Tag Archives: DPLA

Local History: New Resources and Recommended Reading

The Digital Public Library of America is a portal to digitized collections across the United States. I served as a volunteer ambassador for several years. Last year, I used their search engine and collections to create a series of postcards.

b x w photo of police and protesters
Public Domain, courtesy of VCU

Today, DPLA announced the launch of the  Digital Virginias service hub, which offers more than 58,000 items for research and exploration. One of the collections highlighted in the press release is a group of 490 photographs from Virginia Commonwealth University that document the 1963 Civil Rights protests in Farmville, Virginia. The photos, like the one to the left of protesters and police, have been released into the public domain.

Police arrest protesters outside College Shoppe, Main St., Farmville, Va., July 27, 1963
Photo Courtesy of Freedom Now Project (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

VCU is sponsoring the Freedom Now Project, an interactive introduction to the Farmville protests. Photos in the Flickr set include extensive notes help with identifications and context. For instance, this photo identifies the protesters and police outside the College Shoppe and includes a link to a newspaper article about the arrests.

Farmville is located in Prince Edward County, which was at the heart of the closing of public schools in Virginia known as Massive Resistance. The photos in the collection were taken by the police with the thought of being used as part of court cases.  Now, in the fullness of time, they show the raw emotions–frustration and persistence–as the protesters interact with the police.

In her book, Something Must Be Done About Prince Edward County, Kristen Green tells the story of Massive Resistance from the ground as she grew up in Prince Edward County in the 1980s and attended the private school–known as a segregation academy–that was begun during the public school closings in 1960. She weaves the history with her own story and confronts ugly truths: her grandparents led the fight to close the schools and deny the county’s African American (and poor white) residents five years of schooling rather than integrate the schools. It took nearly 25 years for the private school to admit black students and then only under an ultimatum from the court. She was an eighth grade student at the private school when it was integrated and completely unaware of the still rampant segregation in her community. Ultimately, Green confronts her own ignorance. The book is a compellingly personal look at this dark period of history in Virginia.

Green described the lengths that some African American parents went to get education for their children, often requiring long separations,  sending them across the border to North Carolina or to relatives or even strangers in other counties. Most families, however, didn’t have the resources necessary to pay for travel and board.

…the vast majority of children stayed home and their only formal education would come in the form of church training centers. There, for a few hours a day, volunteers taught the kids basic skills. Many children simply played or, if they were old enough, went to work in the fields with their parents and pick tobacco. Some would never return to school. (Green, The Atlantic, 8/1/2015)

Green recommends visiting the Moton Museum in Farmville to learn more. Farmville had been the site of protests beginning with a student strike since 1951 and the former Robert Russa Moton High School, now a National Historic Landmark and museum, isthe student birthplace of America’s Civil Rights Revolution. Three-fourths of the Brown vs Board of Education participants came from the Moton student strike.






PAD #24, 25, 26: Take Me Out to the Ballgame

I haven’t been home for a full weekend for several weeks and with a mostly caught up to do list, I decided to take a weekend off. What does that mean? I read Ken Follett’s A Column of Fire and crocheted while watching reruns of The West Wing. I cooked some good meals and baked scones. I meditated and did most of the laundry.

But now I am back at work a bit…it is Spring Break somewhere in the world, right? And I didn’t want to miss Opening Day. I do not have the passion for baseball that some of my friends do but I appreciate its calm cerebral pacing and would love to learn to fill out a score sheet. Perhaps a retirement plan?

For now, a few visual reminders of the nation’s pass time, discovered at the Digital Public Library of America. The collage is all public domain imagery including the sheet music.

Opening Day 2018

The two postcards are from the Tichnor Brothers Postcard Collection at the Boston Public Library. I have a few old postcards but none as beautiful and evocative as these. And, they are listed as having no known copyright restrictions. Ebbets Field Yankee Stadium


Primary Source Sets from Digital Public Library of America

Can’t wait to use my DPLA bookmarks in the books from my local library!

As a community rep for the Digital Public Library of America, one of my main roles is to get the word out about this amazing portal for research and learning. I came upon it as part of some reading I was doing about libraries in preparation for a presentation to a regional librarians’ group here in the state.

John Palfrey, author of BiblioTech, was one of the founders. His book was a rallying cry for libraries in general to continue to offer traditional services even as they find ways to expand their outreach and create learning centers for communities.

The Digital Public Library of America site is a thoughtful and powerful example of how we can use computers and networks to pull together disparate data in easily accessible–and sometimes quirky–ways. I wrote about the DPLA earlier this year, having fun with the search by color function.

The DPLA are actively curating materials for teachers and students as part of their primary source sets.  The sets are designed to help students in grades 6-12 and college develop critical thinking skills by exploring topics in history, literature, and culture through primary sources. Each set includes a topic overview, ten to fifteen primary sources, links to related resources, and a teaching guide. The sets are diverse in topics and people with collections related to everything from poets like Maya Angelou to the lives of women in the Civil War. In one of those lovely little serendipitous web events, I was surprised to find a set of materials organized around Sherman Alexie’s novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, a book I just finished reading. The book is autobiographical and the materials, including excerpts from an interview with Alexie and photos of the Spokane Indian reservation, help provide some connections for readers. We tend to think about the reservation system as something in the past: Alexie’s book and these primary source documents remind us that many Native Americans still live on reservations, struggling to find the balance that Junior, Alexie’s hero, describes so eloquently with his own words and comics.



Sharing My Learning: Library Resources

A man whose body consists of books and bookmarks passes into the foreground underneath a green curtain.I had the chance to be part of two events last week: EdTech 2016 and the VAASL Rappahannock Regional meeting. At the latter, I provided a short keynote around the theme of “Librarians on the Edge.” The event provided me with a huge learning opportunity…I read several books, browsed lots and lots of library related websites and explored the world of contemporary librarianship. It was fun and fascinating all at the same time. You can check out the slides as well as the various resources I collected in Coggle and Diigo here. I used the image on the left for my opening: The Librarian by Giuseppe Arcimboldo.

I also have a new volunteer job that arose from this research: I am part of the newest group of community reps for the Digital Public Library of America. I wrote about the DPLA earlier this year and can’t wait to continue to spread the word about this amazing resource.

The Narrative Of Obsolescence OR Everything is Dying

It seems as though everything from Twitter to higher education to libraries is dying.

Twitter seems to be having trouble keeping leadership and rumors abound of changes that will turn it into something non-Twitter. But in a recent commentary in The New Republic, Navneet Alang argues that while Twitter the company may go away, Twitter the practice will remain, engrained as it is in our culture. I felt a little better.

Alang begins the essay with this observation, “The tech press is obsessed with calling things dead.” I’m not sure it’s just the tech press; everyone seems a bit obsessed with what our networked digital world is going to kill.*

Face to face universities have been dying for a long time now: killed off by online education and MOOCs. But in his reflection on a recent higher ed conference, Joshua Kim suggests that there is a disconnect between the narrative of dying and what is actually happening on the ground. There are challenges, he says, but there are also innovations that are making higher ed better than ever:

The multitude of small innovations and experiments within our colleges and universities seldom get attention.  An active learning classroom redesign here – a new program for first generation students there – these initiatives seldom cohere into a larger narrative.But all these small innovations add up.

I’m getting a similar sense of a disconnected narrative from the reading and research I’ve been doing around libraries. Who needs a library in the age of Google? John Palfrey works on answering that question in his book BiblioTECH: Why Libraries Matter More Than Ever in the Age of Google and I’ve been having a blast exploring all the examples of library innovations that he describes. I spent more time than I’d like to admit listening to the Wyoming Toad, just one of the fascinating items that can be found through the Digital Public Library of America interface.

And physical libraries are also innovating, changing to meet the demands of their particular constituents. From makerspaces to computer classes to seed lending, libraries, like higher ed, are pushing back against the narrative of their demise.

*A quick thank you to Jon Becker for sharing this article via Diigo.