Sunday, April 16, 2017

Your Yarn Your Narrative

Hello Reader,

As I was pressing "new post" just now, I quickly noted as the screen began to change that I have 99 previous posts, could that be true?  Is this post 100?

You'll note in my banner this blog began as a record of how I search library databases.  This was part of the 23 Things project that many libraries participated in some years ago to get people who work in libraries more comfortable and proficient with social media.  And just as library databases have grown and expanded and also become less easy to use, so have the topics I am interested become more cumbersome.

When was the future ever uncomplicated?  Technology has delivered on some of the jet-pack promises (hear the voice of beloved family and friends across long distances, instantly post pictures of beloved pets, have a variety of items delivered to your door if you have lots of money) but the Pandora's box of technology has also robusted the evils--the destructive powers, the ability to distort narrative with fancy visual technologies.

I opened up the blogger website with the intention of updating you on what happened in regard to the Harriet Tubman photo that was indeed auctioned by Swann Galleries.  As you might recall, the Harriet Tubman House was fundraising in preparation to meet an expected auction price of 25,000. The final price for the album containing this photo and other historic photos was in fact 130,000 and I'm greatly relieved to tell you it was purchased jointly by the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress. And this quote appeared in the April 1 edition of the Washington Post:  “The institutions have agreed to joint ownership and will digitize the photographs as soon as possible,” she (Gayle Osterburg of LOC) wrote. “The intention is to make them as widely available as possible through online images everyone can use.”

Thank goodness.  But I am a little wistful for the Harriet Tubman Home, because without their signal boosting of the photo's sale, it might not have come into public hands.  So thank you Harriet Tubman House, thank you for getting this dialogue and this image into national light.  I hope to visit on a future trip to the east coast.

Now, let's turn to the fact that the LOC and the Smithsonian, both federal institutions, had to suddenly come up with 130,00 to make this joint purchase.  As two of the biggest federal institutions in the country, I am very pleased they were able and chose to make this purchase.  For smaller museums and libraries, one of the very important funding streams that is under threat is the Institute for Museum and Libraries Services.  For information on this important federal agency please see the fine write-up and campaign here:

Why do we need libraries and museums?  Not just for pleasure reading and community building, not just to support small businesses and lifelong learning, we need them as the living repositories of your story.  You have the yarn, you can weave your narrative.  What or where are your family photos? What perspective do you bring to the larger national story?  Because you do.  You matter.

And the elders and the immigrants, the people who know because they have lived through terror, we need your knowledge and your testimony.  Among the many appalling statements to come from the current federal administration is press secretary Sean Spicer denying that chemical weapons were used by the Axis in World War II.  His statements were discussed in a variety of news outlets, I'll direct you to the discussion in the Atlantic I don't think I could have dreamed up a more significant example of the dangers of not knowing history, even recent history, because hardly a generation's difference in event and description and Spicer is attempting to justify the actions of our current administration with revisionism.

Which also made a fine distraction fest from a new abomination, a destructive device called the GBU-43/B Massive Ordnance Air Blast, or MOAB and according to the New York Times it can obliterate everything within a 1,000 yard radius.

This device--how does it exist, how is there something that in its own way just as bad as a nuclear device?  When someone asks me in 20 years if I know why my country dropped such a "device" on another part of the planet, what will I say? Why must we always be inventing new weapons instead of building diplomacy?

There is no easy way.  (I) You have to find out for (my) yourself.  You will find out things you don't want to hear, or things that make you sad.  Learning does not come without understanding, and understanding requires that we challenge ourselves. But in your journey you will have the pleasure of learning from others.  

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