Friday, September 23, 2011

Banned Book Week

It all began with The Meritorious Pride of Our Redemption by William Pynchon in 1650 in Springfield, Massachusetts. Not only was the religious treatise banned, but it was burned in the market and a day of “fasting and humiliation” was proclaimed.[1] Ironically, Pynchon fled to England where he wrote and published his religious tracts until his death in 1662.

Following in this puritanical stride, “Banned in Boston” became the catch-phrase for censorship of literary works because the “Watch and Ward Society” compelled Boston’s city officials to ban anything they found offensive. It was not until the Warren Court (1953-1969), Supreme Court Justices under Chief Justice Earl Warren, upheld civil liberties that censorship was reduced in Boston. The last major literary battle was over Naked Lunch by William S. Burroughs. It was banned in Boston in 1962 for obscenity, but the decision was overturned in 1966 by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

Judith Krug, (1940-2009) was the Director of the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom and, later, the Executive Director of the Freedom to Read Foundation. In 1982 she founded Banned Book Week. She was often criticized for her views on libraries and children, to which she responded: “We know that there are children out there whose parents do not take the kind of interest in their upbringing and in their existence that we would wish, but I don't think censorship is ever the solution to any problem, be it societal or be it the kind of information or ideas that you have access to."[2]

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Sport of Kings-The Beast of Burden: Excellent Horses in Rockingham County

The first of an occasional article on the history of horses in Rockingham County
The Elkton and Timberville Horse Shows

During the last century somewhere in the region a horse show was scheduled almost every weekend. Many of these shows no longer occur. The Elkton Lions Club hosted a show from the end of WWII until the 1960’s, which featured a race track as part of its program.[1] Horse shows in Broadway, Bridgewater and Weyers Cave are also no longer on the calendar. Countering this trend, the Rockingham County All-Breed Horse Show was resurrected three years ago.

Two horse shows are on the calendar for September 2011. The Elkton Historical Society is the sponsor of the event that was held on September 10th at the Blue Ridge Park at the north end of Elkton on Route 340. The event has been held continuously since 1983 when it was organized by Jane Cline, a local horse show organizer since the 1960’s, to help pay-off the debt incurred by the Town of Elkton for its centennial celebration.[2] After the first year, the event has been under the auspices of the Elkton Historical Society.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Constitution & Citizenship Day

Congress has set aside September 17th to observe Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. Citizenship Day was established by a joint resolution of Congress in 1940 to be celebrated on the third Sunday in May and designated as “I Am An American Day.”

In 1952 Congress repealed this resolution and passed a new law that moved the date to September 17th, which commemorated the date that the Constitution was signed in 1787, but retained its original purpose to honor those who had obtained citizenship status. The law urged civil authorities to make instruction available on citizen responsibilities.

Friday, September 9, 2011

September 11th 10 year anniversary

Do you remember where you were? Members of the staff at Massanutten Regional Library were in various places on September 11, 2001. Here are a few stories of where some of us were 10 years ago.

One staff member was still in Library School, and actually teaching college freshmen how to use the catalog at Florida State University in Tallahassee. In a closed classroom no one there knew what was going on outside until the class was interrupted because the University was closing. Many hours were spent trying to contact family in northern New Jersey.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Labor Day, An American Celebration

The Library will be closed on Labor Day, as should all work places. Other countries have an International Workers Day, but Labor Day is a United States federal holiday.  It became a federal holiday in 1894 because of the deaths of workers by the U.S. Military and the U.S. Marshals sent by President Grover Cleveland to end the Pullman Strike. 
Fearing more violence, President Cleveland made peace with the labor movement his top political priority. (It was an election year!)  Legislation making Labor Day a national holiday swept through Congress unanimously and was signed into law within six days of the end of the strike.  All U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and the territories of the US made it a statutory holiday. (1)
How to celebrate Labor Day was actually laid out in the original proposal for the holiday:  a parade to show “the strength and espirit de corps of the trade and labor organizations,” followed by a party for workers and their families. (2)  In 1898, Samuel Gompers, head of the American Federation of Labor, called it "the day for which the toilers in past centuries looked forward, when their rights and their wrongs would be discussed...that the workers of our day may not only lay down their tools of labor for a holiday, but upon which they may touch shoulders in marching phalanx and feel the stronger for it."
This Labor Day, as we fire up the grills or take a final summer vacation, remember those who struggled for your right to a day off--and enjoy your holiday!
Cheryl Metz, Reference Librarian

1)      Origins of Labor Day.
2)      The History of Labor Day. US Department of Labor.