The Bookcharmer is on sabbatical from her library this semester and the liberated schedule has given me the opportunity to do some additional galloping around the internet. One of the big questions on librarian and researcher minds lately is how to keep up with/keep track of all the new resources popping up online as libraries and museums digitize and upload collections. One answer of course is cataloging and metadata, creating the robust framework of descriptions so that search engines can easily index these items. Another answer is bibliography--creating guides, printed or online, that collate related resources for researchers.
Another answer is, when you have the time, to gallop across the Internet to see what you can find. Back In The Day, reference collections often had a New Titles shelf so recently acquired titles were in a visible spot that encouraged browsing. This is how the Bookcharmer learned about rich resources like The Encyclopedia of Bioethics, Encyclopedia of Twentieth Century Photography, and Literature of Travel and Exploration: An Encyclopedia. I could go on, but let me simply link you here to over a decades worth of award winning Reference titles from our friends at ALA's RUSA: http://www.ala.org/rusa/awards/outstandingreferencesources.
But of course, reference sources take time to compile and distribute. What about what is happening right now? I decided to seek out resources new to me available via libraries, archives, museums, and also individual researchers/writers.
I set myself the challenge of finding a new online resource every day during the month of February about African American history, inspired by author/artist Joel Christian Gill who generated the #28daysarenotenough statement about African-American history month. You can find him online at https://joelchristiangill.wordpress.com and on twitter at @jcg007. He has generously been retweeting my entries that I tag with #28daysarenotenough and of course you can also follow along with me @Bookcharmer.
Today's find was the update on the ongoing construction of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, you can even see a live construction camera! http://nmaahc.si.edu/Building/Camera The building is scheduled to open in 2016. While it is long overdue, it is happening.
The entry I am still thinking about is from a few days ago, about blues singer Memphis Minnie. Let me break down my path to finding out about her:
1. Sunday morning Bookcharmer reads her print Sunday New York Times and SF Chronicle. Finds interesting article in SF Chron about Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir. I find a website for the group http://www.culturalheritagechoir.com and on their blog find an entry about blues guitarist Lizzie Douglas, known as Memphis Minnie.
2. Still mulling a few days later, I start thinking about where I could find recordings of Memphis Minnie. Fortunately, my brain kicked out the answer quickly: Smithsonian Folkways recordings, of course! And happily....http://www.folkways.si.edu/memphis-minnie/hold-me-blues/blues/music/track/smithsonian
How's that for Internet magic? A few days ago I didn't know the name Memphis Minnie, and suddenly I'm hearing a clip of her singing.
And immediately, the Internet desire to level up strikes: oh, the Internet has made us greedy. Where is the whole song, why isn't it FREE?
Well, it isn't free because it is cost knowledge for someone to curate this album Blues Roots/Chicago - The 1930's and its fourteen songs and liner notes and bandwidth for Smithsonian Folkways to host it. And for less than 20 dollars, I can order a cd. (CD, what it isn't linking me right to iTunes?)
Wait, maybe my library has this album?
I have happy and sad information of you.
Happy: 5 record collection of Memphis Minnie was recorded in 1935!
Sad: not open access. But if your library subscribes to the American Music collection in the Alexander Street Press suite of databases, you can listen to songs like:
In honor of Minnie, I'm buying that cd from Folkways!
Stay curious my friends. Always ask for more. Don't think because you can't find something online, there isn't a willing and curious librarian to look for things with you.