War Upon the Land: Military Strategy and the Transformation of Southern Landscapes during the American Civil War [Review]

reviewed by Julia Stringfellow

War Upon the Land: Military Strategy and the Transformation of Southern Landscapes during the American Civil War 
Lisa M. Brady
Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0-8203-4249-8, paperback
208  pages, $24.95

In Lisa M. Brady’s War Upon the Land, the title alone introduces the reader to the idea that there was a third side involved in the Civil War–the agricultural environment of the South. Brady’s book provides a detailed look at the American South in the midst of the Civil War and the impact of environmentalism, a widely unexplored subject until now. The author explores the idea that the Union Army was successful in defeating the Confederacy due to the environment working in their favor.

Brady’s book is a brilliant marriage of military and environmental history. The descriptions of the war-torn South produce a vivid imagining of what the South was like during the Civil War.  As Brady writes, “The metaphors ‘desert,’ ‘wasteland,’ and ‘wilderness’ punctuate the written records of those who witnessed the war’s destruction, especially in those areas where the Union chevauchées occurred” (127).

As the war dragged on, the North became more acquainted with the environmental conditions of their opponent, such as constant rain, flooding, and disease-carrying insects, and learned to use these conditions to their benefit as they battled their way through the South. The most powerful ally the South had at the beginning of the war was agriculture, but that relationship steadily deteriorated as a war that was initially thought would last only a few weeks dragged on to four years. The book shows how both nature and the effects of war brought much destruction to the South.

The organization of the book’s content enhances the clarity of the subject by providing a chronological narrative of how the South prospered before the start of the war to how it was almost unrecognizable by 1865. In addition, the maps of battle sites and the famous march of the Union Army’s General William Sherman complement the text well. The extensive notes, bibliography, and index sections also greatly strengthen the content.

This book would interest environmental and military history scholars and researchers, but is also a must read for those general readers who have a keen interest in the Civil War.  For these audiences, both academic and public libraries will benefit from adding this book to their collections. Because the book debuts at a key point in history as the sesquicentennial of the Civil War is being commemorated, university courses focusing on the Civil War would also benefit from the inclusion of this work.

The author, Lisa M. Brady, is an associate professor of history at Boise State University and has substantial experience in working with the subject of the Civil War and environmental history. She is currently the editor of the journal Environmental History andhas written articles and book chapters on the subject of war and nature. This is Brady’s first book, and her writing style is very approachable and engaging. It is clear she conducted extensive research in preparing this work. Given that this book is fascinating and sheds light on a topic that was previously untouched by scholars, this reviewer is eager to see what the next book by Brady will reveal.

Julia Stringfellow is an archivist/librarian and assistant professor in Special Collections and Archives at Albertsons Library, Boise State University.


True Stories of Censorship Battles in America’s Libraries [Review]

reviewed by Alex Kyrios

True Stories of Censorship Battles in America’s Libraries 
Edited by Valerie Nye and Kathy Barco
Chicago, IL: ALA Editions, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0-8389-1130-3, softcover
200 pages, $50.00

Despite its title, True Stories of Censorship Battles in America’s Libraries isn’t full of tales of battle. Some of the brushes with censorship described are just skirmishes, or even cases of conflict narrowly avoided. The 31 chapters edited by Valerie Nye and Kathy Barco, of Santa Fe University of Art and Design and Albuquerque Public Library, respectively, cover an admirably broad span of topics, each a reflection of censorship in an American library. We may think of censorship as an issue affecting only public and school libraries, but there are also cases from academic libraries as well as a prison library.

These personal stories, which range from serious descriptions of heated community battles (such as “32 Pages, 26 Sentences, 603 Words and $500,000 Later: When School Boards Have Their Way”) to the lighthearted “The Princess Librarian: An Allegory,” will appeal to librarians, library staff, and readers with an interest in censorship issues. Readers will also find the discussion questions, related to some of the scenarios described in the book, a valuable resource. These questions, such as how a library can establish community ties, respond to challenges and appropriately classify materials, can foster important conversations in a library faced with book challenges—or better yet, before that happens.

One of the common themes in the chapters is the willingness of groups such as the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom to support librarians fighting censorship. Especially in cases where a loud or influential patron stirs up a media circus over a book, organizations such as ALA and the American Civil Liberties Union are willing to back up library staff and help them respond to challenges appropriately.

This book will be a valuable companion to libraries facing censorship attempts, but it may be more effective at preparing librarians and staff to deal with censorship issues before they happen. The authors stress the importance of libraries having a comprehensive collection development policy which can be referred to when library materials are challenged. The book’s stories prove that librarians and library staff who can specifically explain why a controversial book meets the library’s collection development policy are on much more solid ground than those who have to make ad hoc arguments with challenging patrons.

One of the more interesting sections is a pair of chapters addressing materials on Native American tribes, especially in cases where scholarly sources contradict tribal tradition or ignore cultural sensitivities. How should a librarian balance the cause of intellectual freedom with inclusion of minority groups? The book shows that sometimes there are no right answers.

True Stories of Censorship Battles in America’s Libraries includes something for librarians and staff in any type of library. Some of us may never have to talk to a patron who objects to a book, but we may have to deal with coworkers who want to censor objectionable materials. Any library employee who would have to answer a material challenge should read this—and if your library doesn’t know who that person is, that’s a problem! Libraries across the country have dealt with all sorts of challenges, and this book is full of accounts of triumphs and defeats to inspire and inform a beleaguered library. You don’t have to go it alone.

Alex Kyrios is a Metadata and Catalog Librarian at the University of Idaho.

The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror, Second Edition [Review]

reviewed by Lizzy Walker

The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror, Second Edition 
Becky Siegel Spratford
Chicago, IL: ALA Editions, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0-8389-1112-9, softcover
184 pages, $48.00

Becky Siegel Spratford’s The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror, Second Edition updates the 2004 edition and provides librarians with valuable information on horror. The author specifies that she revised and reassessed the material, including “new authors, trends, annotations, and suggestions” (x). As someone who is an avid reader of the genre, it is refreshing to have a resource that not only provides great selections, but also discusses the sometimes unknown subgenres of horror.

The first thirteen chapter topics cover different aspects of the horror genre such as “A Brief History of Horror,” “Horror 101,” “Vampires,” “Zombies,” “Witches and the Occult,” “The Appeal of Horror,” “The Classics,” and ” Monsters and Ancient Evil.” The last chapter provides information on collection development and marketing in libraries.  In each of the chapters, Spratford provides an annotated bibliography as well as recommended reading. These resources are highly beneficial to the readers’ advisory librarian as well as to the patron. Patrons have the option to search for themselves or, if they need additional information, they may address the librarian who created the advisory list.

While each chapter has its own appeal, there are a few chapters that are particularly informative and thorough. In “Monsters and Ancient Evil,” the author focuses on novels that were influenced by H. P. Lovecraft and Richard Layman. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos has made a resurgence in the horror community in various forms, including games and film. This chapter would be valuable to the readers’ advisory librarian who wants to stay abreast of trends in horror fiction.

“The Classics” contains a necessary reading list for anyone just getting into the horror genre and is especially useful as a reference tool. It was disappointing to see that Guy de Maupassant was not on the list, but there were plenty of other essential authors included such as Horace Walpole, M. R. James, and Shirley Jackson. Spratford also provides useful tips and guidelines for creating a classics list, such as finding titles published before 1974.

In “The Appeal of Horror,” Spratford clearly defines horror as “a story in which the author manipulates the reader’s emotions by introducing situations in which unexplainable phenomenon and unearthly creatures threaten the protagonists and provoke terror in the reader” (14). She also discusses what horror is not. This may seem trivial, but to horror fans who may be picky or who want more horror reads, it is essential.

This book is a valuable resource for readers’ advisory, general librarians in public libraries, or for anyone interested in the horror genre.  This book will assist unfamiliar librarians with the genre, as well as librarians who know the genre inside and out, providing renewed enthusiasm and marketing tips.

Becky Siegel Spratford served as a reader’s advisor at the Berwyn Public Library in Illinois. She currently teaches classes on Readers’ Advisory Services at the Dominican University where she earned her MLIS. She is the author of the RA for All: Horror blog, which may be found at http://www.raforallhorror.blogspot.com/.

Lizzy Walker currently works at Boise State University’s Albertsons Library as a Library Assistant 2. She earned her MLS with the SWIM cohort through University of North Texas.

Multicultural Storytime Magic [Review]

reviewed by Erica Littlefield

Multicultural Storytime Magic 
Kathy MacMillan and Christine Kirker
Chicago, IL: ALA Editions, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-0-8389-1142-6, softcover
256 pages, $47.00

In Kathy MacMillan’s and Christine Kirker’s new book Multicultural Storytime Magic, the authors encouragelibrarians to include cultural diversity in their library storytimes. The premise of their book is that multicultural elements should be included in every storytime, not just special storytimes that occur around cultural holidays.

MacMillan and Kirker are no strangers to library storytimes.  They are also the authors of Storytime Magic (ALA, 2009) and Kindergarten Magic (ALA, 2012). MacMillan and Kirker start out Multicultural Storytime Magic with a short introduction that presents facts and figures on cultural diversity in the United States. After the introduction, the book is broken down into 44 chapters, with each chapter about a common storytime theme. The themes are listed in alphabetical order, and include fun themes such as “Bedtime,” “Forest Animals,” “Shoes,” and “Winter.”  For each theme, there are multicultural book suggestions, flannelboard stories, fingerplays and songs, and crafts.  The flannelboard patterns, craft patterns, and worksheets, which are shown in miniature in the book, are available in full size on the ALA Editions website.  The only thing that would enhance the book’s content is pictures of the finished craft projects.

The stories, activities, and songs in the book represent many countries and cultures throughout the world.  For example, there is a flannelboard version of “The Seven Chinese Brothers” in the “Brothers and Sisters” chapter, and there is a song called “My Boat is Going” from Lebanon in the “Transportation” chapter.  Many of the themes include Spanish language or American Sign Language elements.

One of the book’s greatest strengths is its organization.  The 44 chapters are easy to follow, and there are three appendices and an index of names and titles.  Appendix A: Culture Notes and Index of Entries by Culture is especially useful when looking for materials on a specific culture.  Also, materials and activities that are suitable for two- and three-year-olds are marked with an asterisk.  This is a useful feature because libraries offer a variety of storytimes for different ages and the asterisks allows librarians to quickly see which materials are appropriate for the younger age group.

The content, organization, and resources included in Multicultural Storytime Magic make it a useful tool for youth services librarians in public libraries or school librarians who serve preschoolers and kindergarteners.  It will help librarians incorporate multicultural touches into their regular storytimes or put together an entire storytime dedicated to a specific culture or country. Highly recommended.

Erica Littlefield is the Youth Services Department Head at Twin Falls Public Library. A native Idahoan, Erica recently completed her MLIS degree online as part of the SWIM Cohort through the University of North Texas.

Senator Bart Davis 2012 Legislator of the Year

by Jeremy Kenyon

Legislator of the Year was awarded to District 33 Idaho Senator Bart Davis for his consistent and solid support of Idaho’s libraries and library districts.  Senator Davis “has been the calm and articulate balance” in explaining the effects of legislation proposed in the capitol and ensuring that those proposals which affect libraries are “considered thoughtfully, fairly, and with community education and literacy at the forefront.”  He has played a critical role in shaping various legislation concerning topics such as election reform, terms of library trustees, and the Read to Me program.

Kiebert Named 2012 ILA Gardner Hanks Scholarship Recipient

by Kristi Brumley

The Idaho Library Association congratulates Boise resident Jenaleigh Kiebert, recipient of the 2012 ILA Gardner Hanks Scholarship! Since 2002, the $500 scholarship has been awarded to students pursuing a “formal library education” and who best match the vision of Gardner Hanks, 2001 Idaho Librarian of the Year. Kiebert is pursuing a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Washington. She is currently taking courses in metadata design and cataloging and plans to graduate in March 2013. Kiebert also holds a BA in Art History and Visual Culture from Boise State University.

“As an online student in an MLIS program my capabilities for using current technologies has grown immensely, alongside my grasp of the importance of assessing user needs and implementing effective instructional design,” said Kiebert. “The concepts I have learned in class have informed my daily work in a library setting and I am eager to continue building my knowledge as I complete my degree and envision my library career in Idaho.”

Kiebert worked for Boise Public Library at Collister for two years. As a Library Assistant, Kiebert served patrons at the circulation and reference desk, assisted with adult programs and toddler storytimes, and served on the volunteer coordinators committee. Her supervisor, Jillian Huang, praised Kiebert for her work with the Technology Coach program. Kiebert “…streamlined the process for volunteers, developed and presented training, and adjusted the program to better match the skills of each volunteer with the needs of the client,” said Huang. “Jenaleigh understands process improvement and works well in a team where everyone gets to be a part of the solution.”

Kiebert recently started a new position as a Library Assistant at the Idaho State Archives and Research Center. She previously volunteered and interned for the State Archives where she processed collections and entered metadata for historic photographs to be accessed online. The State Archives provide public access to materials that relate to the history of Idaho and the Pacific Northwest.

To learn more about Gardner Hanks Scholarship or to apply for the 2013 educational scholarships please visit www.idaholibraries.org/awards.

Kristi Brumley is the Technical Services Supervisor at Garden City Public Library.

Katelyn Volle Recipient of the 2012 ILA Scholarship

by Amy Mortensen

The Idaho Library Association Scholarship worth $500 was recently awarded in Pocatello at the Idaho Library Association (ILA) annual conference banquet.  The Scholarships and Awards committee received several applications from highly qualified applicants.  After careful review of each application, Katelyn Volle was chosen as the recipient of the scholarship from ILA.

Katelyn started classes this fall at the University of North Texas (UNT) in Denton, Texas.  It will take her 2 years to finish her Master’s degree.  She is currently working as the Library Assistant at Canyon Ridge High School in Twin Falls.  She was born in Twin Falls and has spent most of her life there, but she has also lived in Colorado, Georgia, and Texas.  Idaho will always feel like home to her.

The scholarship money will help Katelyn to continue with the SWIM (South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana) program through UNT, as well as allowing her to attend classes that will benefit her current position as a Library Assistant.  These classes and her degree will ultimately help the teachers and students she works with.  Katie states “I want to be a librarian because of the dynamic role we play in connecting people with information and ideas.  I love assisting others and seeing their processes of inquiry become empowered through education in library resources.  I firmly believe in the equality and equity of information access and want to be a part in providing these services to diverse populations.  Also, I love how a single book can connect people from many backgrounds to a shared experience and how libraries are able to facilitate such connections among the communities we serve.”

Scholarship Criteria

The ILA scholarship requires candidates to be a member of ILA and to participate in an educational activity such as workshops, institutes, conferences or courses.

Candidates may apply for 2013 scholarships in April. They will be presented at the ILA Annual Conference in October.

Amy Mortensen, Adult Services Supervisor at the Twin Falls Public Library and the ILA Public Library Division Chair for 2012-2013.