Tag Archives: Minnesota authors

Northern Lights & Insights: Conversations Come Alive as Videotaped Interviews Go Digital

Obsolescence never meant the end of anything, it’s just the beginning.

The words of Marshall McLuhan, guru of an earlier time, came to mind when I learned that Northern Lights and Insights, a library of videos produced in an earlier time, has been added to Minnesota Reflections, the Minnesota Digital Library collection. http://reflections.mndigital.org/cdm/search/collection/p16022coll38

Conversations with Minnesota writers, political leaders, publishers, athletes, activists and more are now accessible to researchers, readers, students and Minnesotans who just want to know more about their heritage. There are interviews with Bill Holm, Carol Bly, with Evelyn Fairbanks, resident historian of the Rondo neighborhood, and with Genny Zak Kieley, chronicler of all things Northeast Minneapolis. Patrick Coleman chats with Governor Elmer L. Andersen while Freya and Frederick Manfred interview each other. Jon Hassler enjoys a lively exchange with J.F. Powers. Preserved in digital format are conversations with Will Weaver, Kay Sexton, Julie Schumacher, William Kent Krueger, Anne Bancroft and Eugene McCarthy – plus dozens of other Minnesotans of today and yesterday.

The saga of Northern Lights and Insights is long and occasionally bumpy, marked by changes in technology and provenance of the project. Begun by cable advocate and pioneer Dave Carlson, then on staff at Hennepin County Library, NL was originally taped in the well-equipped studios of the HCL; tapes were distributed and cablecast on local systems throughout the County and on the Metro Cable Network, the regional system carried on all metro area cable systems.

When HCL discontinued cable production, NL was adopted by Metronet/Minnesota Center for the Book where Dave Carlson joined the staff and continued to produce episodes into the early 21st Century.   Lacking production facilities, Dave and his equipment went on location, met interviewees in their homes or offices, or found a quiet after-hours interlude to record in the Metronet office. In the late 1990’s the Legislature funded a program to distribute videotapes of selected interviews through the state’s regional public library systems.

Enter the digital age… Video formats were rendered obsolete, production and playback equipment languished, and Northern Lights video interviews were yesterday’s news.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota History Center retained its archival collection of the irreplaceable tapes. Tapes were cataloged, annotated and made accessible to users who still had video equipment in working order… It is the tapes from the Minnesota History Center collection that have now been digitized and made accessible through the Minnesota Digital Library.  

And it is through the diligence and generosity of a committed chain of willing interviewees and interviewers, producers, sponsors, funders and archivists that the taped conversations have stood the test of time.

Thought for a perfect winter afternoon:  Reserve time to browse the collection from the comfort of a favorite armchair, read the annotations, remember the personalities of the interviewers and the interviewees and the accomplishments of both. Slow down to appreciate the legacy captured in the conversations.  Then select one or two of the interviews, sit back, click on the “view” icon, remember, reflect and make a plan to read or  re-read the work of a favorite writer.

 

 

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For Twin Cities Readers Book Fare Trumps the State Fair!

For some among us the iconic Minnesota State Fair should eschew the politicians, dump the Skyride, douse the corndogs and replace it all with a tasteful gathering of bibliophiles, Minnesota writers, readings, book talks, exchanges of bon mots among the literati. That’s why we have the Twin Cities Book Festival, the ultimate antidote to the State Fair.

Once again Rain Taxi will restore the natural order to the Minnesota State Fairgrounds when writers, publishers, readers, booksellers and their ilk will gather for the Twin Cities Book Festival. It’s Saturday, October 11, 10:00 AM til 5:00 PM and it’s happening in some of the Fairgrounds classiest settings, including:

  • The Progress Center where there will be an all-day exhibit of publishers, magazines, literary organizations, local authors, booksellers and more.
  • And there are readings and talks on the Reading Stages in the Fine Arts Building, just next door. Participants include Julie Schumacher, Laird Hunt, Okey Ndibe, Hoa Nguyen, Steven Pinker, and an ever growing-list of authors who write for adult readers.
  • There are sites for children’s authors and activities (Michael Dahl, Chris Monroe, Phyllis Root and Lauren Stringer, to name a few),
  • Options for middle grade readers (Margi Preus and William Alexander among others)
  • And teen favorites (Marie Lu, Pete Hautman, Carrie Mesrobian and other YA authors)
  • There’s an author hub featuring Dessa, Michael Fallon, Julie Kramer, John Rosengren, Ben Weaver and who knows who else…. (If you really must know “who else” keep checking the Rain Taxi website (http://www.raintaxi.com/twin-cities-book-festival/ or Facebook for updates….)
  • So no one goes home bookless there’s a used book bonanza,

And it’s all free and open to the public!

The Festival is sponsored in part with funds from the Legacy Fund distributed through the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council.

 

Minnesota writers are World Book Night “tradition”

Organizers of the third World Book Night (http://www.us.worldbooknight.org) have just announced the list of titles that will be shared round the globe on Wednesday, April 23, 2014.  On World Book Night “reading ambassadors” will reach out in their communities to share a half million books with random, unsuspecting individuals.

Once again Minnesota writers are prominent on the list of 30 selected titles.  IN 2012 it was Leif Enger’s Peace Like a River and Kate DiCamillo’s Because of Winn-Dixie that made the list.  At that time, Enger captured the spirit of World Book Night as “a beautiful foolish idea.”

It’s such a beautiful foolish idea that the selectors this year wisely turned to three more Minnesota writers, that’s 10% of the 30 chosen titles!  The 2014 selections include Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild, Garrison Keillor’s Pontoon and Peter Geye’s The Lighthouse Road.  For a full listing of the 2014 list of WBN titles, click here. http://www.us.worldbooknight.org/books/2014.  Reading selections from past years are posted here:

http://www.us.worldbooknight.org/books/alumni/2013

http://www.us.worldbooknight.org/books/alumni/the-2012-books

World Book Night is an annual collaboration first organized in the U.K. three years ago.  The intent of the nonprofit organization is to share the love of reading through a one-person-at-a-time distribution of a half million books.   World Book Night visionaries live their vision – it’s more than giving away books; “It’s about people, communities and connections, about reaching out to others and touching lives in the simplest of ways – through the sharing of stories.”

Books for World Book Night are selected by an independent panel of booksellers and librarians.  The selections are based on lists curated by experts in the bookselling and library world.  Each year givers from the previous year’s World Book Night nominate books for the panel to consider.  The criteria used by the selectors is explicit:  Acceptable books of high quality; recently published books or established classics; books available in paperback; published books of any genre, and gender, ethnic and geographical balance.

In years past both individuals and groups – Friends of the Library, reading circles, youth groups and others – have participated in WBN as enthusiastic  — and much appreciated – “book givers.”

World Book Night planners are now accepting applications for book givers.  The “Be a book giver” posting covers the rules, e.g. givers will be asked to think about where  and to whom they intend to share the books.  Applications can be made online and are due January 5, 2014.  Answers to everything you ever wanted to know about WBN are posted at http://www.us.worldbooknight.org/faqs.

WBN has all of the characteristics of a “beautiful foolish idea’ whose time has come!