Articles list

Library Thief Turns Friend

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Most of us have fond memories of our hometown public library, and some of us can recall stories of how a library or librarian touched our life in a profound and meaningful way. Here at I Love Libraries, we invite readers to share these stories. So far we have received many. Some are moving, some are inspirational, and some are quite funny. Larry Burns’ story is all three.

Recently, Larry – an artist, musician, and highway sign maker from Barberton, OH – shared with us a story from his childhood,  when one encounter with a kind and understanding librarian opened up a whole new world for him. To this day, Larry remains a faithful and enthusiastic patron of his local public library, and every summer, he volunteers to teach a free, 4-session guitar workshop at Barberton Public Library).

Here is Larry’s story:

This story actually took place when I was about 10 years old (around 1959), when I was a kid in the lower east side of Akron, Ohio.

When I was a kid, I had a strong interest in art. While I was browsing around the art book section of the East Akron Branch of the Akron Public Library, I saw a drawing book that I really liked. So I decided to sneak it out of the library.

As I was going out the door, I got caught. The librarian took me to the office and asked me why I wanted to steal the book. And of course I gave the usual intelligent 10 year old response: "I don't know!!”

But instead of calling the cops, she said, "Why do you want to steal it, when it's your book anyway?" She told me, "All the books in the library are yours, we just store them for you. Don't you have a library card?"

I shook my head. So she said, "Well ok, let's get you one."

After she signed me up for a library card, she checked the book out to me and told me, “Now you can keep the book for two weeks, and if you need it longer, come back and I'll renew it for another two weeks.”

I was proud of my new library card, and it really made me feel important. From that day on, she would help me find other art books. I also had an interest in music so she helped get books on drums to help me when I later ended up in school band.

Looking back on that now - although it seems like such a small thing - I really feel it was a life changing event. Today, I'm an artist and musician (jazz drummer & Irish guitarist) and I do volunteer work, teaching a guitar workshop, for the Barberton Public Library.

Got a story to tell about how the library changed your life? Tell us about it!


Raining Peace

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Plymouth Students return home from NYC after successful Peace Project

Despite the cold and rain more than 180 students from Pioneer Middle School in Plymouth, Michigan, descended upon the streets of New York City to spread their message of peace and promote the Pioneer Peace Project as planned on Friday, April 3, 2009.

The torrential downpour didn’t dampen the spirits of the resilient peace spreaders as they marched through the busy itinerary and stayed true to their mission to engage others in their views of peace.

“Despite the weather the Peace Project was a huge success,” said Ben McMurray, assistant principal at Pioneer and one of the three Project creators.  “In the pouring rain the students lifted the spirits of hundreds of thousands of people during their visit to New York. Everywhere we went in New York people were asking our students about the Peace Project. The seeds of peace have been planted.”

To start the morning off, the young peace activists from Pioneer were featured on the CBS Early Show. There the show’s weatherman Dave Price and hosts Maggie Rodriguez and Harry Smith talked and laughed with the students before airing a short segment where Pioneer English and performing arts teacher Claire Swisher talked about the “Peace it Forward” program.

Flying high from the Early Show exposure the group traveled to the historic Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park where they listened to fellow students give speeches, read poetry, and enjoyed a rousing rendition of John Lennon’s Imagine by classmates Alyssa Blomquist and Danielle Allen.  Representatives from ShelterBox, Putumayo World Music and Junior Tours—all organizations that helped sponsor the event—also talked to the crowd.

Children’s book author and illustrator Todd Parr, whose work “The Peace Book” inspired the Pioneer Peace Book, wrapped up the ceremony with a short speech about the importance of the event. 

Even though honored guest Yoko Ono didn’t make the celebration due to the weather conditions, the students’ spirits remained high for the next leg of the tour. 

The students broke into smaller groups and headed off to three destinations—Grand Central Terminal, Penn Station and the Time Warner Center—to read from and pass out more than 300 copies of “The Peace Book”—donated by publisher Little, Brown Books for Young Readers—to random New Yorkers and visitors. 

All the students requested in return is that the recipients help spread the message of peace and “Peace it Forward.”  The eighth graders ask that the copies of the book get passed along to family and friends or even strangers and recorded on the Peace Project website where the path of the books can be followed.

Along with every book, the students gave away a free “Peace Bag,” courtesy of California Pizza Kitchen that contained promotional materials—CDs, DVDs, buttons, stickers and more—from 20-plus peace-oriented organizations, corporations and individuals.  California Pizza Kitchen also provided lunch for the hard-working group.  Parr finished off the day with a book signing at Union Square Barnes & Nobel.

Swisher, also one of the Peace Project coordinators, said the students came back as changed individuals.

“They were exposed to a community that is different from the one in which they live, but they come to realize that we are all searching for similar things,” she said.  “As teachers we see them become global citizens.  They become aware of the world around them and recognize that we are all striving for the same things.  Our students return more independent and self-assured; they have just conquered a bustling city on their own. As we watch them interact with the city during our stay, we see them become more confident and daring—they are New Yorkers.”

The Peace Project is the apex of a yearlong curriculum concept centered on peace and concludes with an art show at the Plymouth Arts Council, according to Carmen Johnson, a visual arts teacher at Pioneer and one of the founders of the Peace Project.

Todd Parr, author and illustrator of “The Peace Book” that inspired the Pioneer Peace Project, talks to the crowd at Naumburg Bandshell during the kick-off peace celebration on Friday, April 3, 2009. “We are so excited to continue to spread our message of peace in Plymouth with our annual photojournalism art show that will be exhibited at the Plymouth Arts Council,” she said.  “We will display student photos, poems and journal entries that will highlight our student trip to NYC. The artwork will express the theme of peace and capture the essence of New York.”

Johnson added that the exhibit would include artwork by Plymouth-Canton second graders created in collaboration with Parr earlier in the school year. 

“This exhibit will be a beautiful culmination of a yearlong peace initiative,” Johnson said.

McMurray added that the Pioneer Peace Project would be bigger and better next year.

To ensure the success of this year’s event and the growth of future Pioneer Peace Projects, the coordinators are looking for more sponsors and donations.  For more information about making a donation visit the Peace Project website at Project Peace website or contact Ben McMurray at Pioneer Middle School at (734) 416-2774 or

Sponsors committed to the 2009 project included: Yoko Ono; Imagine Peace; Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; California Pizza Kitchen; ShelterBox; Peace One Day; Putumayo World Music; Oxfam; Share Our Strength; Souls 4 Soles; Teaching Tolerance; American Library Association; Arbor Day Foundation; UNICEF; One; Pennies for Peace; Project Vote Smart; Amnesty International; Arbor Day Foundation; American Community Garden Association; American Council for the Teachers of French; and American Association of Teachers of Foreign Languages, Discovering Languages.

For more information about the Pioneer Peace Project please visit the Ning website.


Photo 1 by Julie Novak, J2 Concepts; Photos 2 and 3 by Jeff Novak, J2 Concepts.



State Library Inventorying WPA Art

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By Tom Newman, State Data Coordinator for the Connecticut State Library

Originally appeared in the March 2009 edition of Connecticut Libraries , a publication of the Connecticut Library Association)

Hollywood movies often show a band of heroes searching for priceless treasures believed lost, stolen, or mythical. Right now, the State Library is on its own quest for treasure, but this time the hoard may be in many different locations. From the early 1930s to the outbreak of World War II, the federal government invested substantial funds in back-to-work programs, including work projects in the arts.

In Connecticut the feds employed 160 Connecticut artists to create over 5,000 pieces of art. About 1,700 of these paintings, murals, and sculptures were allocated to public institutions throughout the state.

Who were these artists and where did their artwork go? Could some of these items still be tucked away or on display in libraries? The Connecticut State Library is trying to answer these and other questions regarding the Works Progress Administration’s (WPA) Federal Art Project in Connecticut.

This project was the first time that the federal government had ever made a concerted effort to invest directly in American artistic culture. FDR’s administration set up Federal Theater, Music, Dance, and Writers Projects, as well as an Art Project. Their intention was to put creative people to work, and in the case of the Art Project, this meant employing painters, sculptors, photographers (to photograph the art work), and carpenters (to build frames). Some of the artists would enjoy great success and others would disappear--along with much of the artwork.

State Archivist Mark Jones is in charge of the WPA Inventory Project. With special legislative funding, he began working with the Federal Art Project records now housed in the State Archives. These records include artist cards that list much of the artwork created by individuals. Although there is some information available about which public institutions received the artwork, not all the art went to institutions, and some of the art produced by the project is not accounted for in the records.

During the summer of 2008, Nolan Pelletier, an intern and art student, assisted Jones in entering available information into databases with the intention of creating a searchable Internet record. This resource will include the information on the artist cards as well as digital versions of the black and white photographs taken of the artwork by project photographers.

Jones and his staff have also done considerable research on the artists employed during the WPA program Consulting directories, databases, art museums, newspapers, and other resources, he is compiling short biographical profiles on as many artists as he can identify. This added information will make the eventual internet resource an invaluable tool for art students and historians in Connecticut.

Beatrice Laving Cuming (1903 1974), for example, studied painting in Paris during the 1920s and spent much of her life traveling to places where she considered the landscape inspiring. Employed for several years by the art project, she would go on to paint in Texas and New Mexico, would write a book about travels in North Africa, and would design her own home in New London, Connecticut.

Vito Covelli (1882-1958) was born in Italy and found much success as a landscape painter in New York City. He and his wife, a renowned opera singer, moved to a secluded rural property in Barkhamsted where Vito painted and his wife composed music and wrote poetry. The Covellis called their home a “National Rural Art Museum,” where visitors stopped to see the “hundreds” of paintings in their house.

John Steuart Curry (1897- 1946) and James Henry Daugherty (1887 1974) were critically acclaimed and internationally known artists. Curry lived for some time in Westport, painting murals there before leaving the project in 1936. His last great murals, painted in 1943 at the Kansas State House, would create such controversy for their depiction of the Civil War era “Bloody Kansas” that he was not allowed to finish them. Curry died shortly thereafter.

Daugherty would enjoy a longer life and spent much more time in Connecticut, living in Westport and Weston. Daugherty is well known for his Depression-era murals, one of which was saved from destruction during a renovation project at the Stamford High School when a passing bicyclist found the mural canvases in the trash.

Unfortunately, other WPA artwork that found itself in the trash probably did not benefit from a similar rescue. The State Library’s inventory seeks to identify the location of as much of the surviving artwork as possible. The State Library itself has about 50 items in its collections, including at least one painting recovered recently from a Hartford area school and about 30 others that had ended up in state surplus.

Jones is quick to point out that the State Library has no intention of recovering the art for state ownership. Rather, the project hopes to locate and photograph as much of the artwork as possible, especially those pieces that found their way to public institutions in Connecticut, so that digital photographs can be made available online.

What public institutions? Generally the WPA project allocated artwork to courthouses, state hospitals, sanatoriums, post offices, schools, and libraries. Many public institutions that received artwork no longer exist or have moved to new facilities. So, even if their artwork was not originally intended for a library, some of it may now reside in the local library.

How would you know if the artwork in your library is from the WPA project? There may be a label somewhere on the frame (if the frame is original) or on the back of the artwork. If so, a call to Mark Jones will help provide verification.

Generally the project managers of the 1930s were looking for art that was pleasing to the eye. Don’t expect to find much of the era’s surrealist art, though some of this art did get commissioned as part of the project. Artists were more likely to create social realist art, and often painted landscapes, still lifes, and depictions of transportation, sports, or school subjects. At least one artist chose the Merritt Parkway as the main subject for his paintings.

What makes the WPA Federal Art Project so important in Connecticut? Nothing like it had been done before or since, which makes the State Library’s inventory project important in understanding Connecticut’s Depression era art history. For more information about the CSL inventory project, visit the the WPA project, or call Mark Jones, state archivist, at 860-757 6511.


Get Connected to Health

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By Terri Tresp, St. Mary’s County Library

Originally appeared in the spring 2009 edition of The Crab, a quarterly publication of the Maryland Library Association

When Lexington Park Library patrons in St. Mary’s County visit their library not only can they get homework help, book recommendations, movie entertainment, and computer instruction at their branch, they can even get relief from a sore throat.

Thanks to “Get Connected to Health,” a mobile outreach service of St. Mary’s Hospital, uninsured, low income residents can receive primary medical care every Monday between 1 and 5 p.m. in the library parking lot.

Health Connections, the hospital department responsible for the mobile service, has sent a van to community events for years with staff who offer health education and screenings, including blood pressure checks, total cholesterol and blood glucose.

It expanded its scope in November 2008 to offer primary care service. The van began making weekly visits to a community center in the area, but wasn’t getting much business. While the plan had always been to expand service to the Lexington Park Library, the Health Connections team decided to visit the library exclusively in hopes of being more visible to the community. The library is located on the same street as a fire station, an elementary school, several churches and a large residential neighborhood.

Library staff saw firsthand how helpful the van could be during one of its early visits. A patron participating in a computer class excused herself and went to the circulation desk and asked to call her husband. Staff member Kathy Roy noticed the woman did not look well and asked if she could help. The patron was diabetic and felt she was going to pass out. After the patron placed the call to her husband, Kathy escorted the woman to the van. Medical staff stabilized her until her husband arrived.

As of December 31, 2008, the outreach van had recorded 72 patient visits. Only 18 percent of those were returning patients. Of the patients seen, 58 percent had a chronic disease requiring the services of a primary care provider to control the disease. Hypertension and diabetes were the most common. About 20 percent of patients were sent for further diagnostic testing.

According to Health Connections Director Barbara Hak, the Lexington Park community has the largest concentration of population in the county, but has a disproportionate number of residents living in or near poverty which means they are uninsured. To compound the problem, St. Mary’s County, like many rural areas, is experiencing a physician shortage. This means many primary care providers are not accepting new patients, so the uninsured end up in the hospital’s emergency room for treatment.

“Get Connected to Health” staff members not only treat medical problems on the spot and prescribe medication, they also refer patients to other health facilities or social service agencies to foster continued care. There is a $15 fee required for each visit, but that fee will be waived for qualifying patients.

The van is staffed by a registered nurse, Renee Shively, and a volunteer physician, Dr. Patrick Jarboe. The facility includes two exam rooms, a wheelchair lift and a cardiac monitor. Flu vaccines for patients over 18 were made available this year. Some laboratory services also are available, including pregnancy and blood sugar testing. Analgesics are available, but narcotics are not kept on the van.

The van’s driver, Phil Caroselli, also assists with intake paperwork. Each week, he mans a table in a small conference room off the library lobby and meets with patients. Because the van has a small waiting area, patients are encouraged to take advantage of the library’s restrooms, café and reading material while they wait for their appointment.

Branch Manager Terri Tresp, who sits on the Get Connected to Health Advisory Team, initially was concerned the lobby would resemble a medical waiting room and perhaps make other patrons feel uncomfortable, but that has not been the case. Van staff members use cell phones to communicate with Caroselli to let him know when to send out the next patient.

The Get Connected to Health Advisory Team has applied for grants in hopes of obtaining funds for additional staff and to expand service, but to date has not been successful. However, local organizations such as the Local Management Board and Wal-Mart have made donations. In-kind support from organizations like the library is also essential. St. Mary’s Hospital is committed to maintaining the service and provides ongoing financial support to improve the community’s health.


Employment Resources

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By Dan Stanton, Arizona Local Documents Librarian & Coordinator, Organizational Development; Arizona State University Libraries

Originally appeared in the December 2008 edition of the Mountain Plains Library Association Newsletter

Economics is extremely useful as a form of employment for economists. — John Kenneth Galbraith

Unfortunately, the following resources may become very important to our users given the economic climate. Government at all levels can provide assistance for the workforce. They look out for job seekers, wage earners, and retirees of the United States by improving their working conditions, advancing their opportunities for profitable employment, protecting their retirement and health care benefits, helping employers find workers, strengthening free collective bargaining, and tracking changes in employment, prices, and other economic measurements. Workers are guaranteed safe and healthful working conditions; a minimum hourly wage and overtime pay; freedom from employment discrimination; unemployment insurance; and other support.


Career One Stop: Collection of resources offering solutions to the demands of today’s labor market from the perspective of the job seeker, the employer, and the public workforce community. Comprehensive online resource designed to provide people with disabilities with the employment information they need.

eLaws: Interactive tools that provide information about Federal employment laws for employees and employers.

Occupational Outlook Handbook: Assistance to individuals making decisions about their future work lives. Describes what workers do on the job, working conditions, the training and education needed, earnings, and expected job prospects in a wide range of occupations.

Public Service and Volunteerism: Listing of opportunities to serve the public good.


Hire Vets First: Comprehensive career website for hiring veterans of America’s military.

VetSuccess: Information about the services that the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) program provides to veterans with service-connected disabilities. It also provides information about vocational counseling available to active duty service members and veterans who have recently separated from active duty, and to dependents of veterans who meet certain program eligibility requirements.


Bureau of Labor Statistics: Career information for young people.

Youth 2 Work: Department of Labor site geared towards young people in the workforce.

Starting a Business

Business Resources by Audience: Resources geared towards specific populations looking to get into business.

Business Development: Resources from a variety of federal agencies involved in the business world.

Startup Basics: Small Business Administration site providing resources and guidance in starting a business.


White House Calls for Volunteers: Libraries Targeted

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Libraries across the counry will be taking part in United We Serve, a national effort launched by President Obama to engage more Americans in serving their communities this summer.

United We Serve kicks off nationwide on Monday, June 22 and runs through September 11, which will be marked for the first time as a national day of service and remembrance.  The initiative focuses on four key areas: education, health, energy and the environment; and community renewal.  It is being led by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that improves lives and strengthens communities though volunteering and service.

“This summer, I'm calling on all of you to make volunteerism and community service part of your daily life and the life of this nation,” said President Obama in the video.  “Economic recovery is as much about what you're doing in your communities as what we're doing in Washington – and it’s going to take all of us, working together.”

To make it easy for individuals to get involved, the Corporation created, a website that allows visitors to type in their zip code to find local volunteer opportunities, recruit volunteers by posting their organization’s projects, or get ideas for creating their own projects with friends, families, and neighbors. 


The Business of Building Hope in Salinas

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By Mary Ellison and Elizabeth Martinez

Originally appeared in the April 2009 edition of Clarion, magazine of the California Library Association

They're twin sisters and for the past six months they have come faithfully twice a week to the literacy center at Salinas’s John Steinbeck Library.  There they meet with their tutor, a retired school teacher.  They bring their small children along—one baby is asleep in the car seat at her mother's feet, another plays with books and lounges in a bean bag chair, while several of their older kids play in the children's area.  Between them they have nine children, ages 0 to ten.   Both sisters dropped out of school when they were thirteen and neither learned to read.  After failing classes and falling too far behind, they did what many of us would do in their circumstances: they quit and gave up hope.

Today, working with their tutor, the twins are mastering the alphabet and learning to read by sounding out letters, vowels, and blends.  Using second-grade materials and the simple Cinderella storybooks they purchased at the Dollar Store, they are becoming readers.  They laugh as they sound out words, and discover new ones that sometimes make little sense.  For the first time in a long time, they are building their confidence.  “They're learning so fast,” says their tutor, who delights in their progress as much as they do. “But they still have a long way to go,” she cautions. 

We know that learning to read is a slow process.  It does not happen overnight.  We look at the work we're doing in our literacy center as building Hope: hope that something lost can be found again, hope that something never acquired can be attained and even mastered, and hope that a library card can represent an admission ticket to a world of learning. 

Literacy is a community issue in Salinas and the entire Monterey County, where only 58% of the people 25 years or older have a high school diploma (compared to 84% nationally).  It impacts everyone.  Our goal at the Salinas Public Library is to make literacy a part of everything we do.  From bookmobiles that stop at Mi Pueblo supermarkets and low-income housing projects, to digital arts labs and weekly story times, all of our programs are targeted at improving literacy.
We are fortunate to have a mayor, Dennis Donohue, who is committed to literacy and makes the connection between a thriving city and the literacy of its residents.  Last year, the city council adopted four goals, one being a “Culture of Literacy.”  When the mayor asked us to issue library cards to all third-grade students in the city, we did one better. We made it our goal to issue library cards to every K-12 student in Salinas public schools.  By June 2009, more than 31,000 students will have library cards.

To achieve this goal, we learned quickly to think creatively and change some of our processes.  For example, one superintendent asked if we could use the school’s address for all the students in her district, thus eliminating the need for an application form.  She agreed to be responsible for any lost books and overdue fees.  We then designed a card specifically for her district, using its logo and colors. Library cards were delivered to every classroom in each school.  As a result of our card drive, we now have more children in our libraries, more books circulating, and more people attending our programs.  What could be more simple?

Salinas is a very young community. The median age is 26, with 32% of the population under 18 years old.  Just as the twins gave up hope in middle school, we know there are many more youth in school today who will eventually dropout because they can't read well enough to succeed.  These are the same kids who are more likely to get involved in gang-related activities and won’t be able to find jobs. To attract them to the library, we worked with San Jose State professor Anthony Bernier to create a space for young adults, called the “U Name It Lounge,” that features a plasma screen TV and Xbox.  Youth come in to socialize and play games, but they also read and check-out books.   

Knowing that access to technology and computers is an issue for many in Salinas, and that there is a huge interest in learning digital arts and technology skills, we also opened a digital arts lab at the John Steinbeck Library, equipped with Mac computers and software for filmmaking (Final Cut Pro), music composition (Garage Band), photography, and graphic design.  Students and adults are using the lab to make movies, create music, and mix photographs. Classes are offered several times a week, and mentors are available from local nearby colleges.

Last November we held “Dinner in the Stacks” with poet Jimmy Santiago Baca to raise funds for new youth literacy programs.  We hope to engage parents in their children's reading progress as well as helping students directly.  The library, of course, is a nonjudgmental and non-graded environment where students feel comfortable asking for help.

Because many adult learners can't get to our libraries, we decided to offer a “Families Learning Together” adult literacy program at several low-income housing projects and at a local family resource center.  We provide the instruction and childcare at the housing projects.  The local family resource center provides the facility and childcare when we visit there.  Not surprisingly, we have long waiting lists for these classes.  Our bookmobile also visits homebound mothers and young children who have never been to a library.  Soon, we hope to provide a Babymobile that will carry board books and other infant materials to childcare centers, pediatric clinics, and preschools throughout the area.

The Salinas Public Library is looking forward to celebrating its centennial this year.  Thanks to a generous grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, we’ll be collaborating with the National Steinbeck Center to explore the past, present and future of Salinas through book groups, workshops, conferences, video and oral histories, art projects, and original theater performances.  All these programs will provide hundreds of opportunities for children, students and families to engage in community-building, reading and choosing knowledge over ignorance. 

Mary Ellison is Literacy Program Manager for the Salinas Public Library.  Elizabeth Martinez is the Library Director.


Behind the Wheel of a Bookmobile

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Working route & schedule from Chicago to San Francisco


September 13 through October 13, 2009

Schedule is subject to change.

July 12: Launch at ALA Annual conference, McCormick Place, Chicago

September 13 and 14: Preparation days in Chicago

September 15: Chicago to Franklin Grove, Illinois. West on U.S. 30, through Plainfield, crossing historic Route 66 on the way to Aurora.From Aurora, Illinois state route 31 north towards Geneva. At Geneva, west on IL 38 through Rochelle to Franklin Grove, the location of the National Headquarters of the Lincoln Highway Association. Short travel day to allow for getting accustomed to the truck and stage interviews.

September 16: Franklin Grove, Illinois to Clinton, Iowa. West on IL 38 to Sterling, rejoin U.S. 30 just west of Sterling, through Morrison, and then on IL 136 to Fulton, crossing the Mississippi River into Iowa on the Gateway Bridge into Clinton. Short travel day to allow for getting accustomed to the truck and stage interviews.

September 17: Clinton, Iowa, to Ames, Iowa. West on U.S. 30, 30S and 30A, all pieces of the original Lincoln Highway, as are the routes cited for following days.

September 18: Day layover in Ames, Iowa, for interviews.

September 19: Ames, Iowa, to Council Bluffs, Iowa. West on U.S. 30, 30S, and 30A.

September 20: Day layover in Council Bluffs, Iowa, for interviews.

September 21: Council Bluffs, Iowa, to Grand Island, Nebraska. Cross into Nebraska at Blair and drive local roads to original Lincoln Highway bricks laid down in 1920. Continue toward Elkhorn, at Elkhorn, take Nebraska state route 64 west to U.S. 275 northwest to Fremont. At Fremont, back onto U.S. 30 west through Columbus to Grand Island.

September 22: Day layover in Grand Island, Nebraska, for interviews.

September 23: Grand Island, Nebraska, to Kearney, Nebraska. U.S. 30. Short travel day to allow for interviews times.

September 24: Kearney, Nebraska, to Pine Bluffs, Wyoming. U.S. 30.

September 25: Day layover in Pine Bluffs, Wyoming, for interviews.

September 26: Pine Bluffs, Wyoming, to Cheyenne, Wyoming. On U.S.30 adjacent to Interstate 80. Short travel day to allow for interviews.

September 27: Cheyenne, Wyoming, to Fort Bridger, Wyoming. On roads to be determined adjacent to Interstate 80.

September 28: Day layover in Fort Bridger, Wyoming, for interviews.

September 29: Fort Bridger, Wyoming to Salt Lake City, Utah. On roads to be determined adjacent to Interstate 80. The Lincoln Highway enters Utah from the east on what is now private land.

September 30: Day layover in Salt Lake City, Utah (or nearby small town), for interviews.

October 1: Salt Lake City, Utah, to Fish Springs, Utah (a ghost town). On roads to be determined adjacent to Interstate 80.

October 2: Fish Springs, Utah (or an alternative with services), to Ely, Nevada. On roads to be determined adjacent to Interstate 80 with a transition to U.S. 50.

October 3: Day layover in Ely, Nevada, for interviews.

October 4: Ely, Nevada, to Austin, Nevada. On U.S. 50 ("The loneliest road in America," Life magazine).

October 5: Day layover in Ely, Nevada, for interviews.

October 6: Austin Nevada, to Dayton, Nevada. On U.S. 50.

October 7: Day layover in Dayton, Nevada, (where Sheila and Peter were married along the banks of the Carson River, schedule party for their 35th anniversary) for interviews.

October 8: Carson City, Nevada, to South Lake Tahoe, California. On U.S. 50.

October 9: Day layover in South Lake Tahoe, California, for interviews.

October 10: South Lake Tahoe, California, to Stockton, California. U.S. 50 to U.S. 99.

October 11: Day layover in Stockton, California, for interviews.

October 12: Stockton, California, to Livermore, California. Via roads to be determined en route to the Duarte Garage/Lincoln Highway Museum.

October 13: Livermore, California, to Mill Valley, California. Via roads and city streets to be announced, to California route 37, along the San Francisco Bay to Mill Valley, California (headquarters of The Bookmobile Project).

October 14:

Mill Valley, California to San Francisco, California. The dramatic arrival at the terminus of the Lincoln Highway and Lit Quake via the Golden Gate Bridge.

“Behind the Wheel of a Bookmobile” is a quixotic journey that will honor the place books have in our national consciousness. Authors Peter Laufer and Tom Corwin conceived this project.

It began with the whimsical idea of buying a vintage bookmobile, stocking it with donated books from publishers, and driving it cross-country through small towns, with well-known authors taking turns at the wheel. At each stop Corwin and Laufer hand out one book in exchange for an interview on the journey's thematic question - "Tell me about one book that has changed your life and how." A documentary film crew captures the stories.

In the few weeks since hatching the idea, the project has received the hearty support of the Association of American Publishers as well as the American Library Association - and a deal has been made to purchase a beautiful bookmobile (capacity: 3,200 volumes, see below) in Chicago. National Geographic has agreed to feature the journey in National Geographic Traveler Magazine and The Kitchen Sisters have expressed their desire to audiotape interviews along the way with both authors and regular Joes and Janes about what books have meant in their lives for NPR.

Laufer and Corwin have buy-in from a growing list of amazing authors excited to support the project and in most cases, take a shift behind the wheel of the bookmobile: including Pulitzer Prize-winners Lawrence Wright, Michael Chabon and Junot Diaz, as well as bestselling authors Tobias Wolff, Annie Lamott, Daniel Handler, Ayelet Waldman, Peter Coyote, Robert Anderson, Dave Eggers, Paul Hawkin, Vendela Vida, Scott Simon, Tamim Ansari, Amy Tan, Andrew Sean Greer, and Michael Pollan – with more joining the trip day by day. 

The journey is planned to begin in September, following the Lincoln Highway, America’s first cross country roadway and concluding in mid-October in San Francisco at Litquake, (San Francisco’s leading literary festival) where our bookmobile will be a float at the concluding “lit crawl,” cruising up and down Valencia Street, loaded with authors.

An ongoing literacy education and outreach program will also be designed around “Behind the Wheel of a Bookmobile’s” continued travels. As it tours coast to coast, the programs reach will be extended with a video travel blog, interviews and web-isodes distributed to schools, teachers and classrooms across the nation through our affiliations with the American Library Association and the American Association of Publishers existing school outreach programs.

About the Authors

Tom Corwin is an author, musician, and music producer. His credits include work with artists such as Bonnie Raitt, Patti Labelle, Booker T., and Stevie Wonder. Tom is the author of the bestselling book Mostly Bob (New World Library) and Mr Fooster: Traveling on a Whim, (Doubleday). In addition, he served as consulting producer on Emile Norman: By His Own Design which was broadcast nationally on PBS.

Journalist and broadcaster Peter Laufer is the author of more than a dozen books dealing with social and political issues worldwide; his latest book The Dangerous World of Butterflies (The Lyons Press). He co-produced the documentary films Exodus to Berlin and Garbage. Among his credits as a globetrotting correspondent for NBC News was the George Polk Award for his study of Americans in prisons overseas.


ASLCA/KLAS/NOD Award goes to Libraries and Autism: We're All Connected

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A Cooperative Project of Two New Jersey Libraries

In April, the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA), a division of the American Library Association, announced the 2009 winner of the ASCLA/KLAS/NOD award:  “Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected,” a remarkable project developed by Margaret Kolaya, director of the Scotch Plains Public Library, and Daniel Weiss, director of the Fanwood Memorial Library, both in New Jersey. The success of the video and web-based project is the result of the cooperative partnership the libraries have embraced over the past 4 years, and the contributions of many partners and participants. The award, sponsored by ASCLA, Keystone Systems, and the National Organization on Disability, recognizes a library for “an innovative and well-organized project which has successfully developed or expanded services for people with disabilities.” 

This extraordinary initiative employs a sophisticated, yet user-friendly website,, to impart information on the autism spectrum disorder through text and electronic media and, most notably, to train librarians to reach out to, and serve, people with autism. Citations to print and non-print materials, websites, and organizations concerned with the autism spectrum abound.  Special features include an Autism Overview PowerPoint presentation and a 19-minute customer service training video, both of which are downloadable. The video demonstrates some behavioral patterns exhibited by people with autism and shows effective techniques that librarians can use to respond positively, making these patrons feel welcome in the library.  Norma Blake, New Jersey State Librarian said that, “the project exemplifies the best work that libraries can do to help people – to be a valuable resource for parents and families, making their lives easier and better"

Supportive materials include: a list of workshop consultants;  publicity logos;  sample publicity release; a non-verbal communication tool; customer service tips; and a unique storybook template, “This is My Library,” which can be customized by the individual library to provide a visual pre-visit tour of the library for the child with autism.   A “Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected” decal for the library door or window is available on request.

 Kathleen Hegarty, Chair of the ASCLA Awards Committee, commented on the choice of “Libraries and Autism” for the award:  “This outstanding project has launched a virtual campaign to make libraries aware of people on the autism spectrum and, most notably, to train librarians to serve this growing, underserved population. Its accessible website offers valuable background information, a superb customer service training film, and supportive materials and graphics, all of which can be downloaded.  State sponsorship, able project leadership, the involvement of the autism community, and highly effective promotion have contributed to the success of an initiative that has had national impact.”   

The video is intended to form the basis for workshops such as those held by the project for its own library staff, local school media specialists, and selected libraries in New Jersey.  It has been the springboard for workshops presented by Ms. Kolaya and Mr. Weiss in NJ and other states, among them, Pennsylvania and Virginia. The basic customer services skills and techniques provided can serve as universal models for best-practices library service to all members of the public. Information and contacts for providing in-depth workshops for libraries and other organizations is available through the website.

As a component of the project, the training video has been distributed to every public library in New Jersey as well as to many schools, special and academic libraries. The Pennsylvania State Library has also replicated 1000 copies. Other promotional efforts—a  comprehensive release sent by PR NewsWire and MultiVU to thousands of local and national media outlets as their pro bono site of the month - have evoked enthusiastic responses from libraries nationally and internationally as well as from individuals in the autism community.

The project is a part of the “Welcoming Library Spaces for the Autism Community and Their Families” incubator project which was made possible by a contract with INFOLINK: The Eastern New Jersey Regional Library Cooperative.  The Cooperative and its services are funded by the New Jersey State Library which is responsible for the coordination, promotion, and funding of the New Jersey Library Network. Cheryl O'Connor, Executive Director of INFOLINK stated; “We are thrilled by the enthusiasm this project has generated within both the library and autism communities. The need is now for libraries to serve the autism community, and this professionally produced staff training film empowers them to do so effectively. "

The ASCLA Awards Committee chose this project for the ASCLA/KLAS/NOD Award because of its national significance.  Its focus on people with autism has highlighted for libraries everywhere the need for service to this growing and underserved population.  The staff training media and supportive materials of its website offer the means by which libraries can undertake this task.  The project can be easily, successfully and inexpensively replicated on a local basis.  In addition, its website with its valuable array of informational and staff training resources suggests a possible model for preparing librarians to work with people with other disabilities who may also be underserved by libraries.  The award will be presented to Mr. Weiss and Ms. Kolaya at the ASCLA President’s Program on Sunday, July 12 at the Annual American Library Association Conference in Chicago.

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