Tuesday, September 11, 2007

6 years ago - American Memory

Today, in 2001, I was heading to Stillwater for a workshop. It was being sponsored by OLA/GODORT - and featured a presenter from the Library of Congress (whose husband worked at the Pentagon).

The workshop was being held to highlight the American Memory project. American Memory:
...provides free and open access through the Internet to written and spoken words, sound recordings, still and moving images, prints, maps, and sheet music that document the American experience. It is a digital record of American history and creativity. These materials, from the collections of the Library of Congress and other institutions, chronicle historical events, people, places, and ideas that continue to shape America, serving the public as a resource for education and lifelong learning.
On my way to Stillwater my husband called me, on my cellphone, and said something about a plane crash and New York City. I wasn't sure what he was talking about, it was a choppy cell reception, so I continued to listen to the music CDs I had put in my truck that morning. When I got to OSU and found my way to the room, where the class was being presented, I asked the person , who was checking registration, if she had heard anything about the plane that crashed into New York. She said not really.

As the workshop began we heard more details coming in about what was going on that day. Our internet connection to the Library of Congress servers came to a halt. (As well as access to the major news websites) Luckily the presenter had a CD back up of her presentation. Something she mentioned was available to all librarians and teachers should they want to contact the Library of Congress for materials.

The presenter showed some of the amazing collections available American Memory and described to us how people in all disciplines of study could take advantage of the resources available, and all for free -- everything from Advertising to War. A couple if people left early, stating that the stress of not knowing about friends and family on the east coast was too much.

As we broke for lunch that day we made our way over to the OSU Student Union to grab a bite -- the food places had very short lines -- so we paid for our eats. Finding a table near the television was a little harder -- the area around the screen was packed. With some people shushing us librarians so they could hear the TV and others talking about theories of who was responsible. We ate our lunches and hurried back to finish the day's workshop.

It was an amazing workshop and the presenter did a spectacular job. We found out a day or two later that her husband was fine and she was finally able to find transportation (I think a car) to get back home.

If you haven't checked out the American Memory website - be sure to -- it's a great collection that showcases the low and high points of US history and culture.


Anonymous said...

I was at that workshop, too. We drove up from OKC, and we were a tad late. Of course, we went to the wrong building. The person there told us about the plane crashes but we couldn't figure out what he was talking about--I just think it couldn't register on us at that point. It became apparent soon enough.

The presenter did a magnificent job given what she had going on--she was grace under pressure personified. The person who was hosting the session, however, seemed pretty concerned that some of us were surfing to check the news rather than "paying attention." I remember the scolding seeming oddly inappropriate given what was happening.

It was a memorable day, no doubt about it.

Jay Shorten said...

Many of the American memory web sites have catalogue records in OCLC for you to add to your catalogue. If you want a list of names/numbers, go to the OU catalogue and Browse Series "American memory".

Adri said...

Great point Jay! Thanks for reminding us of that.