Weekly update from Pocahontas County Free Libraries
Spring is arriving quickly now. Gorgeous blossoms waft fragrance through warming air. Green replaces white and brown. Every day newly migrated birds appear, filling the air with their sweet songs. Is there a prettier place anywhere in the world than Pocahontas County in late spring?
One simply needs to step outside to enjoy the outdoors. Yet for many of us, our curiosity and sense of wonder leads us to read books about nature and to use advanced tools to better leverage our knowledge. Pocahontas Libraries, through a grant from the West Virginia Library Commission, received a substantial grant a couple of years to acquire a lot of field guides as well as special equipment for our library cardholders.
Our books include a wide variety of field guides on subjects such as wildflowers, mushrooms, edible plants, trees and shrubs, birds, bird nests and eggs, rocks and gems, fossils, insects, butterflies and much more. We have several different field guides for some of these topics. Our collection includes audio recordings such as birds, insects and frogs.
Abundant materials, especially for children, are also available. I fondly remember back 55 years ago when as a small child my very favorite book was a Golden Nature Guide called, "Reptiles and Amphibians: A Guide To Familiar American Species." I just about wore out that book as it fused my child's natural love of nature with my developing imagination and reading capability.
Equipment for studying nature is also available for responsible adult borrowers. This service is almost unique in the library world. The equipment is high quality, user-friendly and fascinating to explore.
Right now, our self-turning egg incubators are popular with our patrons who have thoughts of spring cheeping chicks. A lending period for an incubator is about a month, depending of course on hatch time. A couple of years ago a patron hatched Emu eggs.
Our metal detectors are sometimes checked out when someone loses a valuable piece of metal. Metal detectors also make for an enjoyable parent-child activity. For someone interested in metal detecting as a possible hobby, check out one of our units as a trial before investing in your own unit.
Handheld GPS units for the sport of geocaching is popular. Our units have our local topographical maps loaded on the units, with a color screen for better viewing. Check one out if you plan a hike in our vast back country; units are compact.
We have night vision scopes, which make for fascinating nighttime nature observance. One can also borrow a motion-detection camera that triggers digital photos of animals passing by, night or day. Photos are then uploaded onto a computer.
Pocahontas Libraries also lends telescopes, binoculars and microscopes. The microscopes are of two types. The Brock units are excellent for adults opening to their children the wonderful microscopic world beneath the lens. We also have several Amsco microscopes for more advanced study, including a dissecting microscope.
Springtime is fishing time in Pocahontas County. Pocahontas Libraries lends spinning, spincast and fly fishing rods and reels. We have some basic tackle, however we expect borrowers to supply their own bait or lures.
Much of our nature equipment is stored at McClintic Library. Patrons at our other branches should call a few days ahead to reserve equipment to be shuttled up to your branch in Durbin, Green Bank, Linwood or Hillsboro.
Celebrate spring by learning more about our wonderful outdoors. Our librarians are eager to help you with these resources.
Volunteers are invited to help raise the new Durbin Library building on Saturday May 21. We will gather at the building site at 8 a.m. The site is situated along Rt. 250 next to the Durbin Post Office.
We ask that all volunteers pre-register. Call Durbin Librarian Nancy Egan at 304-456-3142 Monday through Thursday between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Habitat For Humanity will coordinate the construction.
The construction on May 21 will essentially consist of setting up SIPS panels along the foundation walls. SIPS is the abbreviation for Structural Insulated Panel. These are pre-made walls with a foam-type insulation already installed. Doors and windows are cut out later, and electrical wiring also comes later.
Inexperienced workers can help on the May 21 "Build Day." As long as a volunteer is in decent physical condition, he or she is welcome to help. Teen-agers between 14 and 17 are encouraged to help, however they will need parental or guardian permission.
The event will carry on all day long until the walls are up. If it rains hard, we will go to shelter in the adjacent BFD building until the rain lets up. If volunteers can only help part of the day, please let Nancy know so she can note this on the schedule. Ample food will be provided free to all volunteers.
According to Michelle Connor, head of Almost Heaven Habitat For Humanity, a "build day" is a lot of work, is fun, and gives volunteers a tremendous sense of accomplishment. Connor notes that volunteers can be female as well as male. Indeed, a recent build in White Sulphur Springs was all-female.
The week following the May 21 "Build Day," several volunteers are very much needed to place the roof rafters and roof sheathing. These volunteers need to have some experience and skill. Call Pete Whiteis at 304-456-4185 if you can volunteer some time.
The Durbin Gateway Center, as it is being called right now, will be a multi-purpose facility. One part of the building will house a library with shelves of books, periodicals, videos and a children's section, along with public access computers. The other side of the building will be a multi-purpose activity room for events such as dinners, exercise programs, family recreation events, classes, movies, and community meetings. The building will also have a substantial kitchen for groups to use.
Parks and Recreation is already a partner. Other partners are invited to participate in supporting this project.
Habitat For Humanity is another important partner as it gears up for extensive building projects in Pocahontas County. During their initial startup phase, Habitat will utilize the Durbin Gateway Center (activity room side) for work crew overnight sleeping arrangements. Our mission and Habitat's mission converge in our mutual goals to strengthen our communities.
So please consider volunteering. We are especially looking for volunteers from the Bartow, Frank, Thornwood and Durbin areas to help build their community center/library. Years from now the volunteers will look back with pride that they took a day to work on their own community-enhancing project.
We have a great idea for our organization. But we need money! Everyone who runs a group says that. And often someone pipes up with a possible solution. Well, let find a grant. Someone else then replies, Good idea. How do we find a grant? And how do we apply for a grant?
The McClintic Library might be your answer. For the second year, McClintic will host the Cooperating Collection of the Foundation Center, one of five public libraries and three universities in West Virginia with this extraordinary resource.
This collection provides fundraisers with access to searchable online databases of grantmakers, grants and 990s. Patrons can sit at one of McClinticﾂ computers, type in the criteria for the type of project being developed and get a listing of potential grantmakers. Further research can provide details of past awarded grants, which helps in the application process.
Besides online databases, McClintic Library hosts a number of print titles from the Foundation Center. The two Foundation Directory, volumes alone total nearly 5,000 pages. All this, as earlier mentioned, is also in the online searchable databases.
Another important resource is the foundation Grants to Individuals, both in print and searchable online database. Individuals can search for scholarships, fellowships, conference or seminar support, research, travel, art projects and special needs.
There is a Guide For Funding International and Foreign Programs. Other materials include resources on public policy, grant writing, organizational boards, and corporate giving.
McClintic Library will sponsor its next public training on the Foundation Center online resources on May 19. The morning session will cover introduction to grant application basics. The first afternoon session will cover the Online Foundation Directory. The second afternoon session will cover the Online Resources For Individuals. Pre-registration will be required. Since seating will be limited to 24, organizations may be limited to numbers of people they can send. There will be no charge for the sessions. Drew Tanner and I will spearhead the training. Further details will be announced and available soon.
The Foundation Center Cooperating Collection at McClintic is funded by the Pocahontas County Commission in order to develop the resources and capacities of civic organizations in our area.
The current buzz in the book world involves e-books. For centuries, especially since the invention of the Gutenberg Press, people have read books in printed form. An e-book is a digital file read on a miniature, portable computer device called an e-reader. Books are purchased through one's credit account and downloaded through an Internet connection, often within seconds. A person might carry one hundred or more books on his or her e-reader.
Several companies make e-readers, including the Kindle (Amazon), the Nook (Barnes & Noble), Kobo (Borders), Sony, Pandigital and Apple IPad. These readers vary in the digital formats they support, as well as in readability and features. A person interested in purchasing an e-reader would do well to try out several different models, read reviews, talk to friends with e-readers and consider the expenditure of $100 to $300 for the e-reader plus the cost of purchased e-books.
There are advantages and drawbacks to e-books. The big advantage, of course, is easy portability of one's collection of books on a handheld e-reader that can fit in a purse, backpack, briefcase or on the nightstand. Some e-readers can audibly read a book. Fonts can be changed in size for better readability. Some have lighting for easier reading in low light conditions.
On the other hand, e-readers are more susceptible to damage than a dropped printed book. The initial investment is substantial. E-books make it difficult, and in some formats, impossible to pass on to friends. Certain formats, especially large children's books and illustrated books, do not come out well on an e-reader.
Book publishing companies and bookstores are grappling with the matter of copyright protection to ensure profitability. Digital files are easily copied unless special formats and electronic protections are built in. Otherwise an e-book can theoretically be passed on to others infinitum with a corresponding loss in sales.
A number of public libraries are developing e-book collections. This is due, in part, to a concern that the e-book revolution will otherwise make libraries obsolete. Those libraries with e-book programs allow a borrower to download e-books which then expire, or literally self-delete, after a few weeks. One publisher, HarperCollins, has even come up with a new policy that says an e-book can be checked out 26 times, after which it has to be repurchased.
Pocahontas Libraries will not be providing e-book service at this time. There are several reasons for this decision. First, the cost for entering a library e-book consortium is pricey. PCFL would have to spend perhaps 40% of its annual book budget to have access to several thousand books, far below our current collection size.
Second, the number of library users with library compatible e-readers is limited. For example, the Kindle will not work with the proposed library e-book consortium.
Third, and most important in my opinion, is that e-books would eliminate many of our library readers from access. Those people without compatible and somewhat costly e-readers would be left out. PCFL has always had a policy to make all of its materials and services available to users irrespective of their financial abilities.
Fourth, the e-book end of the book publishing industry is still shaking out as to how it will deal with libraries. Publisher policies regarding their profitability and copyright protection are still in flux. Furthermore, e-book formats are not standardized.
I anticipate the day will come when Pocahontas Libraries will offer e-books. While it is tempting to get in on the leading edge, prudence suggests that our scarce funds continue for now to be placed in print books. For those of you who buy an e-reader, go ahead and enjoy. But remember, a printed book works well, too. So stop by and see us often, and continue to check out books made of paper and ink with pages to turn.
Libraries are much more than places to check out books. Libraries also have educational resources including, but not limited to, special collections, magazines, videos, DVDs, books on tape, historical archives and computer databases.
Take, for example, Marcellus shale natural gas drilling or hydrofracking. This topic has been in the news a great deal lately. Area residents can use library resources to learn more about the Marcellus shale, the process of hydrofracking and their rights as property owners and citizens.
The West Virginia Library Commission has a website, wvinfodepo.org, "your personal guide to information exploration." This website provides a wide array of databases that can be accessed for free at any WV public library or in the comfort of your own home if you have a library card and a password obtained from your librarian. Librarians can guide the website user in the proper selection of search words, enabling the user to find the facts in which he or she is interested.
In addition, the PCFL system has a number of copies of the West Virginia Surface Owners' Guide to Oil and Gas. This book was prepared in 2004/2005 by David McMahon, an attorney at law in Charleston, with the help of public interest advocate law students David Richardson and Justin Collin.
The Guide is very useful because it is specific to the laws and legal climate of West Virginia. Chapter 1 consists of questions for the reader to determine his or her particular situation. The reader is then referred deeper into the Guide for answers. Chapter 2 is an overview of the surface owner's rights at the time a driller applies to the state for a drilling permit. Chapter 3 provides step by step suggestions of what a surface owner can do after receiving notice of a driller's application for a permit. Chapter 6 informs the reader about the Oil and Gas Surface Owner's Damage Compensation Act, with specific suggestions on how to file a claim for damages. The appendices include lists of government agencies, information on how to determine who owns the mineral rights, how to file with the Sheriff to receive notice of mineral rights being sold for taxes, and examples of various legal forms.
The third annual "Public Affairs Briefing on the Environment," sponsored by the Hillsboro Library Friends, will focus on the Marcellus shale gas drilling issues.
Speakers will be Julie Archer with the West Virginia Surface Owners' Rights Organization (WVSORO) and Hillsboro's own Beth Little, representing the Eight Rivers Council. Archer and Little will provide information pertinent to local citizens and landowners, and answer questions.
The "Public Affairs Briefing" is scheduled for Thursday, April 14, at 7 p.m. at the Hillsboro Library. The event is free and open to the public. For more information, call the Hillsboro Library at 304-653-4936.
Hello, this is Nancy Egan, librarian for Durbin Library and this is an exciting week. The footings and the slab will be poured for the new Durbin Public Library and Community Center, weather permitting. I know that it has been a long wait for many people who have been watching the weeds grow on the pad next to the Durbin Post Office while the funds were slowly accruing for Phase I of the project. The beloved out-going Durbin librarian, Tara Bauserman, says that she has shepherded this project on and off for six years from the cement block building across Main Street to the current location next door to Kinder's Market, all in preparation for the new building. She continues to work on the Building Committee but will be home with her third child due at the end of this next month-- another construction project awaited with anticipation.
The new building will truly be a community library and center. The engineer, Clay Carter, is overseeing the plans, and the organization, Habitat for Humanity which is expanding from Pendleton County to include Pocahontas County, is conducting a "barn raising build" of the walls on Saturday, May 21. There is a call out for volunteers who have strong bodies, can follow directions, and have community spirit to help out on a crew. No building experience is necessary while upper Pocahontas volunteers do get first preference, there should be room for all willing and able to lend a hand. The trusses and roofing will follow the next week to complete the structure, this time with a smaller skilled/semi-skilled crew of the local talent.
Bartow, Frank, and Durbin Fire and Rescue which has been a champion to the project will let the BFD Fire Hall be the headquarters for meal coordination and comfort breaks. Donald Peck, the mayor of Durbin, has been instrumental with getting the building permit and finding utilities. This will be a building that we can truly be proud of -- built by community muscle.
Meanwhile, of course we will be looking for funds for Phase II, that is, finishing and equipping the library and community room. The Library is partnering with the Pocahontas County Parks and Recreation, and Habitat for Humanity to bring a wide variety of activities to the Community Center in anticipation of an increasingly busy upper Pocahontas community. Pocahontas County Senior Citizens also has expressed an interest in having senior meals in the community room when finished. The Durbin Library Building Committee and PCFL send out sincere appreciation for the funds that have been donated for building the Durbin Public Library and Community Center, which includes the Upper Pocahontas Community Cooperative's monthly bingo group, as well as public and private funders.
The County's libraries are a string of pearls across Pocahontas in which each has its own character and charms. We hope they stay strong to help and to inspire the generations of residents and visitors.
I received a phone call a few weeks ago from Sonia Rider, who works at the Family Resource Network here in town. She told me that she had some books to give away-was I interested? Of course!
I went to the FRN offices, and was shown into their back storage room. Boxes and boxes of books were everywhere! Amazed, I asked her how she had come across so many books. She told me they came in on a huge semi-truck as a donation. I had to learn more about this, but in the meantime, I had books to sort.
After five hours of sorting through boxes of books, I came away with 20 boxes full of hardcover and paperback books, all brand new, all in beautiful condition, ranging from children's books to adult fiction and non-fiction. Talk about exciting!
I had more good luck, in that three young men?Luca Byrd and the Taylor brothers, Ron and Gabe? were in the library, and were willing to help me haul boxes from FRN over to McClintic Library.
After going through another sorting process, I found that we had received more than 600 books, totaling roughly $10,000. I was, and remain, both staggered and deeply appreciative. Our libraries operate on a bare bones budget, considering we have four branches to run. This means we need book donations to keep our collections current and interesting. I've become pretty good at pinching the pennies of my book budget, so when something like this comes along, it's a Godsend.
I had to find out more about this "semi-truck" because I had heard about it in the past. The story was this: the truck comes to town, it has free goods on it for donation, and FRN distributes these items. You just never know what's going to be on the truck. For instance, last year we got a pretty large shipment of hamster cages. (Children who read a certain number of library books last year were awarded a prize: a hamster cage.) Several years ago, we did receive some books, but there were only about 20 different titles (and about 30 copies of each book). While it was nice to receive the books, we don't need that many copies of one title. This year's shipment had some duplications, but not very many at all. It was like Christmas.
I called Laura Young, the director at FRN, and asked for some details. She told me this is the work of a non-profit group called Christian Appalachian Project, out of Kentucky. They gather materials and donate them to other non-profits in Appalachia. For more information about this group, visit their web site at christianapp.org . It's a project called Operation Sharing. And I have to say, this has made a wonderful difference for our library and for our community. If you are looking for a worthy cause to support, please consider CAP.
Right before Laura and I ended our conversation, she told me she had more books for me to look through in another storage facility. "Probably just as many as you saw here," she said. I told her to give me about a month to get everything here cataloged, and then I would love to go through some more. Thanks to Sonia, Laura, FRN and CAP, we feel very fortunate!
The West Virginia Library Association (WVLA) holds an annual reception during the West Virginia Legislature. This event provides a relaxed, informal setting for legislators and library supporters to discuss library services. This year's event was held February 28 at the Culture Center. Earlier in the day, public, school, and academic libraries set up displays in the Capitol Rotunda to inform legislators and the public of their services.
Hillsboro Librarian Elwood Groves, Durbin Librarian Nancy Egan and I attended that day-long event. I am the Chair of the WVLA Legislative Committee for the second consecutive year. Our committee holds responsibility for setting up the "Day at the Legislature" and the evening reception. Our committee also works with our WVLA Executive Board and our membership in proposing legislation and tracking legislation that strengthens library services in our state.
The most pressing issue for most public libraries in West Virginia is sufficient local funding. West Virginia ranks 49th (was 50th at one time) in the U.S. in local funding. State funding compared to most states is good at an annual $4.52 per capita. Yet libraries need in the range of $30 per capita to be reasonably functional. Too many West Virginia libraries do not even match the $4.52 in aggregate from municipalities, school boards, and county commissions. Impoverished funding means poor services, which leads a local community to place little value on its public library.
Our threesome had the privilege to meet with our legislators at various times during the day to discuss library issues, including Senator Clark Barnes, Senator Walt Helmick, Delegate Bill Hartman and Delegate Denise Campbell. I have always found our legislators courteous and eager to meet with their library constituents.
During the afternoon, Egan, Groves and I slipped across the street to spend an hour with former Congressman Ken Hechler at his home. We found Hechler busy at his kitchen table working on his newest book, the Civil War journal of his grandfather. To be 96 years of age and be working on yet another book is astounding. Groves enjoyed asking Hechler about his years working as an aide to President Harry Truman.
On another note, the Durbin Library Building Project is gearing up. The foundation will be installed as soon as stable weather permits. An all-community "barn raising" to erect the walls will be held May 21. We are looking for 40 or more volunteers to help. The following week we will need a smaller number of skilled volunteers. Details will be forthcoming. This long-time dream of a new Durbin Library/Community Center is coming to birth.
I think that I shall never see
a poem lovely as a tree. - from "Trees" by Joyce Kilmer
When faced with the prospect of reading, writing or listening to a poem, many may relate to the words of Joyce Kilmer. While we can understand and appreciate the beauty and wonder of a tree, the loveliness of poetry can be more difficult for us to grasp.
Perhaps this is because we think of poetry as unrelated to, and separate from, our daily lives. Yet a closer look reveals we quite often encounter poetry in one of its many forms.
Remember the nursery rhymes we recited as children? Poetry. Sing along with the words of a song on the radio? Poetry. Hear a religious leader quote from the Psalms? Poetry. Rap? Poetry.
Mnemonics, or memory aids, frequently are short poems (e.g., "Thirty days hath September, April, June and November"). Advertisers and politicians alike are aware that rhyme helps memory; think "See the USA in your Chevrolet" and "I like Ike." Some prayers are in the form of a poem, as in "Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul will keep."
According to Wikipedia.org, poetry as an art form predates reading and writing. Some of the earliest poetry is believed to have been recited or sung, and used as a means of remembering and transmitting oral history, story, genealogy and law. Poetry appears among the earliest records of most literate cultures.
The oldest known poem is the Epic of Gilgamesh, from the 4th millennium BC in Sumer, now Iraq. The Vedas, Hindu sacred texts written in poetic form, date from 1700 to 1200 BC. According to Biblical scholars, the 150 poems and prayers that comprise the current Book of Psalms were likely written over several centuries, with many of the writings attributed to King David who lived from 1040 - 970 BC. The epic poems Iliad and Odessy were written by the Greek poet Homer between 800 - 675 BC.
In Appalachia, history and stories have been conveyed through the generations via verse in songs. Examples include "John Henry,""Old Joe Clark" and "John Brown's Body."
Pocahontas County native and WV Poet Laureate Louise McNeill Pease (1911 - 1993) wrote poetry about the history and heritage of West Virginia. Gauley Mountain and Elderberry Flood are compilations of these descriptive historical poems. McNeill Pease's life and legacy were celebrated last fall at the Hillsboro Library Friends (HLF) literary event, "Poets of the Pocahontas Hills - Louise McNeill to the Present."
Continuing the tradition of Appalachian poetry, HLF will host a "Poetry Round-Up" at the Hillsboro Library on Saturday, March 19, from 7-10 p.m. This free public gathering will feature local poets sharing their writings in a casual cafe-style setting. An archivally framed limited edition print of "The Torch," an unpublished poem by McNeill Pease, will be dedicated during the Round-Up. For more information, contact the Hillsboro Library at 304-653-4936.
Space-the Final Frontier.
All you Star Trek fans will remember that spine-tingling phrase. But guess what: Turns out, space is not the final frontier. In reality, the final frontier is the Center of the Earth.
Long after every other ultimate goal had been achieved-both North and South Poles reached by 1911, Mount Everest scaled in 1953, the Challenger Deep, the deepest part of the oceans, reached in 1960, the moon in 1969-the deepest cave on Earth was still undiscovered. In fact, as late as 2000, the "supercave" had not yet been found, despite numerous attempts. "Blind Descent" by James M. Tabor tells the story of two men, both driven to find and map the deepest cave on Earth, the teams they lead, and the triumphs and tragedies that befall them both.
The author begins the first section of the book by introducing us to Bill Stone, an American caver and entrepreneur who has been searching for The Supercave since the 1970s. Tabor tells us about Bill Stone's early years, how he became interested in caves, and the various teams he has pulled together over the years in an attempt to discover the deepest cave, the elusive Supercave. Stone, a type A personality that others either love or hate, is in his mid-50s by the year 2004. He is convinced that a cave in Mexico called CHAY-vay will turn out to be the Supercave he's been searching for.
Then we meet Bill Stone's biggest rival in the caving world: Ukrainian caver Alexander Klimchouk. Oddly enough, Klimchouk seems to be Stone's polar opposite. Stone is bold, brash and commanding while Klimchouk is quiet, self-effacing and modest. Stone is tall and muscular while Klimchouk is short and slight. Klimchouk has been married to his wife for decades, while Stone is divorced and has had a series of relationships. But, Tabor points out "They are alike in two key ways: both are scientists and explorers...willing to risk everything, including their lives and those of others, for the ultimate discovery." Alexander Klimchouk is also in his mid-50s by 2004, and he believes the Supercave is in the Republic of Georgia in the former Soviet Union, a cave called Krubera.
Blind Descent details the race between these two men, half a world apart, but united by a common passion. Caving on a good day can be a dangerous sport; exploring supercaves can be incredibly deadly. Not only are you basically climbing mountains in reverse, but the hardest part, the ascent, comes last. Cavers spend weeks underground, camping in the dark under less than ideal conditions. Diving is also a common requirement, compounding the dangers.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I can honestly say that I have found yet another sport that I will never attempt. And I won't tell you which caver wins this competition; you'll have to read the book .