In his book The Grand Complication, author Allen Kurzweil expresses the fascination librarians have held for him since childhood. “I’ve found that librarians are actually activists, they’re renegades, they tend to be subversive,” he mentions in his All Things Considered commentary that aired September 10, 2001.

While not entirely subversive, NPR Librarians definitely are non-traditional in the work they do to enhance the accuracy and depth of NPR’s journalism.

What comes to mind when you think of a librarian?

NPR librarian Robert Goldstein recalls his trip, 45 years ago, to what was rumored to be a major cultural event at a farm a few hours outside of New York City. The official Woodstock message, the festival slogan, was: Three Days of Peace and Music. But food? That was a different story.

(There’s even photographic evidence of his presence at Woodstock! #archivelove)

We hope you Lefties are celebrating today.


Happy Left Handers’ Day!

NPR’s reporting on left-handedness covers two main topics: the causes of left-handedness and successful people who are left-handed (mostly presidents and baseball pitchers). 

This story, from a special series, Science Outside of the Box, takes an interdisciplinary approach to the question of left-handedness.

NPR’s Jacki Lyden talks to researcher Chris McManus who examined archived film footage of British people waving at the camera to see what he could learn about left-handedness, society, and life in the Victorian era. 

Original airdate 9/22/2007.

From the NPR archives: Bob Mondello’s review of Robin Williams in One Hour Photo

Robin Williams died yesterday

It’s probably not shocking that there isn’t a television review of Williams’ first TV hit, Mork and Mindy. Debuting in 1978, TV was still considered “low brow” at that time.

But Robin Williams has a career that’s lasted through a critical cultural transition: from his work in comedy and film being considered pop culture and, therefore, not worthy of serious consideration, to accolades, awards, and social critique. 

Here’s Bob Mondello’s review of WIlliams’ 2002 film One Hour Photo. The film is notable because it’s from Williams “dark” role period. He was experimenting with being something other than the frenetic presence we usually saw on screen.

Too, I’d say that the film captures an interesting moment in our media history: a lonely employee at a one-hour photo lab seeks connection through the photos he develops for a family he covets.

Williams’ character is on the cusp of technological and social revolution as we moved from film cameras to digital. Unfortunately, he decides to be super-creepy about it, foreshadowing the further melding of technology and surveillance. 

(Found by Kimberly Springer, library intern and film nerd. Original airdate 24 August 2002 on Weekend All Things Considered.)

40 years ago today Richard Nixon resigned from his position as the 37th President of the United States of America. This resignation was in the midst of chaos from the ongoing Watergate hearings as well as rumors of possible impeachment. For a refresher, this American Journalism Review article does a very good job of explaining both Watergate and the importance of the press in the resolution of the event.

As for NPR’s involvement, special programming was created to capture the reactions of ordinary Americans from all across the country. Take a listen to the audio as host Mike Waters, with the help of member stations, exposed how Americans truly felt about their president’s involvement in Watergate and his decision to leave office. Morning Edition also did a piece today with Linda Wertheimer, who covered the resignation 40 years ago. She gives her very emotional personal memories of that day, as well as more audio of the reactions of American citizens. 

Check back here to see what other cool material from the ‘70s and ‘80s is being digitized during the Digital Reformatting internship this summer, as well as future This Is NPR blog posts from the interns looking back at their experiences. 

(Found by Cara Shillenn, library intern. Original airdate August 08, 1974.)

Detroit residents are fighting the city over shut-off notices for past due water bills.

About 500,000 Toledo residents were told not to drink nor boil the city’s water after an algae bloom threatened their water supply

And here at NPR, there’s a water challenge: which department can, within healthy reason, drink the recommended eight glasses of water per day

This audio from 1982 digs deeper into President Reagan’s water supply. Like Presidents before him,* he used to travel with his own water supply, both internationally and domestically. This additional travel logistic did not impress many foreign governments—-including France.

*As White House spokesman, Larry Speakes, notes in this report, they don’t really talk about the President’s security measures, which includes his water supply. For that reason, we don’t have confirmation as to whether President Obama, also  travels with his own water supply. Let’s hope he’s staying hydrated!

(Found by Kimberly Springer, library intern. Original airdate 06/04/1982. Photo via tanakawho, Flickr.)

archivesofamericanart:

smithsonian:

This day in history, pop artist Andy Warhol was born in Pittsburgh, PA. Many of Warhol’s works of art focused upon celebrity culture, as well as branding & advertising; some of his most famous imagery displayed Marilyn Monroe and Campbell’s Tomato Soup cans. The artist attracted hoards of fans, including musicians and activists like John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Photo courtesy of archivesofamericanart

 Yoko Ono, John Lennon and Andy Warhol, 1971 June 5 / David Bourdon, photographer. David Bourdon papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

archivesofamericanart:

smithsonian:

This day in history, pop artist Andy Warhol was born in Pittsburgh, PA. Many of Warhol’s works of art focused upon celebrity culture, as well as branding & advertising; some of his most famous imagery displayed Marilyn Monroe and Campbell’s Tomato Soup cans. The artist attracted hoards of fans, including musicians and activists like John Lennon and Yoko Ono. Photo courtesy of archivesofamericanart

Yoko Ono, John Lennon and Andy Warhol, 1971 June 5 / David Bourdon, photographer. David Bourdon papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

Margot Adler clearly touched the lives and careers of many people at NPR. To close out a week of remembrances, NPR Audio Engineer, Neal Rauch, shared with NPRchives two stories he mixed for Margot.

The first had a personal angle: Margot was interested in falcons from the age of 10. In this story, she recounts that how that interest started with a recording her singing about falcons when she was a child. 

Listeners are paying tribute to Margot Adler on Facebook and Twitter.

(Original airdate November 27, 1989. Photo via Andrea Pokrzywinski, Flickr.

In this second story that Neal Rauch shared with us, Margot Adler covered Nelson Mandela’s appearance at a New York institution, Riverside Church in Manhattan. 

(Original airdate June 21, 1990. Photo via The All-Nite Images, Flickr.) 

Tributes to NPR reporter Margot Adler continue to pour in via social media and the NPR website. 

Jonathan “Smokey” Baer is an Associate Producer at NPR. He shares this remembrance of a magic moment he shared with Margot reporting on the Hutterite community in Connecticut.

I’ve worked at NPR for many years so I knew Margot when she started here, but we only worked closely together on one piece. This one, from 1988, was broadcast that winter on Weekend Edition Saturday. It’s the story of a Christian community who live communally in Connecticut, the Hutterites. How people live with and express their spirituality was always an important theme in Margot’s work and this piece is a wonderful example of that.

The piece is seventeen and a half minutes long—-something you don’t hear on NPR much these days, but a risk we were willing take given the complexity of the subject and Margot’s sensitive and deft treatment of it. 

I recall we spent two days at the community and, at the end of a long first day of recording, we’d arranged to interview a few of the community members in a small room in one of the large houses, which served as home for several families. 

When we arrived, the room was packed with many people, more than we’d asked to sit down with. But others had heard about the reporter who was asking some members to talk about their community. Communal living, being what it is I suppose, several people had come, not to speak really but to be a part of the interviews, bear witness in a sense.  We made no effort separate the members, those we’d invited to join us and those who just wanted to be there. 

The section of the piece which is taken from those interviews begins about at about 10 minutes and 30 seconds into the story. We spent about a half an hour in that room, these committed communitarians and Margot, asking about what commits them to their life. 

I remember, after the interviews were over, marking that reel of tape, “Magic.”And, as we left Margot and I glanced at one another and acknowledged with that glance that we’d just experienced something remarkable.

There are moments in radio when all the artifice of the medium falls away and we’re left with pure expression. Margot could create those moments.  She does here.  And I will forever be indebted to her for having been a part of it.  

Photos via Roger Wollstadt, Flickr