National Library Week – Celebrating Library Stories

National Library Week is April 7-13.

National Library Week is just around the corner. Celebrated April 7-13 and sponsored by the American Library Association, it includes publication of the “State of American Library Report.” In addition, the ALA encourages library supporters to share their stories of appreciation on their website at http://www.ala.org/conferencesevents/celebrationweeks/natlibraryweek.

National Library Week began in 1958. Today, urban and rural public libraries offer more than print collections, they connect people to digital reading and visual resources, showcase local art, music and history, and teach skills and classes.

Certainly the “library story” component of this week will be compelling, and the ALA does a wonderful job of providing opportunities to recognize library services year round. One example is this excerpt from the nominating essay for the ALA’s annual “I Love My Librarian Award”. Submitted by Trina Thompson on behalf of librarian Tim Ryan, of Rochester, New York, Ryan and 9 other librarians won the award in 2017:

I came to the library as a patron and as a single mother with 3 kids. I had just
left an abusive relationship and had nowhere else to go. I was without a home
or place to stay. My daughters were ages 5, 3, and 1 and I had no food to
give them. Mr. Ryan found me crying as I was sitting with my children in the
library. He approached me and asked what was wrong and if there was
anything he could do to help me.

And that’s exactly what he did. He reassured her, and gave her children food and water from the back of the library. He helped Trina find shelter, food, and medical services through the Department of Human Services. Step by step, he helped her gain computer and literacy skills, find an apartment and establish credit, find a job, and enroll in a nursing program at the local community college. Now a home-owner, she is finishing her Associate’s Degree, and wants to “…give back as much as possible that which Mr. Ryan and the Sully Branch Library gave to me.” (Read the full story at the ALA link, http://www.ilovelibraries.org/lovemylibrarian/2017/17winners).

Her story underscores the 2019 Library Week Theme, “Libraries = Strong Communities” by emphasizing how Tim Ryan “…treats everyone as a human being that deserves respect and compassion. He understands the needs of our community and the people who reside within it.”

Locally, watch for a special promotion on WLEX TV-18 during National Library Week. Celebrating 7 local libraries, including SCPL, it references a new link (bluegrasslibraries.org) for more information. During planning meetings for this joint project, staff members shared their stories about the strengths and needs of their communities. While each county library is different, they share one thing in common, dedicated staff like Mr. Ryan, who mean it when they ask, “How can I help you?” Both a challenge and call to action, we are committed to our public service mission to ensure our communities prosper and thrive.


More Than Books – How Libraries Inspire Connections

More Than Books – How Libraries Inspire Connections

Adams Memorial- By Sharon Roggenkamp

A new program on Cemetery Symbolism, set for Monday, October 8 at 6:30 p.m. features Johnna Waldon from Lexington Public Library. Walden, the president of the Kentucky Genealogy Society, considers genealogy a professional specialty and personal hobby. Listening to stories passed along to her by her grandmother, today she studies headstones and their inscriptions. Whether they appear on “big grand monuments or the small simple field stones” said Waldon, they reveal social, economic and historical context.

Two historical footnotes confirm they also inspire moments of shared experience in that setting, and the lives of writer Henry Adams and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt intersected at a famous gravesite in Rock Creek Cemetery in Maryland.

Called the “Adams Memorial”, it was sculpted by Augustus Gaudens (1848-1907), in 1891. Gaudens is most famous for his bronze monument depicting Union Lieutenant Robert Gould Shaw, a privileged son of white, wealthy abolitionists, and the soldiers of the unit he led, one of the first African American regiments in the Civil War, who died together in battle.

Henry Adams commissioned him to create a monument to his wife, Marian, said to be the inspiration for his novels, Daisy Miller and The Portrait of a Lady. A lively, vivacious and popular hostess and photographer, she committed suicide in 1885, after battling depression following the death of her father.

The monument is a stark, powerfully moving life-size statue of a woman shrouded in the graceful folds of a dark black granite cloak, her eyes closed. Soon it attracted ordinary visitors and prominent Americans, including Mark Twain.

In 1918, Eleanor Roosevelt discovered a packet of love letters exchanged by her husband Franklin and her social secretary, Lucy Mercer. Devastated, she offered him his freedom, but a bargain was struck between them, at the urging of his mother, Sara, and for the sake of their children. Deeply troubled and grieving, Eleanor drove herself out to the cemetery to visit the Adams memorial, and reflect on its meaning. It is not surprising she later explained she found it comforting because it depicted someone who "transcended pain and hurt to achieve serenity."

A library program begins as a simple entry on a calendar, followed by a phone call, e-mail or conversation with the person who will present the program. Yet the unique thing about a library, is how these conversations branch off in new directions, as in the story of the “mysterious memorial” to Marian Adams.   Best of all, as Ms. Waldon shares her knowledge and experience, the visitors who give up their time to listen and participate will share theirs, just one more example of the way libraries enrich communities.

10 Most Influential Books

10-influential-books

-By Melissa Gibson

What are the ten most influential books you have ever read? These would be the books that have touched your life in some way; awakened an interest, formed ideas or established a lifelong love. If you are a long-time reader it may be difficult to limit your list to only ten and your list may change with your moods.  Here is my list of books I met before my sophomore year in high school which I loved dearly, thought about deeply or which changed the way I viewed my world.

1. Hitty, Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field. The first “big” book I read by myself, this enchanting novel is a doll’s memoirs and is by turns haunting, hilarious and thought-provoking.

2. The Black Stallion series by Walter Farley. OK, I cheated a bit here. I was a horse-freak as a girl (still am) and I simply couldn’t get enough of these books. We read the first one, The Black Stallion as a family when I was in the second grade and then I was off and running, devouring the rest by myself.

3. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I was so immersed in Burnett’s garden I couldn’t tear myself away and so finished this book by flashlight under the covers. Shhhh.

4. Winnie the Pooh by A. A. Milne. Pooh was my first introduction to refined, understated literary humor. My sister and I read this aloud (with all the voices) to truly experience the magic of The Hundred Acre Woods.

5. My Friend Flicka by Mary O’Hara. Horses, again. But O’Hara’s world was vastly different from the less nuanced work of Farley with her beautiful, delicate descriptions that immerses the reader completely in her world.

6. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. This was another after-dark-under-the-covers read for me. I had a deal with my mother – I could read what I wanted (in this case Mitchell’s iconic work) if I read The Deerslayer first. I read Fenimore’s plodding classic in the daylight hours so all could see what an obedient daughter I was but read all of Gone by flashlight at night under the covers.

7. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown. This is my epiphany book, the one after which I never saw the world, my nation and its history quite the same again.

8. Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor. Kantor’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the Confederate POW camp in Georgia has become the standard by which I have since judged every work of historical fiction ever since I read it one summer, baking in a lawn chair in my backyard, horror-struck and mesmerized by Kantor’s prose.

9. The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens. Mr. Pickwick and his misadventures introduced me to the classics in an entirely new way and I fell in love with Dickens and English literature as a result.

10. The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Curiosity led me to read this expose of the Russian prison system written by one of the Soviet’s most famous defectors but through it I discovered a fascination with Russian literature that has never entirely left me.

This is my list. What’s on yours?