Sunday, November 24, 2013

Giving Thanks in the Library and Archives

I love going to my local antique shop to seek out ephemera for each holiday. This year I found this postcard to put us in a seasonal mood. In fact, it snowed here in New England last night and the wind howls as I sip my coffee. It was hard to focus on the holidays with recent warm temperatures. Now it's time to wrap ourselves in and plan for the traditions that make the season a special one for your diverse communities.

In our school library, I continue to try to bring a sense of community and heritage.I began a Thanksgiving tradition at home with my daughter many years ago. We cut out leaves and over the course of November we write all the things for which we are thankful and tape them to the wall. This year, I changed the wall tree to something that stands in the middle of the floor. I spent a lot of time cutting saplings in my garden this year, so I brought some branches in. I also brought some branches to my library.

Students are usually very happy to contribute their thanks to our tree. They are thankful for friends, family, phones, sports and many, many nice things. We had a wall tree last year and have saved the leaves in our school archives. It will be fun to keep track over the years of the different things for which the different generations of students are thankful. 

I've also brought the idea of food traditions into the library with a display that encourages contribution of recipes and memories. After Thanksgiving, we are asking families to contribute a family seasonal dish one day a week, so that we can introduce the teens to food from different ethnic traditions as another way to build our community. 

Once again, the archives and library are playing a part in community building. I have a lot of great things planned for 2014 including a retired teacher's reunion as part of an oral history event, library stations throughout the school, a community wide journaling project, and much more. Education and cultural heritage institutions are a perfect fit and can help form a solid foundation for community building inside and outside of a school. I give thanks for the opportunity to help with this endeavor.

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