". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Books & Libraries, Girls & Education -- This Person Tries

Here is something else that like Occupy Wall Street, though in a different way, is delightfully inspirational -- or, perhaps, not that differently after all, upon reflection.

His Libraries, 12,000 So Far, Change Lives, Ny Times Op-ed today.

[ " The cost per girl for this program is $250 annually. To provide perspective, Kim Kardashian’s wedding is said to have cost $10 million; that sum could have supported an additional 40,000 girls in Room to Read.

So many American efforts to influence foreign countries have misfired — not least here in Vietnam a generation ago. We launch missiles, dispatch troops, rent foreign puppets and spend billions without accomplishing much. In contrast, schooling is cheap and revolutionary. The more money we spend on schools today, the less we’ll have to spend on missiles tomorrow.

Wood, 47, is tireless, enthusiastic and emotional: a motivational speaker with no off button. He teared up as girls described how Room to Read had transformed their lives. " ]

Books still matter, the printed-words-on-paper kind. Classrooms still matter, the room-pupils-teacher kind. Giving still matters, a person with means-with an idea-executes idea kind.

If you click the link to Friedman's blog where this piece went up originally or maybe the same time, comments are enabled. The very first one is really interesting because the commentator says:

[ " May be it is just me, but Microsoft employees are frequently in news for doing these kind of things. I have never seen Apple employees in similar articles. Everyone loves Steve Jobs but all I read about him is how self involved he was. Compare that to Bill Gates and you could not have a greater contrast.No matter how much an Iphone adds to your life, it could not be more then saving a life or giving the most deprived people an avenue to reach their goals. " ]

Librarians in the public systems have noticed this, re Microsoft vs. the cult of Jobs. Apple has never provided a thing for the common good. Public libraries may well have gone down back at the end ofthe 80's early 90's without all the donation of monies, equipment and upgrade provided by Gates's foundations. Librarians may feel deeply constrained by IE but without Gates they'd still be rooting around in the print indices -- or more likely without jobs at all. Not to mention all the collateral jobs that came into being as libraries digitized (though also the collateral loss of jobs as well with automization that came with digitization). Still, at least here in NYC, we still have public libraries and they are used more and more by more and more people, while still expected to provide more and more with less and less.

Thank the lordessa for people like this gentleman, and like a woman I met last night at a dinner party uptown. She works in the Financial District, supports the Occupy Wall Streeters, and donates thousands of dollars to the NYPL every year. 

One of the first components of the Occupy Wall Street camp communities to get established, along with community kitches, are libraries ....

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