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.

* * *

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

 

National Poetry Month — Poetic ways to spend the days!

Today’s weather notwithstanding, we are well into April – which means we are well into National Poetry Month.  Whether it’s politics or taxes or a brief spate of springlike weather, the fact is that this post is late to herald the month!   The good news is that there is much to come!

A veritable potpourri of possibilities –  this simply gives the flavor of the host of readings, celebrations, blog posts and creative ways in which we welcome spring with a collective celebration of well-chosen words that enrich our lives throughout the year

The best way to learn everything there is to know about National Poetry Month is to start by diving deep into the official website sponsored by the Academy of American Poets: https://www.poets.org/national-poetry-month/home   There you’ll learn about the two decades of celebration of the world’s literary treasures we share;  you’ll also find  a delightful poster, listing of events, and some unique projects including Poem in Your Pocket Day, details of the Dear Poet Project”, a chance to sign up to read a Poem-a-Day and scores of other ideas.  It’s not too late to dip into this overflowing pool of celebratory options!!!

Don’t stop with the National Poetry Month section though – take time to explore more of the website.  This is a never-depleted, always refresh source of ideas, insights, videotaped interviews and readings, poems for every occasion and more!  A year-round treasure-trove!

Then move on to explore what’s happening closer to home.

  • April 20-21 Magers & Quinn Booksellers will sponsor back-to-back evenings of poetry readings. Milkweed Editions co-founder Emilie Buchwald will read from her latest collection of poems The Moment’s Only Moment and Margaret Hasse will read from her new poetry book Between Us. On April 21 the store will host poets Lyle Daggett, Wang Ping and Morgan Grayce Willow reading their contributions from Resist Much, Obey Little: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance.  Magers & Quinn is at 3038 Hennepin Avenue.  Free and open. (Magersandquinn.com)
  • Schools, colleges, public libraries, book clubs, indie bookstores and poetry lovers everywhere will be celebrating National Poetry Month in diverse and wondrous ways.
  • The Wadena County Historical Society has invited local writers to submit an original poem; selected poems will be read at “Minnesota Voices,” April 20, at noon at the Wadena County Museum as part of April’s National Poetry Month.
  • In honor of National Poetry Month, MPR’s The Thread is celebrating Poetry Fridays. Each Friday in April, The Thread will publish a selection of poetry from local independent publishing houses Graywolf Press, Milkweed Editions and Coffee House Press.
  • Be sure to explore My-Minnesota (My-minnesota/blogspot.com). This special blog describes a delightful range of poetic possibilities you will want to explore – and possibly emulate.
  • And this may be my favorite. Senator Franken is soliciting young people’s poetic thoughts on the theme “Celebrating the Veteran in My Life:  Students are invited to write about any veteran or active military member who has had a positive impact on their life.  Entries will be judged by a special panel; winners in each age group will receive a book autographed by Garrison Keillor.  They will also be invited to attend a reception at Senator Franken’s St Paul office.  Guests at the reception will include Senator Franken, Minnesota Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen, Minnesota National Guard Major General Rick Nash, Minnesota National Guard Brigadier General Sandra Best, and Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius.  Winning poems will be framed and displayed in Senator Franken’s Minnesota or Washington, DC office. The poetry contest is open until April 21.  Contact poetry@franken.senate.gov or mail to Office of Senator Al Franken, c/o Poetry Contest, 60 Plato Boulevard East, St Paul, MN 55107.  Questions: contact Marc Kimball (651 221 2649 or marckimball@franken.senate.gov.

There are countless celebrations –  ideas, activities, contests, visuals, projects and other ways to celebrate poetry!   Though this list is abbreviated, sponsors, poets, and readers are welcome to forward notices of National Poetry Month 2017 activities at this late date.  I will happily add notices to future events as soon as I learn the details.  Thank you!

p.s. Recognizing as I do that the suggestion will raise an eyebrow or two, you might want to check out the Wikipedia post about National Poetry Month.  Lots there about the genesis of the idea and the many ways poetry lovers have found to honor the poets and their work.

UPDATE FROM THE NATIONAL POETRY MONTH WEBSITE:  https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox/15b5dc2bb5124021

UPDATE FROM U OF M : PANKAKE POETRY READING – BAO PHI http://www.continuum.umn.edu/event/pankake-poetry-reading-featuring-bao-phi/utm_source=continuum++News+from+University+of+Minnesota+Libraries&utm_campaign=c7df777509News_from_RSSFEED_TITLE_for_RSSFEED_DATE_3_17_2015&utmmedium=email&utm_term=0_35496412ca-c7df777509-174925501

 

Jefferson’s Birthday honors a legacy that endures and inspires

Jefferson worried that the people – and the argument goes back to Thucydides and Aristotle – are easily misled. He also stressed, passionately and repeatedly, that it was essential for the people to understand the risks and benefits of government, to educate themselves, and to involve themselves in the political process. Without that, he said, the wolves will take over. 

The words of Carl Sagan are both a mighty tribute and a warning – certainly words to consider this week as we celebrate the life lived and the principles espoused by the nation’s third president.  Though more honored in the breach than the observance,

April 13 marks the legal observance of the birthday of Thomas Jefferson, born on April 13, 1743.  The observance was declared by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1937 (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=15611)  affirmed by President George W. Bush in 2007. (http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=25554)  Both of these proclamations underscore in detail the life, vision and lasting legacy of Thomas Jefferson.

Biographies of Jefferson are many and massive.  They record the countless ways in which Jefferson played a decisive role in shaping the lasting contours of this nation.  In his many elected and appointed positions – as Governor, Ambassador, Secretary of State, Vice President and President he was a mighty force.  His contributions are many and lasting, as are his vision and his words.

Jefferson’s legacy is both institutional and inspirational.  Jeffersonian quotes are threads woven throughout the fabric of the nation’s laws, beliefs and spirit.  They reflect his deep faith in and commitment to liberty, an informed electorate, freedom of expression and of religion, and the power of informed people to govern their own destiny.

This week, as the nation struggles to cope with the challenges of the day, the words of Thomas Jefferson inspire hope and offer guidance.  Taking time to think about and to share the words of Jefferson honor the man and focus energy on basic principles of a vibrant and viable democracy.  Of the zillions of quotable quotes, these seem especially appropriate to the times:

  • The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive. 
  • Educate and inform the whole mass of the people…They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty. 
  • I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion. 
  • No government ought to be without censors; and where the press is free no one ever will. 
  • Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the form of kings to govern him? Let history answer this question. 
  • In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. 
  • If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.  
  • Our country is now taking so steady a course as to show by what road it will pass to destruction, to wit: by consolidation of power first, and then corruption, its necessary consequence.
    The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground. 
  • All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression. Thomas Jefferson 
  • I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country. 
  • That government is the strongest of which every man feels himself a part.  

 

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/

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.

March for Science – Minnesotans march to protest federal cuts

When I first posted mention of the March for Science a couple of months ago both the date and the concept seemed remote.  In recent weeks we have all learned more than we want to know about the  horrendous cuts to federal funding for science – everything from EPA to NIH to NOAA and more (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/16/climate/trump-budget-science-research.html?_r=0)

As a community and as a nation we experience the imperative to resist in a public way, to speak out, to stand up – and to march – essentially to remind ourselves and our nation that science matters. On Saturday, April 22, Earth Day 2017, thousands of Americans will gather in Washington, DC for a march not unlike the Women’s March in January – only warmer.

As with the Women’s March there will be satellite marches throughout the nation.  In Minnesota, a coalition of individuals from all walks of life will gather to march to the State Capitol.  Promoters of the Minnesota March say that these teachers, researchers, librarians, students, nonprofits, labor unions and faith groups share a common mission to (in the words of my high school teacher) “combat ignorance.”

The March will start at Cathedral Hill Park at 11:AM ( https://goo.gl/maps/dRjQxoPqS6Q2) with a Noon rally at the State Capitol. Marchers are encouraged to wear blue and green.  (Unlike the Women’s March, parkas, thermal underwear and boots are optional)

Learn much more here:  http://www.MarchForScienceMN.com/march

Minnesotans have a unique opportunity to learn and think about the mission of the March through a series sponsored by the East Side Freedom Library in St. Paul.  All are welcome to participate in the April 8 Solidarity Saturday: Science, Not Silence discussions:  http://eastsidefreedomlibrary.org/event/solidarity-saturdays-science-not-silence/

The web offers a wealth of information about the March – background, mission, examples of proposed and current budget  cuts, and why science matters more than ever.

One source of particular relevance is PLOS, a “peer-reviewed open access scientific journal published by the Public Library of Science. It’s a great – and accessible – update on what’s happening in the world of science.  A recent op-ed by PLOS co-founder Harold Varmus, explores “why Trump’s NIH cuts should worry us,” Another PLOS post by Judith Reichel speaks to the relevance of the March, “Standing up for science – Now more than ever.”  More about PLOS here.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PLOS_ONE

Among other resources I enjoyed are book reviews of a current popular read entitled “Rigor Mortis: How sloppy science creates worthless cures, crushes hope, and wastes billions.   Though I have yet to read the book, the reviews motivate me to dip into what seems to be accessible to this lowly liberal arts major who knows little but cares mightily about the ongoing attacks on science.

Planners provide many options for keeping abreast of and engaged in plans for the Minnesota March for Science:

Email: info@MarchForScienceMN.com
Facebook: /MarchForScienceMN
Instagram: @MarchForScienceMN
Twitter: @ScienceMarchMN
Snapchat: @ScienceMarchMN

Equal Pay Day – In case you thought we’d solved that problem

A reminder before you get decked out for work that Tuesday, April 4 is Equal Pay Day 2017.  This is the symbolic day when women’s earnings catch up with men’s earnings from the previous year.  Some would have the public believe that the wage gap has been closed – these are the people who look at high paid female corporate executives, not at clerical workers or even long-term professional women whose lifetime incomes are affected by a host of obstacles to equal pay.

The early day reminder is that many women will decide to wear red on Equal Pay Day to emphasize how long it takes women to catch up.

It’s also worth remembering that it’s been over a half century since the Equal Pay Act became law.  After 54 years’ women now make an average of 82 cents for every dollar a man earns; at this rate, it could take at least 70 more years before the gap closes.

It’s generally assumed that the pay differential results from women’s choices, particularly to interrupt their careers by taking time to rear their families.  Still, Olivia Mitchell, director of the pension research council at the Wharton School, avers that this does not recognize other significant contributors including women’s lack of negotiating skills and the bias women face from employers – in other words, the “penalty” of childbirth and rearing are a biased excuse for a discriminatory situation.  I agree with Dr. Mitchell’s analysis – and would add a host of other reasonable explanations of what is a thorough explainable – and inexcusable – disputation.

A small sampling of resources for more on Equal Pay Day:

http://www.refinery29.com/2017/04/147705/what-is-equal-pay-day-gender-wage-gap-facts?utm_source=email&utm_medium=email_share

https://www.pay-equity.org/day.html

http://fortune.com/2017/04/03/equal-pay-day-2017-wage-gap/

Definitely check the excellent resource guide prepared by the American Association of University Women – a more systemic approach to a systemic problem.  http://www.aauw.org/resource/how-to-equal-pay-day/

For the lark of it, see how far you get with Cheryl Sandberg’s 20% counts campaign.  https://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2017/04/03/lean-in-sheryl-sandberg-20-percent-counts-campaign-to-close-gender-pay-gap/99841634/

In any event, no matter where you fit into the world of work and pay for work, take time to think about the inequity of unequal pay and the impact of low for women not only on individuals but on families and on the long-term welfare of older women.

 

UPDATE: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/trump-pulls-back-obama-era-protections-for-women-workers/ar-BBzink0?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=UE01DHP

UPDATE: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2017/04/trump-just-revoked-protections-women-workplace