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January 31, 2009

Unconventional books on display at Walker Art Center

The Walker Art Center is currently showing a collection that features artist books as works of art. Many of the books on display in Text/Messages are from the museum's own library, which is run by librarian Rosemary Furtak.

According to Minnesota Public Radio, there were very few books by artists in the library when Furtak started her position in 1983. Since then, she has collected approximately 2,000 books, making the Walker Art Center an example for other art museums that are trying to develop their own libraries.

An interview with Furtak from the Twin Cities Daily Planet explains the difference between an artist book and a conventional book as simply being a book that has been designed by an artist.

"An artist book sometimes is a bit confusing in that maybe there is no text or no title page or no table of contents. It’s a book that refuses to behave like a normal book. It is something out of the ordinary."

Perhaps one of the most interesting exhibits is a copy of Alice in Wonderland illustrated by Salvador Dali. Other exhibits include pop-up books, book sculptures, and books in other creative forms, such as a chess set or a boat.

The collection is being shown from now until April 19 in the Medtronic Gallery.

January 28, 2009

Congress votes in favor of civil rights bill

Congress passed a civil rights bill that would make it easier for employees to report pay discrimination. According to the New York Times, the signing of the bill by President Obama will mark the first important legislation of his term.

The bill, named for Lilly M. Ledbetter, will relax the statue of limitations currently applied to cases involving pay discrimination. Currently, a person must file a claim within 180 days of the initial illegal practice. However, supporters of the bill say this is unrealistic since employees rarely disclose their salaries to each other. The bill will allow employees to make a claim after every discriminatory pay check.

Ledbetter, a longtime employee of a Goodyear tire plant in Alabama, sued the company after discovering that she received less pay than her male counterparts. In 2007 the Supreme Court rejected her lawsuit in a 5-4 decision and stated that although she was a victim of gender discrimination, she did not file the claim in time.

The Star Tribune reported that the bill applies not just to discrimination based on gender, but religion, gender, ethnicity, disability, and age as well.

Opponents say that employees may take advantage of the change by filing unsubstantial claims and flooding trial lawyers with cases.

In response, the New York Times reported Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski of Maryland saying, "If you don’t want to be sued, don’t discriminate.?