Nelson Mandela International Day!

Posted By MaiSee Vang


“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”   

  – Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela was a man of honor who fought for what he believed in. He fought not only for his people, he fought for his nation. A nation he protected and changed through education, equality and democracy. When I first heard of Nelson Mandela, I knew he was famous for something but I didn’t know what. It’s different when you know that someone is great person and knowing how they got there. When I first started my research on him I thought to myself, “Wow, he sure did cause a lot of problems with his government.” Then I saw his true goal of wanting to make his nation a better place for not just his people, but for everyone. That is why I wanted to learn more about him and help celebrate Nelson Mandela International Day!

Celebrate Nelson Mandela Day by using #mandeladay #time2serve


Nelson Mandela, birth name of Rolihlahla Mandela was born on July 18th 1918 in a small village called Mvezo, Transkei. He was the son of Nonqaphi Nosekeni (mother) and Nkosi Mphanyiswa Gadla Mandela (father). It wasn’t until primary school that Mandela’s teacher, Miss Mdingane gave him the name Nelson because it was easier to remember and pronounce; many children were given Christian names during that time. He had three wives in his lifetime. From 1944 to 1958 he was married to Evlyn Mase, from 1958 to 1996 he was married to Winnie Madkizela, and lastly he married Graca Machel in 1998.

Like many of us it took some time for him to finally finish his degree, but he got his BA in 1943, then in 1989, he obtain his first professional degree in law (LLB) from the University of South Africa. It wasn’t until 1952 when he started to get more involve in political issues. He was elected as the National Volunteer-Chief of the Defiance Campaign. This campaign was a joint program between the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Indian Congress to go against six unjust laws. He was charged with Suppression of Communism Act along with 19 others for being a part of the campaign. They were sentenced to nine months of hard labor and suspended for two years. Even after this he continued his fight in finding equality for South Africa leading to a few more imprisonment and trials.

One trial that he was most known in was the Rivonia Trial in 1963. He was on trial for sabotage in which he was faced with the death penalty, and coincidentally his speech helped him on this trial.

During my lifetime I have dedicated myself to this struggle of the African people. I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

– Nelson Mandela, Speech from the Dock

It was in 1994 that Nelson Mandela was inaugurated as South Africa’s first Democratic President. He served for one term only, but even after his term he continued to strive for democracy, equality, and education. On December 5, 2013 Mandela died due to health issues. Though he is no longer here his freedom fighting legacy lives on, in the hearts of the people he fought for and in those who fought for him.

The biography above was compromised of information from the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Interesting facts about Nelson Mandela

  1. Nelson Mandela and South Africa’s former President before Mandela jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994.
  2. Mandela’s birth name was Rolihlahla, meaning trouble maker; he sure did stir up a lot of trouble for his successful cause to end apartheid in South Africa.
  3. There is a prehistoric woodpecker named after him, the Australopicus nelsonmandelai.
  4. He was on the US terror watch list until 2008.
  5. He had a cameo in a Spike Lee film of Malcolm X, as he delivered Malcom X’s famous speech.

Want to know more about Nelson Mandela? Check out these items in our collection!


Nelson Mandela: Conversations with Myself




Mandela: The Authorized Portrait


Mandela: A Critical Life

New Aqusitions for May

Have some extra reading time now that finals are over? Check out some of our new purchases for May!

the-bad-ass-librarians-of-timbuktu-9781476777405_hr-thumb-autox459-10636WickedBookCoverVoices for diversity

Base NationNeuroimmunityBeijing Comrades


Its not overClass WarDreisinger_IncarcerationNations

About the Author


John Reardon is a Circulation Desk Assistant at the Metropolitan State University Library and Learning Center.

New Acquisitions for April

Catch up on your spring reading at the Metropolitan State University Library and Learning Center! Here is a small preview of our new book acquisitions for this April. You can find the full list of April acquisitions at:

Boondocks_Image  Breathing_Lessons_ImageConflict_Resolution_Image


















E-Books (accessible through the Metro State Library E Book database with your StarID and passwordinstructions for downloading)










About the Author


John Reardon is a Circulation Desk Assistant at the Metropolitan State University Library and Learning Center.

The Power of Poetry by Miles Cabana

As the old saying goes, “April showers brings May flowers,” and for those interested in poetry, April reigns as National Poetry Month. During the month of April, the Metropolitan State University Library wishes to encourage patrons to engage in the emotional journey that poetry has to offer. Therefore, to promote poetry month, the library will be hosting both a poetry reading and a poetry contest.

When people ask me about poetry, I always tell them, the best part about poetry is that the real world is there in plain black and white waiting for us to take it in with all our senses, all our hearts, and all our minds. However, the most daunting part about poetry is that roses are not always red, violets are not always blue and the real world is there in plain black and white waiting for us to take it in with all our senses, all our hearts, and all our minds.

In the spirit of National Poetry Month, I would like to share a poem written by one of the great African-American, female poets of the Twentieth Century, Ms. Gwendolyn Brooks. The poem is titled “We Real Cool.” When I first read this poem as a young man in my late teens, it had a profound impact on me because I was at such a turbulent crossroads in my life. As I read the poem, I felt as if Brooks had peered into the window of my world and taken a snapshot. Fortunately for me, I found Brooks’ poem during this chaotic time and heeded the poem’s warning.

With no further ado, I’d like to dedicate the following poem to my friends that passed away in the spring of their lives—may they rest in peace.

We Real Cool
By Gwendolyn Brooks: 1917- 2000

The Pool Players.
Seven at the Golden Shovel.
We real cool. We
Left school. We

Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We
Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We
Jazz June. We
Die soon.

Boys on bridge

Don’t forget about the poetry reading this evening (5 – 6) in the Gordon Parks Gallery at the opening reception for Born of Fire: Selections from Foci- Minnesota Center for Glass Art.

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter or Instagram to learn more about the upcoming free verse poetry contest that starts next week.

About the Author



Miles Cabana is a Library Helpdesk Assistant at Metropolitan State University.

#MetroBigRead Twitter Chat: Their Eyes Were Watching God by Martha Hardy

Join us on Twitter on Wednesday, March 16 at 7:00 pm using the #MetroBigRead hashtag to share your thoughts and questions about Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston, and related topics. Never been to a Twitter chatted before? It’s easy!

  1. Log into Twitter.
  2. Search on the #metrobigread hashtag.
  3. Respond to question prompts and comments using the #metrobigread hashtag.
  4. Rinse and repeat.

Here are some discussion questions to get us started. Be sure to share your own questions in the discussion as well.

  • Why does Janie choose to tell her story only to her best friend Pheoby? How does Pheoby respond at the end of Janie’s tale?
  • What does watching the blossoming pear make Janie realize? What does she do in response to this “awakening”? Why does her action upset her grandmother?
  • How does the image of the black woman as “the mule of the world” become a symbol for the roles Janie chooses or refuses to play during her quest?
  • How important is Hurston’s use of vernacular dialect to our understanding of Janie and the other characters and their way of life? What do speech patterns reveal about the quality of these lives and the nature of these communities? In what ways are “their tongues cocked and loaded, the only real weapon” of these people?
  • Re-read the last three pages of the novel. How do the imagery and tone connect with other moments in the novel? Does Janie’s story end in triumph, despair, or a mixture of both?

Learn more about Zora Neale Hurston and Their Eyes Were Watching God:

Metro Big Read is a community-wide reading program featuring the book Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. Free copies of the book are still available to Metro Big Read participants at the Metro State Library at 645 E. 7th St., Saint Paul, MN.

Metro Big Read is part of The Big Read, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. Primary partners in Metro Big Read include Metropolitan State University Library, Saint Paul Public Libraries, and the East Side Freedom Library. This community-wide read provides opportunities for our community to have a shared experience of engaging with themes and issues in the selected book while strengthening the bonds between community organizations and disparate Metropolitan State University campuses.

This year’s Metro Big Read book is being taught in over 15 courses at Metropolitan State and is the focus of over 20 university and community book discussions and cultural events taking place at multiple Twin Cities locations January 28th – March 31st. For more information, see

#MetroBigRead Twitter Chat: Their Eyes Were Watching God
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
7:00 – 9:00 pm Central Time
Led by Martha Hardy @metrostatelib

About the Author

Martha Hardy is a Reference & Instruction Librarian and Associate Professor at Metropolitan State University.

Black Storytellers Alliance Performs African American Folktales by Martha Hardy

You still have two more chances to see the Black Storytellers Alliance perform as part of Metro Big Read! Nothando Zulu’s dynamic interpretations of traditional African American tales collected by author and anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston in the American South will mesmerize audiences of all ages.


Nothando Zulu, President, Black Storytellers Alliance

Zora Neale Hurston, author of the novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, studied anthropology under Franz Boaz at Columbia University while she was a student at Barnard. She collected folktales, games, songs, dances, and other folklore from people from the African diaspora in the American South, Haiti, and Jamaica.

For more information about Metro Big Read and a full schedule of events including: book discussion groups, a bookmaking workshop, film screenings, lectures, and more, see

About the Author

Martha Hardy is a Reference & Instruction Librarian and Associate Professor at Metropolitan State University.

Saying Goodbye to Sage by Library Staff

Today Sage Holben will be leaving the library for the last time as a member of the Metro State Library staff. As she retires after 16 years at Metro State, we look forward to seeing her again as a patron but will miss her insight, friendly and caring demeanor, and community mindedness.

Looking Back

Sage’s first day at Metropolitan State University was January 6, 1999. She rattles off the date without second thought, saying, “I don’t know why, but I remember that date.” At the time, the library was housed in New Main in the same room as the campus computer lab. Sage was hired to work half the day at the IT Help Desk and half the day at the library desk. At that time there were  about 5 full-time library staff, a couple of part-timers, and one student worker. Everyone did everything! Reference, ILL, cataloging, it didn’t matter if you had a library degree or not. Sage had more books in her home library than the university library owned. She remembers the excitement of the library’s first interlibrary loan request, “Finally, we had a book someone else wanted!”


Sage in action!

According to Adela Peskorz, “There was a time in its earliest history that the library’s ‘footprint’ was little more than an alcove, tucked into a corner of New Main’s lower level, its identity still very much in its formative stage, with so much of its mandate yet to be clearly defined. As Interim Co-Director at that time, shepherding some of its fledgling growth during this embryonic stage, I and my administrative partner, Carla Johnson, were looking for a Library Technician who could both weather and thrive in an environment undergoing constant change and redefinition.

In one of those wonderful convergences of opportunity and timing came our Sage, who, if I remember correctly, had only recently packed up her car (much of it with lots and lots of books, which I’m sure comes as no surprise to anyone) and moved cross country, doing so based pretty much on faith alone—an early harbinger that already marked Sage as someone primed to ride the waves of our ‘grand adventure,’ always with the great bearing, wry humor, and deep commitment to the greater good that we all now know are signature traits.

There was no one better suited to take on the ‘chief cook and bottle washer’ role the Library Technician position then represented. Little ruffled her, and her commitment to service and community evidenced itself early on, only growing over time as she became a strong community advocate and nurturer in our home Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood.”

As the library grew and David Barton was hired as the dean of Library and Information Services the library evolved and the departmental structure changed. At a staff meeting David asked people what job they wanted. Sage says, “I wasn’t very quick and got serials.” While serials may not have been her first choice, she has diligently worked to organize and make accessible a growing collection of periodical materials.

When asked what she enjoys most about working at the Metro library, Sage replied, “Working with the patrons and living in the community has allowed for many enriching connections.” One of the connections Sage speaks of is her work with Jim Goff, a community patron of the Metro State Library and active DFL-er. “Jim Goff taught me the Wellstone way. Meaning we campaigned door-to-door in the neighborhood.” Sage has lived on the same block in Dayton’s Bluff since 2000 and has been a voice for equality and neighborhood improvement in that time.


Photo of Sage at Black Lives Matter protest at the Mall of America courtesy BBC News

Sage’s ability to bring the library and community together are exemplified by this quote from Adela Peskorz, “For Sage, the principles of dedication to the betterment of all fluidly translated from work to home and back again. Her position here at Metro was far more than a job; it provided an extension of her deepest passion for making a positive difference in the world and making it a better place for everyone. Whether it was establishing her home ‘Little Free Library’ for neighborhood young people or speaking publicly and proudly for both the University and local community members, she forged a path uniquely her own and left an indelible mark on the Library’s legacy—and I ought to know, since I was there from her beginning here, watching her ascend and fly in a place that truly became home to her; one for which her door always remained open and welcoming, wherever she was.”

Looking Forward

What will Sage miss about working at the Metro Library? Laughing, she replies, “Having a place to bring baked goods that didn’t turn out quite right.” But mostly she will miss the people. Jennifer DeJonghe recounts a story of Sage’s love of people, “Once, I saw a woman walk up to Sage in the library and give her a greeting and a hug. Sage smiled and hugged the woman back, and they chatted briefly like old friends. Later I remarked to Sage, oh, I didn’t know you two knew each other. Sage said, ‘We don’t! That just happens to me all the time.’”

Sage is looking forward to spending her time working with Peter Rachleff and Carla Riehle to promote programs at the East Side Freedom Library; creating a working group of neighborhood landlords, property owners, and tenants; completing art work and other creative projects; writing for the Dayton’s Bluff District Forum; proofreading greeting cards, “…and there are always protests and rallies to attend.”

Sage’s parting words of wisdom for us, “Don’t miss opportunities to connect with someone as a real human being. The connection may be as simple as making eye contact with a stranger as you are walking down the stairs. But in that moment, there’s a spark, and you truly ‘see each other.'”

Looking to Sage

“I shall deeply miss Sage Holben at the library as a friend, colleague, and comrade. Unlike many well-intentioned folks, Sage lives out her values each and every day, treating every person she meets — child or adult, faculty or homeless, stranger or neighbor — as a full human being. She is, by turns, whimsical, passionate, honest, generous, fearless, hilarious, deeply compassionate, idealistic, pragmatic, and indefatigable. Sage is one of the best, heartiest laughers I’ve ever known. I mean, she guffaws with total commitment, all consuming belly laughs, often for no discernible reason and frequently at my jokes. I’d want her on my side in a fight, revolution, zombie attack, or game of charades. I know we haven’t seen the last of you at Metro State, Sage. You’ll be out there in the community keeping us honest and challenging us to be honorable in our actions. We will find you on your porch with a group of kids, making art, standing up for social justice, feeding people soup, and speaking truth to power. Thank you, so much, for everything.”   -Martha Hardy

“I have never met a person so committed to human welfare and her community. I so appreciate her down to earth approach to life and her willingness to speak out. I will miss you Sage!”  -Chris Schafer

“Wishing you much luck and joy in life Sage—you most definitely deserve it!”  -Adela Peskorz

“To many people, Sage Holben is the Metropolitan State University library. She is the friendly face, the official one-woman library welcoming committee, and the person who will give you help or answer your questions whether you are student, faculty, or community member. She is well known, and well loved, for her kindness and generosity.  Sage is also one of the bravest, boldest, stubbornest, and most… colorful… people at Metropolitan State University. I have come to never put anything past her, and to realize just how far she will go when following her bliss or when standing by her convictions. Once, in the staff break room, Sage was pondering aloud which types and colors of Jello would work best for filling a bathtub with, and for photographing oneself in. After the discussion wound down, Sage left the room and another staff member said, ‘she was


Sage and the Jello chronicles

being hypothetical, right?’ but most of us there knew full well that when Sage says she means to do something, she really means to do it. Sure enough, Sage later produced art prints of herself, reclining in a tub of Jello. On another occasion years ago, a group of us was discussing, more or less facetiously, how we might just have to chain ourselves to a particular person’s desk, in order to resolve a problem.  Sage showed up the next day with a large, heavy, particularly gothic length of chain, which she apparently keeps on hand for just such occasions.

Sage and I once collaborated as a team to capture and re-home some stray cats that were living behind the library. After a bit of a skirmish with one testy feline (who I daresay had some Sage-like qualities), I ended up needing a tetanus shot. It felt like an adventure though, with Sage as one of the few people who wouldn’t roll her eyes at my foolhardy attempts at animal rescue, and who, as always, remained steadfast in her desire to help the downtrodden. For there are causes worth chaining oneself to a desk for, worth getting a tetanus shot for, and worth stalking the errant New York Times delivery man for. And if you want to learn more about such things, look for the woman in the Dayton’s Bluff neighborhood, whom everyone seems to know, and who seems curiously… huggable.”  -Jennifer DeJonghe

“I have seen Sage be the voice for patrons and members of the community who might not have been heard. She also has a playful side. When I walk by her desk I don’t know if I will learn the technical difficulties of being photographed in a tub full of Jello or the best way to get information out to the surrounding community. She has been my go-to person to learn about the history, geography, and current needs of Dayton’s Bluff. Keep doing your good work and being that voice for those who need one.”  -Katherine Gerwig


Dayton’s Bluff Peeps

“Of the four years I had the pleasure of being Sage’s coworker and cubicle neighbor, I enjoyed times when we collaborated on creative projects together, and valued her how her simple “hello” in the morning could make me feel at home in the office. The best was when I we would glance in passing, I could see a certain glimmer in her eye that would make me stop in my tracks to ask what she was up to.”  -Allison Holdhusen

“Sage. Words don’t suffice. You really should have the pleasure of meeting her yourself. I’m not even sure how to describe her. Sure, I worked with her at the library for the better part of a decade, and am richer for it, but if there ever were a woman not to be defined by a job classification, it is she. When I think of Sage, it will be as much for the gallery of snapshots covering her cubicle, pictures of neighborhood kids she took to meet senators, of Dayton’s Bluff porch life, of her beautiful son, of other cities, of cats. No cubicle ever conceived could contain Sage. In her ‘retirement’, as I think of her I might think of an artist, an activist, an advocate, a writer, a woman realized and not to be messed with, a fearless neighbor—or at least one not imprisoned by fear—a woman who simply cannot tolerate lies, nonsense, or injustice. Sage is just something else. I can’t wait to hear what she does next.”  -Owen Hansen

I Love the Library 2014 004

Library 10-year anniversary message