Thursday, July 26, 2007

Do you remember the Detroit Riot of 1967?

This week is the 40th anniversary of the 12th Street Detroit Riot. It started early Sunday morning, July 23, 1967 during a raid at a blind pig (after hours bar) and continued for 5 days. At the end, there were forty-three dead, 467 injured, over 7,200 arrests and more than 2,000 buildings burned down (according to Rutgers University who have a very thorough write-up of the events) .

This was when Detroit was the Motor City and the hotbed of Motown. It was the Summer of Love and the summer of riots. The Vietnam "War" (as far as I know, it was never officially declared a war) was taking our youth right and left (no pun intended).

Do you remember? It was a long time ago. But it was a vital part of our recent history and I recommend everyone, while you are thinking of it, go refresh your memory or learn about this event. Here is a wikipedia link to the riots. The above-mentioned article by Rutger's is also a must-read.

Thank you to NPR Talk of the Nation (from whom I learn something new every time I listen) for making me aware of this. They had an excellent program on the riots, including interviews with people who had been there and on Detroit Past and Present. Here is a link to their blog entry and where you can also listen to the audiocast of their show on this. This is one blog worth marking and remembering.

~Susan Mellott

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Politics 2.0 and the Digital Divide

So politics and the presidential campaign is going 2.0. While I am certainly a strong proponent of this, it does raise the question that this is slanted towards the technologically advanced and/or those who have the means and knowledge to use the Web 2.0 technology. This potentially excludes large segments of the population. Many people who were not raised in the era of computers and PCs do not understand even what is available, much yet how to use it. This would seem to greatly lean towards and garner a younger audience then. And those who are older who do know the technology are probably those who work in technology and/or have had access to and knowledge of all the new Web 2.0 technology. Therefore, this would encompass a primarily white-collar, upper-class population and exclude those who have not had the means or did not work with technology.

I think this is one area where our school system and our libraries play a huge role. Our schools need to provide training and funding for every student to learn and be able to apply technology. And our libraries especially, can educate and enable everyone, regardless of age, ability or economic status. I think this is a direction that libraries need to go and I think they need to get the funding to do it. I don't know that I think the libraries are where the sole responsibility for this lies, nor do I even know if they are necessarily the places that should take this responsibility ultimately. But I do know that if the Public Libraries don't do it, there will be a large portion of the population that will be left behind.

I cannot think of a public organization / facility that could come anywhere near the ability that libraries have to reach and educate the public and to provide access for all people. I know what a difference it has made to have public computers in the libraries and when I see someone who probably isn't sure where they will be sleeping that night, come in and sit down at a computer and and be the equal of anyone else, I am proud of what our libraries can give and this is something that I think we all need to encourage and promote and consider when funding is needed for our public libraries.

I find it interesting that of any or all of the public institutions that we have created, I can really only think of libraries as one that has the capacity to serve the entire public in so very many ways, regardless of age, means, ability or any differentiating quality.

And the only problem that someone might run into with using a library is that they have difficulty getting to the nearest branch. So I think it is very important for libraries to keep their small neighborhood branches, including (especially) those in poorer areas since they can serve a population that perhaps can't easily get farther than they can walk. I do worry that the tendency may be to improve the branches in the richer areas and neglect the ones in the poorer areas, especially since the richer branches may be more used. But the poorer ones may be more valuable. Actually, I remember when the bookmobile used to come down our street. They are no longer running and I think that is a mistake. But this is fuel for another post :)

Anyway, along the digital divide lines, here is a post from the PBS.org teachers blog where after a June debate, the political candidates were asked about this. Here is a quote from that post "After the event, I had a chance to speak with four of the candidates about their perceptions about the digital divide and the role schools might play in bridging it. The lesson learned: it’s hard to get more than a sound bite when the candidates are in spin mode." And here is a link to this very interesting post.

~Susie

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Diagon Alley comes to life!


Last night, the Fort Wayne Allen County Public Library held probably the most outstanding event that I remember at the Library. They recreated Diagon Alley and had so many great things to do and see and have. There was a free wand shop, free candy, tattoos, harry potter glasses and more. You could make and adopt an owl, make a clock, make a card and mail it with a special Harry Potter postmark. There was a costume show and Potions class and a magical astronomy show. You could have your picture taken with Harry Potter and Professor Dumbledore at the headmaster's table and in the Flying Car. There was a magic show, games, fortunetellers, and so much, much more.

I videotaped the crowd when the doors opened at 9pm and I must have taped a steady stream of people going into the library for probably 10 minutes. I hope to have some YouTube videos up soon. I don't know how many people were there, but I know there were thousands. There will probably be an official estimate soon.

Library staff (including several senior managers) became Harry Potter, Professor Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall, Professor Snape, Mad Eye Moody, Hagrid, and Moaning Mary. They mingled and interacted with the crowd and signed autographs, posed for pictures and stayed in character beautifully.

Then at midnight, checkout opened and the lucky lottery winners checked out the final Harry Potter book. The smiles on the faces of kids and their parents and everyone who came down was priceless.

It was a wonderful, magical night. Here are my flickr pictures of the event. I hope to have some YouTube videos coming soon.

UPDATE - NEW! Here are flickr pictures of the party from the ACPL.

UPDATE - NEW! Here is a blog entry from blyberg.net about the Darien Public Library Party for the new Harry Potter release.

I hope Fort Wayne appreciates the wonderful asset the city has in the library and how much it does for the community. Go check out the ACPL web site to see some of the activities they offer. Or better yet, visit your local branch and see what is going on. You might be very surprised.

~Susie