UX Librarian: 2012

Monday, December 3, 2012

Better World Books - Creative Book Recycling That Earns Cash For Your Library

In my continued quest to find alternative revenue streams for the Pioneer Memorial Public Library, I have connected with Better World Books. A fellow librarian tipped me off about BWB, so I made contact and have set up an account. Here's how it works:

Once you sign an agreement the portal to order shipping supplies is open to your library or school. BWB sends free boxes and shipping labels that makes this book recycling program even more attractive. To make sure you are not creating a larger carbon footprint through excessive shipping, BWB asks that you send no less than six to twenty-five boxes of books at a time. When you have filled up your boxes all you have to do is call UPS for a pick up and the shipping is prepaid by BWB.

Better World Books sells these books on 50 online sites and sends your school or library 15% of the profits. An additional 5% goes to the charity of your choice. While 15% may not seem like a lot, BWB is keeping books out of landfills and creatively recycling these materials by reselling them online. The customer service representative that I spoke to said that they process about half a million books a week! That is a mind boggling figure.

Founded in 2002 by three friends from the University of Notre Dame To quote from their website, "So far, the company has converted more than 58 million books into over $10.4 million in funding for literacy and education. In the process, we’ve also diverted more than 40,000 tons of books from landfills." That's a financial and environmental coup by any standards.

There are a few rules that you need to adhere to in packing up books for BWB such as:

* no Reader's Digest Condensed books

* no Who's Who books

* no damaged or marked-up books

* no Harlequin Romance novels

* nothing from the Modern Library series.

BWB suggests that these be recycled locally, while some may recommend these books as excellent fire starters. ;-)

I'll report back at a later date as to the profits we have received from Better World Books. Even if it's not a lot, it makes me feel good to know that these books may be reused and reread by people who need them or want them. I think of Better World Books as good reading karma.

If you have books to donate to the Pioneer Memorial Library in Randolph County, West Virginia, please feel free to stop by during normal business hours to drop off your books. If you have a larger donation, please call me at 304-227-4788 and I can make arrangements to pick up your books in my trusty Subaru.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Privacy at the Library

Did you know that libraries and librarians take patron privacy very seriously? We really do. In fact, many might consider libraries and librarians as one of the last lines of defense of civil liberties and privacy laws.

Last week I attended a most interesting webinar given by West Virginia Library Commission President J.P. Myrick on the subject of privacy and the law in libraries.

In some ways, this webinar was given in response to a case last month whereby the Elkins Library had some hard drives seized by law enforcement as part of a child pornography case that was being investigated. It turns out that a patron may have downloaded or shared child pornography in the library. Public library computers are equipped with filters that raise red flags when illegal activities occur on those machines and that activity is reported to the proper legal authorities.

It is my understanding that a library patron was arrested based on a computer sign-up sheet that many libraries maintain for statistics. (Incidentally, the Pioneer Memorial Public Library doesn't use a computer sign-in sheet as even this we regard as private information.)

So in regards to patron privacy we are not allowed to share what books a patron has checked out, not even with a spouse or another family member. Only the person who has checked out the books may have access to their own circulation records unless we receive written permission from that patron to share the information. Otherwise, the only way to get this information is with a subpoena.

During the webinar some librarians seemed incredulous that not even a spouse could know the books checked out by their partner. So, what if that book was, "How To Get a Divorce?" Now you may see why privacy is so very important.

Even if a librarian is sending out an overdue postcard the title of the checked out materials may not be printed on the postcard as these are not private correspondences. As Mr. Myrick said, "What if they have checked out "The Joy of Sex?" Probably, this is not a title that the patron wants on a postcard for all the world to see.

Even further, library volunteers or board members should not have access to library patron records. While this may seem extreme, in a small, rural library like Pioneer Memorial Library, we can see the need for privacy and confidentiality at all levels.

We want library patrons to feel safe that they may explore the world of knowledge without having to worry about Big Brother looking over their shoulder. Knowledge is, after all, power. Stop by the Pioneer Memorial Public Library in Harman, West Virginia and check out some books, and know that what you check out is your business but nobody else's.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Impossible Pronunciations and 30 Rock

Just a few thoughts to explain the title of this blog, Rural Librarian.

Why yes, I am a librarian that works in the rural community of Harman, West Virginia, population about 100.

I also love the television show 30 Rock, possibly the funniest show on tv at the moment. The writing is over-the-top funny and super fast. One of my favorite episodes is about the narcissistic character Jenna (played by the amazing Jane Krakowski) who is starring in a movie entitled The Rural Juror, a title that no one can pronounce nor understand. When I am feeling a little blue all my son has to say is "Rural Juror" and it makes me laugh! It is ridiculously impossible.

So, in starting a new blog I chose a title that is descriptive but also...a little funny. It's my own personal shout out to the comedic genius of Tina Fey as Liz Lemon and the hilarious acting of Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy. Over the years, 30 Rock has helped me laugh through many a dark day.

Cause yeah, even librarians love tv.

If you love 30 Rock and want to purchase the DVDs, you may click below to link to Amazon. If you buy the DVDs from this link, a portion of the proceeds come back to the Pioneer Memorial Public Library.

The Power of Reading When Powerless

So in case you haven't heard, Superstorm Sandy came through on Monday evening and stuck around for a few days leaving power outages, downed power lines, and lots and lots of very wet snow. It was pretty at first. Then, when I realized the snow wasn't going to stop it got a little scary. Then the lights went out.

Without electricity for four full days I had a lot of time on my hands to consider the hardships of our pioneer ancestors who came to West Virginia to find a little patch of land to call their own. Left without electronic devices of TV or Internet, I began to read.

Someone had recommended the book "Follow the River" by John Alexander Thom. This historical fiction tells the story of Mary Draper Ingles (1732-1815) who was kidnapped by the Shawnee Indians from early western Virginia. Ingles later escapes and travels hundreds of miles to find her way home. I had trouble with the detailed violence in this book and could only make my way through about 50 pages before I abandoned this book to move onto something a little more peaceful. (If you are braver than I and want to check this book out we do have it at the library.)

A book I have been meaning to recommend that I read recently is "The Midwife of Hope River" by Patricia Harman. Set somewhere in West Virginia during The Great Depression, I found this book to be real, warm, and very believable. The titular midwife is Patience Murphy, a new midwife with a checkered past practicing baby birthing in Appalachia. The way Harman has structured the chapters is such that we read the story of a birth and then read the journal entry that Patience records for each new delivery. There is not a lot of conflict in this book, but the various people that Patience encounters along her midwife duties are fascinating and realistic. And yes, Patricia Harman lives in West Virginia and has an extensive background as a midwife.

I moved onto "The Night Circus" by Erin Morgenstern. (Nothing pioneer-like here, it is pure turn-of-the-last-century fantasy.) This book held my attention for two days and 528 pages. It is about a lovely and mysterious circus that opens only at night and without notice. The imagery in this book is amazing. All black and white with punctuations of red. My only complaint is that the conflict set up by the premise is never really fully realized. What is wonderful about The Night Circus is the imagined world of this magical circus that is populated by delicious treats, trained kittens, mysterious circus planners, and an exotic contortionist. Nothing super deep, but a fun ride none the less.

I am so grateful to have had such great books to read while we were without electricity. The power of reading allowed me to escape from the oppressive feeling (especially at night) brought on by the extreme change in our daily routines. And reading about Patience Murphy reminded me that even without electricity I had way more resources available to me than our pioneer ancestors did.

I am hoping that you all weathered the storm fairly well. We measured a full 2-1/2-feet of snow at our place just outside Glenmore near Elkins. There are countless trees down, power lines down, and also folks who are still without electricity. I am truly grateful to the power line workers who came from all over the country to help us out in the wake of this freakish storm.

All of the books mentioned here are available to check out from the Pioneer Memorial Public Library in Harman, West Virginia. Stop by and check them out.

You can also purchase these books from Amazon and a small chunk of the profits come back to the Library. Click on the links below to purchase.

Friday, October 19, 2012

West Virginia: A History by John Alexander Williams

OK, back to some history of West Virginia today.

I am almost finished reading a most excellent book "West Virginia: A History" by John Alexander Williams. This history book is well written and fascinating for a number of reasons.

Williams discusses the colonial nature of West Virginia that has abided since its earliest days as the western frontier of old Virginia. Colonialism is the idea of land, property, and businesses being owned by absentee landlords who take the money out of state. Many in old Virginia grabbed up as much western Virginia land as they could. Even George Washington claimed the best bottom land for himself.

Williams makes much mention of the idea that West Virginia was predicted to be one of the wealthiest states in the colonies because of its rich natural resources and natural beauty. But in reality, this was not to be. West Virginia remains one of the poorest states in the US.

"That such a country so full of the varied treasures of the forest and the mine...should lack inhabitants, or the hum of industry, or the show of wealth is an absurdity in the present and an impossibility in the future." This quote from J. H. Diss Debar shows how wrong he and many others were about the Mountain State.

The challenge of West Virginia geography has made road building here very expensive. The Department of Highways estimates that it takes $1 million dollars per mile of road to create new highways here. The great ridges of the Allegheny Mountains have always served as a natural barrier to business and wealth in WV.

Then there is the idea of the company store. In coal mining and log camp days, workers were indentured servants who had no choice but to spend their pay scrip at the company store. Prices were outrageously inflated and the workers had to pay rent on shacks and shanties owned by the company.

There are suggestions in this book that West Virginia continues to be impoverished by generations of West Virginians waiting for an employer to give them better wages and benefits. Entrepreneurialism is lacking here, and perhaps in the country overall. Instead of relying on a company or wealthy out-of-state patron, West Virginia needs to build its own capital and wealth at home.

West Virginia has also been victimized by wealthy companies that use our labor and export the wealth back to their own home states. During and after prohibition, entrepreneurial moonshiners were shut down by the government. Even today one of the complaints of the wind turbine industry is that our natural resources are being used to create electricity that is being exported to other states.

Reading this book, for me, was very enlightening. As a flatlander and transplant from Maryland, our culture and history is much different from that of West Virginia. "West Virginia: A History" is a must-read for anyone who wants to have a better understanding of where WV came from and where it might go in the future. I also have to say that the writing of Williams is fabulously rich and woven with wonderfully long paragraphs of elucidation. I found myself re-reading whole sentences that I thought were well-crafted and insightful. Consider this wonderful piece about the late, great Senator Byrd:

"Byrd's critics, especially those in the metropolitan Washington area, denounce him as a 'prince of pork' and note the frequency with which his name is chiseled onto the buildings that his largesse makes possible. But it is just as reasonable --given West Virginia's long history of exploitation by non-resident energy corporations and its failure to gain much from the federal defense and aerospace budgets of the Cold War years--to regard Byrd's efforts as reparations, not pork barrel."

We have a copy of this classic West Virginia history book at the Pioneer Memorial Public Library in Harman, WV. Come check it out!

Source: Williams, "West Virginia: A History." First published in 1976 by W. W. Norton, this is now reprinted by West Virginia University Press in Morgantown, WV.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Stop Scamming Libraries

Update: July 25, 2017: African American Publications is now Scholars In Print. If you get an unsolicited box of books do not open the box and do not accept it. Just send it back to the Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania address.

It all started in 2009.

The previous Pioneer Memorial Public Library director received a phone call asking if we would accept a donation of a box of books from African American Publications. Since we are a small library with a tiny budget for buying books, we accepted what seemed to be a generous offer.

That's when the phonecalls started. Since 2009, the library has received almost weekly phonecalls demanding over $450 in payment for books that were eventually returned at the library's expense.

And it seems that when AAP heard there was a new library director the phonecalls have begun again as have letters from a fraudulent debt collection company named "R. R. Beach Associates."

So here's what I have done to make sure that African American Publications and R.R. Beach Associates never, ever get to play this con under these existing names.

I contacted the Attorney General of Pennsylvania to file a formal complaint against AAP, as this is where they are allegedly located. Then I contacted the Attorney General of West Virginia since this is where AAP is playing their con game.

In addition, I contacted the Attorney General of Delaware, where the fake debt collection company is allegedly located. For good measure, I contacted the Federal Trade Commission.

But wait, there's more. I researched the domain host of African American Publications as GoDaddy.com, and sent them an email letting them know that the domain they host is primarily engaged in illegal activities.

I am especially disgusted with AAP because I feel they are preying on institutions large and small and leveraging guilt to extort payment. Also, by keeping the money amount under $500, some libraries may break down and pay just to make the phonecalls cease. The under $500 may also relieve them of larger charges if and when they are formally charged with crimes.

It did not take a lot of time to fill out forms and send them in. Now I am waiting for the phonecalls to stop.

I am hoping that by posting this that other small institutions and libraries may learn from my cautionary tale. The bottom line is that during a weak economy even the crooks and the con artists step up their game. But the other side of that is that we all have legal recourse available to us. I hope that if you or someone you know of has been the victim of fraud, conning, or other consumer abuse that you will go out of your way to report them to the proper authorities.

Don't get mad, get even. If you have a complaint against a company or business and need help filing a formal complaint, stop by the Pioneer Memorial Public Library in Harman, West Virginia, and I'll be happy to help you out.

Update: 2/11/15 - Received a phone call from a Dr. Derrick Jones from African American Publications in Philadelphia. This is the same scam company and "Dr. Jones" got an earful from me. I am amazed this scam is still going on.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Run For It in Davis, WV, 2012

So let me tell you about the Run For It event in Davis, West Virginia, last weekend.

I had never participated in The Run For It race before and had never been to the Leaf Peepers Festival, both of which happen on the last weekend of every September to coincide with the beautiful fall leaf colors that last all too briefly.

First of all, it was a beautiful day! In driving from Elkins to Davis I felt as if I was driving through a fall-colored cathedral of leaves. In Canaan Valley, where there is more horizon, you get more perspective to admire the lucious fall landscape.

I parked on a side street in Davis and headed over to the fire station where the Run For It teams were to gather. So, what is the Run For It? Started several years ago by the Tucker Community Foundation the Run For It allows nonprofits, libraries, and other civic organizations the opportunity to form teams that either run a 5k or walk a 2k race. The registration fee is $5 and half of that fee is donated back to the team you register for. You may also make a donation and 100% of that cash goes back to the team organization. The Run For It includes Randolph, Barbour, Preston, Pocahontas, Grant and Mineral counties in West Virginia, and Garrett County, Maryland.

All the teams get one minute on a platform in front of the Davis Fire Hall to make a pitch, shout a cheer, or just to show some demonstration of team spirit. This year, Team Pioneer was coordinated by our indefatiguable board president and team captain, Judy Bucher, who lead us all in a book chant of sorts. We also had big letters that spelled out "READ". We had almost 20 people registered in our team, but you aren't required to attend or run/walk if you don't want to.

I walked the 2k as fast as I could and finished in about 20 minutes. There is some up and down terrain in Davis that makes this race fun and a little challenging. However, there were many competitors and alas, I didn't place in my age class for the walk. There is always next year!

After the race, awards are given out by the TCF for most fundraising, best team effort, fastest time, and best team spirit. From what I have heard, the Run For It event has continued to grow over the years. To me it looked as if there were several hundred people participating in the run and several hundred in the walk as well. At one o'clock they announce the winners at the stage across from the fire house, and I am proud to announce that the Pioneer Memorial Public Library brought home over $10,000! Not bad for a teeny tiny library in Harman, WV, and way to go, Team Pioneer. Let's do it again next year.

After the 2k walk I helped out with the famous and delicious Rotary chicken sale. At the end of the day I came home tired and smelling of wonderful roasted chicken and charcoal. We sold 600 chicken dinners by 3pm or so!

The main purpose of the Tucker Community Foundation's Run For It event is to raise funds and awareness for your cause. I was really impressed with Team Hannah, a team of almost 200 that raises funds in memory of Hannah Friend, a girl who died much too soon. The funds they raise are for young people to go to camp, for field trips and other activities. Team Hannah wore red in honor of Hannah's favorite color and the sheer number of red shirts was impressive.

The Run For It is one of the highlights of the annual Leaf Peeper's Festival. This is a wonderful event that included arts and crafts for sale in the Davis Fire Hall. There were a few dozen vendors selling things like homemade jewelry, wood carvings, paintings, honey, ramp salt, candles, and much more. There were more vendors in the parking lot across from the fire station as well.

The local library, the aptly-named Mountaintop Library had a most excellent book sale with literally hundreds of books that were extremely well organized. I had to resist buying books. Must resist buying books. :-)

The stage across from the fire hall provided a focal point for musical entertainment throughout the day and there were some great performers. There were kids and adults clogging as part of the Mountain State Cloggers, there was an old-time jazz band, and Appalachian Glass demonstrating glassblowing. Several excellent bands performed including the Sugar Foot Stompers, Mason Dixon, and Young Funk Sung. A beer garden was set up to sell local beer of the Mountain State Brewing Company.

There were fun activities for kids too. A bungee ride was set up whereby a couple of kids at a time could jump on a trampouline and bounce really high by being attached to a bungee cord harness. There was also a bouncy room, face painting, and other kid friendly activities.

For me, the best part of the day was watching the interesting people and their dogs! I saw whippets, an Airedale terrier, chihuahuas, golden labs, chocolate labs, a bassett hound, a pit bull or two, and lots of really sweet mutts.

I also had the pleasure of meeting some of the Tucker Community Foundation staff and board members. They told me that the TCF was formed after the devastating 1985 flood as a way to help communities invest in their own philanthropic organizations. What a great way to literally reinvest and rebuild communities after a tragedy. Today, nonprofits are encouraged to build an investment with TCF that earns annual interest.

You can read more about the Run For It here and you can check out the Tucker Community Foundation here. And as always, don't forget to stop by the Pioneer Memorial Public Library in Harman, WV, when you are in our neck of the woods. And maybe I will see you next year at the Run For It and the Leaf Peepers Festival, I know I will be back.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Selling Books Online

You never realize how much stuff you own until you move. When I first moved to West Virginia in 1999 I noticed that I had LOT of books and CDs. In order to create some more room in my house and to get some extra cash, I started reselling books online.

Pretty soon, my hobby became somewhat profitable but it took lots of time and error to get it right. Most books have no resale value and the trick is to look for the books that do retain value even with age. In general when I look for books to resell I look for nonfiction and I look for books with some age. Books from academic publishers can also be a safe bet because of their small press runs. Books about trains, planes, fishing and automobiles also may have resale value.

I started going through books at Pioneer Memorial Public Library in the past few weeks and set up an account on Amazon.com. When I list the book for sale I have to find a record that is very similar or that has the same book cover. I am careful to examine the book and make sure it is not written in or damaged. Many books have the name of the previous owner on the inside and that is OK. Books that have underlining or highlighting in them automatically lose resale value.

When I sell a book on Amazon, I am careful to ship it as quickly as possible via Library Rate using the United States Postal Service. (If you are a private seller not affiliated with a library, send your books or CDs via Media Mail. It is the cheapest way to ship.) I also like to ship my books out in a protected bubble mailer so the book is not damaged in transit. I include a copy of the order slip with the book as a receipt for the customer. I also like to write a quick Thank You on the order slip.

OK, so what books generally have no resale value? Best sellers like Danielle Steele, James Patterson, or Stephen King have no resale value unless they are signed first editions. There are millions of these books printed making their resale value nil. Most textbooks have no resale value unless they are within the current year or two. College textbooks are notorious for publishing new editions every year so they can keep their content current and the need for the new (& pricey) book continues to keep them selling books. The reality is that most books that are bought new lose much of their value as soon as they are purchased and leave the store.

So how do I select books to resell at the library? I go through donations from patrons to see if our library owns the book. If we already own it, then I scan Amazon to see if the book has resale value. If it does, I will list it quickly. Today I ran into a bit of a quandry when I found a book that had resale value. The book is "Heading Out to Wonderful" by Robert Goolrick and was published in 2012. I could sell it online and make about $10 or I could add it to our collection. Considering that the book is new, has great reviews, and takes place in Virginia, I will add it to our collection. Though the book bottom feeder in me winces at not making $10, this book is more valuable to our collection and to our patrons.

Amazon is not the only place to resell books, DVDs, and CDs online. I have also sold via Half.com. While you will retain more profit from items sold on Half.com, you sell more items on Amazon because it is the biggest place where people shop online.

If you would like to check out what kinds of books Pioneer Memorial Public Library has for sale on Amazon you can check out our storefront here.

So within the first month of setting up an Amazon shop for Pioneer Memorial Library we have sold about 11 books and made a couple of hundred dollars. It's not a lot of money, but when you have a small, nonprofit library every penny counts.

The bottom line is that selling books is kind of like a treasure hunt. You have to go through a lot of books sometimes to find one or two that have resale value but if you have patience and keep at it, you might just find that you too enjoy being a book reseller.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Reduced Price New Books From First Book

I recently found a source for buying books at a significantly reduced rate.

First Book is a nonprofit headquartered in Washington DC and to date it has distributed 90 million books to underserved populations in the United States and Canada.

So how does First Book work? It was pretty easy and didn't take a lot of time. I filled out the registration form and verified that Harman School is a Title I eligible school.

First Book offers a free book program whereby the library or school pays about $.35 per book to cover the cost of shipping. While this is a great option, First Book only offers these free books by the box which means you might receive many copies of the same title. Since we serve a pretty small school we don't need multiple copies of the same book.

The other option from First Book is substantially reduced prices for new books. I was a little hesitant of how worthwhile this program might be so about two weeks ago I put together an order of just over $100 ($100 is the minimum buy for a first time buyer). I sent in my check and waited patiently.

Because First Book doesn't ship to Post Office boxes I used my home address. Last night UPS delivered a very full box of brand new books! For about $100 we received 34 titles for kids from toddlers to high schoolers. I was especially thrilled to receive some awesome graphic novels that I think our kids will really enjoy.

I was also able to beef up our teen biography section a little bit and received biographies of Peyton Manning, Joseph Stalin, Satchel Paige, and Martha Stewart.

Overall I am very pleased with my first First Book experience. I estimate that the box of books I received would have easily cost $300 at full price, and the shipping was free. I will be back to order more titles another day. Thanks First Book!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Graphic Novels and Stranded Honeymooners

When I first started at Pioneer Memorial Public Library in Harman, WV I was thrilled to find two large shelves of graphic novels. Even as a kid I loved to read the funny papers in the Baltimore Sun, and later Mad magazine. Cartoons and graphic novels are hotter than ever, especially the Japanese form called manga.

Our little library cannot a large collection of graphic novels and the set that we have in rotation is courtesy of the West Virginia Library Commission in Charleston.

The WVLC foots the bill for shipping to the library and for return shipping as well.

Our latest rotating collection includes many more graphic novels and manga series, audio books on CD, audio books on PlayAways (portable MP3 players that include batteries and headphones), contemporary adult fiction, young adult fiction, and contemporary non-fiction. Stop by and check out the new books thank to the WVLC!

And why should libraries have graphic novels? Aren't they just cartoons or comics? The WVLC has a great little article on the value of graphic novels that are not just for young people anymore.

Today we had an unexpected visit from a honeymooning couple whose car broke down en route to Blackwater Falls from Parkersburg, WV. It took about an hour and a half for the nearest rental car company in Elkins to come and pick them up and to have their car towed. There is nothing like a little crisis to test a relationship!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Free Art Books For Libraries

As a small library with limited resources it's always good to check out the opportunities for free or reduced-cost books online. While researching such opportunities I found the Distribution to Underserved Communities Library Program - Art Resources Transfer in Brooklyn, New York City.

This is an amazing program that distributes new books about contemporary art and culture for free. It took me an hour or so to peruse through the dozens of available book titles and to choose books that I thought would be a good fit for the Pioneer Memorial Public Library. Some of the books included the artwork of Chuck Close, Frank Stella, Cindy Sherman, and many more.

I placed my order for free art books, crossed my fingers and waited patiently. I received an electronic receipt for my order immediately. Because DUC can only ship to a physical address I gave them my own home address as the library has a Post Office box address. It took less than 30 days and I received a notification of shipment from Fed Ex. I received two large boxes of books at my home shortly after the Fed Ex notification.

I lugged my boxes of art books to the library and opened them excitedly. We received approximately two dozen beautiful new art books that are now available for our library patrons. The shipping alone (which was free for the library) must have cost a pretty penny. Some of the titles include:

Art For Yale: A History of the Yale University Art Gallery

The Surreal Calder

Andy Warhol Enterprises

An American Century of Photography

I sent a thank you to DUC almost immediately and let them know that as an isolated and underserved region of the US, the nearest art museum is in Pittsburgh, PA, nearly three hours away. Locally we have little access to contemporary art and these books help to connect us to current ideas and culture in the art world. We are so grateful for this shipment of free and beautiful art books.

The only limitation to the DUC Art Resources Transfer is that only one order may be fulfilled per year. Also, I didn't get all the books that I requested. There are limited copies of these books of contemporary art so our library received what was available when I placed the order. Also, the website reminds you to be patient: it takes time to gather up the books, box them and ship them.

I know I will be back next year to select another shipment of books for the Pioneer Memorial Public Library. Do you love art? Or, are you just curious to check out the new books? Stop by and we'll be happy to share them with you.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Present Day Sketch of Harman, WV

No history today. Just a little sketch of current day Harman, WV, population around 100 or so. Located about 2,360 feet up in the Dry Fork Valley of Randolph County, West Virginia, many may see Harman as a sleepy town that is on the way to Canaan Valley, Seneca Rocks, Timberline, or Snowshoe. And we do get quite a few tourists passing through.

For tourists and locals, the Pioneer Memorial Public Library offers a clean restroom, four public computers with DSL and free wifi. Our collection of about 11,000 books includes traditional books, magazines, DVDs, books on CD, and books on a portable MP3 player called PlayAways. We can also help you with directions. GPS is not very reliable here so we have maps on hand to help bewildered travelers.

Now that school is back in session we get some students from the Harman School (K-12) that come over at lunch or after school to check out the books or use the computer. Later in the school year we will have pre-school and elementary school students that come over for story time and for library lessons. (aka How To Use a Library.) With about 185 students Harman School is probably one of the last schools in the US with a combined K-12 population. Last year the graduating class was less than 20 students.

And believe it or not we have a very active reading community here with a couple of patrons who have almost literally read everything of interest to them in our library. For those folks we offer an Inter-Library Loan service. For about $2.50 we can have a book shipped from the libraries within our consortium of libraries. And as part of that group we loan out books all over the state including other libraries and to the prison system as well.

We have a huge interest in genealogy in our neck of the woods. Last month a regular patron came in a photocopied several copies of a genealogy that we have archived in the library. It took the better part of the day and many reams of paper to make several copies of one family's genealogical record. (And did I mention that our photocopier is an amazing work horse?!) We have a fairly extensive genealogy library of specific family lines that have been generously donated over the years for future generations. We also have will records and marriage records for various years and counties, including Pendleton County, as Randolph County was once part of Pendleton.

The Senior Center is perhaps the community hub of Harman, WV. I went over there for lunch a few weeks back to introduce myself around and to take a new collection of books from the library. Every month or so we try to rotate a group of books into the Senior Center that may appeal to that audience. This month I included "West Virginia Curiosities" by Rick Steelhammer and "If You Ask Me (& of Course You Won't)" by Betty White.

I have heard that spaghetti day at the Senior Center is so popular that people come from all over the county to have lunch. I look forward to taking a turn visiting with the shut-ins who get a hot lunch delivered to their door every week day by the Senior Center van and a volunteer.

And finally, a physical description of the library: Nestled in the Dry Fork Valley and the nearby Horsecamp Run, our little library is surrounded by the beautiful Allegheny Mountains and pumped full of fresh air. Our tiny parking lot holds about 5 cars, and the library is within walking distance of the post office, the Grant County Bank and Cooper's Country Store, in beautiful downtown Harman, West Virginia.

Stop by when you are out our way and check out the Pioneer Memorial Public Library.</>

Monday, August 20, 2012

Captain Snyder and his Twelve of West Virginia

I had wondered why Asa Harman had married the sister of his deceased wife and the section I found in "Captain Snyder and his Twelve of West Virginia" by Carrie Harman Roy explains the marriage. (1977)

"The TOWN of HARMAN, WVa, is situated near the junction of the Dry Fork River and Horse Camp Run. For many years a quiet country village, with the event of the railroad [Central WVa & Southern] which ran from Hendricks to Horton, WVa, the town began to grow and many people moved in.

The two main families at the beginning of this little community were the Harmans and the Snyders. Rev. Asa Harman owned most of the land on the east side of the river and Sampson Snyder owned most of the land on the west side.

Reverend Asa Harman (1834-1902), the son of Solomon Harman, was a traveling German Baptist preacher. He went from place to place and would hold services wherever he could. There were no churches at first, but he would visit in the homes and have services there. here the Harman Church of the Brethren was organized by him in 1859, in the home of Mrs. Jonas Cooper. Her husband had been killed in the war.

When the town of Harman came into being, there was much discussion as to what to name it. Reverend Asa Harman had donated 170 acres of land for the town and it was felt that it should be named after him, and it was.

Reverend Asa Harman, due to a financial need, began to sell off parts of his vast domain. The Coopers bought a goodly portion and soon many people owned parts of it.

Reverend Asa Harman married into the Cooper family. First, he married Elizabeth Cooper and to them were born two boys, Henry Clay Harman and Job Harman. After Elizabeth's death, he married her sister Barbara because Elizabeth requested it."

This also helps to explain the prevalence of the Cooper name, even today, in Harman, West Viginia.

Speaking of good books, I just finished reading "Wonderful Tonight" by Pattie Boyd who was the wife of guitar gods George Harrison and Eric Clapton respectively. This is a must read (and a quick read) for anyone who loves the Beatles and the music of Eric Clapton.

How about you? Have you read any good books lately? Let us know at the Pioneer Memorial Public Library in Harman, WV.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Location, Location, Location

In researching the history of Harman, West Virginia, I found the following in "Goin' Up Gandy" by Don Teter, (1977):

"Because of its location on the trail between the South Branch and Tygart's valleys, the community of Harman had been a small commercial center for many years before the coming of the Dry Fork Railroad, but when the rails reached there it changed from a "quiet country hamlet" into another boom town.

Although Harman was never the site of a band sawmill, several small circular mills were located there or nearby during most of the boom years. Since Harman was on the main trade route for many local farmers, the railroad station there handled a large volume of agricultural goods, and by 1901 Harman had grown so large that it was incorporated and a school was started.

After the railroad pulled out of the Dry Fork, Harman lost population for a few years, but its location on the highway has allowed it to maintain its size and usurp Whitmer's position as the social and economic center of the Dry Fork."

And while Harman was named for Asa Harman, there had been settlers there predating him by about 100 years. According to local historian Bill Rice those main players were Uriah Gandy, Joseph Summerfield, and George Harness.

It turns out that the Harman region may have been Tory territory at one time. I'll stop on my way home from work soon and take a picture of the historical marker on the way to Elkins.

In the meantime, if you have any family history, photographs or genealogies that you would like to share, please contact me at the Pioneer Memorial Public Library right next to the Harman School.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The History of Harman?

West Virginians have a proud and rich history, and I can prove it. My home state of Maryland has maybe a couple of songs that reference the state or Baltimore. The state song, "Maryland, My Maryland", is an out of date, pro-Confederate ditty sung to the tune of what we now know as "Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree."

But West Virginia has many songs singing the praises of the Mountain State. "West Virginia" by Hazel Dickens, "Country Roads" made popular by John Denver, "West Virginia" by They Might Be Giants, and "West Virginia Man" by David Allen Coe. There are many more songs about WV and just this abundance of musical tribute is artistic proof of West Virginia's self pride of history and heritage.

So I was surprised that Harman, West Virginia doesn't have a written history, even a small summary of its history, anywhere that I can find online or in the Pioneer Memorial Public Library.

In researching the history of Harman, West Virginia, here is what I have found:

"Asa Harman born October 31, 1834; was educated in the common schools; became a farmer and also was one of the most prominent German Baptist ministers in his state. He resided on a farm at what is now known as the town of Harman, Randolph County. W. Va., the town being named in his honor. He was one of the most prominent men in his section of the state, but met with financial reverses in the later years of his life, greatly interfering with the education of some of his children whom he had attending the university of his state. Died 1902. He married (1) Elizabeth Cooper and (2) Barbara Cooper, sisters."

This is from "Harman-Harmon: Genealogy and Biography" by John William Harman of Parsons, West Virginia, 1928.

In talking to local Harman descendents, the town of Harman was never a timber boom town like many small towns in West virginia, though they did have a train depot where the post office stands today. Harman was never a coal mining town either. Harman was founded by a farmer and minister as a farming town and the agricultural trade kept the trains of the Dry Fork Railroad full and moving.

Do you live in Harman, West Virginia or have kin from here? Please write or email what you know to the Pioneer Memorial Public Library. We could love to add it to our growing history of this charming West Virginia town in Randolph County.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Welcome to Harman, WV

It is odd to be back in a library again, a rural library in Harman, West Virginia. In a town with a population of a little over 100, a library like the Pioneer Memorial Public Library can play a vital role in the community.

I worked at the Baltimore Museum of Art library during college and after I graduated. I am a book rat from way back raised on the great Enoch Pratt Free Library system of Baltimore, Maryland. This continues to be one of the best employment experiences of my entire life. On Mondays the museum was closed to the public. But I as museum employee was free to roam the halls of the museum, blissfully alone. On special occasions, we ate lunch in the Renaissance Room. Attached to the library and not open to the general public, the Renaissance Room had been exported from the old country, all oaken panels and traffic-worn hearth stones. I'm pretty sure that the table we ate at had once belonged to King Arthur. ;-) Sometimes I could go to the prints and drawings department at lunch and ask to see prints and drawings in storage. What a dream to see a print by Durer or an exquisite drawing up close, personal and with no glass barrier. Exquisite.

Later, I worked at the Milton S. Eisenhower Library of Johns Hopkins University, I started out as a circulation and reserve room clerk. I had friends from all over the world and enjoyed being in an academic environment. It was full of young, curious, and intelligent people. A year later I was promoted to science periodicals supervisor, a strange job that had me working three floors underground for most of the day. The JHU library had a couple of million books and I spent some quality time working through subjects that I was always curious about: history, psychology, and art history.

Overtime I grew antsy to try other things, to work in other worlds, and went on to have jobs as a graphic designer, filmmaker, art director, teacher, adjunct lecturer, and grant writer.

And now I am back in a library. As a neighbor to Harman School we serve a school population of 200 or so. Because we are on a well-traveled road to resorts, we sometimes get tourists passing through, or camping locally on route to other places. We get just as many tourists in the spring-summer season as we do in fall and winter.

The library is funded through many sources including the local Randolph County Commission, the Randolph County Board of Education, the United Way, the Tucker Community Fund, and through local fundraising efforts.

I have been on board for a few weeks and I'm trying to introduce myself around the community, and figure out the routine of the library and patrons. There's still a lot for me to learn and to figure out, so I am going slow and not implementing any big changes for until I can intelligently discern what needs to be done. The people here are friendly and like to read! Who could ask for anything more?

And in the meantime, have I had time to read? Not a whole lot. I did read a great short story by Jennifer Egan called "Black Box" in the June 4&11, 2012 New Yorker. Egan is really a fiction pioneer and invents a new style of writing for this spy thriller story.

If you are in our neck of the woods, stop in and say howdy to me at Pioneer Memorial Public Library in little ole Harman, West Virginia.