Friday, December 30, 2011

Kickstarting "Take This Book: The People's Library at Occupy Wall Street"

"Take This Book: The People's Library at Occupy Wall Street" is a Kickstarter project to document the eventful history of the library, which evolved quickly in the early days of the Occupy Wall Street movement in NYC (see earlier Common Curator posts: The Occupy Wall Street Library and The Destruction of the People's Library).

Author Melissa Gira Grant describes the project as follows:
This is one story of the People's Library at Occupy Wall Street, as told to me by many of the librarians behind it: how the library began, what happened after the November 15 raid on Zuccotti Park, and why they're rebuilding. It's a story about books, danger, and freedom.

Take This Book is an extended essay -- just over 10,000 words -- based on the stories of the librarians and the library's patrons. (Maybe you were one of them.) It can't be the whole story, because it's still happening.

If successful in reaching her fundraising goal, Grant intends to publish both an ebook and print version of her essay. For further details, or to contribute, visit the Kickstarter website.

Note: The poster shown here was designed by the artist Molly Crabapple, and is being offered as a premium for supporters of the project.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Peace Corps at 50



Founded in 1961, the Peace Corps marked its fiftieth anniversary this year. The idea for the organization was first expressed by then-Senator John F. Kennedy during an early morning speech on October 14, 1960 at the University of Michigan while campaigning for the presidency. On March 1, 1961, shortly after his inauguration, Kennedy officially established the Peace Corps on a temporary pilot basis through Executive Order 10924.

The Peace Corps has as its mission three goals:
1. Helping the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women;
2. Helping promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served;
3. Helping promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.
In June 1961, Peace Corps Director Sargent Shriver announced that the agency had received around 11,000 completed applications, and on August 30, 1961, the first group of 51 Peace Corps Volunteers (PCV) arrived in Ghana to serve as teachers. Since then over 200,000 Volunteers have served in 139 countries, and currently over 9,000 Volunteers are at work in 76 different countries. Major project areas are education, health and HIV/AIDS, business development, the environment, youth development, and agriculture. The average age of Volunteers is 28, although 7% are over 50.

To learn more about the Peace Corps, an interactive timeline features important dates, events, and videos from 1961 to the present. The Peace Corps Digital Library also contains many historical documents contributed by current and returned Volunteers and Staff. In the summer of 2011, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival commemorated the Peace Corps with a special festival program.

For those considering volunteering, visit the Peace Corps website for information on the application process.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

National Film Registry Adds 25 Films for 2011

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, including 25 additional films just named for 2011. Chosen for their cultural, historic, or aesthetic significance, this year's selections cover a wide gamut of genres and time periods, from The Cry of the Children and A Cure for Pokeritis in 1912 to Forrest Gump in 1994.

The public is encouraged to make nominations for selections to the 2012 National Film Registry.

1990s
Forrest Gump (1994)
El Mariachi (1992)
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

1980s
Stand and Deliver (1988)
Fake Fruit Factory (1986)

1970s
Norma Rae (1979)
I, an Actress (1977)
Hester Street (1975)
A Computer Animated Hand (1972)
Growing Up Female (1971)

1960s
Faces (1968)
Crisis: Behind A Presidential Commitment (1963)
Allures (1961)

1950s
Porgy and Bess (1959)
The Big Heat (1953)
War of the Worlds (1953)

1940s
The Lost Weekend (1945)
The Negro Soldier (1944)
Bambi (1942)

1930s
Nicholas Brothers Family Home Movies (1930s-40s)
Twentieth Century (1934)

1920s
The Iron Horse (1924)
The Kid (1921)

1910s
The Cry of the Children (1912)
A Cure for Pokeritis (1912)

Further information on the Registry as well as the films themselves can be found on the Library of Congress' web site. All 500+ films selected for the Registry since 1989 can also be browsed online.

In other news about the registry, These Amazing Shadows, a documentary about the National Film Registry and its cultural significance since its inception, will air nationally on the PBS series "Independent Lens" on Thursday, Dec. 29, at 10 p.m (check local listings).

Newest Wapsipinicon Almanac Hot Off the Press

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. For those in the vicinity, Fay will be giving readings from the almanac in Iowa City, Cedar Falls, and Dubuque during January 2012.

Number 18 can be purchased directly by writing the publisher at Wapsipinicon Almanac, 19948 Shooting Star Road, Anamosa, Iowa 52205. Single copies are $8, plus $2.50 for postage; Iowa residents should also include 56-cents for sales tax.

The cover shown here is based on an drawing by Anamosa artist Dolores Chadwell. Previous covers and contents pages, as well as a brief history of the Almanac, can be viewed at the Almanac's website.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

North Carolina Master Gardener License Plates



On June 30, 2011, North Carolina Governor Perdue signed House Bill 289 which authorizes the production of a special Master Gardener license plate. The Department of Motor Vehicles requires a minimum of 300 paid applications before it will begin manufacture of the new plate. As of November 17, the North Carolina Master Gardener Volunteer Association (NCMGVA) reports that 131 orders have been received.

The plates cost $20 more per year than regular plates, $10 of which will be donated to the North Carolina Master Gardener Endowment maintained by NCSU's North Carolina Agricultural Foundation. For an additional $30 annually (for a total of $50 per year), the special plates can be personalized. Visit the NCMGVA website to download an application form.

2012 Seed Savers Exchange Catalog

Founded in 1975 by Diane Ott Whealy and Kent Whealy, Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) is now the largest non-governmental seed bank of its kind in the United States. With over 13,000 members, SSE conserves and maintains heirloom seeds for thousands of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and flowers. Its mission is:
. . . to save North America's diverse, but endangered, garden heritage for future generations by building a network of people committed to collecting, conserving and sharing heirloom seeds and plants, while educating people about the value of genetic and cultural diversity.
Located on the 890-acre Heritage Farm in Decorah, Iowa, SSE is open to visitors from April to October, and sponsors special events such as seed starting, grafting, and gardening workshops. It also hosts an annual conference and campout. To learn more about Seed Savers Exchange and the benefits of membership, visit its website.

The mesmerizing 2012 Catalog can be viewed online, downloaded as a PDF, or a free copy in print can be requested. Also of interest is the recently published book by co-founder Diane Ott Whealy, Gathering: Memoir of a Seed Saver.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

World AIDS Day 2011: Getting to Zero

World AIDS Day has been observed annually on December 1st since 1988 and has served to increase international awareness in the campaign against HIV and AIDS. More than 25 million people are estimated to have died from AIDS from 1981 to 2007, with an estimated 34 million infected with HIV at the end of 2010, an increase of 17% from 2001.

Two important organizations working to prevent and treat AIDS and HIV infection are UNAIDS (the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS) and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

To date, the Global Fund has committed $22.6 billion in 150 countries for large scale programs to combat all three diseases. At the end of 2010, UNAIDS launched its 2011-2015 Strategy: Getting to Zero, which is available for download. The World AIDS Day Report 2011 is also available online.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Destruction of The People's Library



The eviction of Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park in the early morning hours of November 15, 2011 resulted in the destruction and loss of several thousand books as well as irreparable damage to computers, equipment, and personal property that constituted the Occupy Wall Street Library, or People's Library, as it is also known. The video above documents a press conference held on November 23 in response to the destruction and aftermath. Further information about rebuilding efforts and current initiatives by the People's Library can be found at the OWS Library web site.

Occupy Chapel Hill





The Occupy Wall Street movement arrived in Chapel Hill in mid-October, and quickly a small encampment was established at the Peace and Justice Plaza in front of the Chapel Hill Post Office and Court House. Updates on recent activities can be found at the Occupy Chapel Hill and Occupy Together web sites.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Book Drive for Pediatric Cancer Patients

Various University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill schools and libraries are sponsoring a book drive until December 8, 2011 on behalf of the Book Fairy, an organization that donates children’s books to the Pediatric Oncology Clinic at UNC Hospitals.

The need is especially great for English and Spanish-language board books, the sturdy picture books that can withstand repeated use by very young children.

Book drive organizers have created a list of suggested titles, but will gladly accept all new or gently-used books for ages one through mid-teen.

The third annual drive follows successful efforts that brought in 2,377 books in 2009 and 2,173 books in 2010.

Campus drop-off locations are:
• Davis Library lobby
• Undergraduate Library lobby
• Wilson Library lobby
• Health Sciences Library
• Law Library
• School of Information and Library Science, Manning Hall lobby
• School of Education, Peabody Hall, Student Affairs Office lobby, 1st floor
• School of Social Work, Tate-Turner-Kuralt Building lobby
For information about the drive, contact Katelyn Ander, UNC Undergraduate Library, 919-962-2559.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Move Your Money Today



November 5, 2011 has been designated "Bank Transfer Day" by activists encouraging citizens to transfer their assets from "too big to fail" banks to local community banks and credit unions. To learn more, or to find a community bank or credit union in your area, visit the Move Your Money website.

The video above, modeled on It's a Wonderful Life, was directed by Eugene Jarecki, who was recently interviewed on Democracy Now! Of related interest is a just-published report by Citizens for Tax Justice entitled, "Corporate Taxpayers and Corporate Tax Dodgers, 2008-2010."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Twenty Years After

On November 1, 1991, an horrific tragedy befell the University of Iowa community when one of its recent graduates, Gang Lu, shot and killed five (T. Ann Cleary, Christoph Goertz, Dwight Nicholson, Linhua Shan, and Robert Smith) and grievously injured one (Miya Rodolfo-Sioson) before committing suicide.

Resquiescat in pace.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Kickstarting "The Ludlow Project"



The International Printing Museum in Carson, California is currently seeking backers for The Ludlow Project via Kickstarter. With significant holdings of historical presses and materials important for the study of printing and graphic design, such as the Earnest A. Lindner Collection of Antique Printing Machinery, the Museum proposes to:
. . . .to rescue a collection of approximately 100 full fonts of antique Ludlow Typecasting matrices, catalog & organize the fonts into our working collection & digitize Ludlow Type Specimen books with notes on available fonts for letterpress projects. Along with the Museum's other metal, wood type fonts, these matrices will be available for casting type to be used by museum patrons, graphic designers & letterpress printers nationally for all kinds of projects including letterpress poster and business card printing, invitation and greeting card printing projects and creative jewelry making and art projects. We will also develop and offer training and classes on Ludlow operation and maintenance to ensure Ludlow's legacy. The success of the project would make this the largest active collection of hot metal type in the world available to the public.
Consider supporting this worthy initiative; to learn more, visit the Kickstarter website.

Friday, October 14, 2011

From Wall Street to Franklin Street


The Occupy Wall Street movement has arrived in Chapel Hill, and will be holding its inaugural event at the Peace and Justice Plaza in front of the Chapel Hill Post Office at 10:30am, October 15, 2011. Further information can be found at the Occupy Chapel Hill web site.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Documentary for All Seasons

Growing It Here, Growing It Now, the new Common Curator documentary on community gardening, continues to be aired on local public access television. In addition to Channels 4 (Carrboro) and 8 (Chapel Hill), the film is also now being shown on Channel 18 (Durham); the schedules for the coming week are listed below:
Channels 4 (Carrboro) and 8 (Chapel Hill)

Mon., Oct. 10
– 5:30 pm
Tues., Oct. 11
– 8:30 am
Fri., Oct. 14
– 6:30 pm

Channel 18 (Durham)

Tues., Oct. 11
– 3 pm
Fri., Oct. 14
– 6 pm
Sat., Oct. 15
– 3:30 pm
Sun, Oct. 16 – 10:30 am + 3 pm
Daily and weekly schedules for all programming are accessible at The Peoples Channel.

The documentary was directed and produced by Daniel Smith; for a description, check out the announcement in a previous Common Curator post. The film is available on DVD for $10 postpaid, and can be ordered by emailing the Common Curator.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Community Garden Documentary to Play at Ava Gardner Independent Film Festival

Growing It Here, Growing It Now, the new Common Curator documentary on community gardening, has been selected to be shown at the Ava Gardner Independent Film Festival (AGIFF). Now in its fifth year, the festival takes place in Smithfield, North Carolina, October 6-9, 2011. The documentary will be screened on Saturday, October 8, in the 7pm slot. For a full schedule of films, as well as ticket information, visit the festival website.

The namesake of the film festival, Ava Gardner, was born in 1922 in Grabtown, a very small community a few miles east of Smithfield, and after her death in 1990 she was buried in the area. While visiting her sister Beatrice in New York City as a teenager, her sister's husband, a photographer, placed her portrait in his studio window, which led to her "discovery" and first contract with MGM. Eventually starring in numerous Hollywood movies over a lengthy career, Gardner was also married in her younger years to Mickey Rooney, Artie Shaw, and Frank Sinatra.

The film festival is also holding a special event, Ava's Midnight Stroll, which will feature an impromptu tour of some of Ava's old stomping grounds, and include a stop at her final resting place.

Also of note in Smithfield is the Ava Gardner Museum, which boasts an extensive collection of Gardner memorabilia. It hosts the annual Ava Gardner Festival, which this year will run concurrently with the Ava Gardner Independent Film Festival. A schedule events is available online.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Occupy Wall Street Library



Established by Betsy Fagin (according to a recent account in The New Yorker blog, The Book Bench), The Occupy Wall Street Library is still going strong, and now has a blog of its own. As might be expected, the library has flexible lending rules, leaving it up to borrowers' discretion whether to keep a given book, return it, or trade for it. Street librarians are currently creating a catalog of books in the library, and are soliciting donations of books and supplies as well as additional volunteer support.

More information about the Occupy Wall Street movement itself can be found at the NYC General Assembly web site, which also provides the text of the movement's manifesto, or Declaration of the Occupation of New York City. In addition, the progressive news aggregator, Common Dreams, has created a news portal for the Occupy movement around the U.S.

Note: The photo above was obtained from the Occupy Wall Street Library blog. Of related interest, the Common Curator in August profiled Street Books, a mobile library for the homeless.

The Future of Martin Luther King, Jr. Park



The Carrboro Community Garden and the Growing Healthy Kids Garden, subjects of the new Common Curator documentary, Growing It Here, Growing It Now, are both located at the site of the future Martin Luther King, Jr. Park in Carrboro, North Carolina. The Carrboro Board of Aldermen will be discussing the development of the park during its upcoming meeting, which is scheduled for 7:30pm, October 4, 2011. The agenda is available online (see item D(3)), including the park's agenda item abstract and the 2004 Master Plan. The meeting is public and supporters of the community gardens are invited to attend.

Meanwhile, Growing It Here, Growing It Now, continues to be aired on local public access television. In addition to Channels 4 (Carrboro) and 8 (Chapel Hill), the film is also now being shown on Channel 18 (Durham); the schedules for the coming week are listed below:
Channels 4 (Carrboro) and 8 (Chapel Hill)

Mon., Oct. 3
– 5 pm
Tues., Oct. 4
– 8:30 am
Wed., Oct. 5
– 2 pm
Thurs., Oct. 6 – 2 pm + 9 pm
Fri., Oct. 7
– 6:30 pm
Sat., Oct 8
– 2 pm
Sun., Oct. 9 – 12 noon + 10:30 pm

Channel 18 (Durham)

Mon., Oct. 3
– 11 am
Wed., Oct. 5
– 8 am
Fri., Oct. 7
– 6 pm
Sat., Oct. 8
– 3:30 pm
Daily and weekly schedules for all programming are accessible at The Peoples Channel.

The documentary was directed and produced by Daniel Smith; for a description, check out the announcement in a previous Common Curator post. The film is available on DVD for $10 postpaid, and can be ordered by emailing the Common Curator.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Read Any Banned Books Lately?

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read (September 24 to October 1, 2011) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States. [read more at the American Library Association site].

Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Booksellers Association; American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression; American Library Association; American Society of Journalists and Authors; Association of American Publishers; and National Association of College Stores; and in 2011, the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund; National Coalition Against Censorship; National Council of Teachers of English; and PEN American Center also joined as sponsors. In addition, it is endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

Note: The World War II poster shown here features a quotation by Franklin Roosevelt and was illustrated by S. Broder. Published in 1942 by the U.S. Government Printing Office, it was distributed by the Division of Public Inquiry within the Office of War Information.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

As Seen on TV . . .

"Growing It Here, Growing It Now," the new Common Curator documentary on community gardens, continues to be aired on local television. In addition to Channels 4 (Carrboro) and 8 (Chapel Hill), the film is also now being shown on Channel 18 (Durham); the schedules for the coming week are listed below:

Channels 4 (Carrboro) and 8 (Chapel Hill)

Mon., Sept. 26 – 11:30 am

Tues., Sept. 27 – 1:00 am (late Mon. night) + 8:30 am + 6:30 pm
Wed., Sept. 28 – 2 pm + 6:30 pm
Thurs., Sept. 29 – 7:30 am
Fri., Sept. 30 – 6:30 pm
Sun., Oct. 2 – 10:30 pm

Channel 18 (Durham)

Mon., Sept. 26 – 12:30 pm
Wed., Sept. 28 – 1:30 pm
Sat., Oct. 1 – 12 noon
Sun., Oct. 2 – 12 noon
Daily and weekly schedules for all programming are accessible at The Peoples Channel.

The documentary was directed and produced by Daniel Smith; for a description, check out the announcement in a previous Common Curator post. The film is available on DVD, and can be ordered by emailing the Common Curator.

Friday, September 23, 2011

National Book Festival 2011

The 11th annual National Book Festival, organized and sponsored by the Library of Congress, has been expanded to two days, and will be held on Saturday & Sunday, September 24-25, 2011, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The festival is free and open to the public, with last year's festival drawing over 150,000 visitors.

President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama are honorary chairs for the event. More than 100 authors, illustrators, and poets will be making presentations throughout the day in the theme-based pavilions for Children, Teens & Children, Fiction & Mystery, History & Biography, Contemporary Life and Poetry & Prose. A full program with schedules is available as PDF download.

The Festival website features numerous video webcasts and audio podcasts. The 2011 poster, shown here, was designed by Jon J. Muth.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Kickstarting "To Catch a Dollar"



The Common Curator only just heard about this Kickstarter project, but consider supporting filmmaker Gayle Ferraro as she works to complete the documentary, "To Catch a Dollar: Muhammad Yunus Banks on America." Professor Yunus is a pioneer of microcredit, and in 2006 was jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Grameen Bank, which he founded in Bangladesh.

Ferraro describes her project as follows:
The film follows Nobel Peace Prize winner Professor Yunus as he brings his unique and revolutionary microfinance program to the US. We witness the birth of Grameen America and the compelling stories of the first women borrowers; from the challenges they face to the successes they achieve, as they learn to sustainably lift themselves and their families out of poverty by starting and growing their own businesses with the education, support, and non-collateral microloans they receive.
As of early afternoon September 19, 2011--the last day for funding--the project has garnered over 100 backers but is still short of its $20,000 goal. To learn more, visit Kickstarter.

Update: With a final burst of support, "To Catch a Dollar" surpassed its goal, netting $20,909 from 118 backers.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Growing It Here, Growing It Now: A Documentary

"Growing It Here, Growing It Now" is about real food and the people who make it happen in community gardens. It explores the knowledge, passion, and collaboration of gardeners, both young and old, who nurture and raise their own crops in an urban environment. Of interest to anyone who needs to eat well.

The documentary features interviews and footage of gardeners at the Carrboro Community Garden and the neighboring Growing Healthy Kids Garden sponsored by the Orange County Partnership for Young Children. It was produced with equipment and facilities at The Peoples Channel in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and will be airing locally on Channel 4 (Carrboro) and Channel 8 (Chapel Hill) beginning September 19, 2011:

– Mon., Sept. 19 – 3 pm + 9 pm
– Tues., Sept. 20 – 8:30 am
– Wed., Sept. 21 – 1:30 am (i.e., late Tue. night) + 6:30 pm
– Thurs., Sept. 22 – 7:30 am + 5 pm
– Fri., Sept. 23 – 7 am + 6:30 pm
– Sat., Sept. 24 – 8 am
– Sun., Sept. 25 – 1:30 pm + 10:30 pm
To determine air times after September 25, 2011, consult The Peoples Channel daily schedule.

"Growing It Here, Growing It Now" is a Common Curator production directed and produced by Daniel Smith. The 28-1/2 minute documentary is currently available on DVD for $10 postpaid. Email the Common Curator for ordering details.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

If You Can't Find It Anywhere Else . . .


Go to
Balster's! For 137 years, Balster's has been a multi-generational family concern with a massive inventory of equipment, tools, hardware, etc. Located in Scotch Grove, Iowa, its holdings, including buildings and real estate, will soon be auctioned off by Grafe Auction.

The preview is Wednesday, September 14, 2011, with the auction taking place over three days, September 15-17. Online bidding will also be available. The Grafe web site provides full details, as well as photo galleries, for prospective bidders. The history of Balster's is also featured in an article by the Des Moines Register.

Monday, September 5, 2011

There Is Power in a Union



To commemorate Labor Day 2011, here is musician Billy Bragg's version of "There Is Power in a Union," a song written in 1913 by Joe Hill [1879-1915], a Swedish-American labor activist and member of the Wobblies, or Industrial Workers of the World.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Midwest & Great Northern Printers' Fair 2011

The 18th Annual Midwest and Great Northern Printers' Fair will be held on the Midwest Old Threshers grounds in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, September 15-17, 2011. Following on the heels of the Old Threshers Reunion, September 1-5, the Printers' Fair event is for all those interested in letterpress printing, from novices to professionals.

The use of a wide variety of presses and equipment will be demonstrated, and fair-goers will have the opportunity to gain practical training and hands-on experience. A swap meet will take place on Saturday, September 17, where type, equipment, and other materials will be offered for sale. For further information, visit the Midwest Old Threshers website.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

From the Cradle to the Cave: Poster Exhibit


An upcoming exhibition at the University of North Carolina's Davis Library will feature five local artists whose posters have captured the vibe of the Chapel Hill music scene over the last two decades. From the Cradle to the Cave: 18 Years of North Carolina Poster Art will open August 25, 2011, with a reception at 5pm, followed by a panel with the artists (Casey Burns, Matt Hart, Ron Liberti, Jason Lonon, and Chris Williams), and a concert by The Kingsbury Manx. All events are free and open to the public. Further information is available online.

Monday, August 15, 2011

BookOpolis 2011: Call for Entries



Asheville BookWorks
is soliciting entries for its seventh BookOpolis, an annual exhibition and celebration of artists' books and prints. Located in West Asheville, North Carolina, BookWorks is a vibrant community center for the book arts and printmaking. Entries for BookOpolis 2011 must be delivered during the period, August 29 to September 2, 2011; submitted works will be exhibited during BookOpolis weekend, September 23-24, 2011.

Juror Eileen Wallace will then make a selection of the best work for extended display through November 28, 2011. A prospectus with further details, as well as an entry form, is available at the BookWorks website.

The video above depicts highlights from BookOpolis 2010, and was produced by Eagles Way Productions.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Street Books: A Mobile Library for the Homeless



Street Books
is a mobile library for the homeless founded in June 2011 in Portland, Oregon, by artist and writer Laura Moulton. Relying on the honor system, the library grants patrons a library card and borrowing privileges without proof of residence or other identification. A card catalog system is used to track books although no due dates are utilized; patrons simply return books when finished.

Street Books is powered by a specially constructed three-wheeled bicycle to transport and display books for lending. As part of the project's documentation, Moulton maintains the Street Books blog, which records her interactions with some of the library's many borrowers. A grant from the Regional Arts & Culture Council helped establish and staff the project.

The short documentary shown above was produced by Travis Shields; Street Books was also featured in a recent Library Journal article.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Carrboro Film Festival: Submit!



The Carrboro Film Festival, started in 2006, is now taking submissions of all short films and videos (under 20 minutes) for the 2011 festival. Entries may be submitted online by "any filmmaker who has breathed the good air of North Carolina sometime in their life." The early deadline is August 20, 2011, with a $10 fee; the late deadline is September 30, 2011, with a $15 fee. The festival will be held Sunday, November 20, 2011 in Century Hall at the Carrboro Century Center. "Submit," the video above, was produced by Beery Media. Further details about the submission process can be found on the festival website.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Never Trust Anyone (or Anything) over 30?



Whatever the answer to that question, MTV, or Music Television, is now officially over the hill. Launching at 12:01am on August 1, 1981, the inaugural music video was The Buggle's "Video Killed the Radio Star." Eighty-seven videos were shown the first day, with The Who's "You Better You Bet" the first to go into rotation, being played twice; Rod Stewart was the first performer to have multiple videos played. For the curious or nostalgic, a number of videos from the first day are compiled at MTVtheFirst24 on YouTube.

At the other end of the cultural spectrum, a "shout-out" is due Herman Melville, who on August 1, 1819 was born in New York City.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Marshall McLuhan: Medium or Messenger?



Media theorist Marshall McLuhan [1911-1980] would have turned 100 today, July 21, 2011. Known for such provocative formulations as the medium is the message, McLuhan's work on communications and information technology anticipated much that is now commonplace in today's global village, another of his terms. The video here contains a dialogue between McLuhan and Norman Mailer, and was originally shown in 1968 as an episode of "The Summer Way" by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC). The CBC's Digital Archives features McLuhan in a number of other television and radio clips that may also be of interest.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Amnesty International at Fifty



The impetus for the founding of the human rights organization, Amnesty International, was an article in the Observer in 1961 by English lawyer Peter Benenson entitled, "The Forgotten Prisoners." It concerned two Portuguese students who had been imprisoned for toasting freedom, and a worldwide campaign, "Appeal for Amnesty 1961," was subsequently launched. The first international meeting was held in July 1961, with delegates from several countries agreeing to establish "a permanent international movement in defence of freedom of opinion and religion."

The organization's many causes and accomplishments over the decades can be traced through an online history and timeline. On July 15, 2011, Amnesty International will be starting Amnesty TV, a YouTube channel that will feature multimedia content on human rights issues. The brief trailer above introduces the new intiative, which is described as ". . . our new video magazine show that mixes satirical comedy, campaign stunts, short documentaries, outspoken opinion and real news."

Friday, July 8, 2011

Third Annual Iowa City Book Festival

The Iowa City Book Festival will celebrate books, reading, and writing, July 15-17, 2011. Sponsored by the University of Iowa Libraries, the three-day festival will begin Friday with an author dinner in the Main Library. Saturday will feature booksellers, music, children's activities, food vendors, book arts demonstrations, readings and panel discussions in Gibson Square, and Sunday will be "A Day in the City of Literature."

Among the many events for this year's festival will be Novel Iowa City, an attempt to produce a communal Twitter novel, a genre that is yet in its infancy. Nonetheless, for those interested in joining the experiment, the ground rules are as follows:
Beginning at noon on Friday, July 15 and continuing through 5 pm, Sunday, July 17, commissioned authors and interested community members will contribute tweets to create a text that can be read in real time, as it is written, via the Internet.

Anyone with a Twitter account is welcome to contribute to the project, and can do so by using the hash tag #icbfn in their tweets. There are no strict guidelines for the content of contributions, other than the 140-character limit of tweets.

In 2008, Iowa City was designated as a UNESCO City of Literature, one of just four such cities worldwide, the others being Edinburgh, Scotland (2004), Melbourne, Australia (2008), and Dublin, Ireland (2010). The long literary tradition fostered by the University of Iowa's creative writing programs was a major factor in attaining UNESCO recognition. Beginning in 1922, Iowa was the first university to grant advanced degrees for creative works in artistic disciplines, including poetry, fiction, music, and art. The Iowa Writers' Workshop is the oldest such program in the country, and is this year celebrating its 75th anniversary. A key element supporting the practice and study of the book arts is Iowa's Center for the Book, which will begin its own M.F.A. degree program this fall. Other noteworthy programs include the International Writing Program, and the constellation of programs affiliated with The Writing University.

As a side note, the Common Curator earned an M.F.A. from Iowa's Translation Workshop, then based in the Department of Comparative Literature (now Cinema & Comparative Literature), and also served as assistant editor and designer for the first several years of the multilingual publication, Exchanges: A Journal of Translation. The journal presented en face the original language of all translations, and contained translator commentaries, along with scholarly articles on the art and practice of literary translation. Exchanges is still being produced, though in recent years has only been available online; after a one-year hiatus, submissions are being solicited for fall/winter 2011.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

First Annual Ladies of Letterpress Conference

Ladies of Letterpress (LoLP), a trade organization for letterpress printers and aficionados of fine printing everywhere, will be holding its inaugural conference August 5-7, 2011 in Asheville, North Carolina. The schedule is loaded with events, including:

Panel Discussions:


--Letterpress As a Business
--Running and Starting a Community Print Shop
--Artist Books + Fine Press
--The Future of Letterpress!
--Teaching Letterpress in a University Settting
--Printing Collaborations for Community
--Lead Tweets: Or, How to Use Social Media to Promote Your Business

Demonstrations:


--The World of Handmade Paper
--Vandercook Care and Maintenance
--Making the Dead Feminist Broadside Series
--Getting to Know Your Tabletop Press
--Wood Engraving
--Catherine Realce of visualchemist

Speakers and demonstrators from leading small presses around the country will be on hand, with the keynote presentation to be delivered by Judith Berliner of Full Circle Press. In addition, a Printer's Fair and Trade Fair will run during the conference. A reduced rate for registration will be available through July 12, 2011.

The co-founders of Ladies of Letterpress are Jessica White, of Heroes and Criminals Press, and Kseniya Thomas, of Thomas-Printers. Further information about the organization and the conference can be found on the LoLP and conference web sites. (Note: The shirt pictured above was designed by Todd Thyberg of Angel Bomb Design, and can be ordered online.)

Monday, July 4, 2011

Mark Twain's Independence Day Peroration

While attending a family reunion in Keokuk, Iowa, in July 1886, Mark Twain was enlisted for some Independence Day speechifying. The festivities actually took place on July 3rd, and Twain's remarks were duly reported in the Keokuk Weekly Constitution (July 7, 1886):
"Ladies and gentlemen: I little thought that when the boys woke me with their noise this morning that I should be called upon to add to their noise. But I promise not to keep you long. You have heard all there is to hear on the subject, the evidence is all in and all I have to do is to sum up the evidence and deliver the verdict. You have heard the Declaration of Independence with its majestic ending, which is worthy to live forever, which has been hurled at the bones of a fossilized monarch, old King George the III, who has been dead these many years, and which will continue to be hurled at him annually as long as this republic lives. You have heard the history of the nation from the first to the last--from the beginning of the revolutionary was, past the days of its great general, Grant, told in eloquent language by the orator of the day. All I have to do is to add the verdict, which is all that can be added, and that is, 'It is a successful day.' I thank the officers of the day that I am enabled to once more stand face to face with the citizens that I met thirty years ago, when I was a citizen of Iowa, and also those of a later generation. In the address to-day, I have not heard much mention made of the progress of these last few years--of the telegraph, telephone, phonograph, and other great inventions. A poet has said, 'Better fifty years of England than all the cycles of Cathay,' but I say 'Better this decade than the 900 years of Methuselah.' There is more done in one year now than Methuselah ever saw in all his life. He was probably asleep all those 900 years. When I was here thirty years ago there were 3,000 people here and they drank 3,000 barrels of whisky a day, and they drank it in public then. I know that the man who makes the last speech on an occasion like this has the best of the other speakers, as he has the last word to say, which falls like a balm on the audience--though this audience has not been bored to-day--and though I can't say that last word, I will do the next best thing I can, and that is to sit down."
Some thirty years prior, in 1856-7, Twain had contributed several travel dispatches to the Keokuk Post under the name Thomas Jefferson Snodgrass. These were notable for Twain's early experimentation with writing in the vernacular. TwainQuotes.com, the source of the above passage, contains an abundance of interesting Twainiana.

To supply the requisite noise that Twain alludes to at the beginning of his speech, the following video by Jeremiah Warren depicts the launches of several celebratory rockets that have been affixed with a wide-angle camera. Twain himself was an early adopter of new technologies, notably the typewriter, and refers in the speech to the progress made possible by several major inventions of the day--the telephone, telegraph, and phonograph.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Artifice of the Artist's Statement



Charlotte Young is an artist, author, and comedian. She maintains the Today I Made Nothing blog and is available for hire.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Privatization of Public Libraries

The American Library Association (ALA) has recently announced a new document intended to assist public libraries in ensuring that management control remains in the public domain. While efforts to privatize federal libraries have been underway since the 1980s, the ALA observes that only in recent years have pressures mounted to privatize city and county public libraries. In response to such forces, the ALA Council in 2001 adopted the following policy statement:
ALA affirms that publicly funded libraries should remain directly accountable to the
public they serve. Therefore, the ALA opposes the shifting of policymaking and management oversight of library services for the public to the private for-profit sector.
Among the many issues involved in privatization, the ALA enumerates several key areas of concern:
--Quality of library services
--Loss of local community control
--Governance
--Loss of control of tax dollars
--Intellectual freedom
--Collection development
--Loss of community involvement with foundations, nonprofits, and Friends groups
Additional information on the privatization and outsourcing of public libraries can be found on the ALA web site. Keeping Public Libraries Public (June 2011) is also available online.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Moveable Type: Cross-Country Adventures in Printing

Kyle Durrie, the proprietor of Power and Light Press (Portland, Oregon), has just hit the road with her Moveable Type project. Funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign, Durrie has transformed a 1982 Chevy step van into a mobile letterpress studio and will be touring the United States, offering workshops and demonstrations while serving as ambassador at large for the craft of printing.

While many tour dates have already been booked around the country, it is still possible to arrange a visit. To keep abreast of what are sure to be many exciting letterpress adventures, follow the Moveable Type blog or Twitter posts.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Appyhay Oomsdayblay!

Happy Bloomsday! With wordplay a hallmark of James Joyce's work, he surely would not object to the use of a little Pig Latin to acknowledge the only international holiday commemorating a work of art, namely, his masterwork, Ulysses. Set in Dublin in 1904 with Leopold Bloom as its protagonist, the novel's action transpires entirely on June 16th.

First observed in 1954, on the fiftieth anniversary of the events in the book, Bloomsday is now widely celebrated around the world. If one is lucky enough to be in Dublin, the James Joyce Centre offers a very full program. The Centre also provides a lengthy list of activities in many countries.

In Philadelphia, the Rosenbach Museum and Library is staging an all-day reading of Ulysses and many other events. The Rosenbach also possess a very strong Joyce collection, the centerpiece of which is Joyce's manuscript for Ulysses (the image shown here is from the Circe episode).

Joyce's work has inspired countless readers--and artists--over the years. Had he been writing in another era, however, things might have been different. McSweeney's Internet Tendency offers a glimpse at one possible scenario today: Feedback From James Joyce’s Submission of Ulysses to His Creative Writing Workshop . . . no I said no I won't No!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Gateway To Knowledge: Follow the Torch!



The Library of Congress' rolling exhibition, "Gateway To Knowledge," recently came to town, featuring various highlights (in facsimile) from America's greatest library. Housed in a specially designed 18-wheeler, the mobile exhibition began last September at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. The tour will stop at about 60 sites, mostly in the East and Midwest (see full itinerary here).

On April 27, 2011, the Common Curator visited the exhibition, met one of its two docents, Josh Van Gelder, and photographed the images shown here while the vehicle was stationed at University Mall in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. There was a steady flow of interested visitors, including children, who seemed quite intrigued by the materials on display, which included information about Thomas Jefferson's library, hyperspectral imaging of the Declaration of Independence, Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, and Spider Man, among much else.

Further details about the tour are available at the Gateway To Knowledge web site, and via the tour's guest posts to the Library of Congress blog; Abigail Van Gelder's post covering the stops in North Carolina is available here. The exhibition and national tour were made possible through the support of the Abby and Emily Rapoport Foundation.

Note: Additional exhibition photos can be viewed online at Flickr.