Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tidbits & Tidings--January, 2011

I thought that this month's topic had found me when I was gifted with a sixty year old magazine. I was going to begin with the subject of January, named for Janus who in Roman mythology was the god of portals, of beginnings and endings, and how this May, 1948 publication seemed to be serving that very function. I was going to expound upon what I learned regarding our society at that time via the articles, photos, and advertisements; what anyone could learn about us by simply reading a publication of a certain time. I spent two evenings immersed in the 184 page issue, half-expecting to wake up like Christopher Reeves in Somewhere in Time. Alas, it will have to wait because….
    This morning I read about a new project called culturomics. Harvard linguists and Google engineers have teamed up to build a database of more than 500 billion words gleaned from five million books published over the last four centuries. It's touted as a new and powerful tool to study cultural change; a beginning that I'm sure will expand to include other facets of our cultural DNA. In the meantime, it's www.culturomics.org, and we would appreciate your comments on this new site.
While looking through the local history section at the library, I found a new title, An Historic Resource Survey, Village of Fort Plain funded by a Preserve New York Grant awarded to the village of Fort Plain by the Preservation League of New York State and the New York State Council on the Arts. As stated in the introduction, this survey assesses the village's "historic resources in a consistent fashion and determines what steps might be taken to further their enhancement and preservation." All properties fifty years old or older are included in the assessment. Included are a description of existing conditions, an historical and architectural overview, a description of historic building styles, photographs of all properties older than 50 years, potential National Register eligibility for these properties, as well as conclusions and recommendations in regard to future planning and development of the area. Full of all kinds of intriguing facts, maps, and photographs, the Historic Resource Survey is available for your perusal and enjoyment during the long winter months ahead.
Looking back over 2010, our craft workshops ranged from redwork embroidery to beaded ornaments and boasted enthusiastic audiences. Looking ahead, potpourri, pin-broidery, pierced paper (typical of early German valentines), and the yo-yo quilt motif are some of the programs in the works for 2011. Meanwhile, in shelf space or cyberspace, the prose and poetry, rhyme and rhetoric contained within the Fort Plain Free Library silently awaits another New Year and the sound of patrons seeking the finest works humankind has to offer.