Posts tagged with "News release"

The Library of Congress needs a few Citizen DJs

April 30, 2020

The Library of Congress is celebrating its 220th birthday this year with a present for music-makers and music-lovers everywhere—a chance to play with Citizen DJ, a groundbreaking project that invites the public to make hip hop music using the library’s public audio and moving image collections.

In the process of embedding these materials in hip hop music, listeners may discover items in the library’s vast collections that they likely would never have known existed, the library said in an April 24 news release.

The Library of Congress—which is the largest library on Earth—is the research library that officially serves the United States Congress and is the de facto national library of the U.S.A.. It is the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States.

Citizen DJ is an open-source web-browser application created by Library of Congress 2020 Innovator in Residence Brian Foo in partnership with LC Labs. Using some of the Library’s free-to-use audio and moving image collections, Citizen DJ enables users to select short samples to create their own beats and sound mixes.

While the project is scheduled to officially launch in the summer of 2020, Foo—who is an artist and computer scientist—believes that building a tool that is useful, educational and inspiring to everyone requires public testing early in the design process so users can help shape the final product.

“My goal is to develop a simple way to discover and use public domain audio and video material for music making so that generations of artists and producers can use it to maximize their creativity, invent new sounds, and connect listeners to materials, cultures and sonic history that might otherwise go unremembered.

“That’s what Citizen DJ is all about – an easy to use tool that unlocks the amazing treasures in the Library of Congress for music makers and their audiences,” Foo said. “I’m excited to say that we’ve built a tool that aspires to meet these goals. Now we need help from everyone to ensure that it does.”

The sound collections available in Citizen DJ were specially curated by library staff, and all of them are free-to-use with no special permission needed to create songs for personal or commercial purposes.

The library says, “While some of the sounds are over 100 years old and others come from the past decade, all of them are unique, compelling; and in many cases hold deep historical and cultural relevance. The sounds come from musical performances, theater productions, interviews, speeches, oral histories, ambient sound recordings and many other holdings in the Library’s collections. Foo is continuing to work with staff to see what other collections can be added before its summer launch.

“It’s my hope that digital projects like Citizen DJ can offer musicians ample new creative material at no cost and can continue to engage and inspire all Americans from home,” Foo said.  He added that as the world navigates the COVID-19 pandemic, “it’s fitting to remember that music is something that has the power to bring all people together, even when we physically need to be apart.”

The public can experience Citizen DJ and provide feedback by visiting the test site and following the prompts. The demo takes about 15 minutes to complete. User testing is open until May 15. To stay up-to-date on Citizen DJ when it goes live, visit labs.loc.gov or subscribe to the LC Labs Letter.

Find more ways to celebrate the Library’s 220th birthday and engage with the national library at loc.gov/engage.

Research contact: @librarycongress

As business wilts, flower and gift delivery service FTD seeks bankruptcy protection

June 4, 2019

Flower and gift delivery service FTD filed for bankruptcy protection on June 3, with a plan to sell some businesses while paying down debt, according to a report by The Chicago Tribune.

In addition to FTD and Interflora, the nearly 110-year-old company—headquartered in Downers Grove, Illinois–has portfolio of brands that includes ProFlowers, ProPlants, Shari’s Berries, Personal Creations, RedEnvelope, Flying Flowers, and Gifts.com.

According to the Tribune, FTD had warned in March that it could go out of business or shrink its operations this summer if it didn’t find a buyer or raise enough money to pay back $217.7 million in debt due in September.

“With the advice and support of our outside advisors, we have initiated this court-supervised restructuring process to provide an orderly forum to facilitate sales of our businesses as going concerns and to enable us to address a near-term debt maturity,” Scott Levin, FTD’s president and chief executive officer, said in a news release. “Importantly, everyone involved with this process understands the critical role of our talented member florists, and we intend to continue supporting them as normal throughout this process.”

FTD said it is continuing to operate its businesses and has lined up $94.5 million in financing from existing lenders to fund operations while it restructures and works to sell pieces of its business.

A California-based private equity firm, Nexus Capital has agreed to buy FTD’s North American and Latin American consumer and florist businesses, including ProFlowers, for $95 million, FTD said.

It has also signed letters of intent with potential buyers for its Personal Creations and Shari’s Berries businesses. Any sales will still require the bankruptcy court’s approval.

In the meantime, FTD said its businesses are continuing to operate as usual, taking new orders and filling those already placed.

FTD’s Interflora business, which is based in Europe and is not part of the Chapter 11 filing, has been sold to a subsidiary of The Wonderful Co., based in California,  for $59.5 million, the company said.

Research contact: @laurenzumbach

As the president shirks disaster relief efforts, House lawmakers push for statehood for Puerto Rico

April 1, 2019

On March 28—the same day on which the president fatuously stated,” “Puerto Rico has been taken care of better by Donald Trump [since the destruction of Hurricane Maria] than by any living human being, and I think the people of Puerto Rico understand it”—Congress introduced a bill that would entitle the commonwealth to all of the disaster relief that reaches political entities on the U.S. mainland.

The Puerto Rico Admission Act of 2019, which was introduced by Representative Darren Soto (D-Florida) and Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón, a Republican who represents the island in the House, would grant Puerto Rico equal civil rights and status as the 51st state within 90 days of passage.

“From the day I was sworn in as Puerto Rico’s sole representative in Congress, and filed the Puerto Rico Admission Act, I stated very clearly that I would work different strategies, across all platforms to achieve the full equality for Puerto Rico, which can only be achieved through statehood,” Gonzalez said in a news release.

According to a report by CNN, the move to sponsor legislation came as the Republican-controlled Senate considered a new disaster relief package for the territory—and as tensions continued to flare between President Donald Trump and Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló, who supports the bill.

“Puerto Rico’s colonial status and unsustainable relationship with the federal government has gone on for over a century, even as our citizens have contributed to the growth, culture, and social fabric of the United States; and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with our fellow citizens on battlefields around the globe and under our same flag,” Rosselló, said in the release.

Indeed, the legislation is badly needed, in order to get the type of aid to the island that is needed for the infrastructure to be rebuilt, more rapidly and completely than has been done to date.

Although he expects credit from the people of Puerto Rico, President Trump still is being castigated for a visit he made to the devastated island after the hurricane, in early October 2017—during which he threw paper towels to the media and local representatives at a press conference and congratulated Puerto Rico residents for escaping the higher death toll of a “a real catastrophe like Katrina.”

Since that time, the president consistently has challenged efforts to provide more adequate disaster funding and food stamp coverage for the island. Although the territory is still recovering economically, Trump reportedly told Senate Republicans last week that he questioned the wisdom of sending the island additional disaster relief aid, CNN said.

In Thursday’s news release, Soto referenced disaster relief efforts as a reason to give Puerto Rico statehood.

“We have seen time and time again that colonial status is simply not working,” Soto said. “Look no further than the abysmal Hurricane Maria recovery efforts and the draconian PROMESA law [the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act] to prove this point all too well.”

Research contact: @CNNPolitics