Thursday, April 13, 2017

Fight for Libraries; Fight for Museums; Save the Institute of Museum & Library Services (IMLS)


For this year's National Library Week (April 9-15, 2017), the American Library Association (ALA) has designated April 13 as Take Action for Libraries Day as part of an ongoing advocacy campaign to counter the Administration's proposed draconian budget cuts, which include the elimination of the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the leading federal agency supporting the work of museums and libraries nationwide.

Specifically, the ALA is calling on Congress to preserve funding levels for the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA), as well as the Innovative Approaches to Literacy (IAL) program. For those wishing to engage directly in the effort to support libraries and museums of all types, the ALA offers an array of advocacy resources online.

The stated mission of the IMLS is "to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement," by providing "leadership through research, policy making, and grant making." The Common Curator can attest firsthand to the vital importance of the IMLS mission, having worked on two major IMLS digitization grants to help create two substantial and significant digital collections that are freely accessible online.

As Project Director, the Common Curator received a $120,300 grant to build the North Carolina History of Health Digital Collection, which makes available some 350,000 pages of core health-related journal literature from 1849 to the present. Earlier, as Digital Production Editor & Metadata Coordinator, he helped build American Journeys: A Digital Library and Learning Center, which features eyewitness accounts of early American exploration and settlement from around 1500 to 1850. It, too, has been heavily utilized since its launch, attracting hundreds of thousands of users annually.

It is estimated there are 123,000 libraries and 35,000 museums in the U.S. Moreover, it is estimated that 169 million people over 14 are library users (69% of the population), while 148 million people over 18 visit a museum annually. Clearly, there is a critical demand and need for memory institutions, which is consistent with the IMLS vision, namely, "A democratic society where communities and individuals thrive with broad public access to knowledge, cultural heritage, and lifelong learning."

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence . . . Fifty Years after MLK, Jr.



Fifty years ago on April 4, 1967 (exactly one year before his assassination), Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr., delivered a major speech at Riverside Church in New York City which articulated his reasoning for his opposition to the Vietnam War, and how the conflict was intertwined with racism and other pressing social issues facing the nation. Entitled "Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break Silence," King traces the evolution of his thought on the war, and argues for a "radical revolution of values," stating:
. . . [W]e must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
Towards the conclusion of his speech, King posits a fundamental question:
We still have a choice today: nonviolent coexistence or violent coannihilation. We must move past indecision to action. We must find new ways to speak for peace in Vietnam and justice throughout the developing world, a world that borders on our doors. If we do not act, we shall surely be dragged down the long, dark, and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight. 
Wise words still today, fifty years hence. The full transcript of King's speech can be read here; the YouTube video above contains audio only.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

April Fool's Nostalgia


For earlier April 1st posts, see The Origin of April Fool's Day and April Is the Foolest Month, which describes various spaghetti harvests around the world.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

From "Over the Rainbow" to "Straight Outta Compton," 25 New Selections Named to National Recording Registry

In the fifteenth year of the National Recording Registry, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden has just announced 25 sound recordings as the official entries for 2016, stating: "This year's exciting list gives us a full range of sound experiences. These sounds of the past enrich our understanding of the nation's cultural history and our history in general."

Under the National Recording Preservation Act of 2000, selected recordings must be "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and at least ten years old.

Spanning the years 1888-1997, the selections for 2016 are as follows:
  1. The 1888 London cylinder recordings of Col. George Gouraud (1888)
  2. Lift Every Voice and Sing (singles)Manhattan Harmony Four (1923); Melba Moore and Friends (1990)
  3. Puttin’ on the Ritz (single)Harry Richman (1929)
  4. Over the Rainbow (single)Judy Garland (1939)
  5. I’ll Fly Away (single)The Chuck Wagon Gang (1948)
  6. Hound Dog (single)Big Mama Thornton (1953)
  7. Saxophone ColossusSonny Rollins (1956)
  8. The Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants at the Polo Groundsannounced by Vin Scully (September 8, 1957)
  9. Gunfighter Ballads and Trail SongsMarty Robbins  (1959)
  10. The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes MontgomeryWes Montgomery (1960)
  11. People (single)Barbra Streisand (1964)
  12. In the Midnight Hour (single)Wilson Pickett (1965)
  13. Amazing Grace (single)Judy Collins (1970)
  14. American Pie (single)Don McLean (1971)
  15. All Things Consideredfirst broadcast (May 3, 1971)
  16. The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from MarsDavid Bowie (1972)
  17. The Wizoriginal cast album (1975)
  18. Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975)Eagles (1976)
  19. Scott Joplin’s TreemonishaGunter Schuller, arr. (1976) 
  20. Wanted: Live in Concert—Richard Pryor (1978)      
  21. We Are Family (single)—Sister Sledge (1979)
  22. Remain in LightTalking Heads (1980)
  23. Straight Outta ComptonN.W.A (1988)
  24. Rachmaninoff’s Vespers (All-Night Vigil)Robert Shaw Festival Singers (1990)
  25. SignaturesRenée Fleming (1997)
The full National Recording Registry currently numbers 475 recordings, and can be viewed here. The Registry solicits nominations annually for inclusion on the registry; further information on the criteria and procedures for making nominations for 2017 is available at the Registry website

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Chuck B. Goode, Chuck B. Gone: Rock in Peace

Rock & Roll legend Chuck Berry [1926-2017] died March 18th at age 90. Johnny B. Goode, one of his many pioneering songs (and featured above in a live performance), was recorded at Chess Studios on January 6, 1958 and released as a single a few months later on March 31st.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Support Freeform Radio @ WFMU

Love free-form radio? Then consider supporting independent station WFMU during its annual fundraising Marathon that runs March 5 through March 19, 2017. WFMU first hit the airwaves on April 24, 1958 at the now-defunct Upsala College and has never looked back. Currently based in Jersey City, New Jersey, WFMU broadcasts at 91.1 Mhz and via a second signal at 90.1 Mhz in Mount Hope, New York. WFMU has also long been an Internet pioneer, streaming its programming 24/7 in multiple formats, including iPhone and Android. An extensive archive of past shows is also available for easy access.
 
What is free-form radio you might ask? WFMU describes itself as follows:
WFMU's programming ranges from flat-out uncategorizable strangeness to rock and roll, experimental music, 78 RPM Records, jazz, psychedelia, hip-hop, electronica, hand-cranked wax cylinders, punk rock, gospel, exotica, R&B, radio improvisation, cooking instructions, classic radio airchecks, found sound, dopey call-in shows, interviews with obscure radio personalities and notable science-world luminaries, spoken word collages, Andrew Lloyd Webber soundtracks in languages other than English as well as country and western music.
And because the station is listener-supported, WFMU DJs have for years maintained complete autonomy and control over their own programming, which is extraordinarily eclectic. Check out the current WFMU audio smorgasbord, and see for yourself!

Note: The 2017 Marathon premium at the right was designed by Akira Yonekawa.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

International Women's Day: #BeBoldForChange



March 8th marks the 106th anniversary of International Women's Day. The United Nations' theme for International Women's Day 2017 is "Women in the Changing World of World: Planet 50-50 by 2030." The video above features remarks by UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.

First celebrated on March 19, 1911 by more than one million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland after a proposal by Clara Zetkin [1857-1933] in 1910 at the second International Conference of Working Women in Copenhagen, International Women's Day is now observed in many nations throughout the world.

The United Nations first began celebrating March 8 as International Women's Day during International Women's Year in 1975, and in 1977 approved a resolution proclaiming a United Nations Day for Women's Rights and International Peace for member states.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

March for Science on Earth Day


The March for Science will be held on Earth Day, April 22, 2017, in Washington, D.C. and at several hundred satellite locations throughout the United States and around the world. Thousands of scientists and scientific-minded individuals will be marching in solidarity to support the work of the scientific community and the critical role it plays in formulating sound, evidence-based public policy, particularly in the realms of public health and environmental protection.

The March for Science "champions robustly funded and publicly communicated science," and its stated goals for the upcoming event are to:
humanize science; partner with the public; advocate for open, inclusive, and accessible science; support scientists; and, affirm science as a democratic value. 
Further information about the movement's goals and principles, as well details about local marches, can be found on the March for Science web site. Be there or be square!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Climate of Concern: Shell's 1991 Warning of Global Environmental Damage

In 1991, the multinational oil company Shell released Climate of Concern, an educational video warning of the risks of environmental damage on a global scale due to climate change caused by the increasing consumption of fossil fuels. Confidential reports as early as 1986 document Shell's awareness of the risks of anthropogenic climate change, but the 1991 video has not been widely available (WorldCat shows that it is apparently only held by the Bibliothèque nationale de France). The Correspondent recently acquired a copy, and it can also be viewed at their website.

Monday, February 27, 2017

"Alternative Facts" Are Not Facts


Not only are so-called alternative facts not facts, they are not even alternatives. The Map of the Square and Stationary Earth . . . shown above was published by Prof. Orlando Ferguson of Hot Springs, South Dakota in 1893. He asserts that 400 biblical passages "condemn the Globe Theory, or the Flying Earth, and none sustain it." For 25 cents, Prof. Ferguson offered a book "explaining this square and stationary Earth." He states further that "It knocks the Globe Theory clean out. It will teach you how to foretell eclipses. It is worth its weight in gold."

The Ferguson map was donated to the Geography and Map Division of the Library of Congress in 2011, and is fully described in the Library's online catalog. High-resolution images of the map are also available for download.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

ALA Opposes New Administration Polices That Contradict Core Values

American Library Association (ALA) President Julie B. Todaro on January 30, 2017 released the following statement on behalf of the ALA that reasserts the association's commitment to core values concerning access to information, intellectual freedom, diversity, social responsibility, and other issues:

“We are shocked and dismayed by recent executive orders and other actions by the new administration, which stand in stark contrast to the core values of the American Library Association. Our core values include access to information; confidentiality/privacy; democracy; equity, diversity and inclusion; intellectual freedom; and social responsibility.

“The American Library Association strongly opposes any actions that limit free access to information, undermine privacy, or discriminate on any basis. This includes the temporary suspension of visas and entrance to the US based on anyone’s nationality or religion as well as the increased scrutiny of any individual’s communication such as mobile phone and/or social media activity.

“Our nation’s 120,000 public, academic, school, and special libraries serve all community members, including people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities and the most vulnerable in our communities, offering services and educational resources that transform communities, open minds, and promote inclusion and diversity.

“ALA believes that the struggle against racism, prejudice, stereotyping, and discrimination is central to our mission. We will continue to speak out and support efforts to abolish intolerance and cultural invisibility, stand up for all the members of the communities we serve, and promote understanding and inclusion through our work.

“We will continue to speak out and support our members as they work tirelessly for access to library and information resources on behalf of all of their community members, while advocating for privacy, intellectual freedom, critical global research, information literacy, ongoing access to scientific research, and fair and equitable treatment for everyone.

“As our strategic plan states, ‘ALA recognizes the critical need for access to library and information resources, services, and technologies by all people, especially those who may experience language or literacy-related barriers; economic distress; cultural or social isolation; physical or attitudinal barriers; racism; discrimination on the basis of appearance, ethnicity, immigrant status, housing status, religious background, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression; or barriers to equal education, employment and housing.’

“We encourage our members to continue to speak out and show their support for and work on behalf of our core values, in their communities as well as with their local, state, and national elected and appointed officials. Additionally, ALA has tools and resources online to help you advocate for our core values:
“ALA is committed to using its national platform for speaking up and speaking out for its members and constituents in these chaotic, unprecedented, and challenging times. We appreciate the library community’s continued support.”

Mother of Exiles: Send These, the Homeless, Tempest-tost to Me

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Emma Lazarus [1849-1887] wrote "The New Colossus" on November 2, 1883, and donated it for use by the Art Loan Fund Exhibition in Aid of the Bartholdi Pedestal Fund for the Statue of Liberty. A source of inspiration to countless new immigrants and Americans alike, it was inscribed on a plaque on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty in 1903. Then as now, however, Nativists and others have opposed immigration on various grounds, as the political cartoon to the right, captioned "The Proposed Emigrant Dumping Site," reveals (Judge, March 22, 1890).
 
The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World was a gift from the people of France to the United States. Dedicated on October 28, 1886, it was designated as a National Monument in 1924, and has been maintained by the National Park Service since 1933.

Note: The image at the top first appeared in Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper on July 2, 1887 at pp. 324-325; it was entitled "New York -- Welcome to the Land of Freedom -- An Ocean Steamer Passing the Statue of Liberty: Scene on the Steerage Deck [of the "Germanic"] / from a sketch by a staff artist." Further information on this item is available via the Library of Congress' Prints and Photographs Online Catalog. 

Friday, December 16, 2016

National Film Registry Now Features 700 Cinematic Works

Established by the National Film Preservation Act of 1988, the National Film Preservation Board is an advisory body for the Librarian of Congress. The Board helps shape national film preservation planning policy, and also recommends films for the National Film Registry.

Chosen for their cultural, historic, or aesthetic significance, the Board's 25 annual selections for 2016 cover a wide gamut of genres and time periods, from such early films as Life of an American Fireman and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to such later works as Thelma & Louise and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. The full list for 2016 is as follows:

1990s
Rushmore (1998)
The Lion King (1994)
Thelma & Louise (1991)
Paris Is Burning (1990)

1980s
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)
The Princess Bride (1987)
The Breakfast Club (1985)
The Atomic Cafe (1982) 
Suzanne, Suzanne (1982)
The Decline of Western Civilization (1981)

1960s
Putney Swope (1969)
Funny Girl (1968)
Point Blank (1967)
The Birds (1963)

1950s
East of Eden (1955)
The Blackboard Jungle (1955)

1940s
A Walk in the Sun (1945)
Ball of Fire (1941)

1930s
Lost Horizon (1937) 

1920s
The Beau Brummels (1928) 
Steamboat Bill, Jr. (1928)
Solomon's Sir Jones films (1924-28)

1910s
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1916)
The Muskateers of Pig Alley (1912)

1900s
Life of an American Fireman (1903)

Further information on the Registry as well as the films themselves can be found on the Library of Congress' web site. All 700 films selected for the Registry since 1989 can also be browsed online. In addition, the public is encouraged to make nominations for next year's selections to the National Film Registry.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Human Rights Day 2016

Human Rights Day is celebrated annually on December 10 to mark the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This year's campaign is Stand Up for Someone's Rights, for which United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon observes: "At a time multiplying conflicts, intensifying humanitarian needs and rising hate speech, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights reminds us that recognition of the 'equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.'"

The Declaration was proclaimed on December 10, 1948 through United Nations General Assembly Resolution 217 A (III):
. . . as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.
Although not itself a binding legal document, it has "inspired more than more than 60 human rights instruments which together constitute an international standard of human rights." 

The Declaration has been translated into more than 300 languages and dialects, from Abkhaz to Zulu. The English version is available here, while other versions are available via an online database. A guide to UN Human Rights documentation as well as various related UN databases are also accessible on the UN Human Rights website. A showcase of UDHR-related materials from around the world is available here.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Star Gazing with the Wapsipinicon Almanac

The latest annual installment of the eclectic Wapsipinicon Almanac is now available. Published and letterpress printed since 1988 by Timothy Fay of Route 3 Press, the present issue, as with previous numbers, features an engaging mix of essays, reviews, fiction, poetry, art, wit and wisdom.

Number 23 can be purchased at bookstores and other establishments or by writing the publisher directly at Wapsipinicon Almanac, 19948 Shooting Star Road, Anamosa, Iowa 52205. Single copies are $9, plus $2.70 for postage; Iowa residents should also include 63-cents for sales tax.

The front cover shown here was designed by Elizabeth Munger of Iowa City. A brief history of the publication can be viewed at the Almanac's website, and a video of "Linotype Operator Emeritus" Eldon Meeks in action can be viewed here.