Monday, November 26, 2012

Schools (and Libraries) Helping Schools in Need

About three weeks ago, a Facebook Friend and fellow graduate of my high school alma-matter started up a new page on Facebook called Schools Helping Schools in Need.  I noticed it as I was scrolling through my news feed the next morning, a surprisingly rare occurrence these days.  This Facebook page is intended to connect schools struggling through the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy with other schools around the country (or world) which wish to help out.    I immediately liked the idea, "liked" the page, and then shared it on my wall.

Last week I received a specific request, asking if I'd reach out to the Wisconsin Library community and ask for help.  There is a school on Long Island, Lido Elementary School, which lost three of seven buildings in its district and is running them without supplies.  It appears they are being housed (at least partially) in another school, Lindell Elementary School.  This school's need for used fiction and non fiction books to rebuild and supplement the school library(ies?) was the specific focus of that request.

This effort got me curious and so I've started asking some questions of the originator of Schools Helping Schools in Need.  Reading through their page, I'm seeing a handful of cases where schools are adopting classrooms or other schools.  I'm going to learn how these efforts are going, how they're being coordinated, and just what capacity exists for handling any sizable influx of donors and donations.

The request last week reminded me that Sandy is still there for hundreds of thousands, well millions actually  of people.  Displaced students and teachers;  displaced workers of all sorts; displaced families.  There is so much happening over in that part of the country that I (and I'm sure many others) can't quite wrap our heads around.  It would sure be easy to turn my head back to my own big projects and claim lack of time as a "reasonable" excuse for sitting this one out.  But I'm not sure that's something my conscious will let me get away with anymore.  In fact, the longer I've had to dwell on it over Thanksgiving (of all holidays), I'm quite sure of the opposite.

I am interested in learning what other Wisconsin librarians are already doing or have already done to help out.  Please contact me if you are interested in learning more about the state of schools and libraries affected by Hurricane Sandy, and in working to discover how our vibrant and active Wisconsin Libraries Communication Network might reasonably and most effectively be put to use in collaborative regional efforts, or better, a state-wide effort.  I can be reached through the normal WVLS channels, however, as all time I spend helping in any cooperative effort will be personal, I feel it prudent to provide some personal contact info:

I can be emailed at  You might also contact me via Facebook or Twitter.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

WVLS Is Now On Facebook!

I know all of you have been waiting for WVLS to be on Facebook.  Well we have good news for you.  Starting with the week of November 19, 2012, we will be posting on a weekly basis with news that will be of interest and helpful to you. We hope you will "like" us and be our "friend".

In the future, you will find information about WVLS and other systems in the state, trends in "LibraryLand", the V-Cat Migration process and more.  So please join us and keep up-to-date on the latest WVLS adventures.

Please check it out at:

Reading Between the Lines

Much of what we think we know about the traditional Pilgrim Thanksgiving is myth. Clothing, food, traditions and guests are largely a mish-mash of Victorian romantic poetry and pageantry.
According to Karin Goldstein, a curator at historic Plimouth Plantation, “Thanksgiving school plays, as well as images of a single long table from textbooks and art, have become part of our holiday traditions. From a tool used to teach school children and immigrants, this simplified view of Thanksgiving has become a familiar symbol in American culture, used in all sorts of media from cartoons to greeting cards. It is important to remember that this view is part of the history of the holiday, rather than historic fact.”
What took place at Plymouth in 1621 was a traditional English harvest celebration – without buckled shoes, cornucopias, farm factory turkeys, cranberry relish or Native Americans wearing (mistakenly Plains Indian style) headdresses. This simple event did not turn into a national Thanksgiving holiday until the nineteenth century.
The Pilgrims, Wampanoag and Thanksgiving were first linked together in 1841, when historian Alexander Young rediscovered Edward Winslow’s account of the 1621 harvest celebration. The account was part of the text of a letter to a friend in England, later included in A Relation or Journal of the Beginning and Proceedings of the English Plantation Settled at Plimoth in New England, a narrative published in 1622. Although Young isolated the description of the harvest celebration, and identified it as the origin of the New England Thanksgiving, at this point Young’s claim had little impact on the popular concept of Thanksgiving.
Our modern perception of the mythical Pilgrims is actually due in large part to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, author of the epic poems “Courtship of Miles Standish” and “Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.” When “Courtship” was published in 1858, the poem was an overnight success, casting a dramatic glow on the Pilgrim story and feeding popular imagination. It was based on a narrative originally set down by Rev. Timothy Alden in 1814.
Ten thousand copies of “Courtship” were sold in London in a single day! Women swooned over the image of handsome bookish John Alden being asked by his friend Captain Standish to plead his case with the maid Priscilla Mullins, Alden’s own secret heart song. Priscilla’s gentle rebuke, “Why don’t you speak for yourself, John Alden?” passed into folklore as “Courtship” brought the Pilgrims to life for American readers and gave them new roles in the historical drama of the young nation. Miles, John and Priscilla put a youthful romantic face on the previously stern Pilgrim fathers and mothers.
Other than Rev. Alden’s traditional anecdote, no historical basis for the soap operatic story of New England’s famous first love triangle appears to exist. Researchers tracking the life of Captain Standish and genesis of the “Courtship” poem trace its antecedents to a bit of doggerel attributed to a Moses Mullins that appeared in a Boston magazine in 1843, fifteen years before Longfellow expanded it into the Victorian equivalent of a TV mini-series.
Writing for the Harvard Alumni Bulletin in 1976, Rev. Peter Gomes had this to say about Longfellow’s influence on the popular perception of American history in general and the Pilgrims in particular: “Had Henry Wadsworth Longfellow devoted himself to the Romance languages, of which he was Smith Professor at Harvard, rather than to mediocre but memorable verse, the perception of American history may well have been quite different. Paul Revere would have remained an unknown Boston artisan, and the Pilgrims of Plymouth would be little more than aggregate virtue. It was Longfellow’s disciplined meters and undisciplined history that launched them both into immortality.”
All of which only reinforces the librarian’s creed when it comes to recognizing the difference between belief and knowledge...and being able to research the turkey’s true giblets. 
When the family I married into gathered around the Thanksgiving table in years past, there was a flesh and blood link to the first Plymouth feast. My late mother-in-law’s ninth great grandfather was Mayflower passenger Francis Cooke (1583-1663). It was a thrill to see his name on the National Monument to the Forefathers while visiting Plymouth in 2005.
Besides Eleanor Cross Wendt, other famous descendants of the venerable Pilgrim Cooke include three presidents (Franklin D. Roosevelt, George Herbert Walker Bush and George W. Bush), artist Anna Mary Robertson “Grandma” Moses, the Beach Boys brothers Wilson, and actors Orson Welles, Richard Gere and Dick Van Dyke.
That’s OK.  The forebears of my Germanic great grandfather, Friedrich Wilhelm Adam, were celebrating their own Erntedankfest (“harvest festival of thanks”) long before the Pilgrims passed through Holland on their way to the big rock. 
Sie sind willkommen!
Read more about it: 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Attention: Wisconsin Valley Library Service along with 13 other systems is sponsoring a Wild Wisconsin Winter Web Conference.

Thanks to the effort of Jamie Matczak, WVLS is able to take advantage of this great opportunity. This will be a state-wide virtual conference available to any WVLS library staff and trustees. The all-day conference features six webinars with speakers from across the country.

The webinar conference is set for January 16, 2013, so MARK your calendar and enjoy this conference from the comfort of your own chair…or come to the WVLS office where the conference will be broadcast in our meeting room and hot chocolate served.

Link for more information and to register:

Juanita Thomas, WVLS Outreach Coordinator


Thursday, November 1, 2012

Bad River Ojibwe With PATTY LOEW

Bad River Ojibwe

(This event is co-sponsored by the Wabeno Public Library and The Wabeno School District) 

Event: Guest Speaker Patty Loew
When: Friday, November 16 at 10a.m.
Where: Wabeno Elementary School Auditorium
4346 Mill Lane, Wabeno WI


Patty Loew, Ph.D., is a professor in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication as well as a documentary producer. For twenty years, Loew produced short and long-form documentaries and hosted news and public affairs programs for Wisconsin Public Television.

A member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe, Patty is the award-winning author of Indian Nations of Wisconsin: Histories of Endurance and Renewal. The book won the Wisconsin Library Association's 2002 Outstanding Book Award. Her second book, Native People of Wisconsin, won the 2003 Best Juvenile Non-fiction Award from the Wisconsin Writers Council. Her documentary, “Way of the Warrior,” which received the 2008 Unity Award from the Radio and Television News Directors Association, aired on PBS stations across the country in the fall of 2007.