Category Archives: Libraries and Librarians

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

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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!

Things to do during this “odd uneven time”

August rain: the best of the summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time.   Sylvia Plath

 Sylvia Plath didn’t know about the Minnesota State Fair – had she known she would have realized that the best of summer is definitely not gone….Nor did she know about the amazing array of options that lure us during this “odd uneven time.”  Just a few of the possibilities, including some that escape the headlines….

Pulitzer Prize winning editorial cartoonist Steve Sack is guest speaker at Talk of the Stacks at Minneapolis Central Library on Thursday, August 17.  Doors open at 6:15, program at 7:00 PM.  Free and Open to the public.  Sponsored by Friends of the Library.  https://www.supporthclib.org/steve-sack

To Really See, is a unique art exhibit on display through September 27 at the Minneapolis Central Library.  Subtitled “art exploring the medication-taking experience” the exhibit is presented by Spectrum ArtWorks, a program of RESOURCE.  Learn more about RESOURCE and Spectrum ArtWorks here:  https://www.resource-mn.org/about-resource/

Though the days are indeed getting shorter, the East Side Freedom Library is determined to fill them with a robust series of late summer programs.  All are free and open to the public.

~~~~~

Looking ahead – Details to follow about these forthcoming activities

Thanking those who were the soul of this Carnegie Library

A collection of good books, with a soul to it in the shape of a librarian, becomes a vitalized power among the impulses by which the world goes on to improvement. Justin Winsor

Putting a soul in any building is a worthy challenge.   In the words of founders of the East Side Freedom Library it is “librarians who brought life and commitment to our historic building.”

And it is those librarians who will be celebrated on Tuesday, August 8, 7:00 p.m. at the ESFL as appreciative community members gather remember and “to honor the women and men who have worked in this building.”

The celebration is part of the ESFL celebration of the centennial of the historic Carnegie Library building, once the home of the Arlington Hills Library.  Read more about the history and evolution of the Carnegie Library here:  https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2015/07/28/east-side-freedom-library-gives-new-life-to-carnegie-library-st-paul-neighborhood/

There will be a short program, refreshments and a reunion of library supporters, neighbors, bibliophiles, library lovers and history buffs.  The evening is free and open to all.

The East Side Freedom Library is at 1105 Greenbrier Street, St Paul.  Info@eastsidefreedomlibirary.org   651 230 3294.

 

 

Speaking truth to power: Artists’ reflections on libraries’ voice

Libraries are places – they may be a shelf in a classroom or a grand memorial to a grateful grad, the hub of a medical center or an adjunct to the public square.    It is those who envision the possibilities and shape the role of a library that make a difference.

As keepers of the record librarians have long embraced the challenge to expand access to facts and ideas. In modern times libraries in this democracy, have been quick to resist suppression of information and ideas – as well as other offenses to democratic principles  that tend to rile – and inspire – librarians.

No wonder that, in this era of alternative facts and determined truth seekers, I’m thinking of the heritage of libraries.   Recognition of University of Minnesota Libraries Day earlier this month prompted me to learn more about the ways in which today’s libraries and librarians are coping. (https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=4004&action=edit)

My thoughts prompted me to remember a cluster of library-related blog posts that my friend Jack Becker of Forecast Public Art had sent me some weeks ago.  These are all stories that celebrate the library as a place with a voice – a voice that must speak truth to power. This  armchair tour features amazing  libraries that dare to capitalize on the power they have to inform and lead.

Though these magnificent examples of resistance may be a bit beyond the local library’s resources, it is nonetheless a fact that libraries across the country are speaking in a “socially acceptable” voice to support the right to know and the right to speak. For examples, just Google “libraries resistance 2017.”

Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that  of an ignorant nation.  Walter Cronkite

Celebrate U of M Libraries Day – Monday, July 17!

Sincere kudos to the University of Minnesota Libraries on the occasion of not one, but two, honors.   First, the Libraries were honored with the 2017 National Medal for Library Service from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). (https://twin-cities.umn.edu/news-events/u-libraries-named-recipient-nations-highest-museum-and-library-honor)  The Libraries were nominated for the award by the Friends of the Libraries Board.

The Medal will be awarded on Monday, July 17, at the National Archives in Washington, DC.  Journalist, writer and radio commentator Cokie Roberts will present the award.

Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew, Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services will officiate while David Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, will deliver remarks.  Dr. Matthew and Friends of the Library Board President Margaret Telfer will represent the U of M Libraries at the award ceremony.

The Medal Ceremony will be streamed live at 2:00 pm on Monday, January 17.

To recognize that honor Governor Mark Dayton has proclaimed July 17, 2017 as University of Minnesota Libraries Day in Minnesota. For a copy of the Proclamation click here: http://continuum.umn.edu/pdf/uofmLibrariesDay.jpg

 

 

Libraries on the move – Not such a new idea

This post was prompted by recent hype over the Subway Library that now serves some New Yorkers some times (SubwayLibrary.com)  New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, and Queens Library are now collaborating to reach straphangers with the incredible resources of those great institutions.  Bibliophiles who ride the E and F lines will now be on the lookout for the ten brightly colored “subway libraries”—outfitted with seats designed to look like books on a shelf!

Mobile reads include children’s and YA titles, adult fiction, books about NYC, and new releases – readings are geared to short hops, longer rides and inevitable delays.  If you happen to be headed for Gotham City in the near future, you’ll probably want to learn more – if not, here’s a quick intro:  http://gothamist.com/2017/06/08/nypl_subway_library.php#photo-1

For some reason, probably because it’s summer in Minnesota, the subway library hype got me thinking about a legendary movement to expand access to good books and mobile library service.  Though New Yorkers claim credit for most innovative thinking, the fact is that mobile library service enjoys a long and noble heritage.

In 1905 Mary L. Titcom, Librarian of the Washington County Free Library in Hagerstown, Maryland, launched the first book wagon.  Pulled by two horses, driven by the library janitor, the wagon shared library services with rural residents throughout the County.

And thus began the evolution of the bookmobile, a story beautifully shared by library lover Larry T. Nix in The Library History Buff, http://www.libraryhistorybuff.org/bookmobile.html

One way to celebrate Independence Day is to think about the ways in which libraries and  librarians through the years have honored the individual’s right to read and the right to know.  These photos will trigger your memory or expand your image and expectations: