Weekly update from Pocahontas County Free Libraries
Each year Pocahontas County Free Libraries sends out a newsletter to let everyone know what its been doing for the past 12 months and to ask for your financial support. We get support from our County Commission and the state, but it doesn’t cover our entire operating budget. The donations from library users and supporters are crucial to keeping our doors open and our services available to residents of Pocahontas County.
Let me give you an idea of what it takes to run the five branches. If you donated $5, it would pay for all of our magazine subscriptions for one day; $10 would pay for our daily telephone costs; $25 buys a day’s worth of postage and supplies; $50 would pay our utilities for one day; $100 would buy a best-selling hardcover book for each branch; $500 would pay our hard-working and dedicated staff for one day; $1,000 would cover our total operating expenses for all five branches for a day and a half.
I know these are tight economic times; it’s a challenge for all of us. It’s during these hard times that your public library becomes even more important, as more and more people turn to us for our free Internet access, books, movies, e-books and more. Your contribution to PCFL is an investment in the future. Supporting your library means you believe that the work we do and the services we offer are important. It means that you see and understand the importance of free access to reading materials and the Internet for everyone, regardless of social and economic standing. It means that you want to invest in the children of Pocahontas County, because they are our future. With your help, we can maintain our level of service. With enough help, we can increase our services to reach even more people.
If you are not on our mailing list and would like to be, please contact me at 304-799-6000 and we’ll add you to the list. If you would like to make a donation, you can do so by mail to 500 Eighth St., Marlinton, WV 24954 or by using Paypal. Go to www.pocahontaslibrary.org click on Info, and you will see a Paypal link. It’s easy and quick and your donations are tax deductible.
As you can see, whatever amount you can give is helpful and greatly appreciated! We truly appreciate your support of the PCFL.
Last week a good friend and library patron asked me to recommend some books for her grandson. She told me his age and his favorite book; she wanted to get him something for Christmas that he would enjoy as much as the series of books he had just read.
This is a common question, and rightfully so—especially if you don’t make a habit of reading books that would interest pre-teen boys! Luckily I do read those books, so I was able to help her (I hope) with a list of titles that he might enjoy. But her request got me thinking: why didn’t I think to mention NoveList Plus for K-8?
NoveList Plus for K-8 is a wonderful database that you can access through the library’s web page. Go to www.pocahontaslibrary.org , click on ‘Collections’ and then click the link for Info Depot. You’ll find it there.
Let’s say you have a child on your Christmas list, and being a smart person, you want to give the gift of books and reading. But what to choose?
Once you are on the home page, look to the left. You will see age divisions of 0-8, 9-12 and Teen. Select the correct age, and browse titles. It’s that easy! If you know of a book or series that the child enjoyed, do a search for the title, author or series. Your results list will show a brief description of each book written by that author, or in the series you searched. At the bottom of each description, you will see three links: Author read-alikes, Title read-alikes and Series read-alikes. Clicking on any one of these links will bring up a list of other books that are similar to the book you searched. There’s your shopping list, easy as can be!
You can also narrow your results. If you look to the left of your results screen, you will be able to select to narrow the choices down by Genre, Subject, Location, Storyline and more.
You can create an account in NoveList which will enable you to move books into a folder and save them. That way, if you are doing numerous searches, you will have all your results at your fingertips.
Don’t forget - there is a NoveList Plus for adults too! It works on the same principle. You can search for titles for yourself; things you might enjoy reading if you like, say, “Gone with the Wind” or “The Help.”
Hopefully this will take the headache out of shopping for the readers on your list. Enjoy!
Is it too soon to recommend some Christmas reading?
I hate rushing the seasons away, but reading stories about Christmas never fails to put me in a better frame of mind. I’m always rereading my old favorites, but I also enjoy finding new stories to add to my list. I’d like to recommend a wonderful little book of heartwarming stories – which has now become one of my “old favorites” – called Our Simple Gifts: Civil War Christmas Tales by Owen Parry.
Parry is probably best known for his series of Civil War novels featuring Abel Jones, a Welsh Civil War veteran who goes about solving mysteries in a series of five novels.
This collection of short stories is also set during America’s Civil War, which adds a melancholy feel to the stories. Parry creates fully developed characters and settings in these tales; you feel the cold snow, the warm fires, the despair and the hope.
Our Simple Gifts contains four stories: “Star of Wonder” is the story of a young man returning home from the battlefield, having lost his arm in battle, and his fiancée to typhoid fever. His journey home on Christmas Eve becomes not just a journey, but his destiny. A blizzard, a young Irish widow and the grace of the season show him that forgiveness and faith still exist.
“Tannenbaum” introduces Gus Tannenbaum, a German immigrant serving with the Union troops nicknamed Dutch by the other members of his company. In spite of the prejudice of some, and the smallness of others, Dutch sees these men as his only family, and as such, decides to make this a memorable Christmas for all.
“Nothing but a Kindness” finds Natty Hawks heading home to the hills of Appalachia, having been released from a Union prison in time for Christmas. After losing an eye, he’s no longer a threat, or so the Yankees figure. He knows his family will be surprised to see him; his father, the staunch Union supporter who couldn’t understand why his son joined the Rebels; his mother, worn down and worried, his many siblings, and his beloved grandmother, Old-Ma. And it turns out to be Old-Ma who greets him first, and gives him the ear, the love and the wisdom he needs to carry on.
Finally, “Christmas Gift” shows us a sad Christmas on a southern plantation, and how roles can be reversed in the twinkling of an eye. Dundee is suddenly a free man, no longer a slave. Those who were once mighty have now fallen, and Dundee is only human. He searches his heart and soul about the notion of justice, of judgment and what Christmas really means. Can he find it in his heart to reclaim himself? Will his faith bring him peace?
Each one of these tales expresses forgiveness, love, charity and faith…all the things that together represent the true meaning of Christmas. Some may feel that the juxtaposition of the war and this holy season tugs at the heart strings too much; is too sentimental. But if you can’t be sentimental at Christmas time, then there is just no place for sentiment in this world, is there? This is one of the better writers of historical fiction putting his talents to a topic near and dear to his heart. And it shows. Our Simple Gifts by Owen Parry is on my short list of things to read each holiday season.
During this season of thanks and gratitude, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about the many blessings in my life. I know this is typically a time of family gatherings and good cheer, but I feel doubly blessed because I have a “work family” as well, and they are a wonderful group of people! Each and every one of them makes my job easier.
The McClintic Library runs smoothly thanks to Pam Johnson. Believe me when I tell you that she knows everything. Pam is especially good with local history and genealogy research. How lucky we are to have her here! She is always willing to go along with my ideas, and cheerfully gets the job done. Paula Stemple is our numbers expert. All bookkeeping and bill paying goes through Paula, and she does a wonderful job. If you look up “organized” or “efficient” in the dictionary, you’ll see Paula’s smiling face!
The Green Bank Library has benefited from Jane Mospan’s dedication and knowledge for more than 30 years. Jane knows her patrons, and does everything she can to provide materials that she knows they will enjoy. She may seem quiet and reserved, but don’t let that fool you. Jane knows her stuff! Mary Ann Alonso, who helps out part time, can attest to that. Mary Ann does a great job helping with children’s programs, and just keeping the library going in general.
The Hillsboro Library is under the very able command of Elwood Groves. A true gentleman, Elwood has a busy, thriving branch and the respect of his community. He sees the library as a community center and is tireless when it comes to hosting the community within his building. His new assistant, Emily Newton, has been a welcome addition in the past few months. Emily has “Warm welcome” down pat!
I couldn’t find a better fit for the Durbin Library than Nancy Egan. She has taken the building project, and in fact the entire community of Durbin to heart, and works very hard to encourage library usage in her small (and thankfully temporary) space. Nancy is cheerful, knowledgeable and enthusiastic—all qualities that will make our northern-most library a success.
Our newest branch is the Linwood Library at Snowshoe, and we have a real gem in Cree Lahti. Cree is friendly, welcoming and dedicated to providing excellent service and programs. She serves both the community and the many visitors to our beautiful county with a smile and lots of information. Cree is always ready to accommodate her patrons, and hosts some great programs, as well.
The Pocahontas County Free Libraries Board of Trustees is another group of dedicated people with whom I enjoy working. Denise McNeel, Beth Little, Sue Ann Heatherly, Mark Clark and Debbie Goodwin all serve on our board because they love both libraries and Pocahontas County. We would not have such a strong system without their guidance.
I’m also extremely grateful for the many, many volunteers at each branch of the PCFL. They make our libraries stronger and better by giving of themselves. There are too many to list here, but I would like to say thank you, and we all value each and every one of you!
Each person I’ve mentioned here is truly a pleasure to know, and I am honored to work with them to provide quality library services to all of you. Thanks for letting me count my blessings here. The staff and board of the PCFL wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving.
For me, the scariest kind of book is one that has a subtle creepiness to it. You know something has happened, something is going on—you’re just not sure eactly what.
I love those kinds of books! And I recently found a great one by Jenni Mills, called Crow Stone.
Crow Stone is the story of Kit Parry, a young woman who is an engineer. She makes a living working on various freelance projects, quite often with archaeologists. Her fascination is with the underground world that few people see. Caves and mines scare her, but they pull her into their dark passages; she can’t stay away.
Kit has been asked to come to Bath, England, to help on a project. The town sits atop old stone quarries which are becoming more and more unstable. There is a very real danger of collapse, with the threat of homes and shops sinking into the earth. It has been decided to fill in the quarries before that happens, and Kit would be the chief engineer on the project. It’s a big job, and would only add to her prestige in her field—but she hesitates.
Kit grew up in Bath. Her mother left when Kit was only two-years-old. The story Kit hears in bits and pieces from the townsfolk is that her mother ran off with a soldier, leaving Kit behind to be raised by her father. The summer Kit turned 14 was a hard summer; we know something terrible happened to her, and we know that she was taken away from her home and her father. But Kit has worked hard to bury those memories, and is not ready to share them with the reader. The more she thinks about this project, the more she decides that filling in the quarries will be the perfect way to bury her past—once and for all.
The author slowly reveals Kit’s past and present with alternating chapters; first in present day Bath, where she must work in a male-dominated field with superstitious stone miners, and a site foreman that she had a crush on as a teenager; and then we get a glimpse into that fateful summer when Kit (then known as Katie) was 14. We meet her (questionable) friends, and her father who is by turns loving and violent. As the story builds, the tension grows and the mystery of exactly what is going on grows, too.
This is the type of book you should sink into. There are lots of details about mine engineering and urban archaeology – two topics I knew little about. The author describes being lost in an underground cave, and does a wonderful job of creating tension and anxiety. It’s not a fast-paced book, but I had a very hard time putting it down. The possibility of Kit and her friend Martin – a professor of archaeology – finding an old site once used by Roman soldiers to worship Mithras and trying to save the site before the quarries are filled in gave the chapters set in the present day an exciting urgency, while the chapters set in Kit’s past were ominous and filled with a creepy tension. There is no supernatural or paranormal element here; all the ugliness revealed is very human and very tragic because it is so real. This was a first novel, and I’m looking forward to reading more from Ms. Mills.
New Session of Diabetes Education Classes at PMH
As American Diabetes Month continues, Pocahontas Memorial Hospital wants to stress the importance of education in managing diabetes. Too often, folks who have just been diagnosed with diabetes think they can never eat sweets or bread again. And because of this misconception – or lack of education – many people with diabetes shun diabetes management and treatment altogether.
With the proper self-management and moderation, diabetes does not have to be an “all or nothing” kind of lifestyle. Learning how to properly control diabetes can prevent many long term health complications like heart disease and attack, nerve damage, kidney failure, blindness, foot damage, Osteoporosis, hearing loss and Alzheimer’s.
Terry Wagner is a Certified Diabetes Educator at Pocahontas Memorial Hospital who is available to help anyone in the community – not just hospital patients. A Certified Diabetes Educator has a national certification backed up by education, training and work-related experience to help people with diabetes live healthy and productive lives. If you have diabetes, do not feel that you are alone in treating and managing your disease. Terry can help you develop a personal meal and exercise plan; as well as explain how your medication works and when to take it. Managing diabetes will be different for each person depending on age, school or work schedule, activity and exercise level, eating habits and any special medical conditions. Blood sugar monitoring is an extremely important part of successfully managing diabetes and Terry can help you learn what type of meter to buy and how to use it. If you just need some help and support in understanding diabetes, Terry always has a willing and open ear.
November 20 is the start of a new session of “B-N-Charge” diabetes self-management classes at PMH. The program includes four group classes and additional individual meetings if needed.
“B-N-Charge” gives you the education and resources needed to control diabetes and is suitable for those just diagnosed or who have had diabetes for years. Topics include medication, nutrition, exercise, foot care, family involvement, social support, self-monitoring, prevention of complications, community services, behavioral change strategies and stress tips. The classes are a Medicare-covered program and are also covered by most health insurance plans. A physician referral is required. Pease call Terry at 304-799-7400 ext. 1032 with any questions or for a referral form.
An additional opportunity to learn more about diabetes self-management and treatment is the Diabetes Support Group that meets monthly in the hospital conference room. The next meeting is Tuesday, November 27, at 6:30pm. Connie Rose, RN, will present a talk on “Early Cardiac Care.” People with diabetes have the same risk of heart attack as someone that has already had a cardiac event. Please make plans to join us to learn more about what you can do to protect your health.
New Acute Care
Coordinator joins staff
Robin Meadows, a Registered Nurse with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Nursing, has joined the staff of Pocahontas Memorial Hospital as the new Acute Care Coordinator. Meadows is a West Virginia native and began in her new position on October 29. Her first week on the job was made especially memorable by Hurricane Sandy and the subsequent snow and power outages. Meadows has been a nurse for more than 20 years and brings to her position a wealth of knowledge, including medical/surgical, cardiac/telemetry and surgical services. She is very excited to be in Pocahontas County and looks forward to becoming a part of the community.
Here we are, being tested again!
Another storm, and yet more examples of how our community works in Pocahontas County. I feel very lucky to live in a place where the sense of caring is so strong. And while we hear a lot about people helping one another during these times of emergency, I would like to point out that the sense of community in Pocahontas County is always strong, even when there is no emergency, and no spotlight upon us.
Let me give you some examples.
The libraries receive help from various groups, businesses and agencies within the county, quite often without public fanfare. This generosity comes about because it is understood how important a public library is, and how greatly a library can benefit a community. The county commission helps with funding the libraries; we are a line item in the commission’s budget, plus we receive a portion of the Hotel/Motel tax.
The National Radio Astronomy Observatory has a history of helping build and strengthen our libraries; over the years, they have contributed to our building projects in Marlinton and Green Bank, and have very recently helped with the new building in Durbin. We also received a $1,000 donation from NRAO for the libraries in general, “just because.”
We also have strong partners in the Board of Education, and Snowshoe Mountain. The Linwood Library at Snowshoe is leased from Snowshoe Mountain, Inc. while the Hillsboro Library is leased from the BOE. We are very close to signing new leases on both libraries. Knowing how tight our financial situation is, and how important libraries are to their communities, we’re getting a great deal on the rent. Snowshoe charges us $1 a year. The BOE is charging $1 a year, plus they pay all utility costs for Hillsboro Library. We couldn’t ask for more supportive partnerships.
“A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never failing spring in the desert.” - Andrew Carnegie
I’ve always liked this quote. It points out that a public library is truly a community effort, a fact that can sometimes be forgotten. It follows that the more a community cares about having a strong, vibrant public library, the stronger their library will become. I want to sincerely thank our community partners, the ones I’ve mentioned here, and the many, many other partners that space will not permit me to include. We can accomplish great things for Pocahontas County, with your generosity. We are very grateful for your support.
Denise Giardina is an acclaimed West Virginia author whose writing is grounded by her McDowell County coal camp roots. Her novels have won numerous awards, including the American Book Award, the Lillian Smith Award for fiction and the Boston Book Review Fiction prize.
Her signature book “Storming Heaven,” published in 1987, examines the events surrounding the Battle of Blair Mountain as told by four main characters – activist mayor and newspaperman C.J. Marcum; mineworker union organizer Rondal Lloyd; feisty nurse Carrie Bishop; and long-suffering Italian immigrant mother Rosa Angelelli. Each of these characters has a different voice and perspective when narrating their lives, yet their stories are united by their love of their families, their communities and the mountains that sustain them.
Giardina’s writing is informed by her personal Appalachian history: Her grandfather and two uncles were coal miners, her mother a nurse and her father a bookkeeper for a coal company. Although “Storming Heaven” is fiction, it provides an authentic portrayal of the lives of miners and their families during the tumultuous years of early union organizing.
Giardina’s imagery is stark and haunting: “In Justice town, the houses stabbed pillars of stone and wood into the flesh of the hillside and clung there like a swarm of mosquitoes.” Describing the cemetery at the Homeplace, she writes,”It was a tranquil place, but no one could ever imagine a quiet slumber for the dead in that earth. They are not a people made for eternal peace, and even if they were, the mountains would not let them rest. The mountains are conjurers, ancient spirits shaped by magic past time remembered.”
Denise Giardina will present “Storming Heaven at 25 – A Retrospective” at the Hillsboro Library on Saturday, November 3. The evening will begin at 6 p.m. with a covered dish dinner. Music will be provided by the Stamping Creek Blue Grass Boys with Lynmarie Knight singing traditional coal mining ballads. Giardina’s talk will begin at 7 p.m., followed by dessert and beverages.
The event is sponsored by the Hillsboro Library Friends and is free and open to the public. For more information call the Hillsboro Library at 304-653-4936.
I’ve developed a new habit in the past year or so. I judge a book by its cover. I will pick up a book, look over the cover, take note of the author, and then jump into the very first chapter without reading any blurbs on the back cover or the dust jacket. I just plunge into the story without knowing anything except what I can glean from the cover illustration.
I recently got my hands on a copy of William Kent Krueger’s book, Northwest Angle. Krueger writes a mystery series featuring Cork O’Connor, an ex-cop who is half Celt and half Native American, who lives in Minnesota and tries to mind his own business but seems to fall into murders and mysteries left and right. It’s a good series, one that I have enjoyed for a few years now, and so finding Northwest Angle—which is the 12th book—was a treat. I knew the author; I knew I would enjoy the book. Why read the blurb? So I jumped in.
To my surprise, Krueger started this novel with an author’s note, in which he describes a terrible force of nature that started in July 1999 in South Dakota and whipped through the northeast, causing devastating destruction in his beloved Minnesota before moving further east and finally dying out. This type of storm is called a derecho. Sound familiar? I couldn’t believe it. What are the odds that I will just pick up a random novel only to read about a derecho? After our own June/July storm, I know all about these storm systems.
And so Northwest Angle was a fascinating read because I could relate to the characters as they try to survive this sudden, completely unexpected storm. Cork has recently lost his wife in a plane crash. His three children, two girls in their 20s and his son Stephen who is 15, are slowly adjusting to her death, but it’s only natural that everyone still misses her. So Cork plans a family getaway; he and his children, plus his wife’s sister, Rose, and her husband, all take a houseboat into the beautiful, remote Lake of the Woods area.
Cork and his daughter, Jenny, had left the others to go meet Jenny’s boyfriend, Aaron, when the derecho hits. Cork and Jenny make it to a small island; they’re stranded there and hoping the others will find them. But instead, Jenny finds an old cabin, and the body of a young woman who was obviously murdered. A faint sound behind the cabin leads Jenny to a shallow depression in the ground—and a baby boy, wrapped up and hidden, but safe now that Jenny has found him. The only problem seems to be that a man is also looking for this baby; a man with a high-powered rifle and a swift boat undamaged by the storm.
Krueger takes us on quite a ride in this novel. He examines forces of nature and forces of good and evil, and outlines the similarities and the differences. The tension builds as Cork tries to reunite his family and keep everyone safe from the killer that stalks them. This book is hard to put down!
So, that old saying, don’t judge a book by its cover?
Let the cover be your guide. But try ignoring the blurbs, just for fun. You never know what you might stumble onto!
Banned Books Week tackles censorship
The week of October 1 has been designated Banned Books Week by the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association, and the American Society of Journalists and Authors, to name just a few of the organizations that sponsor this event. It’s a time set aside to celebrate our freedom to read. We may not think about it too much, but every day in America, someone somewhere would like to see a book pulled from library bookshelves forever. And if they succeed, they chip away at your freedom to read.
Censorship is something that we as Americans should stand against. If we let our freedoms erode, then we let America and democracy erode. Those who came before us worked too hard and sacrificed too much to let that happen. President Harry Truman said, “Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.” One of our greatest privileges as Americans is the freedom to have open discussions, open debates, and a free-flowing exchange of information and ideas, without the fear of repercussion.
Heinrich Heine was a critic, poet and playwright who was born in 1797. In his play Almansor, written in 1821, he said, “Where they have burned books, they will end in burning human beings.” Roughly 120 years later, his homeland of Germany was fulfilling Heine’s chilling prophecy. But don’t think that burning books ended with the fall of Nazi Germany. In 2001, J.R.R. Tolkien’s trilogy “The Lord of the Rings” were burned outside the Christ Community Church in Alamagordo, New Mexico. The books were described as “satanic.” President Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Don’t join the book burners. Don’t think you are going to conceal thoughts by concealing evidence that they ever existed.”
Sometimes people feel that, while censorship is wrong, sometimes it is necessary. Some books have been challenged because they contain racial slurs, especially because they contain the word “nigger.” These books include The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry.
But, as Golda Meir pointed out, “One cannot and must not try to erase the past merely because it does not fit the present.” We may abhor the use of racial slurs in present day society, but we can’t pretend it never happened.
Some of you may recall in a previous article that I was lamenting the purchase of 50 Shades of Gray, and was feeling a bit like a censor myself. I did purchase the trilogy, in case you were wondering. It hasn’t circulated too much, but that’s okay, too.
Here’s the interesting part: 50 Shades of Gray was banned in some Florida library systems. BANNED. Not just, “We aren’t going to buy it and hope no one notices,” but full on This Book Shall Never Cross Our Doors So Forth and So On. They are obviously protecting their patrons from…what? Poor writing? A lack of originality? I don’t know what they were thinking. But what did they really accomplish, besides saving $30? It’s more popular now than it ever was. People want to find out what’s so terrible.
I love this quote from Noam Chomsky, who said, “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.” I love it because it makes me feel uncomfortable, as it should. It’s hard to put into practice sometimes, especially during election years, but it sums up one of the things that makes our country great.
So enjoy a banned book this week. Come check out 50 Shades of Gray! Don’t let anyone take away your right to read, even if I look at you with sympathy and whisper, “It’s crap.” Read it with relish because you can.