Tag Archives: libraries

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

 

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Celebrate American Archives Month!

The very term “archives” conjures images of dust and decay accompanied by acrid aromas and tended by bespectacled history geeks.  All wrong.  And anyone who has ever explored family or house history, faced a legal dilemma, or wondered about local lore has had a brush with paper, digital or other archives.

 

October is American Archives Month, a season to be celebrated by the most tempero-centric – a time to think for a minute that those preserved photos, clippings, stories, public records and more didn’t just happen but have been collected, organized, preserved and made accessible through the deliberate and committed work of individuals and the commitment of institutions. 

 

At the time of the Minnesota Sesquicentennial I skimmed the state’s archival surface to compile a random list of irresistible lures to the world of archives.  Over the years I’ve tweaked it a bit – and was amazed to find it posted (sans attribution) on the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information website.  I have not checked to see if the original was edited by that group.

 

For some time I have wanted to share this listing and concluded that American Archives Month 2011 might be a propitious opportunity to resurface the whimsical list, slightly pruned and otherwise modified – not significantly updated because the month is just too short for a serious revision.

 

Many of the materials and descriptions here are accessible online; the print listings suggest a link to digital options. Because the digital resources offer an absolute minimum of the preserved record, we need and always will need multiple access options. Though digitization is growing at an exponential rate, its main contribution is to lure the armchair searcher into a passion to know more and to make the minimal effort to learn more.

 

This random list is absolutely arbitrary and whim-biased  with links to minute bits of Minnesota history.  Each of these guides, descriptions, stories was prepared by a Minnesotan, an organization or a state agency that cared enough about the state’s stories to collect, preserve, organize or otherwise help create the legacy.  Not everything is digitized or on the web – websites are just the most accessible right now.  These sites exemplify the ways in which Minnesotans have used the public records to plumb the depths of their particular interest or passion or legal encounter. 

 

Tending to the record of Minnesota is a collective responsibility and a public trust.  It takes personal conviction, time, talent and public support.  Without these and hundreds of thousands of other records, carefully organized and preserved, the Sesquicentennial would signify the passage of time rather than the values, the experience, the public record, and the recognition that access to information is at the very core of the democracy we share.  The challenge of today is to embrace that principle so that 21st technology enhances access to the building blocks and expands the embrace of this diverse, informed and sharing culture.

 

The disorganization is absolutely arbitrary – draw no conclusions. The omissions are legion.  Though a comprehensive and authoritative list would be a wonderful tool, the universe of possibilities is well nigh infinite and digitization is having a daily and profound impact on the possibilities. 

 

Pick a topic, probe a bit, and pause to think a bit about why and how we  preserve the data and the stories of our state.  Some places to start, bearing in mind that each of these tools reflects the commitment and labor, past and continuing, of an archivist and, in many cases, an institution:

 

Minnesota Archives, Minnesota Historical Society – MHS, along with several state agencies, is taking a lead at the national level in preserving the state’s own information digital resources.  It’s a monumental undertaking that does Minnesotans proud!  The depth of resources and the collaborative efforts of state agencies deserve an American Archives Month commendation. 

 

Minnesota Reflections, an overwhelming and growing collection of documents, photographs, maps, letters and more that tell the state’s story – a great starting point for any age.

 

James K. Hosmer Special Collections, Hennepin County Library – actually a collection of collections on topics ranging from Minneapolis history to club files to World War II and Abolition.  Much is digitized but, as always, that is but the tip of the iceberg – a tip worth checking out however.

 

Minnesota Place Names; a geographical encyclopedia, by Warren Upham.  A classic, originally published in 1920 and now available on line through the Minnesota Historical Society.   Overflowing with wonderful stories. 

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West Bank Boogie.  If you were around in the 60’s and 70’s you’ll be reminded – if not, see what you missed!  Cyn Collins is the collector and storyteller.

 

Holland, Maurice, Architects of Aviation, 1951.  William Bushnell Stout 1880-1956.  One man’s determination to record the stories of our aviation history.

 

A knack for knowing things: Stories from St. Paul neighborhoods and beyond, by Don Boxmeyer.  BiblioVault.

 

The Cuyuna iron range – Geology and Minerology, by Peter McSwiggen and Jane Cleland.

 

Ron Edwards, The Minneapolis Story Through My Eyes: A Renaissance Black Man in a White Man’s World. Continued by a bi-weekly column from The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder  and a TV show on Channel 17.

 

Center for International Education (The CIE) – a self-proclaimed “media arts micro-organization” the goal of which is to “make poetic media with people of all ages from all over the world.”  Videos including interviews with Robert Bly, Tom McGrath, Jim Northrup, Frederick Manfred and documentaries on Eugene McCarthy, Paul Wellstone, Robert Bly, and much more. The world of Media Mike Hazard.

 

Alexander G. Huggins Diary and Huggins Family Photographs, Collections Up Close.  This is just one of numerous podcasts and blogs describing in depth the individual collections of the Minnesota Historical Society.  Re-live the day-to-day travels of this mission family in Minnesota 1830-1860.  Just a sample of the podcast/blogs from MHS.

 

Minnesota Tobacco Document Depository – built as part of the settlement with Philip Morris, Inc. et al.  26 million pages of documents.

 

Frances Densmore  Prolific writer and chronicler of the cultures of the Dakota and Ojibwe and other Native American Tribes.  Densmore also recorded over 2,000 wax cylinders of Native music.

 

The Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies, University of Minnesota Libraries.

Ramseyer-Northern Bible Society Collection.  The largest non-seminary Bible collection in the Upper Midwest.  Donald J. Pearce, Curator.

Rhoda Gilman, historian extraordinaire,  The Story of Minnesota’s Past, just one of several books by Gilman.   “The Dakota War and the State Sesquicentennial” is a more current blog representing her ongoing contributions to preserve and elucidate Minnesota’s story.  Google Rhoda Gilman for more glimpses of her writings over the past several decades.

 

Evans, Rachel.  Tribal College Librarians Build Map Database, Library of Congress Info Bulletin, Oct. 2002

The Archie Givens, Sr. Collection of African American Literature, University of Minnesota Libraries.

Perfect Porridge.  A good compilation of the TC’s Electropunk scene and lots of information about what’s happening on the broadly-defined media scene.

 

Saint Paul Police Historical Society, Saint Paul Police Oral History Project.  One man’s (Timothy Robert Bradley’s)  passion shared with the public.

 

William Watts Folwell,  Though  Folwell was best known as the first President of the University of Minnesota from 1868-1884 he moved on from that post to serve as professor of political science and continued as University Library until 1907.  The Folwell family papers, 1898-1944, can be found in the U of M Archives.

 

This Sister Rocks!  Thirty years ago Joan Kain, CSJ wrote a small book Rocky Roots: Three Geology Walking Tours of Downtown St. Paul.  The book, which  resurfaced during the 2006 International Rock Symposium, is now being edited for reissue by the Ramsey County Historical Society.

 

Lowertown, a project of the St. Paul Neighborhood Network, interviews artists who live, work and exhibit in Lowertown St. Paul.  The website also provides links to the websites of the individual arts.  A rich celebration and close-up view of this area’s art community.

 

Park Genealogical Books are this community’s specialists in genealogy and local history for Minnesota and the surrounding area.  Their list of publication includes how-to’s on genealogy, research hints and unique assists for anyone working on Minnesota genealogy, records and archives.  The life’s work of Mary Bakeman.

 

Fort Snelling Upper Post is a labor of love on the part of Todd Hintz.  Todd offers an historical timeline, a description of the current situation, wonderful photos by Mark Gustafson and an intro to related resources.  Great for anyone who cares of preservation of Fort Snelling.

 

Minnesota Historical Society, Oral History Collection.  Pioneers of the Medical Device Industry in Minnesota.  A sample of the rich oral history collection of the MHS.

 

Scott County Historical Society, Stans Museum.  Minnesota Greatest Generation Scott County Oral History Project.

 

Haunted Places in Minnesota.  Scores of deliciously spooky sites you’ve probably visited – but never will again – without trepidation.

 

Minnesota Museum of the Mississippi. Postcards and lots of memorabilia that tell the story of the river.

 

Special Libraries Association.  MN SLA: Early Chapter History (1943-1957)

 

Land Management Information Center – zillions of maps and mountains of data, plus people to help.

 

Minnesota Legislature, Geographic Information Services – maps of legislative and congressional districts, election results, school districts and much more.

 

Minnesota State University, Moorhead, Library.  Maps and Atlases – great guide to government produced maps and atlases

 

Minnesota Public Records Directory.  A commercial listing of Minnesota’s public records sources.

 

Minnesota Senate Media Coverage – live and archive coverage of Senate floor sessions, committee hearings, press conferences and special events.

 

Minnesota Office of the Revisor of Statutes – statutes, indexes, rules, drafting manuals and more.

 

Minnesota State Law Library, Minnesota Legal Periodical Index.  A practical guide prepared by the state’s law librarians.

 

Minnesota Historical Society Press, Minnesota History.  Quarterly publication featuring original researched articles, illustrations, photographs and other treasures from the MHS.

 

The Civil War Archive – more than you ever needed to know about the Union Regiment in Minnesota.

George, Erin.  Delving deeper: Resources in U’s Borchert Map Library, Continuum 2007-08. description of the massive resources of the U of M’s Borchert Library.

Shapiro, Linda.  Art History Goes Digital..   Description of the digitizing initiatives of the University of Minnesota’s collections.

 

Drawing: Seven Curatorial Responses.  Katherine E. Nash Gallery.  Curators’ perspectives on the challenge of organizing and make accessible this one art format.

 

The Minnesota Alliance of Local History Museums.  A forum for peer assistance among over fifty county, city and other local historical societies.

 

Minnesota Historical Society Collections Up Close.  Beautifully illustrated podcasts about what’s new at the MHS.  Regularly updated.

 

The Tell G. Dahllof Collection of Swedish Americans, University of Minnesota Libraries.  The collection encompasses American history seen from a Swedish perspective, the history of Swedish emigration to America, Swedish culture in America, and general descriptions by Swedish travelers to America.

 

University of Minnesota Media History Project, promoting media history “from petroglyphs to pixels.”

Ten Years of Sculpture and Monument Conservation on the Minnesota State Capitol Mall, compiled by Paul S. Storch, Daniels Objects Conservation Laboratory, Minnesota Historical Society.  Just one of dozens of similar conservation studies you’ll find at this site.

Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records.  Live access to federal land conveyance records for the public land states.  Image access to more than three million federal land title records for Eastern public land states issued between 1820 and 1908.  Much more!

Minnesota History Topics, a list of Minnesota-related topics to get you thinking about exploring Minnesota history.

 

Minnesota Government, an excellent guide to state government information sources compiled by the Saint Paul Public Library.

 

Minnesota History Quarterly.  Publication of the Minnesota Historical Society Press.  Available as subscription or with membership.  This one sample will give you the flavor, but there are lots more where this came from!

 

Revisor’s Office Duties – publications duties.  The Office of the Revisor of States covers many bases, particularly during the legislative session.  This list of publications offers a good overview of the Revisor’s domain.

 

New!!  Library Search, now in beta test phase.  A web interface for locating print (including articles), databases, indexes, electronic, and media items. Try it out and offer your unique feedback!

 

Geographic Information Services, State of Minnesota.  Includes scores of interactive maps of population, election results, school districts, legislative districts and more.

 

Children’s Literature Research Collections (Kerlan Collection), University of Minnesota Libraries, Special Collection.  A unique and inspiring collection of books, illustrations, manuscripts, notes and other records of children’s writers and illustrators.  The Kerlan also offers a robust series of presentations by children’s authors, writers and critics. 

 

Family History Centers in Minnesota.  One small component of the massive resources of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints.

 

Historic Museums in Minnesota.  Prepared by the Victorian Preservation of Santa Clara Valley.  An amazing resource with tons of information and in incredible wealth of links.  They offer this self-deprecating introduction:  “This is all pretty high tech for a bunch of people living in the past, but then you probably know our valley by its other name, Silicon Valley.”

 

Minnesota History Along the Highways, compiled by Sara P. Rubinstein.  Published by the Minnesota Historical Society.  Locations and texts of 254 historic markers, 60 geologic markers, and 29 historic monuments in all corners of the state.

 

Ramsey County Historical Society, the officially-recognized historical society of Ramsey County.  The Society’s two primary programs are the Gibbs Museum of Pioneer and Dakotah Life and the quarterly magazine on Ramsey County history and St. Paul.

 

The Regional Alliance for Preservation, formerly the Upper Midwest Conservation Center at the Minneapolis Art Institute.

 

Minnesota HYPERLINK “http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/lakefind/index.html” Lakefinder, sponsored by the DNR, provides in-depth information about 4500 lakes and rivers in the state – surveys, maps, water quality data and more, including a new mobile app for the water or ice-based fisher.

 

North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries and Oral History, a database including 2,162 authors and approximately 100,000 pages of information re. immigration to America and Canada, 1800-1850.  Produced in collaboration with the University of Chicago by Alexander Street Press.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Finding Aids to Collections Organized by Topic in the Archive of Folk Culture, compiled by Ross. S. Gerson. Minnesota Collections in the Archive of Folk Culture.  Library of Congress.   Sound recording in various formats.  You won’t believe the recordings they have preserved. The American Folklife Center

 

Minnesota Spoken Word Association, formed to create an alliance among spoken word artists and a resource center. Emphasis on youth.

Moving knowledge at the MnDOT Library

For hundreds of state government employees, their agency’s library is an indispensable resource, a power tool, a source of inspiration, and at times a refuge. For decades the MnDOT library has built a reputation as a unique gem in the constellation of state agency libraries. As of this week, that library has an elegant new – or at least renovated – home. I had a chance to visit – and I will return.

“Movingknowledge” is the theme throughout – from the reference desk to the rich collection of statistics, standards, research reports, newspapers, journals and databases, complemented by gateways to hundreds of libraries. My particular favorite were shelves reserved for the “Commissioner’s Reading Collection” that seemed to pop up just in the right spots – within reach of irresistible stuffed chairs that offer the reader exquisite views of the State Capitol and surrounding grounds!

Focus throughout is on providing MnDOT staffers the right information at the right time in the right format – a win/win thrust that often involves assistance from staff in the process. The payoffs include savings in time and money (by minimizing reliance on outside research consultants), and getting better results.

Congratulations to the scores of MnDOT staff, consultants, and most of all the MnDOT library staff that have created a learning environment that welcomes all, including those of us whose knowledge of Minnesota transportation is pretty much limited to reading a Metro Transit bus schedule! We’re all better served if the MnDOT staff have the best access possible to the best information possible in the best of all possible environments.

Keep moving knowledge for the good of all Minnesotans who need to both move and know at an ever expanding rate!

Contact http://www.dot.state.mn.us/library

Kee Malesky, a Librarian’s Librarian on NPR

Whenever I hear the credit to “librarian Kee Malesky” on National Public Radio I give a nod to that unknown librarian for her professionalism –  and to NPR for overtly acknowledging that librarian’s role.  Though librarians always get sometimes condescending mention in prefaces to historical tomes and doctoral dissertations, NPR puts it right out there.  Kee Malesky, who I always assumed was a male librarian, has become somewhat of a hero to me over the years.  I knew instinctively that she – or he – has to be good to get public appreciation.  I think I even took a little professional credit for our collective contribution to combating ignorance.

 

Now I know, Kee is a woman, a delightful, vivacious, vociferous, dedicated and determined woman who keeps the information wheels greased at NPR.  I know because Kee has just published All Facts Considered: The Essential Library of Inessential Knowledge (Wiley 2010),  a catalog of some of the facts that she has researched over the years as NPR’s longest-searching librarian.  From what I heard in her conversation with Weekend Edition host Scott Simon, the book is a lovely read, especially for anyone who savors the quest for good information – anyone who understands that the joy is not so much in the fact as in the thrill of the quest.

 

Good librarians have that thrill of the quest in their DNA – time on task just sharpens the skills and expands the possibilities.  Kee’s librarian DNA comes to the fore most prominently in her affirmative drive to get ahead of the questions reporters may initiate.  “We (librarians) read all the time,” she says.  “We’re constantly looking at new sources, at websites, at all kinds of things that are happening in the world….We’re all very proactive. It’s really a part of the proper job of a librarian.”   In spite of a hint of hyperbole in her description the “proper job of the librarian” she describes is as it should be in the best of all information age worlds.

 

Kee’s work makes a difference.  For one, the NPR reporters, editors and hosts have ready access to the facts, even before they need them.  For another, she deserves and probably demands credit for her work.  She’s also created a template that other high test librarians might emulate – the compilation of the searches, whether proactive or reactive, of any good librarian offes not just a reflection of a profession but a small glimmer of the many information paths being explored within any community of ideas, whether it’s a small town, an elementary school, a corporation or a university.

 

Fun staff, particularly since in today’s technology the information barriers are minimized and the quest is of the mind.

MnKnows – and you will too if you learn to use the tool

In an earlier era, when time and finances were in greater supply, Minitex, a multi-state network with national and global links, put on a great show at the Minnesota State Fair – a well-staffed welcome to Minnesota’s libraries of every sort.  Today, as information and communications technology redefine the profile of libraries in general and of every library as a local portal to ever-expanding resources in myriad formats.  Today, Minitex shares its tools, strategies and expertise in new-fashioned ways.

For starts, Minitex is promoting a “dig deeper @ your library” tool  that starts with MnKnows.  Tackle your information excavation by digging with this indispensable tool tidily encapsulated on a handy bookmark.  The mine opens to reveal these treasures:

The MnLINK Gateway where you can  place requests for materials – books and a whole lot more delivered to your local library and access to electronic books and journals online.

ELMS, the Electronic Library for Minnesota, an essential guide to online articles and electronic books – try it before you get lost in the everyday search engines.

Minnesota Reflections, a treasure trove of photos, documents and maps related to Minnesota history

AskMN where you’ll find  real-time answers from a real live librarian available 24/7..

Research Project Calculator – a planned approach and a persistent reminder that, whatever the task, there is an approach that involves planning, persistence and an occasional prod from the deadline watcher.

MnKnows – Dig Deeper@Your Library

A sign that says library.

MnKnows is provided by Minitex, an information and resource sharing program of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education and the University of Minnesota Libraries

Minnesotans Reads about Reading

Truth to tell I don’t get to very many author readings or even find time to prowl the local press sections in the areas libraries and bookstores.  I can’t afford the Minnesota Book Awards any more.  Still, I love to just read about what’s happening on the literary scenes — in bookstores, libraries, book clubs and attic reading spaces throughout the metro area and the state.  Mary Anne Grossmann does a great job of keeping the literary flame burning at the St. Paul Pioneer Press.  Though other print media flag a few readings, it’s almost always the out-of-town biggies.  I want to know about the emerging writers, the local folks whose literary works, histories, memoirs, books for children  and more are so artfully created and so often overlooked.

One delightful way to track the Minnesota muse is by following  Minnesota Reads, now celebrating two years of celebrating Minnesota writers and readers.  On the one hand, MR is running commentary on who’s doing. writing and reading what.  My favorite or many treats on MR is an absolutely essential calendar of readings and literary events, often in places I’ve never visited except in my imagination.   That’s MY favorite, but there something for everyone!

Happy Anniversary to Minnesota – Celebrate by checking it out and adding your voice whether you’re a reader, a writer, a publisher or, like me, mostly a lurker.  They also serve who only stand and lurk.