Weekly update from Pocahontas County Free Libraries
Letters to the Editor: April 8, 2010
Spring has sprung and nowhere better than Durbin. There is currently an active Durbin library/community building committee consisting of several local members and they had hoped that there would be more than flowers springing up this year. They have spent the last year raising funds by traveling to Charleston, where they were promised $30,000 by their congressmen; petitioning the Pocahontas County Commission and receiving a promise of $20,000 in matching funds; accepting from the Durbin Town Council donated Durbin Days bingo proceeds of $1,000; sending out mailings to Durbin Graded School alumni and local philanthropists, many of which are part-time residents in the area; and the local businesses. Donations are coming in - some at $1,000, many at $100 and many at $50. The latest endeavor has been a meeting with the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development representative to apply for federal stimulus money targeted for libraries as well as a low interest loan for just this kind of project.
On March 16, the Pocahontas County Free Libraries Board (which is the only county-wide organization which has a rotating meeting in Durbin) met and discussed the building of the Durbin Library/ Community Center. The history of the project is long (at least four years long) and for much of that time the justified complaint from PCFL Board was that the local community was not behind the project. Allen Johnson, the director of the PCFL, has worked hard in putting together a combination of county services to share the space and expenses and to match the needs of the unique profile of Durbin community life. The local leaders have acknowledged the benefit that a multi-use building would bring to Upper Pocahontas. As the committeeﾗnow ready to consider the contracting for the concrete pad and start the building phaseﾗattended the library board meeting that Tuesday, the weather had changed. The PCFL Board stepped back from support of the low interest loan that comes with the USDA grant and was hesitant even to start the project at this time. The board, responding to a cash flow problem, stemming from the reduced hotel/motelﾠ tax revenue this year, changed their tune.
The Durbin Library Building Committee members see this as the time to move. The stimulus money is available now. The loan payments would be slightly more than the current rent on the library space. The land is bought and the building pad readied. Canﾒt we find the will to bring this community project into being with all this support developing in the same direction?ﾠ This issue would seem to be something The Pocahontas Times would be interested in covering. Once again there will be a delay which will test the will of the local community and may end in disillusionment. We really want to make the Durbin Library/Community Center a reality for everyone visiting Durbin next spring.
Judith Fuller, Chairman
Durbin Library/Community Center
It has come to my attention that the National Forest Service wants to close off to vehicles a local camping spot.ﾠﾠ Island Campground in the Monongahela National Forest has been a popular destination for anglers and hunters with recreational vehicles for many years.ﾠﾠﾠ Due to bridge safety they are scheduled to close these sites and it will be walk in with tent camping only.
People complain that our economy is suffering and tourism has been dropping in our area.ﾠﾠ I know for a fact that many returning visitors stayed in Island Campground and helped support our local businesses.ﾠﾠ The forest service and government might as well post signs at our county lines stating, "Welcome to Pocahontas County, please drive straight through."ﾠﾠﾠ These visitors purchase gasoline, groceries, eat at local establishments, as well as visit the NRAO, Cass Scenic Railroad and hike the Greenbrier Trail.
Camping with recreational vehicles and tents are economical ways of having a family vacation.ﾠﾠ In this day and time families need a little extra help.ﾠﾠﾠ Families who play, camp and enjoy the great outdoors stay together.ﾠﾠﾠ Local families use this location to get a weekend away from home as well.
It is now time for people to speak out, save this county treasure and voice your opinions.ﾠﾠ I support the fight to keep Island Campground open to vehicles so that everyone can enjoy Wild Wonderful West Virginia.
Thanks to Geoff Hamill for his clear and concise reports on so many subjects.ﾠ His writing makes very clear to me some complicated stuff sometimes.ﾠ I wanted to thank him for myself and Paul Detch, who was delighted with Mr. Hamill's article about his talk to CreatePocahontas.ﾠ I had invited Mr. Detch to come talk to us about his experience with the early days of development of Lewisburg.ﾠ The article Mr. Hamill wroteﾠwas completely accurate.
Now, after reading the fishing article he wrote in the Mountain Times section, he has inspired me to take up fishing this summer.ﾠ Since I haven't fished since I was 8-years-old, we'll see if this old dog can learn new tricks!ﾠ Thank you again, Mr. Hamill, for your conscientious, precise and well-written articles.
Linwood Community Library to hold grand opening
Festivities are in the works for the Grand Opening of the Linwood Community Library (LCL) this coming Saturday, April 3. Everyone is welcome to visit the facility, meet the staff and founding committee, enjoy refreshments and music, and enjoy the d�cor.
The event is planned for 5 to 8 p.m., but come on the early side. Music will fill the air from 5:30 to 6:30 with Martha and Hannah Giddings joining Will and Jill Sanning as performers.� Children�s activities will include hand print painting the sign for the kid�s room.� Local restaurants will provide end-of-ski season appetizers.� The staff and many of the hardworking volunteers will be on hand to greet you. And you can even get a library card.
The Linwood Community Library is located in the former Snowshoe Welcome Center.� For those new to the area, simply take Rt. 219 to Rt. 66, then go about 1 mile east to the junction of Snowshoe Drive. The facility is off to the right. The setting is spectacular. A few hundred feet behind the building is Signature Green #5 of the Raven Golf Club course, with high mountains looming above the valley floor. Deer often come right up to the building to graze.
Snowshoe Mountain Resort is generously leasing the building to Pocahontas Libraries for three years at $1 per year. A joint partnership enables the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitor�s Bureau and Linwood Community Library to share the spacious building to offer services both to our local people and our many visitors.
The local community has stepped up with amazing contributions of books, supplies, equipment and help.� Books are now on the shelves with more added daily. Seeing the shelving alone is worth a trip to the library. Built by Pocahontas Woods through funding from the Snowshoe Foundation, the wood units are highly attractive, functional and well-designed. Additionally, the Building Trades class taught by Duane Gibson with wood donated by Interstate Hardwoods, has just completed more wood shelving that will be used in the Children�s section and also for book sales. Other donated equipment items include computers, chairs, tables, desks and other furnishings from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Parkersburg, and carpet from Soaring Eagle Lodge.
The opening of The Linwood Community Library is a dream come true for the many people who gathered together last July at Shaky Jake�s to birth the idea for a library/community center.� The community has pulled together on this project. Much work lies ahead as funds need to be raised for operations and a new facility, as volunteers are needed to launch and operate programs, and as promotion is needed to engage the community.
This Saturday is a time to celebrate the great work already accomplished and the launching of a new era of community services in the Linwood area. So come out, enjoy a beautiful spring drive and celebrate with us!��
Grants help non-profits achieve goals
Grants are one of the chief funding mechanisms for nonprofit organizations to launch or expand programs. Grants also enable individuals with creative ideas to develop their ideas. The ability to locate grant funders and make a successful application is a task that takes skill, perseverance and access to resources.
The McClintic branch of Pocahontas Libraries is now a Cooperating Collection of the Foundation Center. We join public libraries in Charleston and Bluefield, and college libraries in Parkersburg, Shepherdstown, and Wheeling, in offering this service.
Cooperating Collections are free funding information centers that provide a core collection of Foundation Center publications, a powerful online database and training services useful to grantseekers.
A key initiative of the Foundation Center is to reach under-resourced and underserved populations throughout the United States and in other locations around the globe, who are in need of useful information and training to become successful grantseekers.ﾠ PCFL made the extensive application while the Pocahontas County Commission provided the fee that now enables anyone to make use of this collection.
Foundation Directory Online Professional is available at McClintic Library public access computers. Comprised of nine integrated databases, this service profiles almost 100,000 grantmakers, over 3,600 grantmaking companies, surveys over 600,000 IRS 990s, and provides information on 1.8 million grants. One can use searchable keywords and phrases to find matches across the nine databases. More than 1,000 indexed search terms assist the user. One can also search by zip code, congressional district or other geographical regions. Grantmaker portfolios are provided in detail along with their funding patterns. Importantly, the nine databases are updated weekly. While the online databases must be used at the McClintic Library, one can save, print or email profiles and records.
The Cooperating Collection also provides numerous print materials. These include The Foundation Directory; The Foundation Centerﾒs Guide to Proposal Writing; Foundation Grants to Individuals; The Grantseekerﾒs Guide to Winning Proposals; Guide to Funding for International and Foreign Programs; National Directory of Corporate Giving; After the Grant: The Nonprofitﾒs Guide to Good Stewardship; and many other print resources including Spanish language materials.
Both experienced grantseekers and newcomers are welcome to use the resources.ﾠ One of the criteria for our being a Cooperating Collection is that we hold training programs for the public. Of course, our own staff will develop skills sufficient to help people understand how to access the print materials and online databases.ﾠ Please understand that our staff will be happy to point out the services and how to use them, but will not do your research or write your grants.
Our first round of public training will be held at McClintic Library on Monday, May 17.ﾠ Two workshops will be held during the timeframe of noon to 4 p.m. Janice Rosenberg, Senior Librarian for The Foundation Center since 1996, will teach a class on Introduction To Foundation Directory Online and another class on Proposal Writing Basics. These classes will be available at no charge, and will be held in the McClintic Library Conference Room. Due to space limitations we may have to limit attendance.ﾠ The Family Resource Network (FRN) is co-sponsoring the workshops. We are also considering further workshops on grantmaking that morning. Information will be forthcoming as the program develops.
The Cooperating Collection is an extraordinary resource for our region encompassing not only Pocahontas County but surrounding areas in neighboring Virginia and West Virginia. We hope this service is used extensively and successfully for the further enhancement of quality of life in our region.
Library Lines: Libraries are the best place to 'hoard' your books
I have always called myself (laughinglyﾅsort of) a book hoarder.ﾠ I may work in a library, but that has never prevented me from collecting books at home.ﾠ I have five bookshelves full, not to mention the books that have overflowed into boxes, waiting patiently for me to find more room for new shelves.ﾠ How many boxes?ﾠ Letﾒs not get into that.
Last night, my husband and I watched a show on television about people who truly do hoard everything.ﾠ They just cannot throw things away, and continue acquiring more stuff until their homes are buried, literally and their marriages and families are broken, damaged and some outright destroyed.ﾠ So maybe Iﾒm not a true hoarder.ﾠ I mean, I can see every floor in every room of my home.
But one interview between a hoarder and a psychologist really struck a chord in me.ﾠ The hoarder was explaining that she had to keep a particular glass jar (in spite of having boxes and boxes of empty jars) because it was the perfect storage container for the soup she intended to make.ﾠ ﾓIf I get rid of that jar, then the dream of making soup dies.ﾔﾠ Now, I understand that!ﾠ At one point in my life, I wanted to rewrite fairy tales and folktales for children.ﾠ I collected many books of fairy tales from many different countries and cultures.ﾠ I was (and still am) fascinated that so many cultures have a Cinderella story, or a Sleeping Beauty story.ﾠ So I have a lot of collections of fairy tales, for research purposes.ﾠ If I get rid of all those books, will my dream of writing childrenﾒs books die?
Not at all!ﾠ I can donate those books to the library, let other people use and enjoy them, and when my dream is ready to be fulfilledﾅthey will be there, ready for me to check out.ﾠ
Another interview between hoarder and psychologist also made me think.ﾠ The psychologist picked up a small stuffed character, and said, ﾓWhat if I said I was going to take this with me when I leave today?ﾔﾠ The hoarder looked at the toy, and asked, ﾓAre you going to take care of it?ﾔﾠ ﾓAh..I canﾒt tell you that,ﾔ said the psychologist.ﾠ The hoarder said, ﾓWell, I would have given that toy to him in a heartbeat if he needed it and would take care of it.ﾠ But if he was just going to toss itﾅI couldnﾒt let it go.ﾔ
My books are friends, old friends.ﾠ If I give them away, I want whoever gets them to love, appreciate and ﾅwell, to hoard them like I did!ﾠ I donﾒt want to just throw away all my books.ﾠ I want them to be used.ﾠ So I could understand that sentiment as well!
The bottom line here is that television show got me thinking about all my books, how I view them, and the relationship I have with my collection.ﾠ Can I share it?ﾠ Absolutely.ﾠ We have five libraries in this county, and especially the new Linwood Library, which is trying to build a collection for its community.ﾠ Iﾒm going through all my books, deciding which ones would be most useful for the libraries.ﾠ
I urge all of you to do the same.ﾠ All five libraries gladly take donations; money is tight, and we can all build up our libraries while creating more space in our homes.ﾠ Itﾒs a win-win situation!ﾠ It may be hard to let some of these old friends go, but I know that I can go back and check the book out if I need to spend some time with it again.ﾠ Even if it falls apart, and the library has to pull it from the collection, there is always the interlibrary loan option.ﾠ Someone, somewhere, will always have a copy of ﾓPride and Prejudice.ﾔﾠ Not to worry.
Library Lines: Award ceremony brings back good memories
The Institute of Museum and Library Services bestowed a National Community Service Award on Pocahontas Libraries in 2003. This prestigious award was presented by First Lady Laura Bush at a White House ceremony in January 2004 to three museums and to the Philadelphia, Bozeman (MT), and PCFL libraries, accompanied by a check for $10,000.ﾠﾠ
A week ago I was in Washington, D.C., for some personal business, and it so happened that the IMLS was holding its award ceremonies for this yearﾒs recipients.ﾠ Earlier I had received correspondence from the IMLS that they were forming an alumnus group for past award winners, which included a standing invitation to award ceremonies.ﾠ I carved a few hours out from my schedule Tuesday morning and headed over to the Old Post Office Building where this yearﾒs ceremonies were held.
I went early enough to talk with some of this yearﾒs award recipients, such as Ken Oliver, Director of the Canton, Ohio, libraries.ﾠ I especially enjoyed a chat with James Billington,ﾠ Librarian of Congress, for almost 23 years.ﾠ A dignified, yet sprightly and energetic 80-year-old, Billingtonﾒs eyes lit up when I mentioned I was from West Virginia.ﾠ He had good West Virginia stories to tell. Kathleen Sebelius, former Kansas governor and now U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, gave a keynote speech. Ann Radice, retiring IMLS Director, received recognition for her years of service. The History Channel, sponsor of the ceremony, showed a film highlighting the award winning institutions.
The awards, renamed the National Medal, are now given annually to five libraries and five museums. This yearﾒs medal libraries are the Braille Institute Library in Los Angeles, California; the Elgin, Illinois, public library; the Multnomah County libraries in Portland, Oregon; the Pritzker Military Library in Chicago, Illinois; and the Stark County libraries in Canton, Ohio.ﾠ For more on the awards, visit the website at http://imls.gov/news/2010/022310.shtm/
Being at the ceremony brought back a flood of warmﾠ memories. Emma Beard, Jane Price Sharp, Reta Griffith, Beth Little and I had traveled by van to Washington, D.C., in January, 2004. The weather was very cold and blustery during the entire trip. I worried about 94-year-old Emma Beard and 85-year-old Jane Price Sharp as we traipsed in bone-cold Washington weather. They were troopers, however, paving the way for us as we spent time with Senators Byrd and Rockefeller, took in receptions, and then attended the award ceremony and reception at the White House. We were kept busy for two days and nights.
Traveling to Washington, we stopped at a Cracker Barrel restaurant for supper. Because it was cold, I left our rented van engine running while I helped everyone out of the vehicle.ﾠ Then for some inexplicable reason the power door locks snapped shut, with the key in the ignition and all of us locked out. We ate supper while waiting for the locksmith. Was this an ominous portent of things to come? As it turned out, the rest of the trip went smoothly and wonderfully.
Obviously everyone survived.ﾠ I just talked to Emma Beard, now 100, who is as charming and lively and conversational as ever. Andﾠ Jane Price Sharp is out and about every day doing community-minded activities.
Recently someone from the IMLS called to say PCFL had been nominated for the Medal Award. Congratulations, I was told, but we would not be eligible again until 10 years from our previous award expired.ﾠ Thank you, whoever nominated us!ﾠ In the meantime, our award from 2003 is a tribute to our board members, staff, volunteers, partnering organizations, local government, financial contributors and library users who make Pocahontas Libraries a remarkable institution ofﾠ community service.
Rereading the classics
I was having a conversation this past weekend with a few friends, and the topic of re-reading books that we loved when we were younger came up.ﾠ One of my friends made the statement that, as she is now older, the books she loved seemed goofy, or poorly written, or downright unreadableﾅﾔlike Jane Eyre and Gone with the Wind.ﾔﾠ
What??ﾠ I couldnﾒt believe my ears.ﾠ How could Jane Eyre be goofy, or GWTW be unreadable?ﾠ Impossible.ﾠ Iﾒm going to have to re-read these classics, and get back to you on those two particular titles.ﾠ But, I have to say that being snowed in did allow me to re-read a few other books that I had read years ago, and loved.
First, I read Bram Stokerﾒs Dracula again.ﾠ There is a vampire craze going on right now (you may have noticed this too) and I felt a need to go back to the source, as it were.ﾠ I can remember reading Dracula as a teenager, and feeling unsettled by the story.ﾠ Happily, itﾒs still a spooky, unsettling story.ﾠ What I didnﾒt recall was that itﾒs written in the form of journal entries, letters and telegrams between the major characters.ﾠ Jonathan Harker travels to meet with his client, Count Dracula.ﾠ During his stay, he records his experiences in his journal; he notices that Dracula never sits down to dinner with him, and that he never sees his host in the daytime.ﾠ Little things like that.ﾠ He finally realizes he is a prisoner in Draculaﾒs castle, and barely escapes with his life, and his neck.ﾠ The story continues in England, from the viewpoint of his wife, her best friend, and other companions who are determined to hunt down the vampire and kill him.ﾠ I loved re-reading this so much that I talked my daughter into reading it as well.ﾠ She was amazed at how ﾓmodernﾔ the book seemed.ﾠ She expects all classics to be dull and difficult to read, but she was pleasantly surprised with Dracula.
My next re-read was the novel ﾓThe King Must Dieﾔ by Mary Renault.ﾠ This was written in the late 50ﾒs, and tells the story of the Greek hero Theseus.ﾠ Renault begins with the premise that Theseus was once a real man, and then tells his story, explaining how all the legends and myths of his deeds may have actually occurred. She bases her novel on archaeological information about Crete and the Minoans, and does a wonderful job of bringing both the time period, and Theseus, to life.ﾠ If your Greek mythology is a little rusty, Theseus is the son of the King of Athens, Aigeus.ﾠ Each year, Athens must send 14 young people to Crete, to be given in sacrifice to the Minotaur.ﾠ Theseus goes into the Labyrinth with a ball of string so he may kill the Minotaur and find his way back out.ﾠ Itﾒs a wonderful story, and I enjoyed this one just as much as I did when I first read it many years ago.ﾠ In fact, Iﾒm hoping for another snow storm, for Renault wrote a sequel, ﾓThe Bull from the Sea.ﾔ
So far, my experience in re-reading old, well-loved novels has been a pleasant one.ﾠ I think I might have to try Jane Eyre soon, just to see if I still get pulled into Janeﾒs story.ﾠ Iﾒll keep you posted.
Library Lines: In spite of trends, newspapers valuable to communities
ﾓCongress shall make no law ﾅabridging the freedom ﾅof the press.ﾔ I cut out this clip from the First Amendment to the Constitution of The United States.ﾠ Not because freedom of and from religion as well as free speech are unimportant. They certainly are. Rather, I want to discuss the importance to our nation of an independent, vigorous, and responsible press.
Broadly speaking, the press includes newspapers, magazines, television, movies, radio, internet forms such as websites and blogs, pamphlets and books.ﾠ The press is considered free when the state does not control or interfere with content.
Our nationﾒs press is in the midst of a tectonic media shift. Especially hard hit are those that focus on news and investigative journalism. Scores of long-established newspapers and news magazines are folding, while many of those remaining are downsizing their news bureaus. Television networks, too, are cutting back their news programming budgets.
The trend is ominous. Rising generations are much less likely to access news from newspapers or standard television network news programs. Instead they rely heavily upon free internet sources. This begs the question, where do these internet news sources get their primary data? The answer, unsurprisingly, is the traditional news bureaus. And note, these bureaus are being cut back due to financial limitations.ﾠ
After all, if newspaper and news magazines have fewer subscriptions, then both subscription and advertising revenue will decline. Budget cuts necessarily follow.
The internet itself is facing powerful lobbying by telephone and cable interests seeking to end neutrality of the web. In other words, to privatize the internet so that they can determine what web services come through and what ones do not.ﾠ The freedom to post a website and have it read would not be free (not be free of cost, that is, and maybe not free expression of content).
Media consolidation is a trend in which major media outlets become owned by a proportionately smaller number of corporations. Disney, Viacom, TimeWarner, News Corporation and General Electric through their subsidiaries in sum own more than 90% of media holdings in the United States. A wide spectrum of checks and balances necessary for a vigorous democracy can be compromised when media giants prioritize profit-driven news.
In their book, The Death and Life of American Journalism, Robert McChesney and John Nichols recommend a government subsidy for independent, nonprofit, non-commercial media to keep well-researched journalism thriving for the sake of democracy. They point to other nations, democracies,ﾠ that do subsidize. The authors counter the argument that government will meddle by saying that otherwise our news is evolving into ﾓa nexus of corporate power and government power, where corporations are driving it.ﾔ
I am thankful for The Pocahontas Times. Our local county newspaper is not run by absentee owners who dictate the content. Rather, we can readily call or stop by to talk with the owners. The paper cares about our community, indeed rises and falls with the rest of us. People can submit news items or letters on issues. Our community radio station, WVMR, likewise involves the community in local issues and news. Both these entities hold a serious commitment to accurate and balanced news investigation and reporting.
I am also thankful for our libraries. Iﾒm not just saying this because itﾒs my job. Strong libraries, too, hold an important place in providing public access to information.
We need to support our local news and information outlets. They provide us with news, analysis and a platform to express our concerns and opinions. They perform a valuable function for us to forge a thriving, healthy democracy.
Library Lines: Linwood Library shaping up
The first shelving units are arriving at the Linwood Community Library. Pocahontas Woods, under the guidance of master furniture craftsman John Wesley Williams, has designed and is constructing beautiful oak book shelves. The Snowshoe Foundation has provided major funding. These shelves will be relocated when the new library is built. Until then, they will hold books at the Welcome Center interim library.
The Linwood Community Library should open for services any day now. Librarian Cree Lahti, assistant Sarah Shearer, and VISTA volunteer Sarah Eilers have spent hours cleaning, painting, preparing equipment, and processing books in preparation for opening. McClintic Librarian Vicky Terry continues to provide training and oversight as the library gets ready to open. Terry holds a Masters Degree in Library Science, and is one of only a few in West Virginia credentialed to train cataloging.
The Linwood community (Slaty Fork, Snowshoe, Mace and even into Randolph County) has been superb in volunteering time, materials, and money for this project. A list of those who have contributed will be in a forthcoming column since to list these now would take up the rest of this column.ﾠ I will mention, however, that many contributions of high quality books are coming in as donations.ﾠ
Several high speed Internet computers are up now for public use.ﾠ The building has wireless capability.ﾠ Since the library will function also as a community center, programs are starting up such as yoga, movie nights and a pre-school children program.
On Wednesday, January 27, the Durbin Building Committee traveled to Charleston to meet with our legislators to seek funding help.ﾠ The caravan included PCFL board president and Durbin resident Sue Ann Heatherly, Durbin Librarian Tara Bauserman, library assistant Nancy Egan, Durbin Building Committee Chair Judy Fuller, Upper Pocahontas County Community Cooperative President Jason Bauserman and his son, Jeremy Bauserman, and me.ﾠ We were graciously received in individual meetings with Senator Walt Helmick, Senator Clark Barnes, Delegate Bill Hartman and Delegate Mike Ross. Our Durbin Building Committee members felt very hopeful following the meetings. Also during the trip, we toured the state library commission. On the return trip home, some of the group stopped at the Weston office of the United States Department of Agriculture to discuss possible grants and loans with Paula Moeller.
Then on Thursday, February 4, a number of us traveled again to Charleston for the West Virginia Library Associationﾒs Legislative Day. We were thankful for clear weather sandwiched between winter storms. As Legislative Committee Chair, I was pleased with a large turnout from across the state to support libraries. The library association held an excellent reception attended by many legislators. Once again our own delegation showed hospitality, interest and support for libraries as we met with them. Attending from Pocahontas County were Vicky Terry, Jane Mospan, Arnold Stewart, Nancy Egan, Ginger Must, Elwood and Ann Groves and Allen and Debora Johnson.
I should mention that Hillsboro Libraryﾒs heating system crashed several weeks ago. First the heat pump, and later the heat strips.ﾠ Currently, we are operating on space heaters with limited circuits available, thus we have difficulty during extreme cold temperatures keeping our temperature at normal. We have tentative plans to do a major overhaul of the heating/cooling system this year. Until then we ask the public to bear with us.
Library Lines: Library Director recalls Haiti visit
In March 1993, I spent almost three weeks in Haiti with a Christianﾠ Peacemaker Team delegation. Haiti radically changed my life. The recent natural disaster that has plunged so many Haitians into tragedy has once again re-opened my eyes and heart.
Before the recent major earthquake, most Haitian people were living in desperate poverty. I remember walking the blighted narrow streets of Cite Soleil, that massive, crowded, humid slum in Port-Au-Prince. I recall the cognitive dissonance seeing grand mansions perched high up in Petionville surrounded by teeming seas of tin-roofed shanties. My thoughts go back to the Iron Market, a place for vendors to sell goods to an almost nonexistent tourist industry. The Iron Market burned the other day. I visited schools where the children literally had nothing but a rough piece of slate to write upon...and no books whatsoever. Ah the land, so devastated, such a moonscape with total deforestation and resultant erosion.
I worry about Harri, Ron and Carla Bluntschli, Volsi and his young daughter, and so many other generous, courageous, hard working and persevering people I met. ﾓAre they alive?ﾔ I ask myself. Even if they live, they suffer for their friends and families.
Someone asked me today what I thought in the long run what would help Haiti?ﾠ Of course any response would be complex and multi-faceted. Let me start with this thought, which is a thread, varying only by degree that pertains to Pocahontas County, rural America, the inner city and globally, as well as locally.
Haiti has virtually no middle class. The vast majority of Haitians range from very poor to desperately poor. A few Haitians are very rich, maybe 2% of the population. The middle class of teachers, medical professionals, and business owners comprise about 8%. The balance of the population, about 90%, live in deep poverty. Life is a daily struggle to survive to another day. Contrast this with the United States, with at least half its population in the middle class.
Middle and upper class folks can save money, enroll their children in higher education, plan for their old age. They own property. They can invest in businesses and enterprises. They engage in civic activities, organize community improvement, and safeguard their health. They plan for their futures. They see to it that parks and libraries are built, schools are good and pollution is limited. Impoverished people struggle just to get by day to day. The horizon of their future is this day.
Many Haitians want a future. But without the security of sufficient income, they have no access to higher education, funds to develop a business, or a way to a nice home.
One of the most contentious policy issues that Haiti has wrestled with over the past two decades has been the minimum wage paid to workers in internationally-owned factories making clothing and other items for export in tax-free zones. This past year the Haitian Parliament voted to increase the minimum wage from the equivalent of about $1.75 per day to about $5.50 per day. The president knocked this back to $3 per day under threats from corporations that they would pull their factories out of Haiti. So a worker goes from 25 cents per hour to 38 cents per hour? Imported food, gasoline and other commodities cost about they same as they do here in the United States. The workers cannot get ﾓa leg up,ﾔ so to speak, to build themselves a better future.
Destitute people cannot build and sustain a vibrant country. Haitians need an opportunity to make a viable wage to build the infrastructures that enable vibrant community growth.
I think about our public libraries, built by the concerted effort of a large segment of the population, that provide everyone irrespective of their income an opportunity to use a computer, access the internet, read a book or hold a meeting. There are opportunities here in Pocahontas County, blessings to be sure, but a pathway we must work hard at to keep open.
Subscription databases aid online research
I spend hours most working days on a computer doing various reports, correspondence, and research. Many times every day I use a search engine such as Google.ﾠ I appreciate being able to find information rapidly.ﾠ But sometimes I need to look elsewhere.
Subscription databases are online services that cost money but provide exceptional services.ﾠ For example, Pocahontas Libraries has a subscription to Online University, which offers hundreds of online computer software tutorials.ﾠ Pocahontas Libraries also has a subscription to Ancestry.com, a premier genealogical research program to trace and gain information about ancestors.ﾠ These programs are free for patrons to use by contacting a local librarian and reserving a time slot.
The West Virginia Library Commission also subscribes to a number of subscription databases. These are available, free, to any West Virginia library patron.ﾠ These databases can be accessed at home with an easy to remember password you can obtain from your librarian.
The website is www.WVInfoDepot.org/ or you may enter through our PCFL portal at www.pocahontaslibrary.org/
EBSCOhost offers thousands of journal, magazine, newspaper titles with fully searchable full text articles covering a vast array of subjects in health, business, general information.
Consumer Health Complete is a specialized searchable database of hundreds of sources.
NoveList Plus offers a wealth of information about novels including a search function reviews, book talks, and awards. NoveList Plus K-8 is for younger school children.
Points Of View is a searchable topical database culling from newspapers, books, magazines and journals on issues of debate.
Searchasaurus is a seachable database of childrenﾒs magazines and other resources. Searches can be through a Lexile Scale for reading level.
Kids Search is another childrenﾒs database.
Groliers (Young Readers) is a searchable database of encyclopedia, magazine, and websites for youngsters. Groliers (Older Readers) is geared for teens and adults. Excellent resource for teacher lesson preparation.
Access NewspaperARCHIVE contains tens of millions of searchable newspaper pages, dating as far back as the 1700s. Thousands of newspapers are listed, including some recent issues of The Pocahontas Times.
Selected West Virginia Newspaper has archives of The Charleston Gazette, Charleston Daily Mail, Dominion Post (Morgantown) and Herald-Dispatch (Huntington), and several national news magazines.
LearningExpressLibrary.com is a leading source for test preparation materials and interactive practice exams based on official tests. Immediate scoring, answer explanations, and individualized analysis of results. Signup and login must be done through our web portal at www.wvinfodepot.org/ or accessed through our library web page. May be used at home.
These databases offer extraordinary information capacity.ﾠ Check these out. And remember to ask your librarian for a password.