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Clarke Historical Library

May 2020

Director?s Note from Frank Boles: Frank's Tree

It has been a hard spring. A pandemic is leaving illness and death in its wake. An economic crisis that is following the disease has made the sense of uncertainty even greater. Higher education is faced with ballooning deficits and an uncertain fall. It seems the world will never again be the same.

But beneath the daily headlines, there is continuity. At Central Michigan University, classes continue to be taught, but online. Students continue to learn, but not live in Mt. Pleasant. Most CMU staff are working, but working from home. The library continues to offer support through its extensive digital assets, but the Park Library Building is closed.

There is change but I have been surprised by the number of sweeping news stories published about the ?new normal.? With a certain breathlessness, the stories tell how the fabric of life has been fundamentally altered.

A small advantage to working in a historical library is the realization that during past crises, similar thoughts were expressed. But, over time, the world does largely go back to something much like the old normal. For those writing or saying that things can never be the same again, it is appropriate to remember that the great pandemic of 1918-1919 was also a devastating global event, and it served as America?s gateway into what historians usually call ?The Roaring ?20s.?

Some things, of course, will change. Some things always change. But when stay-at-home orders come to an end and face masks become a thing of the past, much of the world will likely to continue to go on, as it always has. In a time of fearful speculation, it might be worth reflecting on ?Frank?s tree.?

?Frank?s tree? is a flowering crabapple planted in 2000 just outside my office window. It was part of the landscaping that accompanied the Park Library addition project. Every year since then, it has bloomed. Through good times and bad, wonderful accessions and failed grant proposals, economic booms and busts, while people who worked in the building have enjoyed good health or tragically died, every year for a few days the tree is a beautiful wonder. Like the rhythm of the tree, the rhythm of life within the library, and within the nation, has shown far more continuity than change.

It will take time, more time that some would like, but with time the library, CMU, and all of us, together, will also persevere and emerge into a place where there is more continuity than change. The odds of this happening are pretty good, historically speaking.

The Surprise and Wonder of Pop-Up Books?. At Home

During the public health emergency, the Clarke Historical Library will remain closed to stem the spread of COVID-19. But that doesn?t mean that you have to miss our exhibit, "The Surprise and Wonder of Pop-Up Books." Check out the Clarke?s social media feeds for a daily dose of pop-up magic. And find all of the videos we have posted linked on the Clarke?s website.

50TH Anniversary of Earth Day

April 22 marked the 50th anniversary of the first Earth Day. Did you know that Central Michigan University was one of hundreds of universities to participate in the first event? Read more about CMU?s role in environmental advocacy and action on the Clarke blog.

Another event with a 50th anniversary is the Kent State tragedy. The response at CMU was remarkably peaceful. Read our recent blog post full of memories from those who were there.

Archivist Rising

In addition to the official CMU Libraries blogs, one faculty member maintains a personal one. Archivist Marian Matyn has been an active blogger for over ten years. She posts on a broad range of archival topics, and frequently passes along information from professional organizations as well as posts of interest to the students in her HIST 583 Archival Administration course. Catch up with her latest musings at Archivist Rising.

Clarke Work During Quarantine

Although the doors to the Clarke are closed during quarantine, daily work continues behind the scenes by staff at remote sites. Reference services are tough to provide without access to the physical collection, but virtual reference is provided via access to digitized information sources. When possible, orders for images from digitized Clarke collections are fulfilled with previously digitized files. Important work transcribing letters from Clarke's collection of poet John Greenleaf Whittier is ongoing, with the goal of eventually posting them online.

Administrative and cataloging procedure manuals are being updated. In cataloging, records are being created for uploading into the online catalog, making material discoverable in the future. Our archivists continue their work with university electronic records and records management. Work on existing projects such as electronic encoded finding aids continues while new initiatives such as documenting the impact of the CMU's response to COVID-19 have been taken on. Newspaper microfilming has come to a halt during the quarantine, but digitizing work on previously scanned reels continues unabated. Work with digitization customers throughout Michigan and vendors in three countries continues remotely. During the quarantine, Clarke's social media presence has been enhanced by videos providing quick bursts of fun from the current Clarke exhibition about pop-up books.

Michigan Historical Calendar

Within the Clarke web site is a page that singles out notable facts from our state's history. By month and date! Pick any date or simply click on "today" to reveal facts both significant and small that, taken together, reveal the growth of our state across the centuries. What is the date that Mackinac Island becomes part of the US? September 1, 1796. Michigan statehood? January 26, 1837. First state to have a border to border interstate highway? Michigan on February 1, 1967 with the completion of I-94. Find the hidden facts behind our state's story on the Historical Dates in Michigan's History page.

Growth of Michigan Newspaper Database Continues

This month the DigMichNews database grew with the addition of newspapers from the Van Buren County community of Paw Paw. The collection includes full runs of the Courier Leader (1969-2018), Courier-Northerner (1920-1968) and True Northerner ( 1873-1920), with shorter runs of various other titles dating as far back as 1853. With this addition a milestone was reached. DigMichNews now hosts over a half million pages of historical Michigan newspapers.