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Detroit Public Library's National Automotive History Collection

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Preserving the history of wheeled land transportation is the mission of the Detroit Public Library’s National Automotive History Collection (NAHC). The largest public automotive archive in the world, the NAHC is located on the second floor of the beautifully renovated Rose & Robert Skillman Branch in downtown Detroit. The Smith Group, successor firm to Smith Hinchman, and Grylls, the same architectural firm that designed the building in 1931, conducted the renovation.

Libraries Embrace Gaming

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The library is generally thought of as a quiet place. But for six nights last summer, a portion of the Westbank Library in Austin, Texas, was transformed into a haven for young gamers.

After closing time, around twenty teenagers, supervised by Children’s & Programs Librarian Kristi Floyd, gathered around consoles in the library’s conference rooms to battle it out at Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Guitar Hero, Dance Dance Revolution, and Super Mario Kart.
Such an event will come as a surprise to many. Gamers, if they think about gaming at libraries at all, likely don’t think of it beyond maybe borrowing a chess board from the front desk. But as times and media technology change, libraries are changing with them, and one of the ways in which they are changing is to embrace gaming in its many different forms.

Rip-Roarin Hospitality: Menus at Colorado College

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Like any Special Collections librarian, I am charged with preserving local history. The most difficult thing to preserve is, to my mind, also the most interesting: the undocumented nature of people’s everyday lives. How people dressed before photography, how people spoke before audio recordings, how people danced before video recordings. We have no technology to record taste, no way of knowing exactly what people ate, but restaurant and event menus can help us figure it out.

Colorado College has about 300 menus from the 19th and 20th centuries, plus an additional 200 or so from the 21st. (This is a modest collection by national standards: there are collections of thousands of menus at Cornell University, the City College of San Francisco, the New York Public Library, and elsewhere. The Denver Public Library also has a small menu collection.) The kernel of our collection, about two dozen late-19th-century Denver restaurant menus, was a gift to the library from the founder of Colorado College, Thomas Nelson Haskell. Later in his life, he served one term as Colorado State Librarian – perhaps his librarianish tendencies are what led him to collect ephemeral material such as restaurant menus.

Birmingham Public Library to Host “Pride and Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience

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“Pride and Passion: The African- American Baseball Experience,” a traveling exhibition opening at the Birmingham Public Library on May 1, 2010, examines the challenges faced by African-American baseball players as they sought equal opportunities in their sport beginning in the post-Civil War era.

In the 1880s, more than 30 African Americans were on teams in baseball’s major and minor leagues, however, opportunities diminished as Reconstruction ended and America became entrenched in segregation. During the 1887 season, league owners agreed to make no new contracts with African-American players. Until Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, baseball was a segregated sport.

Tribute to Trees program held in celebration of Arbor Day

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The Atlantic City Free Public Library and International National House of Blues Foundation-Atlantic City celebrated Arbor Day 2010 by offering a Tribute to Trees visual arts program on Wednesday, April 28, at the library.

Participants in this hands-on workshop utilized a combination of found and recycled tree-based materials – such as newspapers, magazines, cardboard, twigs, leaves and acorns – as well as a variety of art supplies, to create original and environmentally friendly artworks that pay tribute to the importance of trees to our lives.

Building a Blues Legacy

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It was not until the 1970s when Sidney Foster Graves Jr. (MA 71) took the helm at the Carnegie Public Library in Clarksdale that the Mississippi Delta town began to harness the power of its blues-rich heritage.

Graves, founder of the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, died in 2005. Recently his daughter, Abby McCall of Mobile, Ala., donated a collection of his personal correspondence, awards, audio recordings and photographs to the world-renowned Blues Archive at The University of Mississippi’s J.D. Williams Library. McCall said she hopes that scholars will study the collection and learn of her father’s contributions to the blues legacy and to the state.

World Cup 101 @ Skokie Public Library

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On June 10th, 2010, the eve of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, I (Mick Jacobsen) presented World Cup 101 to Skokie Public Library patrons. Attendees came interested in an introduction to the greatest sporting event on Earth, and, perhaps more importantly, learned how better to understand and enjoy the Beautiful Game.

A review of the rules of soccer (football to the rest of the world), including that pesky offsides rule, how nations from each continent qualify, the history, and how the World Cup works were covered in varying degrees of depth.

Colorado’s Historic Newspaper Collection: Bringing History to Life

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With its collaborative, statewide focus, the Colorado Historic Newspaper Collection serves as an example of a unique and “virtual” special collection. This online archive represents 66 cities and 41 counties in the state. An open, freely-accessible web site, CHNC currently contains more than 430,000 digitized pages and offers readers online access to more than 115 local and regional newspapers published between 1859 and 1923. It is expected to eventually hold more than 2.5 million pages from more than 275 newspapers

Reflections on Bookmobile Service

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Bookmobiles provide library service for children, older adults and ethnic communities all of whom either can’t travel to a bricks and mortar library or are unacquainted with the services a library offers. Bookmobiles are over a century old and began in the days of horse drawn carriages and nickelodeon theaters and well before computers, televisions or even home radios. Bookmobiles are the cheapest and easiest expansion a library system can ever make, without the expense or permanence of a building. Finally, bookmobiles can save library patrons gas money and help the environment, especially those Bookmobiles that run on biodiesel or have solar panels to illuminate the cabin or power the computers.