Lincoln exhibit a good learning opportunity

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Every time someone proposes budget cuts threatening libraries, we want to point out opportunities like the traveling exhibit on Abraham Lincoln that’s now on view at Denton’s South Branch Library.

This is just the latest example of the variety of options now provided by community libraries, but it’s a good one that offers a valuable learning opportunity for all ages.

The exhibit provides Denton residents a new view into the multiple constitutional crises that emanated from slavery and the Civil War and consists of four large panels at South Branch Library, 3228 Teasley Lane, along with a smaller installation at Emily Fowler Central Library, 502 Oakland St.

The exhibit will remain on view through Jan. 24, and if you haven’t dropped by the library to take a look, we encourage you to do so. A series of lectures and a showing of the feature film Lincoln are scheduled this month and will explore Lincoln’s presidency and the impact his decisions made on U.S. history.

The panels use text and historic images, including a lithograph of the Emancipation Proclamation, to explore the way Lincoln used the U.S. Constitution to confront the three main crises of the Civil War era — the secession of Southern states, slavery and wartime civil liberties.

“I think it’s a great thing for the community. It allows us to give Denton citizens access to that kind of academic information, the kind that’s often available to college students that is not always available to the general public,” librarian Stacy Sizemore told us.

We agree. While Lincoln is popularly considered one of America’s greatest presidents, his historical reputation is contested. Some historians point to evidence that Lincoln was willing to accommodate slavery for political reasons while others call him a principled leader. The exhibit and lecture series help visitors broaden their view from this dichotomy, library officials said.

The panels are part of “Lincoln, the Constitution and the Civil War,” an exhibition created by the National Constitution Center and made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. It was organized by the American Library Association Public Programs Office and the National Constitution Center.

The exhibition came to Denton with a small grant from the endowment to help organize and publicize it, said librarian Fred Kamman, who helped bring the exhibit to Denton.

A companion exhibit of political cartoons from the Civil War era that was planned for Emily Fowler Central Library got damaged in shipping, Kamman said. Instead, the library installed a panel exhibit on Frederick Douglass, “From Slavery to Freedom: The Journey to New York City.”

The library’s companion lecture series for the exhibit is supported locally by a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. One lecture originally scheduled for Dec. 7 has been rescheduled for Jan. 24 because of the ice storm that hit in early December.

For a schedule of featured lectures and other information, call the library at 940-349-8752 or visit www.dentonlibrary.com.

We thank the folks at the Denton Public Library for making it possible for the public to view this fascinating exhibit right here at home.

And keep up the good work — programs like this one should help keep the budget-cutters at bay.


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