Alas, a Blog: Christina Hoff Sommers

Ampersand, over at Alas, a Blog, is doing a fun and informative series of deconstructions of a recent talk given by faux feminist Christina Hoff Sommers. I'll be updating this list as the series continues, but for now here are the first four posts.

Response to Christina Hoff Sommers, part 1: Ovulars instead of Seminars?

Response to Christina Hoff Sommers, Part 2: Do Feminists Hate Men?

Cathy Young responds to me regarding feminist hatred of men.

Response to Christina Hoff Sommers, part 3: Truths and Lies


And the world gets a little better . . .

So I don't think the Obama administration is the Second Coming of Jesus Christ or anything, but I have to say the tension that has existed for the last eight years somewhere down near my uterus un-knotted a just wee small bit when I saw the juxtaposition of these two pictures.

Also: to the undergraduate standing in front of me in the coffee line who turned around after paying to say to me, "I saw you reading Feministe just now and I was so encouraged!" -- it's so nice to know there are other people out there in the real world who feel encouraged by the same things I do! You totally made my day.

Quick Link: "Politically Incorrect"

Nettle Syrup, over at Feministing Community, has a post up about the problem with people getting off on proclaiming how "politically incorrect" they are. This is something that really irritates me as well. As a commenter, Sandra, in the thread points out:

Political correctness means taking into consideration that not all of the world falls into the same category as you. It means taking the time to be inclusive. How are these bad things?
I understand that some people, particularly people who enjoy misusing their positions of institutional or political power, can use progressive or liberal -- even feminist -- ideals just as easily as they can conservative, reactionary ideals in manipulative, coercive ways. Yet the ability of any idea to be misused does not invalidate it wholesale, and doesn't mean we should dismiss it out of hand.

Pre-emptively calling yourself "politically incorrect" before making a statement you expect will be offensive to someone you are speaking with, is tacky at best and a smoke screen for bigotry at worst. It's an offensive attempt to neutralize any critique (no matter how legitimate) by framing all disagreement with the statement that follows as humorless legalism.* It was nice to see someone else take the time to call "foul!"

*The connotation, accurate or not, the term "politically correct" has acquired.


Midweek Monkey Post

I don't know where Hanna finds these things.* Here's stand-up comedian Nina Conti with her puppet friend Monk. (Running time 5:51 minutes, and worth every second).

*except now I do: thanks for the hilarity Cynthia!


'Tis the season for lists

Something about the end-of-the-old-year / beginning-of-the-new year seems to inspire people to list creation. Or perhaps it's the proliferation of awards ceremonies in the entertainment industry. Anyway, I've been coming across a profusion of lists in the last couple of weeks, and thought I'd post a few here: a list of lists, if you will. And yes, this blog being what it is, it's a feminist-centric sort of list.

There's a list of the "Top 100" gender studies blogs over at BachelorsDegreeOnline. As with any such list, it includes blogs I read regularly and enjoy, blogs I'll now have to check out, and some blogs I'm not sure should have been included in the "feminism category." I really take issue with the idea, for example, that it's possible these days to have a "a distinctly anti-male" yet "pro-feminist point of view." Granted, feminist movements have always included those people who insist on blaming men as individuals for patriarchy and sexism -- but I personally don't think that it should be recognized as feminism.

In response to the above list, Fourth Wave Feminism is compiling an alternative list of "Radical/WOC/Alternative/Global" feminist blogs which will also be fun to explore.

Last week, Hanna forwarded me an article from the Guardian naming the favourite female renegades of five women in cinema.

The bloggers over at Evil Slutopia their top ten priorities for the Obama administration when it comes to reproductive health: "Here's our top 10, with lots of links. We want it all."


Newbery 2009: Neil Gaiman!

The American Library Association released their list of 2009 award winners today, and Neil Gaiman's most recent book for middle grade readers (or readers of any age who know where to find the best fiction around), The Graveyard Book, topped this list as this year's Newbery gold medalist. (Insert amazed and delighted swearing here). For once, I've actually read the winner prior to its, well, winning, and enjoyed it very much. In a creepy-crawly sort of way. Congrats Mr. Gaiman!

Winter Break Knitting (1 of 2)

While I was in Michigan for the Christmas holidays, I received several gift certificates to the local knitting shop, Friends of Wool, which enabled me to stock up on some lovely knitting supplies before returning to Boston. Thanks to leisure time during the winter break, and the (coughcough) responsibility of making my way through seasons of Torchwood, Dr. Who, and Primeval. One of those projects was this balaclava, which I finished last week.

Hanna says it makes me look like a mentholated cherry cough drop. The only response I can make in my own defense is that it does keep my ears warm out on Comm Ave while I'm waiting for the T!

Why does it have to be either/or . . .?

. . . Can't it be both/and?

Meghan O'Rourke, over at Slate's xx factor blog has a post up, The Sexual Fluidity of Women about this weekend's article on sexuality research and women's desire in the New York Times Magazine. In the post, O'Rourke argues that the implicit question of the article is this: "Are contemporary women doomed to experience a schism between what their bodies lust for and their minds tell them they want?"

Don't you just love it when questions and answers are framed in terms of what "women" (as a single corporate entity) experience or desire? The article itself, which appears to be an interesting round-up of contemporary research of women's sexuality (I'll have to sit down and read it more carefully when I have the time -- alas, assigned reading takes priority this morning), poses the tiresome "what do women want?" question . . . as if we, as a some inexplicable half of the human species, are a problem to be solved. Women (unlike men, the question implicitly suggests): They're so complicated and confusing! They confuse us with their sexuality!! Isn't the answer to the question "what do women want?" self-evidently "each one of us wants something slightly different"? While I'm glad people now recognize that generalizations about human sexuality made from studying primarily male subjects is inadequate, redressing the problem by making generalizations about "women" doesn't seem like a very useful response.

I also do not understand why it's useful to recycle the body/mind dichotomy when talking about sexual desire and experience. Regardless of gender, sexual orientation, or any other factor you can think of. Our bodies and our minds desire different things in different contexts, at different points in our lives. In my experience (in sex as well as elsewhere) it's quite possible to desire two seemingly contradictory things at the same time -- without losing your mind or your integrity. Framing a so-called dissonance between physical arousal and self-reported desire (an example O'Rourke highlights from the article) as a "schism" imagines that, just because our bodies and minds operate on different levels simultaneously, they are in opposition to one another -- why should this be the case? Sexuality is beautifully complicated. Human beings are beautifully complex. In sex, as in everything else, our Selves -- both body and mind -- act and react in an ever-shifting composition of ways that scientific studies will likely never be able to fully document and explain.

For other bloggers' thoughts (updated as I find them):

Bethany L. @ feministing community
StreetScholar @ feministing community
Elizabeth @ sex in the public square
Amanda @ pandagon
Jill @ feministe, cross-posted at yes means yes
Courtney @ feministing
Figleaf @ real adult sex
Vanessa @ alternet


Goodbye Global Gag Rule!

I didn't participate in the 2009 Blog for Choice event this year, marking the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. However, following quickly on its heels comes a reason to celebrate: President Obama has signed an executive order reversing the Bush policy of denying U.S. funding to international health and family planning organizations that provided any information, counseling, or referrals related to abortion. Lifting the gag order will save women's lives.

Oh, and have a mentioned recently how much I love Frances Kissling?

To ask . . . women to wait another day for Obama to reverse this policy in order to satisfy the fake "common ground" prolife religious progressives suggest - prevention without contraception - is disrespectful of women's lives, let alone their moral autonomy.


Monstrous Regiment(s) of Women!

Apparently, there's a new anti-feminist documentary out, The Monstrous Regiment of Women, that -- according to their own website -- "goes all out to demolish the feminist worldview . . . from a consistently Christian perspective."


Maybe it's the fact that I'm still suffering from a head cold, which seems to leave me prone to the giggles, but I have to say I find this project really amusing.

You see, that particular quotation* has been used before . . . and to much better effect, at least in my humble opinion. In the interest of doing my part to maintain The Feminist Worldview (is that the same as having a Feminist Agenda?) I thought I would take this opportunity to highlight them here.

As it happens, just this past weekend Hanna bought me a copy of Terry Prachett's discworld novel, Monstrous Regiment, which follows the adventures of the intrepid Polly who, under and assumed masculine identity, has enlisted as a private in a ragtag company of soldiers in order to find her brother Paul who's gone missing at the front. I am only about seventy-five pages in, but so far I have enjoyed a great deal of satire, bawdy slapstick comedy, at least one vampire of ambiguous gender, and a very satisfying pub brawl.

A slightly more serious -- though, I would argue, no less lighthearted -- meditation on gender and politics can be found in Laurie R. King's second installment of the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series, A Monstrous Regiment of Women (to which I owe the source of the quotation -- King is always scrupulous in her citations!). This chapter of the Russell-Holmes partnership sees Russell coming into her own in 1920s London as an academic and as a sleuth as she tracks down the person or persons responsible for a series of murders all related to the life of a charismatic feminist theologian.

*The quotation is taken from the title of a polemic by John Knox (1505-1572), The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women, an attack on the regime of Mary Tudor and Mary Stuart in Britain, published in 1558.


Post-inaugural links

So I've been trawling the web this morning on my usual sites, and here are a few things that I thought I'd round up vis a vis the inauguration and the new administration.

From Jon Carroll over at the San Francisco Chronicle:

And the crowd said "Amen" and Barack Obama said "Amen," and we had a new president and a new lesson: Eloquence is the best revenge. Nonviolence is such a great tool.

Bishop Gene Robinson, who offered a prayer at the pre-inaugural concert, was a guest on The Daily Show last night. Since I'm at work I haven't had a chance to watch the interview, but I will pretty much take Robinson's eloquence on faith. If you weren't able to catch the interview live, go watch it when you have a chance.

Pandagon has a story about the fishy way the costs of Obama's inauguration were reported in some media outlets.

And just in case we're in danger (coughcough) of getting too self-congratulatory, the ever-reliable Onion provides the following tongue-in-cheek headline: Inauguration Crowd Moves To White House Gates To Watch Presidency Happen.

Evening Addendum:

From the Guardian online comes a summary of Obama's first day in office: "President Barack Obama devoted his first full day at the White House to ditching in quick succession one discredited Bush administration policy after another."


Inauguration day snuffles

I'm at home today with a wicked sinus headache and cold, but thanks to the wonders of technology, I have ample options for coverage of the 2008 inaugural celebrations in Washington D.C. welcoming Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States. Right now, I'm listening to the BBC news hour streaming on MichiganRadio. I thought I'd mark the day with my favorite bit of campaign kitsch, "There's No One as Irish as Barack O'Bama" by the Corrigan Brothers. It's catchy, witty, cheerful . . . and as an extra bonus Hanna finds it deeply disturbing ;).

Enjoy inauguration day!



Booknotes: The Ghost in Love

On the recommendation of Nancy Pearl, I used some Christmas money to buy a copy of John Carroll's novel The Ghost in Love. What with one thing and another, it's taken me most of a month to finish reading this relatively slim novel -- but I'm glad I had a chance to savor the experience. The novel is one of those books about which it is difficult to say "this is a story about . . . " any one thing. The story begins when a man falls and hits his head on the curb -- an act that is supposed to end in his death. Yet he fails to die. This glitch in the cosmic program (a sort of computer virus, suggests the Angel of Death) sets off a chain reaction of events that affect the lives of many people (and non-humans) around the man who failed to die. It's sort of Terry Pratchett (Reaper Man) meets Audrey Niffinegger (The Time-Traveller's Wife): not a shabby way to begin the the new year in books.


Librarians in film

It's probably not entirely ethical to link to your roommate's blog on a regular basis, but since I'm being held partially responsible for the existence of this post, I thought I would highlight it. Go check out the annotated list of ten librarians in film that Hanna put together for me.

Image from imdb.


You've been watching too much science fiction when

Yesterday, I was writing out new envelopes for a series of pamphlets we hold at the MHS and I glanced at the title "The legal condition of women in Mass," published in 1869, and thought it read "The legal condition of women on Mars." Yup.

Possibly those three episodes of Torchwood I watched last night were inadvisable . . . though I can't really say I feel that contrite. It was a delicious way to begin the weekend.


Alice: "I can't believe it's not butter"

I've become quite fond this past year of the long-running BBC comedy Vicar of Dibley, which both the New Hampshire and WGBH public television stations broadcast here in perpetual re-runs. I was trying to explain to my family over the Christmas holidays this particular clip, in which Alice, the totally endearing verger, explains to vicar Geraldine her suspicions concerning I Can't Believe It's Not Butter. Since no one can deliver the monologue quite like Alice herself, here she is in full form!


Looking Back/Looking Forward: Library Science

As we enter 2009 -- and before I get lost once again in the maze of a busy academic schedule -- I thought I'd post a few items on the projects I completed this fall and the projects that are up for the spring semester.

Enrolled as a part-time student, I'm attempting to balance three different sets of course requirements: those for my history degree, those for my general library science degree, and those for my archives management focus within the library science program. This fall, I took a haitus from the archives management courses and took LIS 407 (Reference Services). I had the usual frustration with Reference that I have with all introductory-level survey courses: they try to do too much in too little time, and as a result skim the surface of a great deal of information that could potentially take a lifetime (or at least a career) to explore. That pedagogical frustration aside, it was a good class taught by a knowledgeable, enthusiastic professor (thanks Rex!). I particularly enjoyed putting my annotated bibliography together on the topic of providing children and young adults with reference services in the area of human sexuality. For the bibliography, I surveyed the library science literature for articles and books on the topic (slim pickings) as well as poking around the internet for useful resources. Below are the internet sources I ended up listing in the finished project.

Internet Resources

A number of organizations provide a wealth of resources on their websites for sexuality education that would be of use in a reference setting. Below I provide a sampling of organizational websites and selected page descriptions that highlight some of the resources available that may be of particular interest in a library reference setting:

1. Internet Public Library's TeenSpace. The Internet Public Library (based out of the University of Michigan and Drexler University schools of information) has a portion of their website dedicated specifically to resources for adolescents, which includes resources related to sexuality. Two pages of particular note:
Frequently Asked (Embarrassing) Questions. On this page, a list of links are provided for issues such as dropping out of school, medical questions, mental health, and social issues (“what do I do if my friend says something racist?”) as well as sexuality information. Also linked to this page is:

Health & Sexuality Links. This is an annotated list of websites that cover a range of issues on the topics of health and sexuality. These links are further divided into sub-heading categories such as “LGBT” and “Abuse and Exploitation.”
2. Scarleteen: Sex Education for the Real World. The web-based iteration of Heather Corinna’s S.E.X., Scarleteen.com provides message boards, sexuality Q&A, writing by young people, and a variety of other interactive resources and informational content. One of the values of Scarleteen, I believe, is its holistic approach to sexual health and orientation, not assuming its readership is in any one place in the orientation spectrum and emphasizing mutuality and health rather than condemning particular sexual desires or practices.
For Parents. The “for parents” section that explains the philosophy of the site and suggests some further reading for adults who are seeking to support the young people in their lives.

Start Your Sexuality Canon. This bibliography is Scarleteen’s own bibliography of essential books on human sexuality, starting out with the famous Hite Report and making suggestions on topics of gender identity, media depictions of sexuality, as well as providing a list of basic sexual health handbooks.
3. SIECUS (Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States). SIECUS was founded in 1964 by Dr. Mary Calderone, a former medical director for Planned Parenthood. Believing in the lifelong right of all human beings to comprehensive sexuality information, SIECUS provides a plethora of free web-based resources and publications. They are also an advocacy organization for greater access and outreach on issues of sexuality, and press releases on their website can be a useful way to stay informed about current controversies over providing sexuality information to the public. A few specific items of interest:
Bibliography – Books for Young People. This bibliography provides a short list of age-appropriate books for young people, sub-divided into age categories from pre-school to high school.

On the Right Track (PDF). This 78-page booklet makes suggestions specifically for adults who work in youth development organizations on how to integrate sexuality education into their work.

SexEdLibrary. SexEd Library is a database of lesson plans from various sources pulled together and vetted by SIECUS and made available online. Categories include things like “Relationships,” “Personal skills,” “Sexual Health,” and “Society & Culture.”
4. Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), hosted by ALA. For obvious reasons, YALSA’s website can be a useful place to research the intersection of sexuality information access and youth library services. They offer numerous booklists that often feature fiction and nonfiction books on themes of romance and sexuality, support a blog that reports on current issues and a host of other electronic resources for librarians. One example of the sort of resources available would be their “Healthy Relationships for Teens” booklist, which provides web-based and traditional resources on sexuality for young adults and the librarians who serve them.

5. Teenwire.com/Planned Parenthood. Teenwire is Planned Parenthood’s site geared specifically to a young adult audience. Much like Scarleteeen, Teenwire provides multiple avenues for accessing information on sexual health and relationships. There are topical sections, question & answer features, and information about sexual health services. Much of this information is also made available in Spanish.
Parents & Professionals. This portion of the site explains Planned Parenthood’s approach to adolescent sexual health and offers links to Planned Parenthood’s publications specifically for youth advocates.

Next semester, it's back to the archives with LIS440: Archival Access and Use.


Booknotes: Locke & Key

One of Hanna's Christmas presents this years was a recently-published graphic novel, Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft, written by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez. She read it over vacation and handed it off to me with instructions not to read it just before bed. The injunction was well-advised. Welcome to Lovecraft is creepy. It's one of those graphic novels most decidedly not for written for young children, despite the fact that its main characters are three siblings: Bode (the canny elementary-school-age youngest brother), Kinsey (dreadlock-sporting middle sister with an enviable record in track), and Tyler, the moody eldest son. The story opens with a homicide and only gets bloodier from there -- at the same time as our characters are becoming acquainted with the more supernatural elements of the family's Gothic mansion in Lovecraft, Massachusetts. Yet the characters and the family secrets that lie at the core of the mystery make the story compelling beyond a simple "who's going to bite the dust next?" I'm definitely looking forward to volume two.

Obama the (Im)perfect Feminist . . .

. . . Just like the rest of us!

I like this post by Jill over at Feministe discussing the Ms. magazine cover featuring Barack Obama in one of their "This is what a feminist looks like" t-shirts, a graphic that has caused some controversy in the feminist blogsophere (then again, what doesn't cause controversy in the feminist blogosphere?) As Jill points out,

Obama has reportedly self-identified as a feminist, and has the legislative record to back it up. Is he a perfect feminist, or a perfect progressive? Not by any stretch of the imagination. Is he going to disappoint us over and over? Yeah, he’s already started. But he’s still pretty damned good, especially for a mainstream, center-left politician elected to the highest office, and I don’t really see the point in kicking him out of the club just yet.

Yup. I'm definitely looking forward to inauguration day!

UPDATE: There's also a nice post on this over at Bitch Magazine.


Looking Back/Looking Forward: History

As we enter 2009 -- and before I get lost once again in the maze of a busy academic schedule -- I thought I'd post a few items on the projects I completed this fall and the projects that are up for the spring semester.

As I wrote at the beginning of last semester, this past fall I took a history seminar in the "American Renaissance," the era of great political and social upheaval took place during the decades leading up to the Civil War. The paper that came out of that course was "Inspiring 'Right Feelings': Children and Childhood in Lydia Maria Child's The Mother's Book." Child was an author and activist whose parenting manual, The Mother's Book, published in 1831, incorporated many of the latest ideas about human nature, development, and education emerging from the Romantic movement and also the social justice movements she was involved in. I was principally interested in the way Child did, and did not, make connections between her political activism children's rights. As I wrote in my introduction:

I am interested in the central role of education as a means of both self-improvement and social control plays in the parenting model Child puts forward. Belief in education as a means of self-improvement and liberation from dependence was a common thread in many antebellum reform movements. Access to education, and the role of education in ending the intellectual and material dependence of blacks and women, was, for example, a central tenet of both the women’s rights and abolitionist movements—both of which Lydia Maria Child ardently supported. Yet within The Mother’s Book Child shies away from any radical challenge to parental authority, proscribing children’s moral and intellectual independence by casting adults—particularly mothers—in the role of vigilant guardians of their children’s innate good nature.

While I hesitate to say, at this point, whether the specific topic of this paper will be relevant to my thesis, the themes of political activism, education, and the position of children and youth in American culture are definitely recurring themes in my research and writing.

Up for next semester: I'm not sure what it says about me that my heart thrilled when I got the book list for my spring course in intellectual history and saw that we would be reading complete works by Darwin, Nietzsche, Freud, and Foucault -- as well as (I am sure) selections of many other influential thinkers from the 19th and 20th centuries. I've encountered all of these crazy guys before and always walked away with something fascinating to ponder . . . even if Nietzsche makes me want to slap him and Freud did cause me to throw a book across . Hanna thinks I'm touched in the head for enjoying Foucault, but I've had a fondness for the man ever since using Discipline and Punish for my very first history/philosophy paper on children's rights.* And then there's the way he throws around words like panopticon with wild abandon . . . Stay tuned for what project emerges in May!

*Fall 2001, at the Oregon Extension program: "The Radical Belief that Children Are People." Did I mention something about a through-line in my research . . .?

Image of Lydia Maria Child borrowed from Flickr.


Monday Morning Melange

It's a snowy Monday morning in Boston and I'm sitting at the MHS enjoying my London Fog latte and checking out my iGoogle blog feeds. Here are some links of note.

Thanks Michigan for once again making me proud of my home state. Sigh.

Hanna has a new blog which I've added to my blogroll, and she's already put up a few fun links! If nothing else, you should go check out her beautiful design. The photograph is one of my favorites that she took last summer on a foggy day down in the North End.

I still remember vividly the first time I ever saw Christina Hoff Sommers interviewed on a documentary about contemporary feminism. I had no idea who she was, and my seventeen-year-old, newly-political feminist self was utterly taken aback by her anti-feminism-in-the-name-of-feminism outrage. Ten years later, she's still at it.

I see that over the weekend Kate Winslet won Golden Globes for Revolutionary Road (which I have neither seen nor read) and The Reader (which I have read but not seen). While checking out the news coverage over at The Guardian online, I stumbled into Ann Billson's joint review Films for people who don't really like films. I can't speak to the validity of her reviews, but I thought the overall point was an interesting one.

Finally, for those of you who wonder what this Dr. Who thing is I occasionally witter about on this blog, Wired magazine has put together a gallery of images following the many actors who have played the character over the years. I'm still working my way through the back catalog, so have only seen four of the eleven incarnations.* I told Hanna she needs to make me flash cards!

*For those of you who are/were fans of the BBC Chronicles of Narnia, Tom Baker (Dr. Who from 1974-1981) is also known for his turn as the Marshwiggle Puddleglum in Silver Chair.


Looking Back/Looking Forward: Teaching

As we enter 2009 -- and before I get lost once again in the maze of a busy academic schedule -- I thought I'd post a few items on the projects I completed this fall and the projects that are up for the spring semester.

Teaching [will] need to be more boldly political than now, not less. And more seriously historical: things used to be different. They will be different again. -- "Introduction Radical Teaching Now", Radical Teacher #83

As with my internship at Northeastern (see below), I will be continuing my work as a teaching assistant for Professor Stephen Ortega in the Simmons history department this spring. Steve teaches Middle Eastern, Islamic and World history; I will be helping with the second half of the World Civilizations course we began in the fall. The autumn class ran from hunter-gatherer societies to the age of exploration (15th century), and this second semester we will pick up in the 1400s and continue on to the present day.

It was timely, therefore, to receive my most recent issue of Radical Teacher in the mail this past week, and find Peter Vickery's essay "Progressive Pedagogy in the U.S. History Survey" inside. Vickery describes teaching a U.S. History survey course at a state college, to students for whom the class is a requirement, and many of whom are skeptical about the relevance of history -- not to mention their own ability to actively participate in its creation. He writes:

In addition to skepticism, my students encounter an ongoing tension, namely the apparent contradiction between a key goal (finding out what actually happened and why) and a key lesson (history is constructed by historians). Far from being a source of despair or frustration, in my own mind the tension is integral to the joy of history. Learning and re-learning on the one hand the boundaries of possibility that inhere in the study and production of history and, on the other, the power of narrative, keeps history a stimulating field of endeavor.

Yet it can be difficult to convey the joy of that contradiction to students who are distracted and suspicious of the worth of such an open-ended quest. We'll see what happens this spring!


My grandmother's library in the news!

via Hanna.

When my maternal grandparents retired to Bend, Oregon in the early 1980s, my grandmother, Marilyn, became a volunteer at the Deschutes Public Library. The library has a program to circulate books through the mail to house-bound and far-flung rural patrons, and for years Grandma was responsible for corresponding with, and selecting books for her own particular group of patrons.

Well, the library's just made news with rising circulation and patronage numbers, according to the Bend Bulletin:

People are flocking to Deschutes County libraries, and officials say the slumping economy may be bringing them business. From July through November, patrons checked out about 10 percent more books and other items compared with the same period last year.

. . . State Librarian Jim Scheppke said circulation increased by 2.5 percent between the budget cycle that ended in June and the previous budget cycle, and the state set a circulation record of 51.7 million items. Scheppke was impressed by the circulation growth described in Deschutes County.

“The Deschutes numbers sound pretty amazing,” Scheppke said. “It is something we’re hearing in all the public libraries right now. We’ve known ever since the Great Depression in the 1930s that library use pretty much tracks the economy. In bad times, library use has always gone up.”

Of course, there are a lot of obviously negative implications of a recession, but I can't think of any scenario where increase use of libraries is a bad thing!


Looking Back/Looking Forward: Internship

As we enter 2009 -- and before I get lost once again in the maze of a busy academic schedule -- I thought I'd post a few items on the projects I completed this fall and the projects that are up for the spring semester.

My tenure as an intern at Northeastern University's Archives will continue through the spring, this time as an official internship requirement for my second archives class at Simmons. Just today, I published the last finding aid for the small collections I processed this fall to make them available for research. In addition to my first, miniscule collection the Albert Hale Waite papers, I also processed the collection of Milburn Devenney, a social worker and AIDS/HIV activist from the Boston area, documents related to the history of Northeastern's Disability Resource Center and course notes from the history department's Western Civilization class.

Next week I will begin work on a much larger collection, the Carmen A. Pola papers. Ms. Pola is a Boston-area community activist who worked for a number of different social justice organizations such as Roxbury Unites for Families and Children and the Puerto Rican Festival. She served in the administration of Boston mayor Ray Flynn during the 1980s. We have over thirty boxes of unprocessed documents and photographs that I will be responsible for organizing so that researchers will have meaningful access to the contents of the collection. Wish me luck and watch for the results sometime this summer!


(Belated) Happy New Year

Happy New Year everyone! I'm back in Boston and catching up on everything that needs doing before the term starts up in a few weeks. This includes napping . . .

. . . and polishing off some of those winter break book reads . . .

As well as, of course, working our way through the local selection of xocolata calenta.*

*Catalan for hot chocolate (because why not?)