Repost: In the Stacks with Victoria Blanco

(This post originally appeared at Coffee House Press's In the Stacks Tumblr.) IN THE STACKS WITH VICTORIA BLANCO: CATALOGING ON THE EAST SIDE PEN/FUSION Emerging Writers Prize finalist Victoria Blanco spent the spring as a resident artist at the East Side Freedom Library. She’ll share stories from her residency over the next several weeks.  Glen shows me an index card he brings to work every morning, on which he keeps a running list of books he discovers as he’s cataloging them. “The only problem is, I have a lot of these,” he laughs. He’s…Read more

Freedom Rings at East Side Freedom Library!

"In something like the Miracle on Greenbrier Street the power of vision, passion and grit have transformed an abandoned public library building on St. Paul’s East Side. Phoenix-like, the once forlorn Carnegie Library is reborn as the East Side Freedom Library, a beehive of ideas, a hotbed of energy and a community resource of powerful potential.   Much of the impetus and support for ESFL comes from organized labor — Somewhere Andrew Carnegie, whose legacy lives on in the magnificent building, is bemused by the triumph of the “working boys” for whom the library…Read more

Hmong Archives Is Making the East Side Freedom Library Its Permanent Home

Please join us in celebrating the Hmong Archives' new permanent home at the East Side Freedom Library on February 1oth.  An agreement of association will be signed at 7 PM, with a brief program, light refreshments, and tours available. More information about the celebration can be be found on the event page. From the Hmong Archives: On February 10, 1999, Hmong Archives became a nonprofit to “research, collect, preserve, interpret, and disseminate materials in all formats about or by Hmong,” thanks to the efforts of Yuepheng Xiong of Hmong ABC. Over a month later, with repainted used furniture,…Read more

In Search of Me; A Look into How Research at The Freedom Library Can be Used for Self Discovery

The following essay was written by Kiarra McCain, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, for Afro 3866/5866 History 3856/PA 5490: The Civil Rights and Black Power Movement, Dr. Peter Rachleff, December 21, 2015. Introduction “Show me a woman that loves herself and I’ll show you a woman holding her mirror, show me a woman who hates herself and I’ll show you a woman holding yours.” What does it mean to love yourself? To view yourself as worth it and to walk in a room shameless, no matter the struggles you face. How do you start to love yourself?…Read more

A Primary Research Point for St. Paul Public School Students

With the grand opening of the East Side Freedom Library rapidly approaching, members of the ESFL team are ecstatic to begin serving the community. We are also looking forward to "cultivating and broadening" our "relationship with public school leaders in the metro area" to foster a relationship that will "encourage" public school students to "explore projects of the diverse peoples who have made contributions..." to both labor and social justice movements. The ESFL is also looking forward to the upcoming state History Day competition and is striving to be the "primary destination for public school students" to come…Read more

A Cataloguer’s Perspective by Miles Cabana

The East Side Freedom Library (ESFL) is home to more than 10,000 titles of exhilarating historical and contemporary working-class literature. These books are essential to understanding the history of the working-class community surrounding the ESFL. Throughout my internship at the ESFL, I have cataloged many interesting titles. However, one of the most captivating pieces of literature I have encountered is called They Chose Minnesota: A Survey of the State's Ethnic Groups. I found this particular volume interesting because it compiles an eight year survey from 1973 to 1981 of sixty ethnic groups that chose to call Minnesota home. The diversity…Read more

Fox 9: Karen refugees keep time-honored traditions alive in St. Paul

The East Side Library on Greenbriar St. in St. Paul is home to more than just books. Once a week, the basement turns into a master class for weavers. The eight or nine weavers are a group of Karen refugees that came to Minnesota from Myanmar (formally Burma) escaping an ongoing civil war. With bamboo looms strapped to their backs, women like Rosie Say spend hours creating shirts, scarves, and handmade hats. An outlet to practice a traditional craft, while they transition to a foreign land called Minnesota. Photo Karen refugees keep time-honored…Read more

Minnesota is no utopia for workers: Labor Day and the fight for $15 an hour

Anthony Shields, a young community organizer with the workers rights campaign at Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC), remembers the struggles his single mother faced working two full time jobs. “I would only see my mother for five hours a day, and between those five hours, she was exhausted and trying to get some rest, just because her one full time job wasn’t enough for food, not enough for the rent, and not enough for clothes on our backs,” he said. “In retrospect I’m like wow, you hold resentment towards your parents or your…Read more

History and community: Building the East Side Freedom Library, by Heidi Anderson-Ferdinand and Scott Williams

Read this excellent blog post from Metro State University: Located on the east side of Saint Paul (on the corner of Greenbrier Street and Jessamine Avenue), the East Side Freedom Library is another excellent addition to the Twin Cities’ already stellar collection of libraries with a small, focused collection. Founded by Metropolitan State University community faculty and former Macalester College labor history professor Peter Rachleff, the ESFL is reaching the middle stages of housing a collection of materials with a focus on United States labor, immigration, and race history. Continue reading here.Read more
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