Monday, June 19, 2006

Strong women in times of change

This weekend I had the pleasure of visiting a unique space: the Mary Baker Eddy Library and Mapparium in Boston.

You may have read about the Mapparium in American Libraries' May 2003 issue. (Note: you must be an ALA member to access this content.) It was a beautiful cover and cover story by Leonard Kniffel.

The Mapparium is a 3-story stained glass globe. A glass footbridge cuts through the middle of the globe, so you can literally stand in the center of the earth and look around the world. Interesting to look along latitudes and see that Naples and New York are about the same. My three oceanography compatriots inform me that it's colder in New York because of the jet stream and ocean currents. There's also a cool "whisper across the room" acoustic effect, recently studied by W. Hartmann of Michigan State. USA TOday recently wrote about his efforts.

The Mapparium was built from 1932-1935 and reflects the political world of the day. It shows you how far we've come as a global society. But it also gave me an overwhelming sense of continuity. This map was from 70 years ago but countries, continents, oceans all still very recognizable and familiar. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose...

Mary Baker Eddy
The story of the Mapparium is also the story of Mary Baker Eddy, founder of the Christian Science Monitor, among other things. I am not trying to talk religion here, but what impressed me the most was that Eddy was a strong advocate for herself, her beliefs and her society. She worked hard to change her world, in the face of insurmountable odds.

Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

So we hear perhaps of this century's Mary Baker Eddy-figure, with the news that a woman, Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, has just been elected to lead the Episcopal Church, USA.

Leslie Burger
Speaking of strong women, our own Leslie Burger officially accepts duties this week. Check out the Emerging Leaders Initiative--this is something I would urge younger MLS-holders to consider participating in--so you can go on to become ever stronger women (and men) in your own right.

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