Gainesville (GA) to Gainesville (FL)
For the month of June, I will be the Bechtel Fellow, researching at the Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Books at the University of Florida. I was awarded this fellowship from the Association of Library Services to Children to support my research into storytelling in the content areas. The Baldwin Library has over 100,000 holdings. I want to mine the collection to find stories that illustrate concepts from the national standards in math, science, social studies, and (of course) language arts. This is a great adventure and I will share a few of my experiences on the GLMA blog.
I’m settled in my cozy apartment behind a restored Victorian house. This should be a perfect sanctuary for productivity. Dewey the Wonder Pug is getting used to the new neighborhood. No one warned me that the state bird of Florida is the mosquito. I have never seen such gigantic bloodsuckers, literally an inch long!
The first day involved meeting at least twenty new people, all of whom promised to be at my beck and call. Talk about being spoiled! Rita Smith, the curator of the Baldwin Library, took me on a behind the scenes tour of the collection. This would be my only opportunity to see the whole collection. The stacks are closed and Rita tells me that I will have a cart with my name on it. I can request up to fifty books at a time to be retrieved from the stacks. The collection is on two levels below the library, temperature and humidity-controlled. The stacks are those moveable shelves that Rita can move with a wave of her hand over the sensors (like magic). Row after row of lovely old bound volumes, some from the 1600s. I feel like a kid in a candy store.
After the tour, Rita and I met Dr. John Cech, Director of the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature and Culture (http://www.clas.ufl.edu/cclc/ ), and professor of children’s literature. He will be my mentor during the fellowship. He is a charming man and he, Rita and I have a lively chat. Dr. Cech wants to find an opportunity for me to tell stories while I am here. In the past the Center produced a daily radio show, “Recess”, hosted by Dr. Cech. This program about children’s books and culture was broadcast on NPR stations. The funding ran out and now Mrs. Smith and Dr. Cech are looking at other options for presenting the program. They are exploring the idea of posting videos on the Center’s website.
My head is spinning from all the information, the excitement, and the possibilities of the month ahead. I can’t wait to share this adventure with you all.