower interest in getting assistance to help them get to more trustworthy material.
  • There is a need for “trusted institutions helping people gain confidence in their digital and information literacy skills.”  Noting how this relates to libraries and librarians the researchers observe: “Libraries might be relevant here.  Library users stand out in their information engagement.  Overall, about half (52%) of adults have visited a public library or connected with it online in the past year.  Those library users were overrepresented in the two most information-engaged groups.  Some 63% of the Eager and Willing were library users in the past year, while this is true for 59% of the confident.  Additionally, both groups are much more likely than others to say they trust librarians and libraries as information sources.”

Though the researchers are upfront about the limits of their study, their perspective is fresh. My appreciation of their approach increased after I took a very few minutes to study the “information disposition” of the participants.  Needless to say, I found myself firmly planted in two categories!   You might want to take a few minutes to find out where you find yourself in this typology. It’s simple, fun and really does jump-start a new and nuanced analysis of information seekers, a way to move from critical thinking skills to more attention on the deeply-rooted attitudes of information seekers.

Thinking about attitudes adds a powerful human dimension to the challenge of how we as humans engage with information.  (Who knew information literacy could be so complicated….)

Read more here – and check your own information proclivities against the typology suggested by the Pew researchers: http://www.pewinternet.org/2017/09/11/how-people-approach-facts-and-information/

 

 

 

Banned Books Week honors a fundamental right

We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when adults are afraid of the light. Plato

Given the free flow of and ready access to misinformation and disinformation it would seem that there should be a special category for “lies in print.”  And yet, the defenders of free speech who sponsor Banned Books Week,  (September 24-30, 2017)  would shun the concept – with great justification.  They are more concerned to respect the right to read and their focus is on the reader who decides the quality of a book, aware that some books don’t deserve to be read.

Banned Books Week began in 1982 “in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores, and libraries.” BBW continues to be sponsored by the Banned Books Week Coalition. (http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/about))  It’s interesting to note that some titles on the list of banned books are perennials, while others reflect the times or the expressed outrage of a few committed censors.  The BBW Coalition website is a great starting point.  Among other tools the site provides free and reproducible graphics, available in multiple formats for digital or print distribution.

Another essential starting point is the American Library Association, an indispensable source for background information, including legislation related to access. The ALA  tabulates and posts each year the “top ten” challenged titles: http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/frequentlychallengedbooks/top10

The site is also the source of eye-catching graphics, http://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks/banned  The press kit posted on the ALA site is the key to jumpstarting a BBW campaign.

BBW on Twitter offers another approach to a complex and volatile topic https://twitter.com/BannedBooksWeek?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bannedbooksweek.org%2Fcensorship%2Fbannedbooksthatshapedamerica

The Library of Congress has mounted a wonderful exhibit entitled “Books that Shaped America”,  described as books that “have had a profound effect on American life.” They also created a companion list of books from that exhibit have been banned or challenged….

http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/censorship/bannedbooksthatshapedamerica  LC also sponsors Banned Books online site – which is blessedly sparse just now:  https://catalog.loc.gov/vwebv/holdingsInfo?bibId=13848727

http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/censorship/ offers an abundance of promotional tools, videos, a section on Mapping Censorship and excellent graphics.  A unique feature of this site is a guide to planning a Virtual Read-Out. http://www.bannedbooksweek.org/censorship/

Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us ~   William O. Douglas

Fun update from Shelf Awareness 9/20

Banned Books Week Celebrating the Freedom to Read

Bookstores, libraries and other organizations across the country are preparing for Banned Books Week 2017, which runs next week, September 24-30Shelf Awareness takes a look at what some stores are planning:

In celebration of Banned Books Week, Ingram is running a special promotion for independent bookstores. Through October 5, indies can receive additional discounts on orders of 25 or more books from a list of over 450 banned and challenged titles. Ingram has also teamed up with American Booksellers for Free Expression to create promotional kits for ABA members. So far, this year’s kit has been sent to more than 500 stores.

Digital audiobook platform Libro.fm, meanwhile, has created a Banned Books Week playlist featuring many of the most-challenged books in the United States, so “readers can choose to listen freely.” Included on the playlist are the audiobook versions of Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 and many, many more.

Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C., got a head start on Banned Books Week earlier this month with a store display featuring banned and challenged books from years past, and is once again supporting a D.C.-wide scavenger hunt organized by the D.C. Public Library called #UncensoredDC. For the scavenger hunt, copies of banned books have been hidden around the capital in libraries, museums, cafes and bookstores and will be there until the end of the month. The books feature a special black cover and are “free to those who find them.” Next Monday, September 25, P&P is co-sponsoring an offsite event with Salman Rushdie, who lived under police protection for close to a decade after Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa for his death in response to Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses. Rushdie will discuss his new novel, The Golden House, in downtown D.C.

In Omaha, Neb., indie bookstores Solid Jackson Books and Dundee Book Company are hosting a Banned Books Week party at Brothers Lounge on Thursday, September 28. Readers are invited to “come grab a pint or two, join the conversation about why it’s important to keep free speech free, and stick it to the book-burners by perusing important books that some want to label as obscene. And some that are obscene!” A selection of banned books will be available for purchase.

City Books in Pittsburgh, Pa., is hosting a day-long Read-Out this Sunday, September 24. “In direct response to the recent events in Charlottesville and across the nation,” the store has decided to “shine a spotlight on books that feature equity, diversity, and inclusion as a primary function of character and plot” by choosing Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl and Mildred Taylor’s Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry as the Read-Out selections. The event will run from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m, and readers can sign up for 20-minute reading slots. Food and beverages will be provided by City Books.

In New York City, the Strand Book Store is hosting a Banned Books Week discussion panel on Monday, September 25, in partnership with PEN America. Authors David Levithan (Boy Meets Boy), Coe Booth (Kinda Like Brothers) and Ariel Schrag (Adam) will discuss their experiences of having their books banned or challenged, and how to get skeptical readers to give their books a chance. Jason Low, publisher and co-owner of multicultural children’s book publisher Lee & Low Books, will moderate the discussion.

The Clinton Book Shop in Clinton, N.J., is taking part in the official Banned Books Virtual Read-Out, now in its seventh year. On Sunday, September 24, the bookstore will dedicate space for customers to record brief videos of themselves reading aloud from banned or challenged books or discussing a favorite banned book and what it means to them. The Book Shop will then upload the videos to the store’s Facebook page and submit them to be shared on a dedicated YouTube channel. Anyone who participates in the Virtual Read-Out will receive a 25% off coupon for any book on the banned books list.

And last but not least, Skylight Books in Los Angeles, Calif., is partnering with a local high school for Banned Books Week. Skylight will put up a behind-the-counter display of banned and challenged books with each title featuring a small sign explaining why it was banned or challenged. Customers can then purchase those books at a 20% discount to be donated to the high school’s library. —Alex Mutter

And more….

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/17-of-americas-most-surprising-banned-books/ar-AAslJl6?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=UE01DHP

https://twitter.com/BannedBooksWeek?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bannedbooksweek.org%2F

http://www.bookglow.net/30-quotes-from-banned-books-to-celebrate-banned-books-week/

http://mentalfloss.com/article/18750/10-classic-books-have-been-banned?utm_campaign=newsletter&utm_source=mf&utm_medium=09_27_17-article_2-18750

http://hclib.tumblr.com/specialcollections

The ironic enduring legacy of banning T Kill a Mockingbird.  https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/the-ironic-enduring-legacy-of-banning-%E2%80%98to-kill-a-mockingbird%E2%80%99-for-racist-language/ar-AAtuyKC?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=UE01DHP

Labor Day Tribute and Gratitude to Musicians

Every job from the heart is, ultimately, of equal value. The nurse injects the syringe; the writer slides the pen; the farmer plows the dirt; the comedian draws the laughter. Monetary income is the perfect deceiver of a man’s true worth. ― Criss Jami 

Labor Day has a way of getting lost in the shuffle – the end of summer, the beginning of the school year (back in the day, at least), the last day of the Fair…. At times we forget to honor Labor Day and the Who and Why of the cause we celebrate on the First Monday in September.  This year in particular we need to think about the dignity, as well as the paycheck, of working people of every trade, profession, and line of work.

Here’s one of many brief histories of the rights of laborers and origin of Labor Day as a national holiday.http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/labor-day A contemporary piece, written by Colette Hyman, was published in MinnPost last Friday.(https://www.minnpost.com/community-voices/2017/09/working-workers-about-folks-who-brought-us-weekend)

Since Labor Day has become just another free day from school it’s an opportunity to explain why we have a holiday so early in the new school year – try this:  http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/970075/teaching-your-kids-about-the-meaning-of-labor-day

In the past week I have spent four days at the Great Minnesota Get-Together – excessive, perhaps, but educational and inspiring.  As always, frequent visits to the Labor exhibits are a feature of my days. Listening to a mix of exhibitors I learn about the variety of missions, challenges and aspirations of the various unions represented – I love the stories, the swag, and the energy generated by the mix of union spokespersons.  There are always stories  I want to share!

This season I learned about the Twin Cities Musicians Union, with focus on the story of the ways in which the talents and time of Union musicians result in the SPCO’s Listening Library.   As many listeners know,  the digital Listening Library offers access to 250+ full-length worksThe Library is recognized as “the most expansive online listening library in the world.”  https://content.thespco.org/music/concert-library/

As I thought about the story told by the representative of of the Musicians Union who was staffing the exhibit I realized that what I too often lose in listening to the music is the story of the musicians themselves.  Though many audience members know the stories and the musicians, I’m thinking that we who are more casual listeners, we who depend on the Listening Library, are less aware of the musicians – but we can begin to be more aware by reviewing their brief bios: https://content.thespco.org/people/orchestra-musicians/

For those who can’t make it to Labor Day at the Fair, this would be a good day to relax and listen to beautifully recorded concerts featuring SPCO musicians, soloists and guest artists.   Better yet, learn about the music by reading the published program notes – then sign up to be added the mailing list to receive announcements about future recordings.

Your Labor Day listen to the talented members of the TC’s Musicians Union will make you more aware of and thankful for the talented musicians who interpret the music that reaches our less trained ears….

Since it’s Labor Day you might want to read and think a bit about the long and recent history of the labor relations as they continue to evolve within the Minnesota music world.  Here are a couple of starting points:

More Than Meets the Ear, by former SPCO member Julie Ayer, is “the story of a grassroots movement that transformed labor relations and the professional lives of U.S. and Canadian symphony musicians.”  The book offers an “unprecedented overview of the profound effect the musician’s labor movement has had on the profession.” https://julieayer.com

Doug Grow writing in  MinnPost piece describes and interprets the labor disputes with both the SPCO and the Minnesota Orchestra. https://www.minnpost.com/arts-culture/2015/04/two-lockouts-two-outcomes-joy-minnesota-orchestra-continued-rift-st-paul-chamber

Happy Labor Day and Thank You to Minnesota’s finest musicians and those who  enjoy, appreciate and support their contributions to our world!