Library reintroduces Athenaeum series as podcast

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016

Morghan Lemmenes / Winonan

The library is a common place where students go to study, meet for group projects and come together to share ideas; the Krueger Library is producing a podcast that does just that.

The Athenaeum Speaker Series made its initial run from spring 2005 to 2014 as a regular speaking series, and this is the first year that it is running as a podcast.

Kendall Larson is one of the librarians involved in the Athenaeum Speaker Series.

“This is a change in format, which makes the presentation kind of different and more available to people,” Larson said.

The Athenaeum was a speaker series the library hosted on the second floor. It was an opportunity for students, staff, faculty and community members to come to the library and share current happenings, such as research that they were doing and projects that they were working on.

The series was started by Joe Mount, a retired librarian. Larson and Allison Quam also helped in the creation of this series.

The purpose of the Athenaeum was to host events to explore intellectual life. These events included lectures, readings, discussions, performance arts and other educational experiences.

The Athenaeum reflects the importance of the university places on the humanities, the arts and the sciences by bringing together scholars, students and community members.

“Paul Vance spoke on the history of rock music and the Beach Boys. Students also do a mini recital beforehand and play what they were working on,” Larson said, reflecting on past events.

The series helps affirm one of the key things that a library does, which is to help people have access to information and stories that they do not know about or have never heard about. It is an opportunity for people to learn something new

Stewart Van Cleve started working at the library this past July as the Digital Services Librarian, a new position in the library. He is partly responsible for the libraries public relations and outreach to help people know what services are offered and what the library can do for people in a more comprehensive way.

“It was a speaker series in person. The podcast basically has that same idea, we are going to invite students, faculty, staff and community members ranging from the city of Winona to the Twin Cities to do some kind of presentation recording,” Van Cleve said.

Van Cleve wanted to reimagine how to do the speaker series without all of the hassle of setting stuff up. All he needed was a microphone.

“It’s much more comfortable for the speaker and a little bit more convenient for us too. It has the benefit of being shared across the planet, which is a big benefit,” Van Cleve said.

Following the tradition began during the speaking series, every Wednesday a new episode will come out.

There are six episodes lined up for the fall semester.

Van Cleve spoke in the first episode and used it as an introduction. The episode was based off of his research and the book he wrote “Land of 10,000 Loves: A History of Queer Minnesota,” which is about LGBT history.

The second episode is a panel discussion titled “Free Speech and Censorship in the Digital Age,” which was an event at the library.

“That is a great example that this podcast will allow people who can’t make it to a library event or speaker series, they can still listen to it whenever they want and it creates an archive so that we have it then for a long time,” Van Cleve said.

Next week, Dr. Larry Jacobs from the Humphrey School at University of Minnesota is going to talk about the elections, election law and public policy, in joint with the American Democracy Project.

The series will conclude for the semester with the music department playing a piano piece as a relaxing episode before finals week.

“We also would love it if students would share a project that they worked on that is really interesting, we would love to hear about it. We really want this to be a forum for the exchange of ideas that breaks down the divisions between staff, faculty and students. So that we just have this space where everybody can exchange their ideas, information and tell their stories,” Van Cleve said.

Van Cleve is trying to keep it open ended as a reflection on how the library has an endless number of books on all different subjects.

“We also hope that it helps people imagine that the library is the heart and soul of the university. That’s our purpose. That’s why we are here, “Van Cleve said. “We are here to help people find what they are looking for, but we are also here to help introduce people to new ideas. To new music, new forms of expression, it really gets to what the whole purpose of the university is all about.”

-By Morghan Lemmenes

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