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

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Autumnal Options 2017 – Part II

The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.      Albert Einstein

Except sometimes it feels as if everything does happen at once…especially in the autumnal burst of energy mentioned in a recent blog post.  So not everything got included that post – nor will it be in this one.  Still, following are some more autumnal options for those whose appetite to learn is wonderfully insatiable.

September 15–October 15 – National Hispanic Heritage Month – https://www.hispanicheritagemonth.govDetails in separate post

September 16. 3:00 PM – Pangea World Theatre and Mizna present “History and Theater: How do we tell the stories that have been silenced? http://eastsidefreedomlibrary.org/events/history-and-theater-how-do-we-tell-the-stories-that-have-been-silenced/

September 19, 7:00 p.m. –  The Experiences of Gay Hmong Men: An Exploratory Study: Dr. Brian V. Xiong will discuss his dissertation research. http://eastsidefreedomlibrary.org/events/history-and-theater-how-do-we-tell-the-stories-that-have-been-silenced/

September 23 9:00 AM-12:30 PM. Tour of St. Anthony of Padua Church, 813 NE Main Street, Minneapolis.  Sponsored by the Minnesota Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians.  Registration fee.  Contact Kristin Anderson anderso3@augsburg.edu or leave a message at 612 330 1285

September 24-30 – Banned Books Weekhttp://www.ala.org/advocacy/bbooks Details re programs and banned titles in separate post.

October–LGBT History Month https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_HistoryMonth  – Details in separate post

October 13-January 31.  “In Their Own Words”: The Tretter Transgender Oral History Project.  Elmer L. Andersen Library Gallery, University of Minnesota.  Thursday, October 19 5:00 p.m. Celebration of the Project and the collections, featuring international recording artist, Venus Demars.  https://www.lib.umn.edu/tretter/transgender-oral-history-project

And the list goes on…

September 23, 9:00 AM – 12:30 PM.  Northeast religious space: Diversity in cultures and architecture.  Minnesota chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians.  Tours of ethic churches in NE Minneapolis.  Reservations due September 18  – free.  Details and reservations  at http://www.mnsah.org

October 4, 7:00 PM. Author Kathleen Norris will discuss “how spiritual grounding and practice can hep us in this hectic era of fake news and the manipulation of fear for political Ends.”   St Catherine University,  The O’Shaughnessy.  Free and open.  Reserve tickets  –  https://www.stkate.edu/news-and-events/events/kathleen-norris-2017

October 5, 5:00 PM. Writers Workshop: Overcoming Writer’s Block and Growing from Criticism. Jackson Flats, 901 18 1/2 Avenue NE, Minneapolis.No fee, monetary contributions support the Jac Flats honeybees and pollinator garden. http://www.facebook.com/groups/NorthEastMplsWriters/?sw_933460904&fbr_t=…

 

 

 

Awesome Autumn Options – A brief sampling

Ah, yes, autumn, when the trees blush at the thought of stripping naked in public. ~Robert Brault,

You might want to squelch that image as you ponder this sampler of more uplifting opportunities to learn and engage with some of these fall programs.  Bear in mind, this is the proverbial tip of the iceberg, just enough to prompt you to get out and enjoy the world before we hunker down for the season that is to come.

Ongoing:  Though the American Craft Council Library Salon Series began earlier this week there are three more to follow in the months to come.  The fall series follows up with these offerings.  Details of each presentation are posted online (http://craftcouncil.org/education/library-salon-series

  • October 18 – Inside Scoop, feature Sali Sandler
  • November 8 – Take a Walk in Amara Hark-Weber’s Shores
  • December 2 – Holiday Craft Up.

If  you can’t get to the live sessions, know that the video interviews with past Salon presenters may be found on the Library Salon Series Playlist. http://craftcouncil.org/education/library-salon-series

Saturday, September 16 is a busy day!!!

  • The Minnesota Independent Scholars’ Forum invites lifelong learners of every intellectual persuasion to join them for their monthly meeting. Virgil Johnson, professor emeritus of Northwestern University, designed the costumes for the Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s production of Henry IV.  Details here: https://www.meetup.com/es/Minnesota-Independent-Scholars-Forum/events/242895268/
  • The Harriet Alexander Nature Center in Roseville will host its annual Wild Rice Festival, 10 AM-4PM. It’s a family-friendly celebration of wild rice, the harvest season and Native American culture.  Find an excellent description of the purpose and activities of the Wild Rice Festival here: http://wildricefestival.org.
  • The professional musicians of Border CrosSing will offer their Premier Concert, 8 PM at Our Lady of Guadalupe in St. Paul.   “Latin America: A Miracle of Faith” explores the “complexity of religious faith in Latin America” as they sing the history of Latin America sacred music from the 17th Century to the present, “from colonial oppression to El Grito de Dolores! Tickets available online at bordercrossingmn.org or at the door – “no one will be turned away for lack of funds.”
  • Silverwood Park in Northeast Minneapolis will host this fall’s Minneapolis Craft Market. It’s a day of “hands-on fun, nature, and performances for all ages.”  Enjoy new sculpture and poetry installation along the trails or rent a canoe or kayak to the lake.  At the Field trip Market you’ll meet Minnesota makers who design and make candles and soaps, jewelry and art.  Enjoy area authors and musicians or treats from food trucks and Insight Brewing.
  • The Lit Crawl is a moveable feast, 3PM-10PM. Things will be happening t Bryant-Lake Bowl, and at Barbette there will be competitive storytelling as well as readings from local poets.  Details at litcrawlmn.com
  • It’s Senior Surf Day, 10 AM-Noon at Minneapolis Central Library. Registration required:https://hclib.bibliocommons.com/events/search/fq=branch_location_id:(BD)/event/5702d1d3414af7d2590649fe

October 1:  “Snap, Crackle, and Stop”,  a benefit for the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers (http://www.mapm.org)  will gather this year at the Black Dog Café, 308 East Price Street in St. Paul (www.blackdogstpaul.com) Gerald Ganann, Steve Gates and Larry Johnson use storytelling, music and art to explore  the power of nonviolent fore to stop injustice. The evening includes Armistice Bell Ringing by Veterans for Pace and a cameo appearance by Steve McKeown who will explain “why Kellogg Boulevard has absolutely to connection to cereal that talks.”  Happy hour specials 3-7 PM; the Benefit is 6-8 PM – show up early for happy hour specials.

October 5:  “Talk of the Stacks”, the free author series featuring today’s literary voices, is also at Minneapolis Central Library.  On October 5 health care expert will discuss his new book, Real Food, Fake Food: Why you don’t know what you’re eating & and what you can do about it.  On Thursday, November 2, the speaker is music critic Chris Riemenschneider. Both at 7:00 PM.  Free and open.

October 7:  As you settle down for winter living you might want to know more about the house in which you’ll be spending the duration.  Registration is now open for the next series of “Researching the History of Your Minneapolis Home” classes, sponsored by the Hennepin County Library.  Fall classes to come will be 10:30-11:30 AM on Saturday, October7 at Sumner Library and November 4 at Northeast Library.  Check the HCL calendar for updates and to register; library card not required.

* * *

NOTE: This random mix of possibilities is posted just to whet your appetite and jumpstart the fall season – more to follow about the myriad possibilities!   The idea is that, if you get a good running start now — when winter winds slow your pace, you’ll be at the ready to stay in the learning mode.

 

 

Weaponization of information-Can truth survive?

Long ago and far away a library educator friend published an early info age book that promoted and explained the role of the library as an access point to information useful to the citizen activist.  Her intent was positive, to explain to activists the potential of reliable, authoritative, timely information that would affirm and validate a proposed action.  When her publisher suggested the title “Armed for action” she objected to the militaristic tone….

Now I realize that my friend was prematurely wise to eschew the “armed” image.  In this age information has morphed into the transportable  “weapon of choice”  to foment political action.  Though weaponizing information is usually attributed the Russians it is important to acknowledge that Putin’s tactics are not unique…

To be certain of the implicit evil of weaponized information, I checked with Merriam-Webster to affirm that use of the word “weapon” definitely connotes negative intent: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/weapon

In truth, information is simply a resource, the user determines the use… My friend’s benevolent theme may seem naïve now – though just when information deserves no blame for the fact that it’s been weaponized.  Though history is replete with lies, the digital age opens the floodgates to their unfettered flow and proliferation.

And so we are drowning in a flood of commentaries on the weaponization of information; a smattering of opinion pieces are listed below.

Okay, information can be used as a weapon.  And yet the essential power lies in the receiver of information who is challenged to think and act according to the content and source of the information.  The “armor” we need today rests with the individual or institution that will take or resist  action based on the weaponized information.

As a society, we are called upon to grapple with the challenge to make “critical thinking skills” the norm—or in today’s parlance, how do we “normalize” critical thinking…  I prefer, and frequently quote,  my good friend Ruth Myers who would often ask, How do we inoculate learners with a healthy dose of “perceptive paranoia?”

The Founders, influenced by Jefferson,  envisioned a democracy founded on citizen access to and wise assessment of information.  Knowing this, we should focus not so much on the weaponry as on how we harness the power of good information (aka truth) to support this democracy.  In a word, how do we sustain a political system based on truth, and arm “we the people” with the power to recognize bald-faced lies when they are aimed at us with malicious intent.

RELATED READ: Social Media Helped Trump Win By ‘Dumbing Down the World,’ Twitter Founder Says  https://www.printfriendly.com/print?url_s=uGGCF_~_PdN_~_PcS_~_PcSJJJmpBzzBAqErnzFmBEt_~_PcSArJF_~_PcS

Justice Choir, a movement with a mission

The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive ~ Thomas Jefferson

Resistance may take many forms – for the Justice Choir, it’s music that calls people of good will to share music and a commitment to a just society.  The motto of the Justice Choir “Start Local, Stay Vocal” says it all.

The Justice Choir is an idea that took form, then action, in the wake of the January 2017 Women’s March.  Learn more about the founders, Testa, Abbe and Ahmed here (https://www.minnpost.com/artscape/2017/06/tesfa-wondemagegnehu-and-westminster-church-are-starting-justice-choir-sculpture-ga) and about the role and support of Westminster Presbyterian Church here: https://www.minnpost.com/artscape/2017/06/tesfa-wondemagegnehu-and-westminster-church-are-starting-justice-choir-sculpture-ga

First on the Justice Choir to-do list was to create a repertoire for group singing, a Songbook, edited by Abbie, Testa and Andrea Ramsey.  https://www.facebook.com/justicechoirTC/.  And not the usual songbook.  The editors invited the public to crowd-create a collection of “songs to sing for justice, protest songs, marching songs, freedom songs, activist anthems, and songs of inspiration and change.”  Organizers encouraged “original songs, new tunes for old lyrics, new lyrics!” and advised the songs be “easy to learn, appropriate for all ages, accessible for group singing, and timely.

Submissions are now closed and the results are being readied for distribution under a Creative Commons license free of charge!  A matching YouTube video resource will introduce the songs to a broad community of singers and Justice Choir audiences.

Planners have also put out a call for sheet music, a growing resource of contemporary choral sheet music on themes related to social justice. (http://www.justicechoir.org/database.html)

Lest you think there is just one Justice Choir, performing in a single place of worship, know that the Justice Choir is not a single unit but a concept, a “living, breathing embodiment of the Songbook” as well as other music for social and ecojustice.”  The vision is of a movement of singing for change, programming and messaging focused on local issues, a nimble movement equipped to respond “popup” style to issues in their own communities” no matter the setting!

The energy of Justice Choir cannot be contained in one static blog post.  To learn more, then engage, stay in touch with the Justice Choir movement –  and get word of publication of The Songbook – here:

A change is brought about because ordinary people do extraordinary things.” ― Barack Obama

RELATED POST:   http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/8362528/Protest-songs-posing-or-inspiring.html

 

Visiting scholar to share story of Victor Cordella-“Architect for all”

Though his name may not be well-known in this area, the architectural vision of Victor Cordella is familiar to many – anyone who has visited the Swedish Institute, Nye’s Polonaise (RIP) or any of a dozen Minnesota churches.  Polish scholar and writer Geoffrey Gyrisco has traveled and studied the work of Cordella, particularly the role of the architect as he worked across faiths and nationalities in the early years of the 20th Century.  Among the Twin Cities area churches designed by Cordella are, St. Casimer’s in St. Paul, and Holy Cross Sts Cyril and Methodius in Minneapolis.  The vision of Cordella is evident in several other churches throughout the state. (http://pacim.org/?page_id=1880)

Gyrisco is visiting Minnesota this month, telling “The story of Victor Cordella- Architect for all.”  Gyrisco will share his views and experience on Saturday, September 30, 1:00 p.m. at Holy Cross Church in Northeast Minneapolis (http://www.ourholycross.org).   The talk is free and open, free will offering, followed by a reception.

The Polish American Cultural Institute of Minnesota (http://pacim.org) has published two significant articles about the life and work of Victor Cordella:

Related read: https://www.jstor.org/stable/20148504seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Works by Geoffrey Gyrisco:

  • Gyrisco, Geoffrey M. 1997. Victor Cordella and the Architecture of Polish and East-Slavic Identity in America. Polish American Studies54 (1): 33–52.Google Scholar
  • Gyrisco, Geoffrey M. Polish Flats and Farmhouses: What Makes a House Polish? Wisconsin Magazine of History 84 (3): 22–33.Google Scholar

 

Tomorrow’s journalists – challenges, rights, and great promise

The First Amendment is not so construed as to award merit badges for intrepid but mistaken or careless reporting. Misinformation has not merit in itself; standing alone it is antithetical to the purposes of the First Amendment as the calculated lie… The sole basis for protecting publishers who spread false information is that otherwise the truth would too often be suppressed. Supreme Court Justice Byron White

As often happens thinking and learning about a topic leads me to deep thoughts on where we go from here, how we are the creators of our own future.  Thus, reflecting on a recent post about Constitution Day (https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/2017/09/09/we-the-people-celebrate-constitution-day-by-learning/) led me to reflect on our role as individuals on whom the Founding Fathers depended to meet their high expectations – specifically, 21st Century economic, technological and political  challenges that re-order the historic relationship between government, the press – and “we the people.”

As is their way, my thoughts turned to what comes next – Who and what forces will work to preserve the inalienable right to know?  What are characteristics, the status, the working environment of the nation’s journalists?   And thus I found myself wondering what are the influences on aspiring journalists, what is their training, and what will lure a fledging seeker of truth to risk a life as a professional journalist?

Clearly, these concerns were shared by those far wiser:

Moreover, the Journalism Education Association Scholastic Press Rights Committee has produced a resource guide specifically related to Constitution Day 2017. http://jeasprc.org/2017-constitution-day-lessons/.  In fact. the Scholastic Press Rights Committee is an information mecca of essentials.  The Committee has published a video intro and links to new materials, lessons learned and timely resources on the rights of student journalists.

Other timely resources include these:

  • An article by Matthew Smith on the “importance of independent active press” focuses on the Constitutional rights aspect of student journalism focuses on the local scene: http://urbanmilwaukee.com/2016/05/06/your-right-to-know-state-should-protect-student-journalists/
  • The Journalism Education Association report entitled “Promoting Scholastic Press Rights Legislation: A blueprint for success” is exactly what the title suggests, a comprehensive blueprint for action. This is thorough and timely review of the rights of student journalists, steps to be taken in a student press rights action plans, related organizations that support student journalists’ rights, sample laws and recommended language. One essential feature of this resource is an excellent listing of related organizations, historical information about past legislation, and the names of experts who can offer opinions about legislative language.
  • The JEA also hosts a robust website, http://jeasprc.org that features a unique “Tools of Truth Landing Page” that covers current topics related to student journalists’ rights  http://jeasprc.org/tools-of-truth-landing-page/
  • The Student Press Law Center, established in the post-Watergate era, now headquartered in Virginia, focuses on the legal rights of high school and college journalists: https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=Student+Press+Law+Center&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8
  • The National Scholastic Press Association (http://studentpress.org/nspa/), located near the campus of the University of Minnesota, “promotes the standards and ethics of good journalism as accepted and practiced by print, broadcast and electronic media in the United States,”

Constitution Day 2017 inspires us to take a long view of a free press.  To do so demands that we get a better sense of what’s happening in student journalism.  Some indicators are close at hand:

In high schools and colleges throughout the nation young journalists are tackling major issues of social justice, civil rights, press freedom and the right to know.  Their rights demand attention and deserve recognition.

“I became a journalist is to come as close as possible to the heart of the world.”Henry Luce

IMPORTANT UPDATE: https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2017/aug/28/Student-Journalist-FOIA-Grant/