5/15/2015

The Soul of Baltimore

As mentioned in a previous blog post, the WJZ-TV and WMAR-TV Collections at the Langsdale Library hold approximately three hundred 2-inch Quad reels that are in need of digitization to preserve their unique audiovisual content. One of these reels was digitized recently and uploaded to the Internet Archive. It read on its original label ,“Master: SOUL OF BALTIMORE 27:51”. The term “master” indicates that this is the highest quality version of this content. 

After researching historical newspaper databases, this title was found to potentially be a 1968 WMAR-produced special entitled, “The Soul of Baltimore”. This seemed like a great candidate to digitize as it was about the history of Baltimore’s Pennsylvania Avenue, the center of the city's African American community in the first half of the twentieth century. The special is also narrated by Walter P. Carter, civil rights activist and chairman of the local chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). After digitization, the content on the video reel was found to match the content on the label, as well as having ten minutes at the end of the reel that had not been recorded over or erased. These “extras” included 1960s era broadcast footage of two other WMAR-produced shows, a few commercials, and a few minutes of a nationally syndicated show, “Truth or Consequences”.

"The Soul of Baltimore" is especially powerful to watch in light of the recent uprising and protests surrounding the death of Sandtown-Winchester resident Freddie Gray, as many of these events transpired on or near Pennsylvania Avenue. You can watch the entirety of "The Soul of Baltimore" below.


5/12/2015

The Walls Have Ears




            In 1977, “The Archbishop’s Ceiling,” a play by the American playwright Arthur Miller, premiered at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.  In the play, three friends seek to convince an Eastern European author to defect to the West.  Having antagonized the repressive government of his Eastern European country, the author is in danger of imprisonment.  Adding to the tension of the moment is the fact that the room in which the friends are conversing, a beautiful room in what once was an archbishop’s palace, is almost certainly being bugged by the secret police. 

State surveillance is something we’d like to believe is restricted only to history (the East German Stasi) or to African or South American dictatorships, yet it is part of our contemporary reality here in America.  In 2008, Americans learned of “Stellar Wind,” a secret NSA surveillance program instituted under President George W. Bush, and in 2013, Edward Snowden revealed to the world that the NSA is spying on everyone indiscriminately, including Americans.

But there’s some good news!  Key provisions of the Patriot Act, including Section 215, which is frequently used to justify the NSA’s unconstitutional surveillance programs, are set to expire on June 1, 2015.  That’s less than 1 month from now.  You can take action now to let Congress know how you feel about the fact that the NSA is able to read your emails and listen to your phone calls.   

Take your privacy seriously.  Your freedom is worth it.


5/11/2015

New at Langsdale



Did you know that Langsdale Library offers a list of all of our newest materials? We do! Each month we'll post an update letting you know about a few select titles, but there are far too many to mention here so be sure to check out our comprehensive online list. There is an RSS feed to the list, so you can subscribe and be updated when new materials get listed each month.

 New at Langsdale: 

Velo, 2nd gear : bicycle culture and style by Sven Ehmann
Velo--2nd Gear makes abundantly clear that contemporary bicycle culture is more alive and well than ever before. The book celebrates its healthy, environmentally-friendly, discerning, and slightly obsessive scenes and their protagonists. It shows why, for a young generation, bicycles have now replaced cars as the vehicles that best express its identity. 
A backpack, a bear, and eight crates of vodka... by Lev Golinkin
Recounts the author's experiences as a young boy fleeing persecution in the late eighties Soviet Union, and his later return to Austria and Eastern Europe as an American adult to track down those who helped his family escape and thank them.
Culture crash : the killing of the creative class by Scott Timberg
Change is no stranger to us in the twenty-first century. We must constantly adjust to an evolving world, to transformation and innovation. But for many thousands of creative artists, a torrent of recent changes has made it all but impossible to earn a living. A persistent economic recession, social shifts, and technological change have combined to put our artists—from graphic designers to indie-rock musicians, from architects to booksellers—out of work. This important book looks deeply and broadly into the roots of the crisis of the creative class in America and tells us why it matters.
Middle of Nowhere
Winner of the Best Director Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, MIDDLE OF NOWHERE chronicles a young woman caught between two worlds and two men in the search for herself. Ruby, a bright medical student, sets aside her dreams when her husband is incarcerated. This new life challenges her to the very core, and her turbulent path propels her in new, often frightening directions of self-discovery. Directed by Ava Duvernay, who also directed the film Selma in 2014.
These are just a few of the many new books and movies at your Langsdale Library. To see the complete listing of new materials check out our list right here! If you want to receive updates when new materials get listed each month, you can subscribe to the list through the RSS feed.

4/30/2015

Archives of Social Protest and Social Change

Image adapted from photo by Arash Azizzada

Although many archives across the country contain selected materials related to social protest and social change, some institutions have highly specialized collections devoted to documenting the history of protests, riots, uprisings, and social movements. Generations of librarians, archivists, historians, and curators have worked to assemble primary source documentation focused on social protest.

Archival luminary, Jerry Ham, challenged archivists to take a more active and creative role in documenting a broader range of culture in 1975. By the 1980s, the prevailing national political climate had chilled earlier archival enthusiasm for protest collections. Sarah Cooper's 1987 essay examines the ebbs and flows in the American effort to document social protest and social change. Despite these fluctuations in popularity, significant collections of these materials remain at institutions committed to following their collecting missions.

I've selected a handful of collections devoted to social protest and social change. Meant as a starting point, this list identifies long-standing archives, along with several newer collections and digital aggregations of archival material.

4/17/2015

Ewww-Matic

Between our WMAR-TV and WJZ-TV Collections, there are about 10,000 U-matic tapes with unique local television content that need to be digitized for preservation--we have started to slowly go through these tapes, starting with the oldest tapes from 1977 and those that are requested by researchers.

In the last few days in Special Collections we have been dealing with some sticky issues with some U-matics that a researcher needs to view. In December of 1982, it seems that WJZ started to use a different, cheaper brand of U-matic. This specific brand is extremely problematic for audiovisual archiving now: the splices that hold the tape to the plastic hubs need fixing for almost every tape, many of the inner workings of the cassette are made of cheap plastic that breaks easily, and the glue that is holding some of these components together has started to seep out, leaving a gooey, sticky substance over certain parts of the tape that can damage the tape and the playback deck.

Our intern Massimo Petrozzi will be spending the day opening up these cassettes and cleaning the glue residue before the tapes are put into the playback deck. Check out our step-by-step guide on how to open a U-matic tape, and most importantly, how to put the tape back together again.

With a lot of hard work and patience, these tapes will eventually be digitized and available online, like this successful U-matic transfer:

4/16/2015

Congratulations to Derick Ebert, Baltimore's first Youth Poet Laureate

Congratulations to UB sophomore Derick Ebert who has been named as Baltimore's first Youth Poet Laureate.  According to today's article in the Baltimore Sun, Ebert will perform his work throughout Baltimore (and hopefully here at UB) in the coming year to promote literacy and to encourage and inspire young poets and writers.  His work addresses social issues in the community and the search for identity.

Langsdale looks forward to hearing and promoting more about Derick in the coming year.  Way to go, Derick!

4/10/2015

New at Langsdale

Did you know that Langsdale Library offers a list of all of our newest materials? We do! Each month we'll post an update letting you know about a few select titles, but there are far too many to mention here so be sure to check out our comprehensive online list. There is an RSS feed to the list, so you can subscribe and be updated when new materials get listed each month.


New at Langsdale:


Lincoln's greatest case : the river, the bridge, and the making of America
Examines the case of the steamboat Effie Afton, which barreled into a pillar of the Rock Island Bridge in May of 1856, and the role of trial lawyer Abraham Lincoln.

Uncle Sam can't count : a history of failed government investments, from beaver pelts to green energy
"From the days of George Washington through World War II to today, government investments have failed dismally. They not only drain the Treasury of cash but also impede economic growth, and they hurt the very companies they try to support. Why does federal aid seem to have a reverse Midas touch? Simply put, federal officials don't have the same abilities or incentives as entrepreneurs. In addition, federal control always produces political control of some kind. What is best for politicians is not often what works in the marketplace. Politicians want to win votes, and they can do so by giving targeted CEOs benefits while dispersing costs to others. Uncle Sam Can't Count is filled with examples of government failures and free market triumphs"--  Wenger Iesen
 
Listen to this : Miles Davis and Bitches brew
Listen to This is not just the story of Bitches Brew. It reveals much of the legend of Miles Davis--his attitude and will, his grace under pressure, his bands, his relationship to the masses, his business and personal etiquette, and his response to extraordinary social conditions seemingly aligned to bring him down. Svorinich revisits the mystery and skepticism surrounding the album and places it into both a historical and musical context using new interviews, original analysis, recently found recordings, unearthed session data sheets, memoranda, letters, musical transcriptions, scores, and a wealth of other material. Additionally, Listen to This encompasses a thorough examination of producer Teo Macero's archives and Bitches Brew's original session reels in order to provide the only complete day-to-day account of the sessions.



Whiplash
Andrew Neyman is an ambitious young jazz drummer, single-minded in his pursuit to rise to the top of his elite East coast music conservatory. Plagued by the failed writing career of his father, Andrew hungers day and night to become one of the greats. Terence Fletcher, an instructor equally known for his teaching talents as for his terrifying methods, leads the top jazz ensemble in the school. Fletcher discovers Andrew and transfers the aspiring drummer into his band.









These are just a few of the many new books and movies at your Langsdale Library. To see the complete listing of new materials check out our list right here! If you want to receive updates when new materials get listed each month, you can subscribe to the list through the RSS feed.