On a cold, rainy day in May 1862, a young Union soldier, Henry Alexander Scandrett, would experience his first battle. Unfortunately it would be a losing battle. His regiment, the 70th New York, joined the attack on Confederate lines at Fort Magruder, an earthen redoubt two miles east of Williamsburg. The regiment saw heavy action; 350 men were killed or wounded. A small group of survivors, including Scandrett, were taken as prisoners of war and held at William & Mary (VA).Writing in his pocket diary, Scandrett’s first entry on May 5, 1862 begins with a significant announcement:"Was in my first battle today. About 1 Oclock P.M. our regiment was marched into the field about. We were thrown in advance and through some blunder was not reinforced. We have lost all our company officers and our field officers are all wounded. With fifteen others I was taken prisoner and am now in William & Mary college." READ MORE
Chicago, Ill.Dedicated: June 22, 1990Partners: The Friends of the Chicago Public LibraryThe Friends of the Chicago Public Library designated the Michigan Avenue Bridge a Literary Landmark on June 22nd, 1990. The bridge was designated a landmark in recognition of the use of bridges as a symbol by such authors as Carl Sandburg, Theodore Dreiser, and Upton Sinclair. The Michigan Avenue Bridge stands as a landmark for all Chicago bridges and honors the city’s rich literary heritage.Carl Sandburg was born in Galesburg, IL. Sandburg worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News where he covered mostly labor issues and later had his own feature. Sandburg was unknown until 1914 when he published his book Chicago Poems and later an analysis of the Chicago race riots. Theodore Dreiser also used Chicago and its bridge architecture as a symbol in his novel Sister Carrie. The protagonist, Sister Carrie, crossed and re-crossed the bridges looking for her place in Chicago. This was a popular theme for the bridges in literature at this time: crossing them marked a passage into the heart of the city. READ MORE
OLYMPIA - The Washington Library Association (WLA) is celebrating Governor Jay Inslee’s signing of SSB 6362 on March 21st, which added a line item to the bill allocating \$20 per student statewide specifically for library materials.  The line item is being heralded as an important addition to the McCleary school funding order that the Washington State Legislature passed this past January that allocated another $1.2 billion dollars for K-12 education.Washington Library Association 2018 Board President Craig Seasholes and Executive Director Kate Laughlin were on-hand for Governor Inslee’s signing ceremony, recognizing the effort and input that WLA put into getting this line item into the bill’s language, and were joined by educators and library advocates from across the state for the event.  READ MORE
Every once in a while, we get a note from a reader who tells us about how and why they love their library, and the unique things that go on at their local branch. This submission is from Ginger, a teacher at the Dewey International Studies School in St. Louis, MO. Her local library participates in a knitting program that benefits local students. This is just an example of the awesome things that libraries and librarians do throughout this country every day. Her story follows below:"My name is Ginger, and I am a teacher at the Dewey International Studies School in St. Louis. I love the library! I frequently visit the Spencer Road Branch Library in the St. Charles City-County Library District in Missouri. It was there that I discovered the Chemo Caps group and decided to join. READ MORE
Contemporary poetry drew Toby Altman and Izzy Casey from much larger cities — Chicago and Los Angeles, respectively — to the writing-rich environment of Iowa City last year.And now that love of poetry and appreciation of the poetry community here have led them to launch a unique local public service project.They call it the Iowa City Suitcase Library.  It will lend out volumes of contemporary poetry to anybody interested at no charge, just like a regular library — only working out of a suitcase instead of a building.“We brainstormed this idea after a poetry seminar by Professor Elizabeth Willis last semester,” says Altman.  “We think there is a need for better access to contemporary poetry in Iowa City.” READ MORE
Now this town on the river of the Road to the Buffalo has a bull of its own.He’s big and wooden and weighs half a ton.The bison roams his range in repose, starting this week and for years to come, in the reading nook on the back wall of the Bonner School library.  “Read to him, but quietly, because he’s sleeping,” urged Ice Rogers, the chainsaw sculptor who created the wooden bull.His audience Thursday morning consisted mostly of some 70 students from kindergarten and sixth grade, chosen in “somewhat strategic” fashion for the public unveiling, as school superintendent Jim Howard explained.“Kindergartners, this is your first year at Bonner School. You’re going to be here for eight more years, so you’re going to really get to know the buffalo better than anybody, aren’t you?” he said to the excited 5- and 6-year-olds sitting cross-legged or kneeling on the floor. READ MORE
Never underestimate the power of a good competition.Meredith Fickes doesn’t, which is why the Mickle Middle School (NE) librarian is spending an increasing amount of her time creating boxes with all sorts of locks on them and the puzzles that must be solved to open them.It’s why, on a frigid Thursday morning, sixth-grade social studies students spent first period in the library using what they’d learned about ancient Egypt’s pharaohs and pyramids, empires and hieroglyphs to solve word and number puzzles that unlock nondescript plastic, black boxes.And nobody slouched in their chairs, stared off into space or made random doodles on a piece of paper.No, these sixth-graders were going to get into those boxes before the 40 minutes on the digital timer disappeared, even if the only thing inside was a colorful, handmade sign that said: #CRUSHEDIT. READ MORE
The Sully Branch Library serves a poverty-ridden area in Rochester, New York. It is reflected in the high crime rate and one of the lowest high school graduation rates in the nation. Lurking about the library is persistent gang activity.Amidst all these discouraging signs, however, is one figure who provides hope and is an agent of change – young adult librarian Timothy Ryan, one of the winners of the 2017 I Love My Librarian Award.Ryan’s nominator for the award, Trina Thompson, said, “By offering state of the art technology programs that incorporate 3D printers, video games, coding and game design software, and virtual reality, Mr. Ryan is keeping our teens engaged and off the streets, off of drugs, and out of the gangs.”But Ryan’s efforts reach beyond virtual reality and offer the youth a firm foundation for a richer reality in the future. He offers to assist them with homework, TASC, SAT, ACT preparation, resume workshops, job fairs, food stamps, medical insurance and even legal questions about custody and divorce.Ryan succeeds in providing an inclusive environment, Thompson said. READ MORE
After weeks of collaborative lobbying by the Virginia Association of School Librarians (VAASL) and the Virginia Library Association (VLA), the state senate’s education committee narrowly defeated a bill that would have relaxed requirements for librarians at the middle and high school level. The Virginia House Education Committee defeated Senate Bill 261 in a 12-10 vote on March 5. The bill would have lessened current regulations that stipulate that “a local school board is required to employ two full-time librarians for any middle school or high school,” creating a loophole where non-librarian staff could be hired in place of librarians. Audrey Church, president of VAASL and past-president of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), a division of the American Library Association, testified in opposition to the bill, along with Jim Livingston, president of the Virginia Educational Association. “School librarians play invaluable roles in our schools, and their skill sets are unique, Livingston is quoted as saying in the VEA Daily Reports. “Every middle and high school in Virginia deserves the benefit of having a fully staffed school library.” This local collaboration mirrored much of the work occurring at the national level, where AASL has been partnering with ALA to provide support and assistance for Virginia. “Through this partnership, VLA and VAASL were able to harness the collective power of our networks to advocate for the students of the Commonwealth of Virginia, said Lisa R. Varga, executive director of the Virginia Library Association. ALA and AASL provide coordinated, strategic support to states faced with negative legislation, budget cuts and other crises, including consultation, use of targeted social media messaging and advocacy software to reach elected officials. Read more about SB 261, Standard of Quality; staffing requirements, librarians and clerical personnel. READ MORE
On March 16, we celebrate the anniversary of former President James Madison. But that day, we also celebrate the legacy he and the founders of this country left us – open government.Madison, known as the Father of the United States Constitution, once wrote that a “popular Government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a Prologue to a Farce or a Tragedy; or, perhaps, both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."It is only natural that libraries, which promote open access to information for all, join in the celebration.Each year, the American Library Association presents the James Madison Award and the Eileen Cooke State & Local Madison Award on Freedom of Information Day to recognize those individuals or groups that have championed, protected, and promoted public access to government information and the public’s right to know.  The award will be presented by ALA President Jim Neal in a ceremony at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., on Friday, March 9. Even if you can’t join us in Washington, you will be able to watch the program wherever you have an internet connection! The event will be streamed live from the Knight TV Studio in the Newseum at READ MORE