Archive for January, 2017
“Optimism in the face of overwhelming odds is the truest form of moral courage.”
My colleague, Angie in the Film Archives, shared with department staff this lovely and articulate thank you letter that she received from a homesick patron, Aurora Lang, formerly of Alaska, but now living in Washington state. The letter is reprinted here with Aurora’s kind permission. Over the past four years, our library has lost half its staff and half its funding with more potentially to come as the state is buffeted by budgetary winds. Aurora’s letter lifted our hearts. Library work can be tedious, grinding, and, more often than not, underfunded. Knowing that what we do is appreciated by the public makes it all worthwhile.
Here is the clip that Aurora refers to:
The clip was put together by Dirk Tordoff, the former head of the Film Archives, now retired, and was designed as a spot for our local public TV station. The music playing is the “Bravura Variation on Alaska’s Flag Song” by Paul Rosenthal.
Dear Angie and the entire Alaska Film Archive Department,
This is a letter of gratitude for the work you do.
In the time since the election I have found enormous comfort in the 80
Years of Alaskan History film clips you compiled. I have watched it often
in the last few months, and at least a dozen times over the past few days.
It makes me tear up with pride and love each time.
Those five minutes remind me that our state is resilient and resourceful,
our friends and neighbors are our greater family, the boroughs our extended
community, that we value our wild places, and even though our state has
seen its fair share of ugliness and inhumanity, as a state we have worked
towards justice and, I believe, will continue to right our wrongs and work
toward a better Alaska.
Those five minutes remind me to be proud of the place I came from, and in
these past few months I had forgotten to be proud. It reminds me that our
state, like our country, has overcome seemingly impossible hurdles before
and will again.
Alaska is home, where I was born and raised, where my family and best
memories live. It’s the place I identify with and is what makes sense,
even during these past couple years when I’ve been down in Washington.
Those five minutes are invaluable when I’m homesick and overwhelmed with
freeways and people. I’ll move back, probably sooner than later, because
But in the meantime, as I’m trying to maintain hope for the future, belief
in humanity and justice, and draw upon wells of courage that feel dry right
now, I lean on those five minutes. Inevitably I feel better, more
courageous, and more hopeful.
Thank you for the work you do to preserve our history, to celebrate our
state, to inspire the future. Your work is necessary and invaluable.
One of the topics of conversation between me and my colleagues recently has been the much-talked of proliferation of fake news stories this election cycle and the difficulty students (and adults) have telling fictional stories and real stories apart. Most recently, you may have read about a 12-state survey conducted by Stanford’s Graduate School of Education that found that students on all levels (college, high school, and middle schoool) displayed an unfortunate lack of ability to distinguish between true and false sources. [If you would like to read more about the study, click here for an executive summary].
The solution, the study concluded, was to teach students to evaluate sources like fact checkers would. For a list of tips on spotting fake news, check out this post from Factcheckers.org. As the post highlights, part of the problem is that fake news is now more sophisticated that the viral e-mails of 2008. Also great fact checking sites: Snopes.com and Politifact.com.
Librarians aren’t immune from fake news syndrome either and, as I’ve discovered, it can be difficult to track down quotes even from relatively well-known sources. For example, here’s a quote that I struggled to place:
Should be easy to find a quote from a famous actor about a movie [The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies] that he’s promoting, right? Think again. I hunted all over the ‘Net before I discovered that the source of the quote was an Empire magazine podcast. The quote itself appears at the 52:38 minute mark, almost at the very end of the podcast.