Thursday, April 26, 2007

Friends of the Alexander M. Bracken Library Annual Dinner Features Program on Digital Oral Histories

Seventy-five Friends of the Alexander M. Bracken Library attended the annual dinner at the Alumni Center on the evening of March 28 where they heard about the Middletown Digital Oral History Collection being made available in the Ball State University Digital Media Repository, a project of the University Libraries.

Following dinner and a brief business meeting, Dr. Warren Vander Hill, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Emeritus, Mr. Hurley Goodall, former Indiana state legislator, and Dr. John Weakland, Professor Emeritus of History, presented the Kirkham Lecture. They shared their experiences in conducting oral history interviews that are now being made available in digital format for global access through the Internet.

Dr. Vander Hill moderated the program. In his remarks, he compared the two Middletown Jewish Oral History projects that he conducted under the sponsorship of Mr. Martin Schwartz in 1978-79 and 2002-03. The two projects generated a total of 45 interviews.

Mr. Goodall spoke passionately about an early experience of not being able to tell young people about the history of his own race and how that motivated him to get involved with documenting the African American experience through oral history interviews and other projects. He related how much he appreciated the work that Ball State University and the University Libraries have undertaken to collect and preserve local African American history.

Dr. Weakland described the process that he and other volunteers followed in conducting recent oral history interviews with the members of the St. Francis of Assisi, St. Mary, and St. Lawrence parishes as part of the local Catholic Churches Oral History Project. The project has resulted in 30 interviews from the three parishes so far and more are planned.

Prior to the speakers’ presentations, John Straw, Director of Archives and Special Collections, presented a PowerPoint presentation on the Middletown Digital Oral History Collection project that is being funded by a $25,125 Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) digitization grant. This is the second consecutive LSTA grant that the University Libraries have received.

Following each speaker’s remarks, a sample audio clip was played of an interview from the collection discussed by the presenter. The audience was able to follow along with the verbal remarks by seeing the accompanying transcription displayed from the Digital Media Repository collection.

During the business meeting prior to the Kirkham Lecture, Friends’ executive secretary John Straw reported that the Friends enjoyed another productive year with a growing membership of over 2,600 persons who reside in most of the 50 states and over 40 countries.

Donations by Friends through the Ball State University Foundation totaled over $34,000, which is a 36% increase compared to the previous fiscal year. These moneys are used to support the University Libraries.

Straw reported on four entertaining and informative programs sponsored this year:
· “Celebrating 30 Years of Renewing Lives: A History of Community Mental Health through CMHS and Meridian Services” presented by Ms. Suzanne Gresham, Mr. Al Rent, and Mr. Hank Milius in October
· “Founding Fathers and Signers of the Declaration of Independence” by Mr. Tom Schnuck in November
· “Organized Labor in Muncie: An Oral History,” co-sponsored by the Center for Middletown Studies, presented by Dr. James Connolly, Dr. Warren Vander Hill, and Mr. Hurley Goodall in December
· “Before Middletown: Using Historical Archaeology to View Victorian Muncie” by Dr. Christina Blanch in February

Outgoing members of the Friends’ Board of Governors in attendance were recognized with certificates of appreciation for their three years of service: Mr. Larry Campbell, Mrs. Nancy Carlson, and Ms. Gretchen Cheesman.

Three new members in attendance were welcomed to the Board with the presentation of lapel pins: Mrs. Marilyn Carey. Dr. Carol Flores, and Dr. Thomas Spotts.

Mr. Hank Milius and Mrs. Marianne Vorhees will be joining the Board as new member also but were not able to attend the dinner.

Three library student assistants received certificates and checks for $100 from the Friends as recipients of this year’s Student Recognition Awards:
· Amanda B. Ashton, Science-Health Science Library
· Holli R. Botset, Educational Resources
· Stacy L. Sowder, Main Circulation

During the dinner, Mr. Martin Schwartz was recognized in honor of his 90th birthday with a spontaneous rendition of “Happy Birthday” from the audience, led by Dr. Vander Hill. It was later learned that Dr. Phil Ball was celebrating his birthday that evening. So the event was a true celebration of Friends in more ways than one.

For more information or to join the Friends, contact John B. Straw, Executive Secretary for the Friends and the Alexander M. Bracken Library and Ball State University Libraries’ Director for Archives and Special Collections,, (765) 285-5078.

This newsletter article first appeared in The Library Insider 5(4): 7; April 2007.

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