I spent last Friday in Augusta at the Maine Humanities Summit sponsored by the University of Maine Humanities Initiative. I also participated on a panel of academic and public librarians to explain the role of libraries in the “public” humanities. The attending group was made up of the converted, those of us who see in others and experience in ourselves every day the “Power & Pleasure of Ideas” – to borrow a phrase from the Maine Humanities Council. We spoke of public libraries being a provider, presenter, collector, promoter and organizer of the humanities. So it was on fertile ground (and with gratitude) that our individual presentations were received. There was little if any surprise just appreciation.
I am always fascinated by the surprise that folks have upon rediscovery of the public library or coming up against the popular notion that the public library is not long for the world. Paul Krugman’s recent New York Times blog post “In Praise of Public Libraries (Personal and Trivial)” speaks to the simple delight in finding a space in the community that has some infrastructure, a culture of sharing and no expectation of you except civil behavior. Meanwhile, beyond offering a sweet spot in the daily grind, public libraries everywhere are gearing up their summer reading programs and reaching out to kids and families to do what we can to bring the beauty of the arts and the humanities (literature, history, art, music and much more) to the neighborhoods and towns across the country. Quiet magic – day in and day out. No chest pounding, no vapid self-promotion, just quiet and sustained effort to experience the “Power and Pleasure of Ideas”.
Derivative tends not be a compliment as it implies lack of creativity or more recently a bad financial instrument. But let’s be honest, many great ideas in all areas aren’t new (like bookmobiles) and libraries mostly work with the basics of those ideas and spin them to serve some niche. PPL like other libraries lends a variety of unexpected materials including telescopes (brought to us through our partnership with Cornerstones of Science), Kill a Watt energy detectors (given to us by a private donor),and most recently ukuleles modeled on the idea first demonstrated by the Newport (Maine) Cultural Center and neighboring Falmouth (Maine) Memorial Library.
Even Isaac Newton acknowledged the contributions to his work of those before him. It is a pleasure (and an ethical obligation) for us to acknowledge this tradition of public libraries.
PPL’s Business and Government Team proudly announces a unique art display at the Main Library. In collaboration with the Public Engagement Students at Maine College of Art, we encourage you to VOTE!
“What is the B+G Team?” you ask. The B+G Team is a group of PPL staff and civic minded colleagues who, among other goals, aim to create a culture of civil literacy and civic engagement here in Portland; resulting in a first-rate quality of life and community. How do we propose to do this? Through research support, public programming, public forums/conversations on important topics, by maintaining a collection of up-to-date political and current event titles (both in print and for your e-reader), by engagement of the City’s efforts and now… also through ART! PPL is not only a place to check out a good book (though we do have plenty);the library is also a dynamic and energetic community center. So, you can see voting is something our Team cares about. We don’t offer opinions on how you vote or who you vote for, we simply encourage you to educate yourself on the issues and then get out and VOTE!
This fantastic collection of posters was created by the talented students in the Graphic Design Jr Studio, taught by Charles Melcher and David Puelle, with support from the Public Engagement Program at MECA. The posters were designed in connection withAIGA’s Get Out the Vote campaign, which invites designers to create nonpartisan posters and videos that inspire the American public to participate in the electoral process and vote in the2012 general election. PPL is honored to hang the posters in our window and are very thankful for the student’s efforts in creating the art and for caring about the electoral process.
The Graphic Designers Cassie Amicone, Kailin Callender, Sam Chabot, Vanessa DeMars, Jon Foster, Chrissy Hill, Nicloe Holmes, Cori Kippin, Sarah McLean, Shelby Newsted, Celia Packard, Hannah Sherwood, Carly Soos, Anna Taylor, Katie Tomasyan and Sabrina Volante