Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Why Do We Celebrate Labor Day?

For most of us, Labor Day signals the unofficial end of summer.  Vacations are finished, the kids are back in school and the cool autumn weather isn’t too far off.  Labor Day is sometimes one of the few remaining days left to fire up the grill and to enjoy one last summer cookout and picnic.  Have you ever wondered why we celebrate Labor Day and what its origins are?

The first Labor Day was celebrated in New York City in 1882.  Even with its relatively recent history there is some controversy over who first championed the idea of a labor holiday.  According to the Department of Labor’s website, Peter J. McGuire, general secretary for the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and later a founder of the American Federation of Labor, suggested a day to honor those "who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold."  Initially, this version of Labor Day’s history went unchallenged until the late 1960s, when a retired machinist claimed a deceased union brother of his, Matthew Maguire, originated the idea of a labor holiday.

Matthew Maguire, then serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union, proposed a
“workingman’s holiday” be celebrated.  The Central Labor Union was made up of members from many different unions as a way to increase their collective strength.  In May 1882 a “monster labor festival” was proposed for September.  Although the first Labor Day parade began haphazardly with a small number of participants, by the time the parade concluded at Wendel’s Elm Park, located at 92nd Street and 9th Avenue in New York City, nearly 10,000 workers had assembled.  The post-parade activities included a picnic, speeches by union officials, and "Lager beer kegs... mounted in every conceivable place."  The festivities of the first Labor Day carried on until 9:00 pm that evening.

Initially Labor Day celebrations were an entirely local affair.  During 1885 and 1886 various cities and municipalities passed ordinances recognizing the holiday. New York, New Jersey and Colorado were among the first states to legally establish the holiday. New York legislators first introduced a bill recognizing Labor Day.  However, Oregon holds the record as being the first state to pass a bill, February 21, 1887.  It wasn’t until 1894 that Senator James Henderson Kyle of South Dakota introduced a bill establishing the first Monday in September as Labor Day, making it a Federal holiday.  The bill was approved on June 28, 1894.

From its origins as a way to commemorate workers and their unions, Labor Day has become a civic holiday.  Besides featuring labor unions, Labor Day parades will also include various civic and fraternal groups, business members and elected officials.  This year, while having one last picnic take a little time to remember all of America’s workers-past and present, male and female who work hard to make this country what it is.

Check out these links from the Department of Labor for more information on Labor Day and its history.

If you would like to learn more about Labor Day and the history of the modern labor movement the library has a wide selection of books.  Here are some of the available titles:

For children and young adults:

Labor Day by Lynn Hamilton

Labor Day by Meredith Dash

General history on the labor movement in America:

"All Labor Has Dignity" by Martin Luther King Jr.

Sweat and Blood: A History of Labor Unions by Gina Skurzynski

Working Americans, 1880-2011 by Scott Derks

Good Girl Work: Factories, Sweatshops and How Women Changed Their Role in the American Workforce by Catherine Gourley

Saturday, August 1, 2015

New Graphic Novels at Kirtland!

The Kirtland Public library proudly introduces its new and expanded collection of graphic novels.  We have a wide selection of graphic novels that will appeal to children, young adults, and adults.  We have favorite superheroes, such as Batman, Spider Man, and Captain America as well as stories that will appeal to young adults and those interested in trying different comic styles, such as Manga.  If you are interested in reading something new or something familiar I’m sure we will have a graphic novel that will interest you.  The graphic novels described below are meant to give Kirtland library patrons a sense of the variety of graphic novels we have available.

George O’Connor. Olympians. (First Second: New York, 2010).    The acclaimed author, George O’Connor, in his series Olympians, uses ancient Greek mythology to re-tell the stories of the gods in this series of brightly illustrated graphic novels.  The library has Zeus, Ares, and Athena with more available!  Come and check out these entertaining books.  Readers of all ages will find the stories and artwork highly entertaining.

Matt Dembicki, ed. Trickster: Native AmericanTales: a Graphic Collection.  (Fulcrum Books: Golden, CO, 2010). Matt Dembicki, a comic book creator in his own right, assembled a group of Native American storytellers to create a book of trickster tales and legends from various native cultures.  The stories are visualized through the efforts of many talented artists and illustrators, who worked hand-in-hand with the storytellers to get it all just right. This book will provide an entertaining, beautifully presented view into one aspect of Native American culture and storytelling.  This is a must read for anybody interested in Native American stories or looking for something a little different.

Akira Himekawa. The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons. (Perfect Square: San Francisco, CA, 2014).  This series of Manga graphic novels ties their stories into that of the popular videogame series from Nintendo.  The books are laid out in the traditional Manga format: the book is read from right to left and is started from what American readers would consider the back of the book.  One does not need to be familiar with the videogames or their plot to enjoy the story and artwork in these books.  If you are looking for something a little different this may be the place to begin.

David Hine and Fabrice Sapolsky. Spider-Man: Noir. (Marvel: New York, 2009).  This series takes familiar characters and re-imagines them in 1930s New York City.  Prior to be bitten by a spider Peter Parker, along with Aunt May, are socialist agitators trying to stir up the unemployed.  The arch-villain, the Goblin, is one of the most powerful gangsters in the city.  The drawings successfully capture the feel of earlier pulp and noir artwork.  If you are looking for a new twist to traditional superhero stories, this one will be just right.

Jordan Mechner, A.B. Sina, LeUyen Pham, and Alex Puvilland. Prince of Persia: The Graphic Novel. (First Second: New York, 2008).  While based on the popular video game series, this graphic novel is a story separate from the main storyline of the game. The graphic novel follows two separate, yet related, stories set several hundred years apart in the city of Marv.  Visually, the story set in Marv in the 9th century, is told using bright pastel colors.  The other story, also set in Marv, however in the 13th century, is visualized using darker hued colors.  As the two stories intertwine and co-mingle with each other the only way to sometimes to tell them apart is through their coloring.  If you are a fan of the 2010 movie The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, or perhaps if you remember the videogame, or are interested in well-written and beautifully illustrated stories this one will be right for you.

Victoria Jamieson. Roller Girl. (Dial Books for Young Readers: New York, 2015). This story follows Astrid as she explores a new sport, roller derby, and the changing dynamics of her friendship with Nicole, who prefers ballet to roller derby.  It sensitively handles the difficulties young people have in trying to find themselves and their way in the world.  After reading this book you will also have a good overview of the rules of roller derby by an actual roller derby racer.  This book is appropriate for children 9-12, and not just girls, but also boys.

These are just a few of the many selections available at the Kirtland Public Library! Stop by and see for yourself, and if you don’t see something you want the librarians are there to help you find it.