Ever wondered what goes on in a library's dark corners, where you aren't allowed to go?

Wonder no more, thanks to The Society of American Archivists' Ask an Archivist Day.

On Oct. 4, university, corporate, and museum archivists around the world dug out the coolest, rarest, and weirdest items in their collections, photographed them, and put the results on Twitter.


They didn't disappoint. Here's just some of what they had in storage.

1. Small items. Very small items. Like a Bible so tiny that it has a magnifying glass with it for reading.

2. And a barely-bigger-than-a-quarter book about birds, published during the deadliest year of the Civil War.

3. Amazing and rare photos. Like this one of unhappy men preparing a diver to check out the bottom of Loch Tay in 1890.

4. Or this one of three women in West Virginia, rocking the slickest hats of 1908.

5. A folding chair used by Barack Obama.

6. Dirt from the grave of a well-known American writer.

7. A Roman-era coin, depicting either a man in a helmet or a curious understanding of human anatomy.

8. A photo of a sailor whose ship vanished in the Bermuda Triangle in 1918.

9. And one of of other World War I sailors giddily posing on top of two ginormous battleship guns.

10. A child's sketch of a groundbreaking concept car — complete with a built-in kitchen and a 300 mph top speed.

11. A legal document drawn up in 14th century France.

12. A pioneering, ultra-glittery work of feminist art.

13. A photo of fashion designer Ann Lowe, the woman who designed Jackie Kennedy's wedding dress.

14. A script for a rarely heard "Empire Strikes Back" radio play.

15. Campus activist fliers from the 1970s.

16. And punk zines from the 1980s.

17. An image of rows and rows of classic radiator shells waiting to be installed at a Depression-era Pontiac plant.

18. A handwritten letter from Sigmund Freud.

19. Ancient technology.

20. Proof that Queen Elizabeth II is apparently a secret football fan.

21. A memo warning campus police about an upcoming Ozzy Osborne concert, citing the singer's involvement with "abuse of animals" and "alleged satanic groups."

22. Perhaps most importantly, a visual reminder of the tedious, painstaking work archivists do to preserve these items for random humans to gawk at on the Internet.

23. And why, if you want to see more, you'll have to visit a library or archive in person.

You can happily scroll through dozens more like this using the #AskAnArchivist hashtag.

No appointment necessary.

Update 10/9/2017: The headline was changed to reflect that archivists and librarians differ, in part by the type of materials handled.

Courtesy of Elaine Ahn

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Naturally, people are weighing in on the crisis, with some throwing out simplistic advice like, "Why don't you just do what people did before baby formula was invented and just breastfeed?"

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Teens of today live in a totally different world than the one their parents grew up in. Not only do young people have access to technologies that previous generations barely dreamed of, but they're also constantly bombarded with information from the news and media.

Today’s youth are also living through a pandemic that has created an extra layer of difficulty to an already challenging age—and it has taken a toll on their mental health.

According to Mental Health America, nearly 14% of youths ages 12 to 17 experienced a major depressive episode in the past year. In a September 2020 survey of high schoolers by Active Minds, nearly 75% of respondents reported an increase in stress, anxiety, sadness and isolation during the first six months of the pandemic. And in a Pearson and Connections Academy survey of US parents, 66% said their child felt anxious or depressed during the pandemic.

However, the pandemic has only exacerbated youth mental health issues that were already happening before COVID-19.

“Many people associate our current mental health crisis with the pandemic,” says Morgan Champion, the head of counseling services for Connections Academy Schools. “In fact, the youth mental health crisis was alarming and on the rise before the pandemic. Today, the alarm continues.”

Mental Health America reports that most people who take the organization’s online mental health screening test are under 18. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 50% of cases of mental illness begin by age 14, and the tendency to develop depression and bipolar disorder nearly doubles from age 13 to age 18.

Such statistics demand attention and action, which is why experts say destigmatizing mental health and talking about it is so important.

“Today we see more people talking about mental health openly—in a way that is more akin to physical health,” says Champion. She adds that mental health support for young people is being more widely promoted, and kids and teens have greater access to resources, from their school counselors to support organizations.

Parents are encouraging this support too. More than two-thirds of American parents believe children should be introduced to wellness and mental health awareness in primary or middle school, according to a new Global Learner Survey from Pearson. Since early intervention is key to helping young people manage their mental health, these changes are positive developments.

In addition, more and more people in the public eye are sharing their personal mental health experiences as well, which can help inspire young people to open up and seek out the help they need.

“Many celebrities and influencers have come forward with their mental health stories, which can normalize the conversation, and is helpful for younger generations to understand that they are not alone,” says Champion.

That’s one reason Connections Academy is hosting a series of virtual Emotional Fitness talks with Olympic athletes who are alums of the virtual school during Mental Health Awareness Month. These talks are free, open to the public and include relatable topics such as success and failure, leadership, empowerment and authenticity. For instance, on May 18, Olympic women’s ice hockey player Lyndsey Fry will speak on finding your own style of confidence, and on May 25, Olympic figure skater Karen Chen will share advice for keeping calm under pressure.

Family support plays a huge role as well. While the pandemic has been challenging in and of itself, it has actually helped families identify mental health struggles as they’ve spent more time together.

“Parents gained greater insight into their child’s behavior and moods, how they interact with peers and teachers,” says Champion. “For many parents this was eye-opening and revealed the need to focus on mental health.”

It’s not always easy to tell if a teen is dealing with normal emotional ups and downs or if they need extra help, but there are some warning signs caregivers can watch for.

“Being attuned to your child’s mood, affect, school performance, and relationships with friends or significant others can help you gauge whether you are dealing with teenage normalcy or something bigger,” Champion says. Depending on a child’s age, parents should be looking for the following signs, which may be co-occurring:

  • Perpetual depressed mood
  • Rocky friend relationships
  • Spending a lot of time alone and refusing to participate in daily activities
  • Too much or not enough sleep
  • Not eating a regular diet
  • Intense fear or anxiety
  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Suicidal ideation (talking about being a burden or giving away possessions) or plans

“You know your child best. If you are unsure if your child is having a rough time or if there is something more serious going on, it is best to reach out to a counselor or doctor to be sure,” says Champion. “Always err on the side of caution.”

If it appears a student does need help, what next? Talking to a school counselor can be a good first step, since they are easily accessible and free to visit.

“Just getting students to talk about their struggles with a trusted adult is huge,” says Champion. “When I meet with students and/or their families, I work with them to help identify the issues they are facing. I listen and recommend next steps, such as referring families to mental health resources in their local areas.”

Just as parents would take their child to a doctor for a sprained ankle, they shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help if a child is struggling mentally or emotionally. Parents also need to realize that they may not be able to help them on their own, no matter how much love and support they have to offer.

“That is a hard concept to accept when parents can feel solely responsible for their child’s welfare and well-being,” says Champion. “The adage still stands—it takes a village to raise a child. Be sure you are surrounding yourself and your child with a great support system to help tackle life’s many challenges.”

That village can include everyone from close family to local community members to public figures. Helping young people learn to manage their mental health is a gift we can all contribute to, one that will serve them for a lifetime.

Join athletes, Connections Academy and Upworthy for candid discussions on mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month. Learn more and find resources here.

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"What we discovered is astonishing," Saho Takagi, a research fellow specializing in animal science at Azabu University in Kanagawa Prefecture, told The Asahi Shimbun. "I want people to know the truth. Felines do not appear to listen to people's conversations, but as a matter of fact, they do."

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