UX Librarian: August 2012

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.