Monday, November 17, 2008

Book Review: Down Cut Shin Creek

Down Cut Shin Creek: The Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky by Kathi Appelt & Jeanne Cannella Schmitzer. (Grades 4-7.)

Franklin Delano Roosevelt started the Works Projects Administration to help alleviate the effects of Great Depression. The WPA gave people work and also promoted an awareness of the arts. WPA workers built schools, roads, parks, community centers, and more.

One of the most successful projects of the WPA was Eastern Kentucky's Pack Horse Library Project.

Thousands of people lived in the mountains of eastern Kentucky, unreachable by vehicles and totally isolated from the rest of the world. With the Pack Horse Library Project, these people received library services for the first time. Books and magazines were delivered by women and men who traveled 50-80 miles a week on horse, mule, and foot.

Carriers went out three or four times a week, taking a different route each day. Each route was repeated every two weeks. They went out in all kinds of weather and brought books to men, women, and children. They were paid $28 a month.

This photo-filled book will appeal to any lover of books. The pack horse librarians are truly inspiring with their dedication to improving the lives of people in their community. I certainly take my wonderful library for granted. When I do an outreach program, it entails getting into my car, driving to a school or preschool and bringing a bag of books from our abundant collection. These librarians who rode and walked 20 miles to bring a meager selection of tattered books to a one-room schoolhouse... well, they're an inspiration.

This should be required reading for all librarians and anyone who loves their library. (I hope all of you love your libraries!)

An extensive bibliography and index make this a great choice for research and the many photos and interesting facts make this good for browsing, too.

It's Nonfiction Monday! Anastasia's got the roundup at Picture Book of the Day!