Don’t get mad, get new books and ancient newspapers

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The author stacks up on new library books. Photo Credit – Erin Toepfner

I felt like I was in an episode of “Mad Men” when I opened the UB student newspaper from the late 1950s. A half page ad for Marlboro jumped out and told me Marlboro was the most popular cigarette on college campuses nationwide, along with a U.S. map that had each state visually represented by an open pack of cigarettes.

Fortunately, I hadn’t exactly travelled back in time to that decade. I was safely scanning Langsdale Library’s archive of UB’s student newspapers, in the lovely smoke-free Special Collections reading room on the 4th floor of the Learning Commons, in the lovely, smoke-free, Langsdale Library.

But it felt a little like time travel. I was watching history unfold, reading students’ first-hand responses to events that seemed like staples of reality. The events of the past were so much a part of the fabric of my memory and existence that it took a few minutes for it to sink in when I read the headlines that Martin Luther King Jr had been assassinated, that this news was hitting people for the first time. It wasn’t a history book I was reading, it was history.

And a lot of it was infuriating—assassinations, sexist cartoons and cigarette ads to name a few of the more disturbing aspects of history I came across.

The further back in time I went with UB’s student newspapers, the larger the cigarette ads became. They slowly creeped up from half page ads to full page ads as they went back to the earliest issues in the 1930s.

On the other hand, it was spectacular to feel the fervor in the front page articles about the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970. It was a relief to watch women take on more roles and work towards more diverse degrees, instead of being pigeon-holed into a few select majors. It was fun to see people streaking through the 1970s. It was heartening to read about the formation of a bike club in 1972.

It was fascinating to read about the anticipation for the then-new Langsdale Library, scheduled to be built in 1966, while the same building was being renovated right across the street in the present day. Plans for the state-or-the-art design repeatedly appeared in the student newspaper in the 1960s. In contrast to the current library designs with more glass letting in natural light, windows were being designed small, to cut down on the glare for people reading books. The plans were being published in the paper. I saw renderings of the new old library. Then, finally, in 1966, Langsdale Library was built and a photo of the “modern” building appeared on the front page in the student newspaper.

It was exciting to see the Langsdale Library make the front page repeatedly, every time the library received a new collection of books. There it would be in big blocky letters, headline after headline—“Langsdale Library receives X number of books,” in contrast to the present day, when libraries are giving away more and more books as we become more and more digital.

Although Langsdale Library has recently given away many books, there is no need to get mad.  The library recently received several carts of new books for its collection. This may not make the front page of the paper but here it is in the middle. The new books themselves can be found on the New Book Kiosk as you enter the library. Come check them out!

UB’s student newspapers will eventually be online back through the 1930s. Check out the UB Post back to 1981 in Langsdale Library’s  Special Collections for a little bit of time travel—and let me know what T.V. show you feel like you’re in!

From mystery to history: Cultural arts exhibit on display in the Learning Commons

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A special part of the library is going on exhibit Feb. 15. Photographs, video clippings and newspaper articles from Baltimore’s Cultural Arts Program (CAP) will be on display in the Division of Legal and Ethical Studies on the third floor of the Learning Commons in Room 317, the CAS Faculty Lounge. There will be an opening reception with light refreshments from 12:30 p.m. to 1 p.m.

The CAP collection is normally housed in Langsdale Library’s Special Collections and is accessible to researchers and community members just by making an appointment. The collection is in the process of being digitized, as well.

The Baltimore community has a unique opportunity to see the special showing this month and meet CAP participant Angela Koukoui, who also helped organize the exhibit. Koukoui is in the Integrated Arts program at UB.

UB President Kurt Schmoke, will be at the opening as well.

Dr. Nicole Hudgins, associate professor in UB’s Division of Legal, Ethical and Historical Studies, initially approached Koukoui about doing the exhibit and they have since been working on it together.

CAP started in 1968 with War on Poverty Funding and its Model Cities Program (MCP). By 1974, CAP was being run by the Urban Services Agency (USA) and continued until 1993.

Kokoui joined CAP’s dance program in 1986 and stayed until 1993 when she graduated from high school. CAP enabled Kokoui to apply for and attend Baltimore School for the Arts.

She now runs a non-profit dance program inspired by her time in CAP. CAP also offered piano, singing, visual arts and drama. Jada Pinkett Smith starred in a CAP production of West Side Story at the age of 14.

Everyone who participated in CAP hasbecomesuccessful,saysKoukoui. “We tried to find someone who did not succeed and we could not.” Emmy Award Winning ABC News Cameraman Pete O’Neal got his start in CAP.

Baltimore’s African American Festival (AFRAM) started through CAP, as well. Kokoui danced at AFRAM in 1976 as part of CAP’s Expanded Arts Program and was paid for her performance. Her children dance at AFRAM, currently.

Koukoui initially discovered the CAP collection at Langsdale Library as a community member. She had first checked the city archives and the Maryland Historical Society, but could find nothing. She only found two news clippings at the Pratt Library.

Finally, at an arts advocacy meeting, Kokoui got information. It was there she discovered that Urban Services Agency photographer Breck Chapman, who had covered CAP from its inception to its end, donated his entire collection of CAP photo- graphs to the Langsdale Library.

The CAP collection at Langsdale is called the Breck Chapman collection.

Come to the opening on Feb. 15 and see for yourself. You can also call to make an appointment.

Many of Langsdale Library’s Special Collections can be viewed online.

Langsdale Library is open:

Monday to Thursday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Experiencing history: The new National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel through one photographer’s lens

By Jessica Greenstein

While on assignment in April covering the NCAA Women’s Final Four tournament in Nashville,Tennessee, I took advantage of a free day and drove the three and a half hours to Memphis to photograph the newly reopened National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel. My visit on April was just two days after the museum reopened after an 18 month renovation to both the motel and the boarding house where James Earl Ray was staying when he assassinated Martin Luther King Jr.

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The Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King, Jr. stayed during the last days of his life is home to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee.

 

The renovation cost estimated 27.5 million dollars and features interactive exhibits aimed at transporting visitors back to the height of the civil rights era through sights and sounds. Visitors can use touch screens in many of the exhibits to learn more about the details of events that occurred during the time

The museum is a piece of history that should be experienced, but with the start of the semester, it’s understandable that may not be feasible. Students can create their own museum experience locally by visiting the Enoch Pratt Free Library, Central branch, located at 400 Cathedral Street Baltimore, MD 21201. The library’s newest exhibit, Making A Difference: African American Women and the Civil Rights Movement, runs until October 5, 2024 and features photographs and stories of African American women that played a pivotal role in the civil rights movement during the 1950’s and ’60s.

 

Stay tuned for more photos from the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel.

Central Library

400 Cathedral Street

Baltimore, MD 21201

Mon: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Tue: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Wed: 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Thu: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Fri: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Sat: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Sun: closed

410-396-5430 (phone)

410-396-1441 (fax)

All images courtesy of Jessica Greenstein