Category Archives: Libraries

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:

Summertime means time to read!

One benefit of Summer was that each day we had more light to read by ~~Jeanette Walls, The Glass Castle

The recent post report notwithstanding, the F. Scott Fitzgerald international conference does not a summer make. When the dust has settled bibliophiles will continue book binge and reluctant readers won’t be able to resist the abundance of literary lures. What follows are hints of the possibilities.  Whether you’re a reader, a good listener, a browser or just choose to hang out with word lovers, you’ll want to keep your eyes and mind open to the possibilities!  The list here is sadly metro-centric and arbitrary – the idea is to suggest sources and inspire creative searches for bookish gatherings that may pop up in unexpected places.

Public libraries and local Friends of the Library are planning close-to-home programs for all ages.  The MELSA calendar is humungous and detailed, loaded with Bookawocky events for kids,  book discussions, music, house history, art, gardening, something for everyone.  Think reading options, varieties of content and the choice of format that fits the seeker’s fancy and device.

More than ever libraries have no monopoly on reading resources and events – the great good news is that book sales are rising, book groups, literary events of every fashion are everywhere – in coffee shops, places of worship, indie bookstores, parks, book festivals  and more.

Following are some bookish possibilities that suggest you’ll find books and reading – local writers reading their books, book art, book discussions, poets, historians, even Little Free Libraries — in unexpected places!  Troll the neighborhood to learn who’s reading or listening to what… consider your nosiness as a high-brow form of voyeurism.

A few events that might activate your literary inclinations:

June 16, 7-8:00 PM Victoria Houston (http://www.victoriahouston.com) The author will discuss her new book Dead Spider at Once Upon a Crime Bookstore, 604 W 26th Street, , Minneapolis. Doors open at 6:30.

June 17, 2 PM.  History Comes Alive: Emily O. Goodridge Grey.  Emily O. Goodridge Grey was an African American social activist, pioneer and abolitionist in Minnesota during the 19th century.  Hosmer Library. 347 E 36th St, Minneapolis  This is just one in a robust series of History Comes Alive programs, stories of African American men and women shaped not just Minnesota, but the entire nation. The series is developed by Minnesota African American Museum and Cultural Center.(https://www.facebook.com/MAAMCC/

June 17, 10 AM.  Joel Katz, author of From Footpaths to Freeways, Minneapolis Central Library.  Katzwill discuss the history of highway development in Hennepin County and around the state.  His talk will trace Minnesota’s road and street systems, how they developed in pre-statehood times in the 1840’s to today.  Katz will also talk about classifications, construction, maintenance, traffic control, safety congestion, bridges and the interstate system.  Sponsored by Friends of Minneapolis Central Library.

June 17, 3 PM. David Sedaris and Ariel Levy, Common Good Books.  The authors will read and sign their new books:  Sedaris’ Theft by Finding and Levy’s The Rules Do Not Apply. http://www.commongoodbooks.com/event/common-good-books-hosts-david-sedaris-ariel-lev

June 21. All day. Book it to the parks!  To celebrate the 50th anniversary of MPR the Minneapolis Foundation is donating 50 Little Free Libraries to Minneapolis Parks.  Local writers will be reading from their children’s books at city parks throughout the day.  For a full list of parks and readings check here: https://www.minneapolisfoundation.org/bookit/

June 25, Open Mic Night at Coffee House Northeast, 2852 Johnson in Northeast Minneapolis– 5:45-8:30 PM.  This is one of countless  summertime open mic possibilities –  For a full list of Open Mic events check here: http://openmikes.org/calendar/MN

June 16 7 PM.  Heid E. Erdrich Eat My Words, 1228 2nd Street NE, Minneapolis. Learn more about Heid Erdrich here:https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets/detail/heid-e-erdrich 

June 17, 2 PM David Housewright, What the Dead Leave Behind.(https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/rosemary-simpson/what-dead-leave-behind/) Valley Bookseller, Stillwater. 

June 22, 7 PM. East Side Freedom Library, 1105 Greenbrier Street, St. Paul. Norah Murphy reads from her book White Birch, Red Hawthorn: A MemoirThe story of the author’s ancestors’ maple grove, home of Dakota, Ojibwe and Ho-Chunk who were dispossessed when the Irish arrived, the story of the author’s search for the connections between the contested land and the communities who call it home.  Part of the ESFL’s monthly “Women from the Center Reading Series.”

Friday, June 22, 7 PM Kevin Kuhn: Do you realize? A Novel.  Eat My Words, 1228 2nd Street NE, Minneapolis https://www.evensi.us/kevin-kuhndo-you-realize-a-novel-eat-my-words-bookstore/212898374

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You get the idea — These are June happenings only.  During the summer months Minnesotans will take part in these and a zillion other book/reading/word events.  To know what’s happening in your community,  keep checking these current – and complementary – calendars.  Each posts literary happenings set in bookstores, parks, coffee shops and wherever people who dare to share ideas gather.

Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge;

it is thinking that makes what we read ours. John Locke

Subversive thoughts on National Library Week 2017

Librarians are subversive. You think they’re just sitting there at the desk, all quiet and everything. They’re like plotting the revolution, man. I wouldn’t mess with them.” Michael Moore 

As usual, Michael Moore sees beyond, behind, through and inside the exterior of things, events, buildings – and people.  Which is why this quote got me thinking about this National Library Week post.

National Library Week matters because if only because the theme gives us pause to think about how or whether “libraries transform lives,” as this year’s NLW theme asserts. (http://www.ala.org/news/mediapresscenter/factsheets/nationallibraryweek)

For most of us the word “library” prompts visual images of stately buildings of days gone by, rows of neatly shelved tomes, acres of accessible technology, children’s reading corners and quiet carrels.  For some nostalgic bibliophiles, there’s even an old book smell….

And yet, libraries are not just places.  What the library user sees is the physical manifestation of an intricate collaboration of library workers who breathe life into what is a truly human process.   It is human beings who select the library’s holdings, organize the collection, know how to locate resources through a maze of interlibrary connections, maneuver their way through print and digital reference tools, read to children, deliver resources to the homebound, partner with researchers, and otherwise link a unique bit of recorded information – a book, database, video, story or archive — with a seeker who has a need and right to know.

My thought is that NLW should be re-branded, maybe as National “Libraryness Week.”  Though obviously that’s not going to happen, rebranding would shine the light on the essence of the whole, the countless roles that committed library workers play – when they’re plotting not a revolution but a path from seeker to source, unlikely source to ready seeker.

The sometimes rugged path is laid by a team of library workers who shape the reality that comes full circle in the physical library setting – whether that’s an iconic Carnegie public library, a laboratory, law firm, elementary school, university campus, hospital or church basement.  Physical settings are essential but inert – human beings plot, then create, the settings, the flow of information and ideas, and the path that leads to learning.

Michael Moore nails it – those library workers aren’t just sitting there, or shelving or cataloging or reading to a group of six-year-olds or delving into a rare tome or deciphering a reference question.  Toiling in back rooms and endless meetings, they are, in fact, plotting a revolution, a revolution built on an informed democracy in which people seek truth, embrace wisdom, learn from the past, and share the intellectual legacy of a free people.

One of my favorite high school memories is of a beloved teacher with a mission who would dash down the hall declaring with gusto that she was “on her way to combat ignorance!”  That’s how I think of library workers who 1) design and share an integrated system that assures that every voter, student, inventor, parent, historian, new American, researcher, educator, caregiver or avid mystery reader has the opportunity to exercise the inalienable right to know, and 2) go to the max to see that truth-seekers have the skills, attitudes and awareness to make the information and ideas their own.

Though I wish I had a more poetic word for it I’m stuck for now with the idea of “libraryness” to express my commitment to this democratic – and increasingly essential — role of librarians and libraries – the port in the storm engulfing this nation’s truth-seekers.  The whole of libraryness is far greater than the sum of its parts; the strength of libraryness rests not only on ready access to recorded resources but on the creative vision and commitment of library workers.

Yes, we celebrate library buildings, library books, digital resources, archives, photos, magazines, devices, games, information collected, produced and consumed in ever-changing formats.  For me, this library quote “puts a face” on the wholeness and outcome of libraryness – an outcome impossible to measure, essential to preserve:

Librarians are just like search engines, except they smile and they talk to me and they don’t give me paid-for advertising when they are trying to help.  And they have actual hearts.

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P.S. When/if you’re at Minneapolis Central Library visit the NLW exhibits that  include some lesser known treasures  that tell the story of libraries and librarian.  While you’re at the Central Library visit special collections to check out the excellent exhibit of digital resources that give reveal the treasures of the Library’s special collections: https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2016/12/09/opening-library-archives-from-the-outside-in

Honor library workers of yore who paved an early path on which today’s information highways are constructed by clicking on this NPR broadcast: http://www.npr.org/2017/04/13/522606808/file-this-under-nostalgia-new-book-pays-tribute-to-the-library-card-catalog?utm_source=twitter.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20170413

 

April – A season and reason to explore, learn, think, and share ideas!

So many options, so little time!  But do take time, because you will want to participate in these and the scores of other creative and thought-provoking learning/thinking opportunities that invariably bloom when the ice melts and the sun shines (if only for short spurts)  in these parts.  Just a smattering of the possibilities:

  • Thursday, April 13, 6:00-7:30 pm. Join the Friends of Minneapolis Central Library Global Conversations program.  Discussion this month will focus on the subject of Conflict in the South China Sea, the locus of competing territorial claims.  Professor Duncan McCampbell, attorney and professor of international business and law at Metro State University will lead the discussion.  His background includes extensive travel in Asia and publications on commercial, legal, political and security issues.  He recently returned from a month-long visit to China and the Philippines to research the evolving situation in the South China Sea.  Free and open. Register at the Global Minnesota website (https://www.globalminnesota.org)  or at the library prior to the program.  The program will be available as a podcast on the Global Minnesota website.
  • Always a huge crowd pleaser, the Minneapolis St Paul International Film Festival is set for April 13-29. This year’s Festival features 350 new films representing over seventy countries. The epicenter of the festival is Anthony Main Theater, with numerous additional screenings throughout the Twin Cities and in Rochester. Learn much more about the Festival in this and other mainstream articles.  http://www.startribune.com/6-hidden-treasures-at-this-year-s-mpls-st-paul-film-festival/418558733/ – For complete information including the calendar, special events and programs, bios, tickets and more, click here: http://mspfilm.org

UPDATE:   4/18https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/15b83104a4132e1c

  On Saturday, April 15, 2:00 pm at Minneapolis Central Library author Iric Nathanson will share the story of the development of downtown Minneapolis from early days as a milling metropolis to its evolution as a residential community. The Minneapolis Riverfront and World War I Minnesota are both part of the Images of America series. “Images of America: Downtown Minneapolis.  His book, “Minneapolis in the Twentieth Century: The Growth of an American City,” published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press, was nominated for a Minnesota Book Award. His most recent book is “World War I Minnesota.”  To get a feel for the breadth of Nathanson’s studies of Minneapolis history, follow his regular contributions to Minnpost here https://www.minnpost.com/author/iric-nathanson. Free and open.  (612 543 8203)

  • You’ve heard of Interact Center for Visual and Performing Arts, the nonprofit dedicated to providing studio and performance opportunities arts for people with disabilities. (https://interactcenter.org,)  But have you ever visited Interact?   As part of the Saint Paul Spring Art Crawl (April 28-29)  you are invited to visit and learn more about the Interact Center Visual Arts Department.  The family-friendly event includes the chance to meet an artist and to actually create a unique object d’art . You will also have the opportunity to purchase original art work by Interact artists at 20% off the original price.   Interact is at 1860 Minnehaha Avenue West in St Paul.

UPDATE – NOT TO BE MISSED OPPORTUNITY:  http://www.continuum.umn.edu/event/the-sixth-extinction/

UPDATE — MORE FROM INTERACT https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/15bb43c5277fe6ca

National Library Week – Information, transformation, appreciation

It’s Spring!  You’ve stashed the boots and parkas, gathered the tax information, and got out the seed catalogs.   Do you feel the need to transform yourself, your life, your surroundings, political system, your outlook?  Have you thought of a visit to the library?

Turns out that National Library Week 2017 is Sunday, April 9 through Saturday, April 15 – and the theme is “Libraries transform.”  Though I guess you can interpret that any way you wish, as I see it this era of alternative facts suggests transforming our ways of seeking and appreciating truth might be an appropriate transformation….

And libraries, particularly those that value an informed public over stats and optics, are actually an essential resource.  And yet I would  suggest that it’s not libraries but the multitude of people who support, work in and value libraries that do the transforming.  That includes staff at every level, library boards, Friends, volunteers of every stripe.

As with every institution, libraries themselves are being transformed, largely because of information and communications technology – basically by the ways in which people seek, acquire and assess information.   In an earlier era some thought technology would replace libraries.  As time has demonstrated, the role that libraries play is more essential than ever.  The challenge is well-nigh overwhelming for all involved.

Which means that a pause to recognize and celebrate is more than ever timely.  One starting point may be the American Library Association’s annual “State of America’s Libraries Report” scheduled to be announced on Monday.  On Tuesday, April 11, focus is on the people who connect the resources of the library with seekers of information, ideas, inspiration, real facts.

Wednesday, April 12, is National Bookmobile Day.  Though it may sound anachronistic it’s important to bear in mind that broadband access is far from universal and that there are far too many people with disabilities, lack of transportation or other challenge for whom bookmobile service is their only option.

The American Library Association, sponsor of National Library Week 2017, provides written and graphic promotional materials in abundance.  To download free NLW tools and resources visit http://ala.org/nlw.  Or check other sources, including Pinterest, for library-related graphics.

Finally, bear in mind that transformation takes time, so focus on the long view on the “Libraries transform” theme.  Libraries have been transforming  users and their communities of interest since about 2600 BC.  No rush – just a pause to appreciate and celebrate.

 

UPDATE:  What’s happening at the U of M Libraries – from Consortium

National Library Week 2017

April 9 through 15: Come join us!

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The University Libraries invites you to join us for National Library Week, an annual event occurring this year from April 9 through 15, which celebrates libraries and the people they serve.

“Libraries Transform” is this year’s theme, and the U Libraries will be hosting events that help transform lives on our campus.

Activities include:

  • Providing resources at pop-up libraries and sponsoring a food drive
  • Helping our staff and students meet basic needs through a food drive that assures everyone can focus on lifelong learning, rather than where their next meal is coming from.

In addition, the Libraries transforms by providing our campus with resources and services that address the needs of today and tomorrow — from publishing services, systematic reviews, data management and immigration history to a new researcher collaboration studio opening in Wilson Library fall 2017.

Pop-up Libraries & READ Posters

The University Libraries will be outside across campus during National Library Week! Stop by our booth to check out some great reads, and see what else is going on at the Libraries!

You can also get your own limited edition National Library Week bookmark and stickers. You’ll find us from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the following locations:

  • NLW17stickerTuesday, April 11: Coffman Union
  • Wednesday, April 12: West end of the Washington Ave Bridge (rain site: Willey Hall)
  • Thursday, April 13: St. Paul Student Center

Food Drive

On behalf of the Food Group, the University Libraries will host a donation site for non-perishable food items. Donation sites include: Wilson, Walter, Bio-Med, and Magrath Libraries from April 9 through April 15.

Share How Libraries Transform Your Life

You can also join the fun from home! Share your library story using #nlw17 and don’t forget to tag the University Libraries (@umnlib). Share how libraries have transformed your papers, research, projects, and perspectives. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to see our events and resources that help transform the lives of our faculty, staff, and students.

Please contact Jamie Hoehn (jlhoehn@umn.edu) or Kristen Mastel (meye0539@umn.edu) with questions.

Honoring the heritage of Native Americans at Thanksgiving

As too few Americans are aware, the day after Thanksgiving is not only about excessive mindless shopping, it is the day on which thoughtful Americans pause to celebrate National Native American Heritage Day. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_American_Heritage_Day)

The origin of Native American Heritage Day goes back to President George W. Bush who signed the legislation that designated the day after Thanksgiving as Native American Heritage Day. With time the Day has morphed into the establishment of the month of November as Native American Heritage Month. Though the distinction between the month and the day is nuanced, November 25, 2016 offers a timely opportunity to pause, learn and reflect on the narrative and heritage of Native Americans.

President Obama’s proclamation declaring the month of November 2016 is an excellent starting point for understanding the import of the day and/or the month. https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/10/31/presidential-proclamation-national-native-american-heritage-month-2016

Numerous federal agencies have contributed to a mother lode of resources ranging from descriptions of parks to art to poetry to personal memories of Native Americans’ life experiences. Though the content is presented in calendar format, the films, audiotapes, photos and stories are not date specific. Let your fingers to the walking this amazing wealth of authentic resources! http://nativeamericanheritagemonth.gov

Related info:

A guide with specific relevance to individuals interested to explore their personal American Indian heritage: A Guide to Tracing American Indian & Alaska Native Ancestry http://www.bia.gov/cs/groups/public/documents/text/idc-002619.pdf

A hot-off-the-press report with great relevance, less than mass reader appeal, is a report rom a recent conference related to Indigenous Archives, Libraries, and Museums organized by the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums https://www.imls.gov/news-events/upnext-blog/2016/11/synergy-southwest-reflections-international-conference-indigenous

 

“Information Literacy”- Universal challenge of the digital era

Information’s everywhere so now we have to think

 As we reel in the barrage of misinformation, punctuated with provocative spurts of ignorance, it seems ironic – if timely — to note that October 2016 is National Information Literacy Awareness Month.  On the positive side, we should be keenly aware by now that this democracy, based as it is on an informed citizenry, faces an unprecedented challenge.

In truth the term “information literacy” makes me cringe, though I can offer no alternative. More to the point, my serious concern is to focus on the concept – that we keep the goal in mind as we struggle to sort through the maze of messages with which we are bombarded. So I use the term “infolit” and think about how we cope – individually and as a society — with the maelstrom.

Since the dawn of the digital era teachers and librarians have led the push to prepare youth to meet the challenge of the information age. The United States National Forum on Information Literacy offers a serviceable definition of infolit — to wit: “the ability to know when there is a need for information, to be able to identify, locate, evaluate, and effectively use that information for the issue or problem at hand.” The story of infolit is well-chronicled in a pair of lengthy Wikipedia pieces that provides references, definition, and basic background.

Still, today’s information-saturated environment presents a challenge for every lifelong learner – i.e. everyone. We are all in the same boat, struggling to stay afloat in a turbulent sea of information overload, misinformation, and truncated innuendoes. It is incumbent upon each of us, regardless of age, economic, social or education status, to hone the skills of discernment, to stifle the spontaneous reaction, to share information responsibly and thoughtfully – in a word, to think.

Though the month of October offers far too little time to overcome our digital gaps, we can begin by focusing on the reality that we are at a critical moment in the history of this nation and the world. As never before we engage as producers, intermediaries, receivers, and processors of information; it is incumbent upon us to consider the dimensions of our responsibility, to realize that all information is not created equal and that funding source, authority, intent, verification, and a host of other factors shape the content of the messages that bombard us. As citizens of the information age we must also recognize and respect our role as sources and sharers of information and ideas.

The challenge of the Information Age is to internalize the fact that information matters – and to act accordingly. Exchanges of ignorance are inane at best, potentially dangerous. To honor the intrinsic value of good information is not instinctive; it must be taught, learned and applied – until it becomes habitual.

At one point I thought to create an ad hoc list of materials to help young people sharpen their infolit skills. During that initiative it came to me that these exercises would be appropriate for any one of us. Masters though we may be of digital manipulation we might well take time to think critically about what’s known in some circles as “critical thinking”.

So this launch into Info Lit Awareness Month begins with titles for adults who may hope to hone their own thinking skills before sharing them with 21st Century learners. There nothing conclusive about this, the point being to encourage readers to think about thinking.

One starting point might be a dip into the website of The Critical Thinking Community for their thoughts on the subject: http://www.criticalthinking.org//

Though this library-centric reference may compound the info overload it offers a comprehensive overview of information seekers and their interface with resources and it sets the stage for thinking about the broad scope of the challenge:

http://www.wip.oclc.org/content/dam/research/publications/2015/oclcresearch-library-in-life-of-user.pdf#page=190

Following is a pot pourri of approaches to logical thinking, coping with fallacies, intelligent embrace of the Net and the scourge of intentional misinformation – needless to say this is the proverbial tip of the infolit iceberg:

  • Almossawi, Ali and Alejandro Giraldo. An illustrated book of bad arguments.
  • Bennett, B. Logically Fallacious: The ultimate collection of over 300 logical fallacies.
  • Cryan, Cran and Sharron Shatil, authors, with Bill Mayblin, illustrator.Introducing Logic: A graphic guide.
  • Mintz, Ann P, editor. Web of Deceit: Misinformation and manipulation in the age of social media. Numerous contributors.

Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge;  It is thinking that makes what we read ours. John Locke