MOarts March 2020

Vintage Photos of Packhorse Librarians
March 2nd – March 31st

Step back in time and observe a little known tidbit of history at the Moneta/SML Library in March.  This month’s featured exhibit in the MOarts Gallery is an exhibit of photos taken during the Depression of Packhorse Librarians.  What was a Packhorse Librarian?  Packhorse Librarians were a Depression-era Works Progress Administration project in Kentucky.  From 1935 to 1943, the program enabled 1,000 women to support themselves and their families by delivering reading material to 1.5 million rural Kentuckians.
            Packhorse Librarians loaded books, magazines, pamphlets, and scrapbooks into saddlebags, drawstring bags, suitcases, and even pillowcases and delivered them via horse or mule to the mountain people of Kentucky.  These brave women forded creeks as there were few bridges and followed game trails as there were few roads.  The Book Women rode their routes in fair weather and foul, covering 18 to 20 miles a day or 50 to 80 miles each week.  They carried news, messages, and letters as well as books.  If someone they visited had no one to read to him or her, the book woman took time to read aloud to the patron.  These tough, dedicated, and determined women worked hard to take books to people who had never had access to them before.
            And it was work.  The WPA paid the librarians’ salaries, to the tune of $28.00 per month.  However, the book centers and books were donated to the program.  That meant that the books were already used when the program received them.  That initial use plus the hard trek to and from houses and the continued use of the materials meant that the books and magazines weren’t in the best of shape.  The packhorse librarians repaired them the best they could at weekly meetings.  Then, when the book or magazine was at the end of its original life, the librarians repurposed it as scrapbooks that continued to circulate.  The patrons of the packhorse librarians were eager for reading material of any kind, including homemade scrapbooks.
            The packhorse librarians even created a scrapbook of their own work.  Photos were taken of the librarians going about their daily tasks, which included fording creeks and blazing trails as well as maintaining book collections.  Then those photos were compiled in a book that has been digitally preserved.  Come to the library and see the photos from that book as well as others.  See what these amazing women did and imagine their experiences.
            This exhibit is part of the Bedford Public Library System’s Winter Read program during which we encourage the community to read and discuss books on a particular topic.  This year’s adult book is The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson.  It is the fictional story of a book woman named Cussy Carter.  Books for younger ages are as follows: young adults: The Miner’s Daughter by Gretchen Moran Laskas; children: Ghost Girl by Delia Ray; children’s nonfiction: Down Cut Shin Creek: the Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky by Kathi Appelt and Jeanne Cannella Schmitzer; and young children: That Book Woman by Heather Henson.  Check out these books for more information on Packhorse Librarians and living in the Appalachians during the Depression.
            More information can also be found in the article, “Yonder Comes the Bookwoman,” in the December 2019 issue of Blue Ridge Country; the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives
 (kdla.ky.gov); and the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center (https://exploreuk.uky.edu/catalog/?q=packhorse&per_page=20). Special thanks are given to the KDLA and the UKY for permission to use the photos in this exhibit, and to the Friends of the Moneta/SML Library for sponsoring it.

Depression Era Items

 March 2nd – March 31st

The Great Depression was a time between wars in American history.  World War I ended in 1918 and World War II didn’t begin until 1939.  It’s easy to overlook the time between these two cataclysmic events.  However, people lived their lives in those between years.  Come to the library and view items from that time in our display case.  See how people lived in the 1930s.  What books did they read?  How did they fill their time?  What new innovations made their lives easier?  What hardships did they endure?
            Piece together bits and pieces of people’s lives from the items they used, loved and left behind.  All items are from the Bedford Museum and Genealogical Library collection.  See items important to Bedford history, such as County Fair pamphlets and Lyle’s Drugstore items.  Enjoy art, crafts, books, and games from the 1930s.  Learn about C. C. Keith and just how long he worked for the town.
Special thanks is given to the Bedford Museum and Genealogical Library for providing this exhibit. 
Visit them at 201 East Main St, Bedford, VA 24523.  Their phone number is 540-586-4520, and their web address is www.BedfordVAMuseum.org
They’re open Monday through Friday from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and Saturdays from 10:00 PM to 3:00 PM.
This exhibit is part of the Bedford Public Library System’s Winter Read program during which we encourage the community to read and discuss books on a particular topic.  This year’s adult book is The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson.  It is a fictional account of the real packhorse librarians who worked during the 1930s in rural Kentucky.  Books for younger ages are as follows: young adults: The Miner’s Daughter by Gretchen Moran Laskas; children: Ghost Girl by Delia Ray; children’s nonfiction: Down Cut Shin Creek: The Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky by Kathi Appelt and Jeanne Cannella Schmitzer; and young children: That Book Woman by Heather Henson.  Check out these books for more information on Packhorse Librarians and living in the Appalachians during the Depression.

The MOarts gallery is located in the Moneta/Smith Mountain Lake Library located at 
13641 Moneta Road, Moneta, VA 24121.

Please call (540) 425-7004 for hours and directions.

Winter Read 2020

Echoes of Appalachia

Bedford Public Library System’s
Winter Read 2020
January 15th – March 31st

Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light. 
Vera Nazarian

 Join us this winter as we read stories of resilience set in Appalachia during one of the harshest periods in American history, The Great Depression—and discover the power of
books and education to light even the darkest of days.

Adults
The Book Woman Of Troublesome Creek
by Kim Michele Richardson
(Also in large print, E-Book, E-Audiobook, and Book on CD.)

A young outcast braves the hardships of Kentucky’s Great Depression and brings truly magical objects to her people: books. Inspired by the brave women of the Pack Horse Library Project!

ONLINE (BPLS WEBSITE & FACEBOOK) – Look for discussion questions posted throughout March.

Teens
The Minor’s Daughter
by 
Gretchen Moran Laskas

Sixteen-year-old Willa, living in a Depression-era West Virginia mining town, works hard to help her family, experiences love and friendship, and finds an outlet for her writing when her family becomes part of the Arthurdale, West Virginia, community supported by Eleanor Roosevelt.

Children’s Fiction
Ghost Girl
by Delia Ray

Eleven-year-old April is delighted when President and Mrs. Hoover build a school near her Madison County, Virginia, home, but her family’s poverty, grief over the accidental death of her brother, and other problems may mean that April can never learn to read from the wonderful teacher, Miss Vest.

Children’s Non-Fiction
Down Cut Shin Creek:
The Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky
by Kathi Appelt & Jeanne Cannella Schmitzer

It’s 4:30 in the morning, and the book woman and her horse are already on their way. Hers is an important job, for the folks along her treacherous route are eager for the tattered books and magazines she carries in her saddlebags.  During the Great Depression, thousands lived on the brink of starvation. Many perished. In 1935 President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Works Progress Administration under his 1933 New Deal initiative. The WPA was designed to get people back on their feet. One of its most innovative programs was the Pack Horse Library Project of Eastern Kentucky.  Thoroughly researched and illustrated with period photographs, this is the story of one of the WPA’s greatest successes. People all over the country supported the project’s goals. But it was the librarians themselves — young, determined, and earning just $28 a month — who brought the hope of a wider world to people in the crooks and hollows of Kentucky’s Cumberland Mountains.

Young Children’s Fiction
That Book Woman
by Heather Henson

A family living in the Appalachian Mountains in the 1930s gets books to read during the regular visits of the “Book Woman”–a librarian who rides a pack horse through the mountains, lending books to the isolated residents.

READ – THINK – TALK – LISTEN – GROW OUR COMMUNITY!*
Bedford – Big Island – Forest – Moneta – Montvale – Stewartsville

*(http://www.ala.org/programming/onebook/onebookguide.pdf )

 

Special Upcoming Kids Events

Upcoming Kids events for Bedford

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Upcoming Kids events for Big Island

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Upcoming Kids events for Forest

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Upcoming Kids events for Moneta

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Upcoming Kids events for Montvale

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Upcoming Kids events for Stewartsville

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