Tag Archives: Minitex

Featuring Fun Food for the Mind at the Fair

The Snelling Avenue Bridge is re-opened – a good sign that the Great Minnesota Get Together must be nigh. As always, the state’s highways and by-ways are at the ready for action – in fact, they are already teeming with vendors, exhibitors, builders, chefs, entertainers, transit drivers and others converging on the Fairgrounds to do what needs to be done to ensure that all is in readiness for Thursday, August 27, when the gates open!

Liberal arts majors and their progeny may want to take note of some Fair favorites that are long on bargain, short on deep fried edibles.

Representatives of the Minnesota Historical Society are a visible and audible presence all week. They’re performing at the Schilling Amphitheater with their popular “History-on-a-Schtick!” vaudeville show. Or orient yourself to the fairgrounds with a cell phone walking tour around the grounds. Listen to fascinating stories of Minnesota State Fair history while you learn about the buildings and the stories those walls can tell. MHS also sponsors a booth in the Education Building where visitors can learn about the organization’s resources, the statewide network and outreach activities.

Wednesday, September 2, is library day at the Fair. The first treat of “Read&Ride Day” comes at the gate when public library cardholders will get discounted admission. From 9:00-5:00 Carousel Park will be abuzz with activities for every age, including yoyo tricks, magic, hypnotism, old-time and bluegrass music. For young readers and reader wanabes there are muscle and brain-building activities, picture books, a scavenger hunt, bookmarks and more. Visitors who show their library card will get a deck of “Get Carded: Make your next stop the library” playing cards.

Rain Taxi will join the September 2 reading bonanza with a full schedule of events, starting at 9:00 with the chance to write a short “good morning poem” using impromptu exercises with poet John Colburn. At 10:30 Moorhead teacher Kevin Carollo will craft cardboard animals, while poet Paula Cisewski will write an on-the-spot poem based on the requester’s Tarot cards.

Also from Rain Taxi, from 1:00-2:00 Minnesota hip-hop writer and performer Dessa will sign copies of her Rain Taxi chapbook, A Pound of Steam. From 2:00–3:30 poet-troubadour Brian Laidlaw will lead a drop-in songwriting workshop. And from 3:30-5:00 graphic novelist and comics professor Ursula Murray Husted will create a gigantic collaborative comic – fun for all ages.

** Public Library Day is funded by the Minnesota Legacy Fund.

P.S. Just as I polished off this post the latest news from Minitex popped up – featuring a tempting smorgasbord of top ten fun things to do at the Fair. https://news.minitex.umn.edu/news/library-news/top-10-things-do-state-fair-read-ride-day.  Click and learn!

 

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Reflections on Reflections – A Digital Archive of Archives

Creating a profile of a single archive seems the best way to celebrate American Archives Month.  The problem is that there are too many, each unique, with its own personality and its own stories to relate.   Some are traditional – print materials and physical objects; others are digital, often based on the traditional.  All are created, tended and shared by archivists who care about preservation of the people’s record.

Minnesota Reflections is a sort of archive of archives, a digital resource to which individual archives of every stripe have contributed their documents and their pictures, with the intent to share the historic record with a broader audience.   Contributors include county historical societies, colleges and universities, state agencies, nonprofits, churches and religious archives, and others.

The photos and the data are not only preserved but cataloged for easy browsing by topic, region and collection (source).  The technical standards are high and the cataloging/organizing standards are the same.  Pick a topic or town or source, search the collection, and see what you find.  Anticipating the season to come, I searched “winter carnival” and found (among many listings) a 1920 photo of the Mankato Winter Carnival parade.  Who knew!

Though the photo collection is perhaps better known, the documents preserved in Minnesota Reflections are incredibly diverse.  Again, a dip into the collection is the best way to appreciate its depth.  For the moment, take a look at a recent installment of “Digital Delights from Minnesota Reflections” that illustrates the range of possibilities. It’s a small sample to be sure, but it will get you started in the right direction.

Happy Archives Month to the archivists and staff at Minnesota Reflections, to the archivists and staff of the contributing organizations, and to the hundreds of Minnesotans who know and value the record left by those individuals and institutions who have gone before, who have adapted to new technologies that extend the reach of those records, and who know full well that some day some one is going to want that exact bit of information – readily accessible and in mint condition.

For students – the day of reckoning is at hand

This first week of the new year, a critical time when  millions of students wake to a harsh reality – the end of vacation is at hand and the assignments remain in a state of potency.  Whether the facts face a high school working on a History Day project, a PhD candidate with a dissertation that needs some touch up, a parent or spouse of a student who would rather play than probe, there is one happy thought – The first step is the hardest.

Matt Lee who publishes a rich newsletter for Minitex speaks to that very point, reminding us that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, according to Confucious. (Or maybe Lao Tzu. A Google search cites both.  Anyone knows a college student who can verify this information?)   As verification of that adage Matt points the way to the report, “Truth be told: How college students use and evaluate information in the digital age” .  The survey of over 8300+ students at 25 institutions, conducted by Alison Head and Michael Eisenberg of the University of Washington Information School,  offers  a surprisingly good read.  Though focused on students navigating in a digital environment the findings are totally applicable to any time and most tasks.  Most fun of all is the great YouTube presentation of the results – you don’t even have to crack a book to get the gist of the 72-page report.

Gustavus Adolphus faculty member Barbara Fister, writing in the Library Journal, reports that 84% of the students surveyed reported that getting started – defining a topic, narrowing it down, and filtering through relevant results — proved to be the three major stumbling blocks to confident student research.  This in the day when everything is right there on the computer – or not.   Fister reflects on the good news that today’s students are “very conscious of the need to evaluate the sources they encounter.  They don’t take them at face value, but are choosy about finding sources that are current and authoritative.”

Fister’s mention of “unhealthy info-gluttony” suggests a concern of mine.  A quote from the report resonates, though I’m quick to note that there’s a generation gap: “A 32-year-old librarian relates what now seems like a quaint memory from a simpler time. Not that many years ago, while conducting a literature review for her own humanities dissertation, she was able to search and exhaust every information source her campus library had to offer. .But for many of todayʼs undergraduates, the idea of being able to conduct an exhaustive search is inconceivable. Information seems to be as limitless as the universe. And research is one of the most difficult challenges facing students in the digital age.”  Still we information enthusiasts need reminders that, in some cases,  more is more, not better.

Happy New Year’s Resolution (beats dieting)  is to  research, think and write more about the world of digital resources in blogs-to-be.  The inescapable fact that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” is inescapable.   Defining a topic, narrowing it down, and filtering through relevant and reliable results require time and active engagement with the topic.  The iPad and laptop are quick to fetch, not so good at figuring it all out.  Time, teachers and librarians are essential to the process.

Happy surfing and sifting to learners who can pretty well discard the old alibi that “the library didn’t have anything about…”

 

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