At the annual Midway Volunteer dinner, each of the Midway’s departments nominates a volunteer to be considered for Volunteer of the Year. Usually the Award goes to one of the more prominent sections like the Docents, Engineering, Safety, or Ship Restoration. This year, it went to Bonnie Brown who volunteers in the Library, part of the Curatorial Division.
It is the first time that someone from Curatorial has won the award.
When Bonnie’s picture was flashed up on the screen as each of the awardees was introduced in turn, the description was a dry recital of library factoids–so many books, magazines, newspapers, etc. It did not include the breadth of services that the library provides to crew members (staff and volunteers alike), guests (whether they are former crew members or friends/family of former crew members), researchers, and other libraries including the Smithsonian.
In her acceptance speech, Bonnie shared what we do:
I accept this honoron behalf of our entire library team of 65 volunteers.
For our Bookstore team who keep our store open every day the ship is open.
For our Magazine indexers and summarizers who read and index USS Midway related articles
For our Crew List researchers who go through muster rolls, newsletters, and deck logs to find our former crew members which now number almost 100,000
For our Facebook manager, Don, who has posted everyday for almost 6 years
For our publishing team of writers, proofers, and artists that have published 4 books and are working on a 5th
For our Deck Log transcribers who stare at computer screens for hours to type out our Midway history
For our scanning and PDF expert, Hal
For our researchers and catalogers who find and document our history
For our long distance researchers, Pat, Kyle and Troy, who log in from Virginia, Minnesota, and Santa Barbara to upload and catalog materials
For our Zoom coordinator, Liza, who began in March last year to coordinate and kept us all connected over the shutdowns
And especially for our 30 volunteers who continued to work at home when the ship was closed
For the Proceedings team who have summarized every Naval Institute Proceedings article back to 1874
And, for Joan Ring who had a passion for the library and who sadly passed away in 2019 after volunteering over 13,000 hours
For the Library Co-Lead Phil Eakin who loves research and is really good at making that research accessible to others,
and last but not least to our leader, Dave Hanson, who guides us and allows us the freedom to pursue our goals
Thanks, too, to my husband, Roger, who supports my volunteering and supports all things Midway
I am standing here because of these fantastic people who have created a library that has journalists and other museums, including the Smithsonian, contacting us for information.
I would like to ask all the Library volunteers to please stand to be recognized for their contribution to this wonderful ship and wonderful museum.
The Coalition announces the Banned Books Week theme in conjunction with National Library Week and the release of the American Library Association’s Top 10 Most Challenged Books list. This year’s list includes titles that address racism and racial justice, as well as those that shared the stories of Black, Indigenous, or people of color. As with previous years, LGBTQ+ content also dominated the list:
George by Alex Gino. Challenged, banned, and restricted for LGBTQIA+ content, conflicting with a religious viewpoint, and not reflecting “the values of our community.”
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds. Banned and challenged because of the author’s public statements and because of claims that the book contains “selective storytelling incidents” and does not encompass racism against all people.
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely. Banned and challenged for profanity, drug use, and alcoholism and because it was thought to promote antipolice views, contain divisive topics, and be “too much of a sensitive matter right now.”
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Banned, challenged, and restricted because it was thought to contain a political viewpoint, it was claimed to be biased against male students, and it included rape and profanity.
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie. Banned and challenged for profanity, sexual references, and allegations of sexual misconduct on the part of the author.
Something Happened in Our Town: A Child’s Story about Racial Injustice by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins, and Ann Hazzard, illustrated by Jennifer Zivoin. Challenged for “divisive language” and because it was thought to promote antipolice views.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Banned and challenged for racial slurs and their negative effect on students, featuring a “white savior” character, and its perception of the Black experience.
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck. Banned and challenged for racial slurs and racist stereotypes and their negative effect on students.
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. Banned and challenged because it was considered sexually explicit and depicts child sexual abuse.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Challenged for profanity, and because it was thought to promote an antipolice message.
This is a written interview with my friend and National Defense University Library co-worker, Lily McGovern. In September 2001, Lily was a reference librarian at the Pentagon Library (PL) . The Library was in the section of the Pentagon hit by the plane, but because it mostly in the inner most or A ring, the plane did not penetrate that far into the building.
During the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001—60 years to the day after construction began on the Pentagon—a hijacked plane struck the building, killing 189 people and damaging roughly one-third of the building.
Where were you when the plane hit and what were you doing?
I was at my desk in the Pentagon Library (PL). I had been on vacation and it was my first day back at work. Someone heard about events in New York so we were watching the planes hit the World Trade Center on the TV in the PL. It was upsetting to watch the tragedy in NY, especially the second plane hitting the World Trade Center and the collapse of the Twin Towers, so I decided to get back to work at my desk.
I should add for anyone who is not familiar with the layout of the Pentagon that the PL was previously in space that straddled wedges 1 and 2 of the Pentagon renovation project. The temporary wall erected between wedge 1 and wedge 2 was actually in the library area. There was a lot of planning and physical work to rearrange the PL and squeeze into a much smaller space. Since the temporary wall between the renovation wedges cut off the A ring at the PL, the library gained some space from what had been the A ring corridor. The front door was now in the A ring. For over a year we could hear the sounds of wedge 1 being stripped to the bare concrete, construction equipment backing up, jackhammers, saws, drills and all that.
When I heard the big boom, I immediately thought that someone had dropped a big heavy something in wedge 1. They were moving offices into the renovated area and we knew that shelving was being installed in the part of wedge 1 where the PL would be.
Note: From the Pentagon Renovation Program, Wikipedia:
Wedge 1 was the first above-ground section of the Pentagon to undergo renovation. Demolition of the existing structure and hazardous material abatement began in 1998, and the first move-in of tenants occurred in February 2001. The last tenants moved in on February 6, 2003.
The renovation of Wedge 1 involved the renovation of one million square feet of space. This involved the removal of 83 million pounds of debris (70% of this was able to be recycled), and 28 million pounds of hazardous material. The renovation also saw the installation of eight new passenger elevators, new blast-resistant windows, escalators traversing all five floors, skylights, a new HVAC system, a new communications infrastructure, and a new open-plan office layout.
2. How as the word spread on what to do? What did you do?
One of my coworkers saw the heavy glass doors of the PL swing open as we heard the big boom. He yelled that it was a bomb and to get away from the windows which lined that side of the library. I recall being told to evacuate the PL and that people who exited using our fire evacuation route came back saying there was smoke that direction. I was checking with the other librarians to see that we got everyone to leave and when we were sure, I left. I don’t recall whether the fire alarms went off. Funny how many details I have forgotten over the years. You might think I’d remember it so clearly but not thinking or talking about my experience for years has faded my memory.
3. Were you allowed to get your personal items, such as a purse or take anything with you when you exited the library?
Luckily since I was at my desk. I shut down my computer and grabbed my purse, pretty much as a reflex action. During fire drills, it might take a while to get back into the building and I seem to always need a tissue. My friends who left with only their Pentagon badges, which we had to wear at all times, were not allowed back into the PL to retrieve their purses and belongings for several months. They had to cancel credit cards, replace driver’s licenses, and any important items. They also didn’t have money or their Metro passes unless they kept them with their badge..
4. How did you exit the Library and where did you go?
Since our usual exit route had smoke, we exited into the A ring through the PL’s main door and over to the exit to north parking. Going through the Pentagon there was no sign of smoke and the only unusual thing was people moving fast towards the exit or in the direction of where the smoke was seen by my coworkers. I felt no great danger as I exited the building.
I carpooled with Ann Parham who was the Army Librarian and worked in an office in the renovated and reopened part of Wedge 1. We were parked in north parking so I went to her car. Once I was outside the building, security guards were telling people to move away from the building and smoke was visible around the side of the building that faces Henderson Hall and Arlington Cemetery. People were saying that a plane had hit the building. It was a very sunny and warm day for September. Very soon the guards were telling us that we had to move farther away from the parking lot because there was another airplane that could be headed for us. I scribbled a note to Ann that I was out of the building and OK, placed it under the windshield wiper and started walking away with some of my coworkers.
5. How did they account for everyone and were there any library staff who could not be accounted for?
There was no opportunity to account for everyone once we evacuated. It was standard procedure to insure no one was left behind during a fire drill and that was done before the PL Director Katherine Earnest and the last librarians left. Once outside we were told to move farther from the building and parking lot so couldn’t meet at our assigned spot. Ms. Earnest and division supervisors called employees at home to account for everyone. I know it must have taken quite a while and I’m not sure when Ms. Earnest arrived home. Cell phones were not working by the time we were out of the building and moving. The call volume had crashed the system. I’m not sure when cell service was restored since I didn’t own a cell phone at the time. By the next day I heard that everyone was accounted for and all were unscathed.
6. How and when did you get home?
We had walked some distance from the parking lot and came to a road. A woman pulled her car to the side of the road and yelled out that she was headed to Alexandria and could give a ride to anyone who needed one. I told my friends to jump in and we could go to my house. I am eternally grateful to this woman and regret that even though she told us her name, none of us could remember it later. She was a real good Samaritan to the 4 of us.
She asked where in Alexandria we wanted to go. Since one of my friends lived in Maryland and rode the Metro to work, I asked her to drop us at the King Street Metro. My house is within walking distance so the rest of us could go there and use our land line to call their families.
As we traveled towards Alexandria listening to the car radio, we were hearing all the confusing and sometimes inaccurate reports. Traffic was getting heavy, and our angel was getting worried about getting home to her family. She asked if we would mind if she dropped us off in Old Town rather than at the Metro. I knew that she had saved us a lot of walking on a hot day and that we could easily walk from there. We thanked her profusely as she dropped us off. I only wish I could have thanked her more.
We were all hot, thirsty, and eager to contact our families. We found a little shop where we could buy cold drinks and use a pay phone. I was able to call my husband at home to tell him that I’m OK and will be arriving with friends. We walked to the Metro and checked that it was running through to Maryland. I gave Shirley money for the ride home and my home phone number in case the Metro stranded her in Virginia and wished her luck. The rest of us continued on foot to my house.
7. How did you feel during and after the evacuation?
I didn’t feel in immediate danger of losing my life at any point. I did feel shocked at what I saw happening in New York and that a plane crashed into my workplace. I was relieved that there had been no smoke in the PL even though there was a fire not that far away in the building. I knew from previous events that there could be a fire in a part of the Pentagon that I was not even aware of till the next day or more. The building was built during wartime to withstand bombing and to limit damage. That and its sheer size made me more confident that we could walk out safely.
I was more concerned after I knew that it was a plane that struck the building and when we were told there was an unaccounted-for plane that might be headed for us. It was a totally unplanned for type of evacuation so everyone was on their own when we were ordered to get away. As we were walking, I was thinking how I’d get home if I wasn’t able to go back and find Ann. Pentagon Metro was out of the question, Pentagon City would have meant going back through the south parking lot to cross under 395, and I wasn’t sure if Metro from Arlington Cemetery would have taken me past the Pentagon to get to Alexandria. I didn’t know the bus routes on streets near the Pentagon. I had used an express bus from Fairlington to the Pentagon on occasion but figured I’d have to change buses in order to get from Arlington to Alexandria. Everything was happening fast. News was sketchy and hard to come by as I walked so evaluating options was very difficult. I really didn’t have time to feel scared because I was trying to figure out what to do. When the wonderful lady offered us a ride, it beat all the options I had in mind. I was very relieved to know I could get to Alexandria and confident that I’d be able to walk from there. I wasn’t sure what forms of public transportation were working or how well but I can walk 10 miles .
8. What did you do the next day or the next week?
I was told to stay home until notified where to report to work by my supervisor. On the 12th I talked with family and friends who called to see if I was OK, checked in with coworkers to see how they got home, and called a friend who worked across the street from the World Trade Center in NYC. I don’t recall how long it was till we were told to report to an office building in Crystal City. When we first arrived at our temporary space in recently vacated offices it had been stripped to the bare concrete floor, walls between rooms were sparse and showed signs that it was expected they would be replaced. Furniture was an odd assortment of old metal desks and various chairs. We didn’t have computers or access to internet so couldn’t really accomplish work tasks like database searches or looking for material in the library catalog. We moved several times to different locations in those office buildings as better space was available. Equipment improved and it felt less like being a refugee.
We could not access the library collection in the Pentagon or any personal belongings for 2 months. That part of the building was considered a crime scene and no one was allowed in. It also took time for an assessment of the building to determine if it was structurally safe. There were fires in the roof area that had to be fought for days and more water was used.
The PL Director was only able to go into the Library after a few weeks to assess what damage was done. By that point there was water and mold from the water used to fight the fires.
9. How were they able to save the materials in the library? What was saved? Did you have a role in that?
Most of the Library materials were saved due to the efforts of the PL Director. She made the case for hiring a firm that specializes in remediation after fires or flooding. They brought in fans and dehumidifiers to reduce the dampness and stop further mold growth. I didn’t have any specific role in the efforts. The PL staff were doing whatever tasks the Director assigned them. I worked off site at the National Defense University Library for a short while because they offered office space and their computer access until we had that in the Crystal City offices.
10. How long did it take for you to feel ‘normal’? When were you first allowed back in the library?
The Pentagon Library never felt normal to me again. The Library never reopened in the old space in wedge 2 or in the space that was designated in Wedge 1 before 9/11. I left the Pentagon Library for another job in January 2002. Books were moved into space in the Crystal City office building as the PL Director wrangled to get space anywhere in the Pentagon to provide service and let our community know we were still able to assist with their information needs.
I recall that it was about 2 months before people were allowed back to get their purses, car keys, house keys, cell phones and important papers. It was a hard hat area, no electricity for lights and instructions to not spend any more time than necessary getting only the most important items. Later we were allowed to clear out our desks.
11. Is there anything you would like to share with us about the experience?
I have led a very fortunate life. From growing up in a loving middle-class family in rural central Pennsylvania, to having a rewarding career doing work I really enjoyed, to good health and good luck in more ways than I can count, I have benefited from circumstances beyond my control. I can’t claim to deserve the luck that allowed me to walk out of the Pentagon and have a total stranger offer me a ride home. I think of the people who lost their lives, had injuries and a traumatic exit (like my carpool partner Ann), or the horrible journeys that some of my coworkers had getting home. I have no words to express my gratitude for a million things that could have gone wrong that didn’t for me on that memorable day. My hope is that I can return the favor of the woman who went out of her way to assist strangers.
One way to assist strangers is to remind people to keep their Metro card (your local transit pass) and some form of money with their government badge. In case you must evacuate quickly you will have means to get home. If your workplace allows you to keep your phone at your desk or on your person, you may be able to keep your pass and money in your phone case. Having a plan on how to get home or to some agreed upon meeting place really pays off in an emergency. I doubt that anyone in Washington, DC expected to have to evacuate their workplace due to an earthquake when one struck in 2011. Fires, shootings, and other extreme events can and do happen. Please give some thought to how you could get home if something awful happens or how you would let your family/friends know where you are or where you would go if you can’t contact them by phone or email. Ask your supervisor if you don’t know the evacuation and meet up plan for your workplace.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. As the nation’s record keeper, the National Archives holds many documents and photographs related to the events of September 11.
9/11 Commission Records The National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, known as the 9/11 Commission, was an independent, bipartisan commission created by Congress. The Commission’s mandate was to provide a “full and complete accounting” of the attacks of September 11, 2001 and to provide recommendations as to how to prevent such attacks in the future. When the 9/11 Commission closed on August 21, 2004, it transferred legal custody of its records to the National Archives. The Commission encouraged the release of its records to the fullest extent possible in January 2009. A large percentage of the Commission’s records are national security classified files. The National Archives maintains a list of documents released since the records were opened in 2009.
9/11 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Records Following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) (Record Group 237) compiled records from its staff and aviation facilities to support internal and external investigations of the events. The records consist of 126 cubic feet of textual, audio, and electronic files relating to the actual terrorist attacks, the FAA’s involvement in the monitoring of United Airlines Flights 175 and 93 and American Airlines Flights 11 and 77, and the Federal Government’s subsequent actions in the aftermath of the attacks. Learn more about the 9/11 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Records at the National Archives and view the Finding Aid. View the processed FAA records in the National Archives Catalog.
9/11 Photograph Collection In the days following the September 11 terrorist attacks, White House photographers took over 50,000 photographs capturing the horror and heroism, the courage and compassion surrounding the attacks.
9/11 Fireman’s Son Sees Dad on National Archives Instagram On the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 tragedy, the National Archives shared a Catalog image from President George W. Bush’s visit to Ground Zero on September 14, 2001.
The son of a 9/11 fireman saw the photo on the National Archives Instagram account and asked: “Hello, I just came across this picture that you posted and the firefighter in the middle is my dad. Is there any way you can send me the original photo?” Learn more about this remarkable story and connection on National Archives News.
Upcoming Programs and Resources The National Archives and the National Archives Foundation will commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11 with a series of virtual programs accessible live to viewers across the country. Learn more about the live programming, as well as featured documents and educational resources on the National Archives Foundation website.
Since 1987, Library Card Sign-up Month has been held each September to mark the beginning of the school year. During the month, the American Library Association and libraries unite in a national effort to ensure every child signs-up for their own library card.
I have had a library card since I can remember. My first volunteer job was shelving books at my local public library. My current volunteer job is cataloging books and writing bibliographies for the USS Midway (CV-41) Research Library.
I have a library card for my local regional library system. I check books out there regularly. Today on the local news I learned some more things I can do with that library card:
Book Lovers Day is celebrated on August 9 every year. This is an unofficial holiday observed to encourage bibliophiles to celebrate reading and literature. People are advised to put away their smartphones and every possible technological distraction and pick up a book to read.
Can you think of a better way “to celebrate than by diving into a book that’s set in a library or bookstore. From inspiring novels about the power of reading to stories of unique bookshops around the world, these titles will appeal to anyone who’s ever gotten lost in a good book. Read on to see what you should pick up next.”
“When I got library card, that was when my life began.” ― Rita Mae Brown
Do you recall the first time you stepped into a library? I do. I felt like I had entered Nirvana. All those books, and I could borrow them for free! I would pick out a stack of books to take home to the farm, read them and the next time we came to town, return them and bring home another stack.
When I first became the Ft Myer Librarian in the mid-1980s, I met many of my predecessors at various Special Library Association meetings in the DC area. They told me about life in the olden days when a library technician in a Special Services uniform would drive a bookmobile out to various Nike missile sites in the DC area. One such employee had begun her life as a Donut Dolly during WWII.
In the wake of the initial Normandy landings on D-Day, a strange vehicle hit the beaches: converted London buses driven by three female volunteers from the Red Cross. Their mission was to bring a taste of home to the soldiers fighting World War II. Their weapon of choice was the doughnut.
While their early food truck might have been a new contraption — 100 GMC trucks dubbed “Clubmobiles” were created for the D-Day invasion — the baked goods they were bringing to Hitler’s Fortress Europe was not. This was their second world war, too.
By the time the United States entered the Vietnam War in force, the female volunteers of the Supplemental Recreational Activities Overseas were there, too, and their old nickname came with them. GIs in Vietnam also knew them as the “Doughnut Dollies.”
They weren’t limited to clubs, mess halls or hospitals. The Doughnut Dollies of Vietnam could be found on Hueys or alongside tanks headed into the bush. They were also there when some units came back with fewer men than had left.
Many of you have become familiar with Midway Maddy through the interviews that I had done with Maddy and Nan over the years. Earlier this month, many of you offered your condolences to Nan when I posted about Maddy’s untimely death. If any of you are interested, her Midway shipmates have started a Go-Fund-Me page to help Nan get a new emotional support animal.
Midway Maddy has been one my favorite and most frequent celebrities to interview. Now Sirius does have a new dog star. With deep sadness, I share my friend, Bonnie’s email about Maddy, who passed away on May 6, 2021.
It is with incredible sadness that I am writing to let you know that our Maddy was killed earlier this morning. Nancy took Maddy out for her morning walk, and Maddy was attacked by an Alaskan husky. Nancy was able to get Maddy away from the larger dog, but Maddy died on the way to the hospital.
Maddy has been Nancy’s emotional support animal since 2010 when Nancy’s husband died in a tragic accident. Recently Maddy has had medical issues, and several weeks ago she had two surgeries. We all had our fingers crossed, and Maddy came through. After the surgeries, Maddy and Nancy were livelier and happier than they had been in months because of the success of the medical treatments.
Maddy has accompanied Nancy for five years to the Midway. Maddy even went through Docent training with Nancy, and she has been adored by many of the staff and volunteers. Even when Nancy took Maddy out for comfort breaks, guests would come up and ask to take a photograph of Maddy or ask to have their picture taken with Maddy. This past Wednesday, Nancy and Maddy passed 2,000 volunteer hours, and Nancy and Maddy had their picture taken by the Midway photographers. It was so precious!
Maddy and Nancy have been inseparable. When Nancy broke her arm last year, Maddy was in the ambulance and in the Emergency Room. She would have been in the operating room, too, but Nancy sent her home.
As you can imagine, Nancy is having a really tough time. Tonight, Nancy has two of her relatives staying with her, and several of the library volunteers have also volunteered to be with her. Please keep our Nancy in your prayers.
Mothers have volunteered to serve in the military since the Revolutionary War, where they held traditional roles as nurses, seamstresses or cooks and, since 2015, in designated frontline combat roles. On Thursday, May 6 at 12 p.m. EST, the Library of Congress Veterans History Project (VHP) invites the public to a virtual panel titled “Motherhood and the Military” through the VHP Facebook page. The panelists and moderator will be available to answer questions and address remarks in the comments section.
Women were 16.5% of all active-duty personnel in 2018 and make up 10% of all military veterans, a percentage that is likely to increase rapidly in the next decade, according to Pentagon data. Women veterans hold many roles, including that of mothers, but their contributions have often gone unrecognized, according to experts.
Ahead of Mother’s Day, the panel will explore the intersection of the role of mothers and their connection to the military through the personal experiences of four women veterans.
“These strong women, just like those who came before them, remind us that while motherhood itself can be a full-time job, some mothers choose to continue serving in the Armed Forces. They juggle the trials of parenting with the responsibility of maintaining operations, coping with deployment and the uncertainty that can come with it all,” said Elizabeth Estabrooks, acting executive director of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Women Veterans, and the panel’s moderator.
The discussion will include special introductions by Senators Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill, and Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, both of whom are military veterans and mothers and serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran, is the first female double amputee to serve in the Senate, while Ernst was the first female combat veteran to serve in that chamber.
“The dual roles of mother and soldier are not uncommon, but too often the story of service, sacrifice and the impact on individual families goes untold,” said Duckworth, who made history in 2018 when she took her newborn baby to a Senate floor vote, just weeks after giving birth.
For her part, Ernst, a former company commander in Kuwait and Iraq, said it wasn’t easy for her to leave her little girl for deployments “halfway across the world.”
“That experience left me with a deep appreciation for the sacrifice our military families make, particularly our moms in uniform,” said Ernst, the first woman to represent Iowa in Congress.
The panel will feature mothers from different military branches who have served our nation through various generations and armed conflicts. They will discuss the trials of parenting and fulfilling operational obligations, coping with the heartache of deployments and separations, and the uncertainty that comes with military service.
Panelists for the program include:
Chief Warrant Officer 5 Candy Martin (U.S. Army, retired) — Martin served 38 years with the U.S. Army Reserves, including a deployment to Iraq in 2005. Her son, Lt. Tom Martin, was killed in action two years later. She remains very active in the veteran community and with American Gold Star Mothers, Inc.
Command Sgt. Major Rue Mayweather (U.S. Army, retired) — Mayweather served 30 years in the U.S. Army. She and her son, Capt. Kenieth Mayweather, both deployed to Iraq in 2014 in support of Operation New Dawn.
Congress created the Veterans History Project in 2000 to collect, preserve and make accessible the firsthand remembrances of United States war veterans from World War I through the more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of military service. For more information, visit www.loc.gov/vets/ or call the toll-free message line at (888) 371-5848. Subscribe to the VHP RSS to receive periodic updates of VHP news. Follow VHP on Facebook @vetshistoryproject.
The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States — and extensive materials from around the world — both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov; access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov; and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.
In honor of National Park Week and National Volunteer Week, I am sharing a piece on volunteers that I wrote a few years ago.
When a VIP agrees to share his talents, skills and interests with the National Park Service, he is paying us one of the highest compliments possible by offering a most valued possession – his time. George B. Hartzog, Jr. Director, National Park Service, 1964-1972
Volunteers, whether you love them or hate them, are a fact of life for many libraries. Over the past 35 years I have been a volunteer, worked with volunteers, and been responsible for volunteers. All three roles offer elements of hope, pain, frustration, and hopefully satisfaction.
As a volunteer, I offer to work for free—hopefully where both the organization and I will benefit from the experience. It is painful to be turned down by an organization that does not see the benefit of free labor. That most recently happened to me when I offered to work for a base library in San Diego. Since most of their volunteer applicants were possibly high school students who needed to do a number of public service hours as part of their graduation requirement, the library may have felt that finding things for volunteers to do was more trouble than it was worth. I felt like telling them I was a retired librarian with over 30 years of experience, had run libraries like this one, and they were short sighted to throw that away. But nobody asked—at least they were polite when they turned me down.
As the manager of a similar type of base library, I have had mixed feelings about volunteers. Adults who wanted to work at the circulation desk were a big help. Teenagers could be very helpful also, if they did not socialize too much with their friends. Very few people were interested in filing or shelving, which was where we could have really used the help. I learned that it was useful to already have a list of tasks that needed to be done and then let the volunteer decide if any of them were of interest. Bulletin boards, preschool story hour arts and crafts, filing, shelving, shelf reading, holiday decorating, checking books in and out, and creating bibliographies were all tasks that could be done if willing hands were available. I would now add tutoring, computer assistance, and programming ideas to that list.
The National Defense University Library has run a successful volunteer program. Some of the librarians began their careers there as either an intern or a volunteer. It lets both sides (volunteer and library staff) check each other out. Is the person a good match? Do they like the type of tasks done at NDU? Are they more interested in public service, technical service, or special collections? Fortunately NDU is a large enough library to offer people a chance to participate in all three sections. The library sets up an orientation schedule so that the volunteer has the opportunity to spend time in all of the sections, learn what the sections are responsible for and meet the people who do the job.
The National Park Service treats its volunteer very well. They call them VIPs—Volunteers in Parks. NPS also offers the George and Helen Hartzog Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service. Awards are given in multiple categories: Individual Volunteer Award, Youth Volunteer Award, Enduring Service Award, Youth Volunteer Group Award, Volunteer Group Award, and Park Volunteer Award. I am fortunate to volunteer at Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego, CA which has just won the 2013 Park Volunteer Award.
Under the direction of Volunteer Coordinator, Ranger Tavio del Rio, Cabrillo has doubled its number of volunteers in the past 3 years. Tavio has revitalized the program and has ensured that the volunteers are full-fledged members of the Cabrillo team. Since becoming a VIP at Cabrillo in January 2014, I have seen what Tavio and the other rangers have accomplished. They have ideas that other institutions might emulate.
Have a volunteer orientation—annually or as needed. Let the volunteers know what opportunities are available to them. Give them a tour. Let them hear from both other volunteers and paid staff.
Talk to the volunteers both privately and in small groups. Get to know what the volunteer wants and where they might best contribute to the whole operation. Let the prospective volunteers learn from each other too. Have a list of prospective opportunities online that they can peruse and see the requirements and expected commitment level.
Let them know what the expectations are and what type of training they can expect to receive. Reading books, taking online courses, shadowing, touring the facility, meeting the staff and other volunteers, reading the informational signs are all ways to involve volunteers.
Treat the volunteers like full- fledged members of the team. Do not treat them like second class citizens because they are not paid staff. Introduce them to their teammates—they should not have to take the initiative to meet everyone.
Provide volunteer recognitions at other times besides April is Volunteer month. Invite them to participate in staff events and meetings, as appropriate. Cabrillo does this formally and informally throughout the year. Last May we had a cookout prepared by the rangers at Spanish Landing where one of Cabrillo’s outreach partners, the San Diego Maritime Museum, is building a replica of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s flagship San Salvador. In addition to an excellent meal, we got to tour the ship.
Have meetings and communications venues that are for the volunteers. Tavio sends out emails that inform us of new volunteer opportunities, what is going on in the Park, upcoming National Park jobs, available trainings, etc. We also have a blog, a webpage, e-binders filled with useful information about the Park, its history and geography, native Americans, the flora and fauna and other useful information a volunteer might be asked.
Have an online system where volunteers can track their hours, sign up for future volunteer shifts in areas of interest, learn about other opportunities of interest and special projects. It also allows us to record mileage which can be useful for income tax purposes. We use the aptly named Volgistics.
If the volunteer pool is large enough, have a volunteer council. Provide opportunities for volunteer leadership roles—volunteers are more than free grunt labor.
Provide ongoing training. It can be volunteer oriented training or participation in agency training. Volunteers are part of the team too—see point 4.
Be creative on how to use volunteers. Invite their participation in how they might assist in improving the organization or identifying possible avenues of participation.
Since Teagan has indicated that the Sisterhood shares and spreads information, they may be an early form of librarians. In honor of National Library Week and the next Journey, I wanted to interview Teagan about her Deae Matres.
By Journey 3, we have met 4 Deae Matres: Boabhan, Mercedes, Zasha, and Tahira. Will we meet other Deae Matres as the Journeys continue?
Absolutely, yes. While the Society of Deae Matres in Emlyn’s day doesn’t hold a candle to the size and power the organization once had, it is still a large and impressive group – particularly to Emlyn’s inexperienced way of thinking. We’ll learn more of their present and past.
Boabhan and Zasha seem to have their own swordsmen. Do Mercedes and Tahira have similar associates?
When I first started reading high fantasy, one thing that intrigued me was how the authors left certain details of relationships to the reader’s imagination. Zasha and Tajín have a backstory, and romance is hinted at, but not confirmed. Boabhan and Hallgeir have a completely different backstory. Bits of both stories are revealed later when they impact the plot.
However, to your question, in this world, sisters of the Society may or may not have a swordsman who travels with them. In the backstory of the Deae Matres, such arrangements were structured into their organization, but not any more. In Zasha’s day, those arrangements might come about for any number of reasons. In any era, many Deae Matres sisters travel independently. That is true of Mercedes and Tahira, at least in the timeframe of this story.
The Deae Matres seem to live a very extended lifespan. Is that accurate? I do not think they are immortal, but if they are…
The sisters of the Society vary in age, but no, they have a normal human lifespan. You may be thinking of hints I’ve made about Boabhan. The Woman in Green is unlike the other sisters – but that has nothing to do with her being Deae Matres.
How do girls/women become Deae Matris?
There would have been a process in ages past. In Zasha’s day, if enough of the sisters agree that a woman is versatile and knowledgeable enough the Society will approach her. I didn’t “get into the weeds” with that for this story. Maybe for a future series… (winks)
Zasha, for instance, seems to have a small crush on Taigin. Do any of the Deae Matres marry their swordsmen or would that be a reason to have to leave the Society of Deae Matres?
See the question 2 for the answer.
Was Haldis, the Watcher, ever a Deae Matres?
Ah… Haldis is intriguing – mysterious in part because she is so damaged. More about her will be revealed as the Journeys continue.
Was/is Queen Ailbine a Deae Matres?
In fleshing out the history of Emlyn’s world, I mention several past rulers. That history comes into play in some details of the story. Various ghosts from the past interact with Emlyn. Queen Ailbine is one of these. Since Emlyn has difficulty knowing whether she’s talking to a ghost or a living person, Emlyn has learned to pay attention to details of their clothing and manner before she starts talking out loud to what turns out to be a ghost. Spirits from the past sometimes show up to make sure Emlyn is aware of something important, as Queen Ailbine did. Getting the message from a queen, made her pay more attention to it than she would have if one of the serving maids had pointed out what was happening. At other times, the ghosts simply come to her because she can see them.
Do the Deae Matres have a central authority figure or is it more rule by the more senior and/or dynamic members?
A question I’ve learned to ask myself when writing is “Does it advance the plot?” The structure of the Society does not impact the plot, so I don’t dig too far into the politics this world. As with most groups, the older, senior members tend to hold more authority than the newer ones.
Derrick had me with the primary picture of three volumes called Hours in a Library.
During the night I began to realise that, although ‘Monkey’ by Wu Ch’eng En was snuggled up in the novels section of the library, there was no Gibbon among the shelves that I thought had been accurately filled yesterday. That meant that there had to be another History container somewhere among the 24 left to empty. This morning’s search demonstrated no such luck.
A childhood without books — that would be no childhood. That would be like being shut out from the enchanted place where you can go and find the rarest kind of joy.” Astrid Lindgren
From the Imagination Library webpage:
About Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting program that mails free, high-quality books to children from birth to age five, no matter their family’s income.
After launching in 1995, the program grew quickly. First books were only distributed to children living in Sevier County, Tennessee where Dolly grew up. It became such a success that in 2000 a national replication effort was underway. By 2003, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library had mailed one million books. It would prove to be the first of many millions of books sent to children around the world.
The theme for National Library Week (April 4-10, 2021), “Welcome to Your Library,” promotes the idea that libraries extend far beyond the four walls of a building – and that everyone is welcome to use their services. During the pandemic libraries have been going above and beyond to adapt to our changing world by expanding their resources and continuing to meet the needs of their users. Whether people visit in person or virtually, libraries offer opportunities for everyone to explore new worlds and become their best selves through access to technology, multimedia content, and educational programs.
Almost every day this week celebrates some aspect of libraries and the people who work in them.
What is your favorite thing to do in a library? Has your library reopened? Have you used your library during the Pandemic?
Dr. Seuss is one of the best known children’s authors. His Cat in the Hat series introduced children to a number of interesting characters including the Cat himself, Thing 1 and Thing 2, and the fish plus the two human children, Sally and her brother Conrad. It took him over a year to write Cat in the Hat—and it only uses 236 different words!
In recent years, the Cat in the Hat series has been pulled from many school libraries because of its perceived racism.
The Cat in the Hat, perhaps Seuss’ most famous character, is based on minstrel stereotypes. “The Cat’s physical appearance, including the Cat’s oversized top hat, floppy bow tie, white gloves, and frequently open mouth, mirrors actual blackface performers; as does the role he plays as ‘entertainer’ to the white family—in whose house he doesn’t belong,” says Ishizuka.
During World War II, he was a political cartoonist. “1941-1943, he was the chief editorial cartoonist for the New York newspaper PM (1940-1948), and for that journal he drew over 400 editorial cartoon.”
His friend bet that he couldn’t write a book with just 50 different words, and so, Green Eggs and Ham was born.