Dealing with difficult ancestors: Tips and tricks for finding those elusive family members

Sometimes in genealogy research, the pieces just don’t come together. No one seems to be living where you expect them to be, records have gone missing and you just can’t make any connections between generations.

Although not exhaustive, this guide introduces some search techniques that may help you find those elusive ancestors.

Write down everything you know about the person.

Writing down his or her life events in chronological order shows where you may have gaps in your research, such as census records you have not yet found. A timeline also suggests places to look for additional records if your ancestor lived through a war or other major historical event. Noting the places where your ancestor lived provides clues to the geographic area where your ancestor’s parents may be found.

Filling in those three missing censuses may well hold the key to John Whittaker’s family. Note the place of birth as Pennsylvania, meaning John’s parents lived there at some point. Also note the biographical details of marriage in a Catholic church and burial in an Independent Order of Odd Fellows cemetery.

Don’t just note places of residence. Fill in social details such as religious affiliation, political affiliation, club and society membership and other details you may know about your ancestor. These details will be useful later.

Looking at your timeline, information such as your ancestor’s birth date and place provides indirect details about his or her parents. For example, the place of birth tells you where the family was living at the time, while the date of birth tells you the minimum likely age of the parents.

Look at the pre-1850 censuses.

1840 United States Federal Census. Greene County, Tennessee. Accessed July 9, 2018. Ancestry Library Edition.

The early censuses are often overlooked because they do not provide the level of detail of later censuses. However, these records are not completely unhelpful to genealogists. If your ancestor was old enough to be an adult in these censuses, look for him or her.  Women in the pre-1850 censuses are more difficult to find, as they were not often heads of households, but they do turn up occasionally.

If your ancestor was still a child in 1840 or earlier, if you know where he or she was living in 1850 or if you know where he or she lived as a child, search the censuses in that area for individuals with the same last name. Try tracing those individuals to the 1850 census or later to see if they could be related to your ancestor. Also look at the family composition of the various households with your ancestor’s surname in the early censuses to see if there is a male or female of the appropriate age.

Make sure you have found all relevant censuses.

If you are trying to connect your ancestor to his or her parents, do not look at censuses in which he or she is a child only. Sometimes elderly parents lived with their adult children, so you may be able to find the parents there. Also depending on the census, you may find further clues concerning your ancestor beyond just age and place of birth.

Trace the siblings of your ancestor and their descendants.

Jacob Myers family tree. Ancestry.com user casvelyn. Accessed July 9, 2018. Ancestry Library Edition.

Sometimes the siblings of your ancestor provide more detailed information than your ancestor with regard to parentage. Maybe a younger sibling had a death certificate, whereas your ancestor died too early. Perhaps one or both of the parents are living with a sibling in later censuses. Another sibling’s family could have written a more detailed obituary. Looking at the siblings’ birth information can also provide evidence for other places your ancestor’s family may have lived, particularly if the family moved frequently.

Look in the county records where your ancestor lived throughout his or her life.

County records such as wills, probates, deeds and court records are full of direct and implied relationships. Will and probate records outline what happened to a person’s property after he or she died. Although many people did not write a will, most owned enough property to have the estate go through the probate process. If your ancestor died young, he or she may have left property to his or her parents. Otherwise, looking at wills and probates for individuals with your ancestor’s surname may help you to find his or her parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or siblings.

Will of Philip Erbaugh. Clerk of Court, Miami County, Indiana, Vol. 8, p. 66. Accessed July 9, 2018. Family Search.

Deed records do not always name the relationship between the seller and the buyer, but there are some family clues to be found. If someone sells a piece of property for $1 or “for love and affection,” there is a good chance of a family relationship between the individuals.

Criminal and civil court records may note familial relationships if someone sued other members of his or her family or if a family member testified at a trial or helped to pay bail or fines. Court records are rarely indexed by the names of all involved, just the plaintiffs and defendants, so looking at cases involving individuals with the same surname as your ancestor may be necessary.

Check county histories.

Eli H. Dunn. “History of Knox and Daviess County, Indiana.” Chicago: Goodspeed, 1886.

Most county histories contain a section of brief biographies of local residents. Even those that do not usually contain information on early or prominent residents of the area. These biographical sketches provide many details about your ancestor’s life, including spouses, children, parents, career, education and social affiliations. Many county histories are available online through sites such as Google Books, Internet Archive and Hathi Trust.

Look at newspapers.

Rushville Republican, September 30, 1959, p. 8. Accessed July 9, 2018. Newspaper Archive.

As more and more newspapers are digitized and indexed, it is easier than ever to search the newspapers for your ancestor. Through newspapers, you may be able to find an obituary or death notice for your ancestor. You also may be able to find articles about religious or social affiliations. For example, if your ancestor attended a Methodist church picnic or helped out at a Masonic Lodge fish fry, he may have been a member of that church or fraternal organization. Depending on the area, newspapers may also contain information about vacations, hospital stays, weddings, funerals and many other everyday aspects of your ancestor’s life that cannot be found anywhere else.

Check online trees.

Looking at family trees that other researchers have posted online can help you to see if you have overlooked anything in your research. Try to use trees that have citations so you know where the person got their information. If the trees do not have citations, but do contain new information, think about sources that might provide that information and check them to see if you can find proof.

There are many websites where individuals can post family trees, so you may need to check more than one to find new information about your ancestor. Simply searching for “[ancestor name] family tree” or “[surname] family tree” can find many trees that are publicly available.

This blog post is by Jamie Dunn, genealogy librarian. For more information, contact the Genealogy Division at (317) 232-3689 or send us a question through Ask-a-Librarian.

Library services spotlight: Connect IN

As you probably know, public library standards require public libraries to have a functional website, but, are you aware that the Indiana State Library can host your library’s website for free?! The program is called Connect IN and it’s free for public libraries without a current online presence and those having difficulty maintaining their existing site.

Program participants receive these free services from the Indiana State Library:

  • Modern and high-quality website featuring:
    • An easy-to-use content management system (CMS), based on WordPress, that allows you to manage and update your website and easily create new web pages and online features.
    • Web editing software as simple as using a word processor.
    • Seamless and instant publishing to the web allows you to make instantaneous changes to your website.
    • Dozens of customizable templates to help you get the exact design that reflects your library and community.
    • Libraries interested in joining can review the Connect IN Checklist to gain a better understanding of the process.
  • Technical support and training
  • Content management system (CMS) training
  • Free website hosting
    • The Indiana State Library is contracting with IT experts to handle the complicated back end tasks and to save you time and money.
  • Free email for library staff
    • Get up to 20 email accounts for your library (i.e., yourname@yourlibrary.lib.in.us).
    • Email storage capacity meets industry standards.
    • Email is Microsoft Outlook compatible.
    • Manage account settings as an administrator.

If you’d like to learn more about the Connect IN program, click here. To utilize the program, contact your regional coordinator.

This blog post was written by Courtney Brown, southeast regional coordinator, Indiana State Library.

Indianapolis Times photograph collection now available for public viewing

In October of 2017, the Indiana State Library Rare Books and Manuscripts Division acquired the photograph morgue of The Indianapolis Times, comprising of over 150,000 photographs dating from 1939-65. Also included were thousands of clippings and brochures, relating to international, national, state and local topics.

 

The Indianapolis Times exposed the Ku Klux Klan and its influence on Indiana state politics during the 1920s, resulting in journalism’s highest award, the Pulitzer Prize. It advocated for children’s needs during the Great Depression and helped over 4,000 Indiana residents find jobs by publishing free advertisements during the 1960s. The newspaper ran its final issue on Oct. 11, 1965. Daily circulation totaled 89,374 with a Sunday circulation of 101,000. For more information about the newspaper’s history, the Indiana Historical Bureau created a post within the Hoosier State Chronicles blog.

 

Researchers can request to view the collection by calling Rare Books and Manuscripts at (317) 232-3671 or submitting a question via Ask-A-Librarian. The newspaper is available on microfilm in the Indiana Collection. For more information about the library’s newspaper holdings, visit here.

This blog post was written by Bethany Fiechter, Rare Books and Manuscripts supervisor, Indiana State Library.

Indiana State Library awarded NHPRC grant to digitize the papers of Will H. Hays

The Indiana State Library recently received a $74,880 grant to support the digitization of Will H. Hays’ papers ranging from 1914-54. Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero awarded 31 grants totaling over $4 million dollars through the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). The official press release can be found here.

Will H. Hays

Hays served as the Republican National Committee chairman during 1918-21 and was the campaign manager for President Warren Harding in 1920. Harding appointed Hays as postmaster general in 1921. He later became president of the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America from 1922-45, where he established the Hays Code of acceptable content for motion pictures produced for a public audience. A film from the state library’s collection was recently digitized and can be found here.

The Indiana State Library was the only state library to receive an NHPRC grant in the category of Access to Historical Records. Other awardees in this category included the California Historical Society, Purdue University, Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc. and more.

“Hays continues to be our most frequently-viewed collection, with scholars traveling from as far as the United Kingdom to view it. Providing digital access to this collection will undoubtedly change its usage levels. Researchers not able to visit the library due to travel implications, such as lack of funding, will have unlimited access, leading to more research and discovery across multiple disciplines,” said Bethany Fiechter, project director.

For more information on the collection of Will H. Hays, contact Bethany Fiechter, Rare Books and Manuscripts supervisor, at (317) 234-8621 or via email.

This blog post was written by Bethany Fiechter, Rare Books and Manuscripts supervisor, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at (317) 232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

Beer – It’s what’s for dinner

At least that’s what the United Brewers Industrial Foundation sought to convince the American people in 1937.

When Prohibition ended in 1933 with the ratification of the 21st Amendment, it signified the renaissance of the legal alcohol industry. In an effort to improve the beverage’s reputation, the foundation published a series of pamphlets, including “At Home with Beer“ and “Beer – The Liquid Food,” hailing beer as a smart and wholesome addition to the daily menu.

Pamphlet published by the United Brewers Industrial Foundation, ca. 1937. Source: Indiana State Library.

The pamphlet entitled “It’s Smart to Serve Beer: Menus and Recipes to Assist the Gracious Hostess” is perhaps the best of the lot. It offers up such gastronomical gems as “Liver Dumplings in Beer” and “Bohemian Beer Soup.”  Yum. Actually, “Chocolate Beer Cake” on page 24 doesn’t look half-bad. The pamphlet’s author, Helen Watts Schreiber, touted beer as “a delightful drink in moderation—yet most inexpensive.” She promised readers, “Your hospitality and your social graces as a smart hostess will be assured if you serve the sparkling amber brew throughout the entire meal.”

Despite this fresh spin, the brewing industry had a tough sell with opposition from organizations like the Indiana Anti-Saloon League, who were still calling all forms of alcohol “a narcotic poison and habit-forming drug” 10 years after Prohibition’s end.

Broadside distributed by the Indiana Anti-Saloon League, ca. 1943. Source: Small Broadsides Collection, Indiana State Library.

Brewing in Indiana

Before Prohibition, Indiana had a respectable brewing industry. In 1879, the Hoosier State ranked 12th out of 43 states, and two territories, with 191,729 barrels of beer sold and 10th in the number of breweries with 76. Some Indiana beers even achieved international renown, such as the Indianapolis Brewing Company’s Düsseldorfer, which won gold medals at the Paris Exposition of 1900, the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904 and at Liege, Belgium in 1906.

Advertisement for Indianapolis Brewing Co.’s Düsseldorfer beer, ca. 1900. Source: Indianapolis Brewing Company and Excelsior Laundry ads (S1881), Indiana State Library.

After the Prohibition’s repeal in 1933, many of Indiana’s breweries resumed operations, including the Indianapolis Brewing Company, Drewrys Limited in South Bend, Falstaff Brewing Corp. in Fort Wayne and Sterling Brewers in Evansville. In the following decades, many local American breweries, such as these four, eventually closed or were bought out, unable to compete with the national brands like Budweiser and Coors.

25th anniversary report of the Indiana Brewers Association, 1958. Source: Indiana Pamphlets, Indiana State Library.

Old becomes new again

Beer has endured as a staple throughout human history, for both nourishment and enjoyment. The oldest surviving recorded “recipe” for beer making is found in an ancient Sumerian tablet called the “Hymn to Ninkasi”—the goddess of beer and brewing—dated 1800 B.C.E., but brewing practices originated much earlier. Archaeologists have discovered evidence of beer and brewing in Mesopotamia and China going back at least 5,000 years, and suspect its existence as early as the Neolithic period.

Sumerian cuneiform tablet recording beer rations, ca. 3100-3000 BCE. Source: Trustees of the British Museum (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).

Historically, beer making often began in the home. In ancient Sumer, the first brewers were the priestesses of Ninkasi and brewing, typically associated with baking, became part of women’s regular meal preparation. By and large, beer in the Western world was homemade until the Renaissance period when brewpubs and monasteries became the focal point of brewing activities. Brewing practices changed once again when, as in other trades, industrialization made large-scale commercial operations profitable in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The growing trend of home brewing in the 1970s and 1980s, which led to the modern craft beer movement, could be considered a throwback to older brewing traditions, even while employing modern beer making methods. As a result, today’s beer industry is a hodgepodge of massive beer enterprises and thousands of smaller brewing operations, such as microbreweries and brewpubs. The craft beer movement reinvigorated an otherwise stagnant brewing industry, infusing innovation and new flavor into a timeless beverage.

Today’s proliferation of diverse drafts and bottled brews would surely have pleased these Indiana soldiers clearly in need of a pint, if the graffiti is any indication. Ironically, these thirsty Hoosiers in want of beer returned from fighting a war in 1919 only to discover that Indiana had gone completely dry the year before their return.

WWI soldiers returning home to Indianapolis, May 7, 1919. Source: Harry Coburn, World War I, 1917-1918 film, Indiana State Library.

Bibliography:
Kohn, Rita. “A History of Indiana Beer: Repeal through Today.NUVO, September 16, 2016. Accessed June 18, 2018.

Kohn, Rita. “A History of Indiana Beer: Settling Indiana and Indianapolis.NUVO, September 14, 2016. Accessed June 18, 2018.

Ostrander, Bob and Derrick Morris. Hoosier Beer: Tapping into Indiana Brewing History. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2011.

Salem, F. W. Beer: It’s History and Its Economic Value as a National Beverage. Hartford, CT: F. W. Salem & Company, 1880.

Schreiber, Helen Watts. “It’s Smart to Serve Beer: Menus and Recipes to Assist the Gracious Hostess.” New York, NY: United Brewers Industrial Foundation, ca. 1933.

Smith, Peter. “A Sip from an Ancient Sumerian Drinking Song.Smithsonian.com, June 18, 2012. Accessed June 18, 2018.

This blog post was written by Rare Books and Manuscripts Librarian Brittany Kropf. For more information, contact the Rare Books and Manuscripts Division at (317) 232-3671 or “Ask-A-Librarian.

Indiana Center for the Book partners for webinar series about books and authors

The Indiana Center for the Book and the Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award are partnering on a series of webinars focused on authors and reading. All webinars are offered in partnership with the Indiana State Library’s Professional Development Office (PDO) and are each eligible for one LEU. The Indiana Center for the Book promotes interest in reading, writing, literacy, libraries and Indiana’s literary heritage by sponsoring events like these. The Indiana Authors Award seeks to recognize the contributions of Indiana authors to the literary landscape in Indiana and across the nation.

The Care and Feeding of Authors: Planning a Successful Author Visit – 1 LEU
Date: August 7, 2018 Time: 10 a.m. EST  Format: Adobe Connect Webinar
Looking to book an author at your library? Learn how to put your library’s best professional foot forward and avoid common pitfalls. Join Indiana author Kelsey Timmerman and Indiana’s Letters About Literature Coordinator Suzanne Walker for this discussion about best practices when booking an author. From making sure their dietary needs are met to paying them efficiently, there’s more to booking an author than just deciding on a date. This webinar is hosted by Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award Program Coordinator Caity Withers. Be sure to bring all of your questions regarding booking authors.
Presenters: Kelsey Timmerman, author; Suzanne Walker, director of the Indiana Center for the Book; Caity Withers, Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award

Indiana Authors: What’s New in Kids Lit? – 1 LEU
Date: August 15, 2018 Time: 10 a.m. EST Format: Adobe Connect Webinar
Indiana continues to produce great authors for kids. Join Shirley Mullin, owner of Kids Ink Children’s Bookstore in Indianapolis, for a conversation about books by new Indiana authors who write for children and discover great authors to book at your library.
Presenters: Shirley Mullin, owner of Kids Ink Children’s bookstore; Suzanne Walker, director of the Indiana Center for the Book;  Caity Withers, Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award

Diversifying Your Book Club by Selection and Membership – 1 LEU
Date: September 11, 2018 Time: 10 a.m. EST Format: Adobe Connect Webinar
Are you tired of reading the same books for your book clubs? Are you hoping to reach new audiences? Join Tiffani Carter, the manager of the West Indianapolis Branch of the Indianapolis Public Library (IndyPL) for some tips and best practices to consider when choosing your book club selections and to learn how to recruit new participants.
Presenters: Tiffani Carter, manager of the West Indianapolis Branch of IndyPL; Suzanne Walker, director of the Indiana Center for the Book; Caity Withers, Eugene & Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award

Please register to attend. Registration links can be found above. All three webinars will be recorded and available on the Indiana State Library’s Archived Webinars page within 30 days of their production. Find other free webinars from the Indiana State Library here.

Submitted by Suzanne Walker, Indiana Young Readers Center librarian at the Indiana State Library and director of the Indiana Center for the Book.

Government Information Day 2018 recap

On Thursday, May 24, 2018 the Indiana State Library hosted our third Government Information Day (GID). This year’s theme was Advocacy, Research and Collaboration. The Government Information Day events were created to promote awareness of various government resources at the federal, state and local level, and to inspire collaborative efforts among librarians, libraries and government entities. This collaboration improves staff and patron ability to access and utilize government resources. This very successful conference hosted over 100 attendees.

The keynote speaker for this year’s conference was Cynthia Etkin, senior program planning specialist in the Office of the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Publishing Office (GPO). Etkin spoke to attendees about the history of GPO and the important role libraries play in the dissemination and access of government information. She also urged librarians to be promoters for transparent government information and to promote of their library’s government documents collections. Each of GID’s eight sessions actualized her message and was presented with the purpose of raising awareness of a particular government resource or collaborative project.

GID included training sessions on navigating government sites Govinfo.gov and USA.gov; a talk on the importance of the upcoming 2020 census; researching historic census material; overview of the Indianapolis Mayoral Archives; an introduction of Indiana Legislative Services and tools available through the Indiana General Assembly website; a discussion on the impact of decreasing print collections on libraries; as well as a talk on detailing the Preservation Steward Partnership with GPO. In addition to the presentations, GID also featured exhibitor booths from 16 different state agencies and two professional organizations. Attendees were allotted two separate time periods to interact with exhibitors to learn about government services offered or professional organizations to join for improved networking.

Government Information Day represents a day to promote, advocate and learn about government information resources and topics. The event provided the opportunity to interact with other library professionals interested in government information. The goal of Government Information Day was to provide an opportunity for library professionals from various backgrounds to learn about new resources and services, as well as gain a better perspective on the scope of government information. While GID18 is in the books, early planning has already begun on the next Government Information Day, slated for May 2020.

This blog post was written by Indiana State Library Federal Documents Coordinator Brent Abercrombie. For more information, contact the Reference and Government Services at (317) 232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

Textile art: Embroidery – the craft, the art, the history

The Indiana State Library has an abundance of books on a variety of types of textile art. I found 127 on embroidery alone in our catalog. These include not only instruction books, but books showing how embroidery can be high art, as well as texts that tell its history.

The brief history of embroidery in “Design for Flower Embroidery” by Elisabeth Geddes (ISLM 746 G295d) mainly focuses on how floral patterns were used throughout the history of embroidery. The book states that textiles were first produced in the New Stone Age, also known as the Neolithic Era, and that a “later development was the addition of patterning worked into the warp threads with a needle.” It also mentions that bone needles were being used thousands of years before woven cloth was created. The author suggests that floral patterns were significant due to the fact that people would have seen the flowers as a sign of easier living and the hope of a good harvest. There are illustrations of floral patterns from different eras, such as the Egyptian Amratian period, as well as a few geometric patterns from similar time periods. The book also includes detailed descriptions of the items shown as examples. Included are descriptions of the colors of the items, which is good since the photos are in black and white. The evening bag shown below is one of these examples.

The book “A World of Embroidery” by Mary Gostelow (ISLM NK 9206 .G67) contains examples of works of embroidery from around the world. An embroidered cap from Nigeria, a whitework kappie from South Africa and a gargoush mezzahar, which is the ceremonial headgear of Jewish women of Sana’a, Yemen, are included as a few examples of headgear. The book also contains a number works that are exquisite works of art from different countries, as well as brief descriptions of the types of embroidery done in those countries. The image below is of an unusual item of embroidery; it is a flour sack embroidered in Belgium. These were the sacks from food sent to Belgium by the United States during World War I. So, to show their appreciation to President Wilson and the Belgian Food Relief Committee, groups of Belgians embroidered the logo on the flour sack. It was then sent to the president and the committee as a gift.

The two images below are examples of everyday items being made more beautiful. The first is of a pillowcase used by the Russian Princess Zeneide Warvaszy, who left Russia to go to England before the Russian Revolution. The second image is of an elaborately embroidered waistcoat that would have been worn by someone who had the money to have such an artistic expression created.

If you are inspired to possibly do a bit of embroidery yourself, we have instruction books with detailed descriptions of different stitches. One of these books is “Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches” (ISLM 746 T459m). It contains instructions and illustrations for 210 different stitches. The stitches are arranged alphabetically, but the book also has a “Uses at a Glance” section so you can find out which stitches to use if you want outline stitches, insertion stitches, border and band stitches, etc. We also have “Art Nouveau Embroidery” by Lewis F. Day and Mary Buckle (ISLM TT 770 .D27 1974) that has more in-depth descriptions of the types of stitches, rather than the individual ones. Come take a look at our collection of embroidery materials to see which ones will work for you.

Also, you can check our catalog for other textile art materials. Weaving, rug-making, knitting and more… we have it all here at the Indiana State Library.

This blog post by Daina Bohr, Reference and Government Services Collection librarian. For more information, contact the Reference and Government Services department at (317) 232-3678 or email us at Ask-a-Librarian.

Indiana State Library helps create headstone for Civil War veteran

In April, a staff member at the Mount Hope Cemetery in Topeka, Kansas contacted the Indiana State Library with a special request: In 1916, a Union Civil War veteran from Indiana had been laid to rest without a headstone and they were seeking out information in order to provide one for him.

It became my task to compile as much information as I could on the deceased, Thomas J. Raybell, in order to ensure a proper and accurate headstone.

I set to work on researching Raybell, first verifying his full name: Thomas Jefferson Raybell. I also researched his vital statistics. He was born in 1846, most likely in Miami County, Indiana and died June 22, 1916 in Topeka, Kansas. Ancestry.com is a great resource for finding this kind of information. Although, you do need to know the person’s name and have an idea of where they were born, lived, or died and/or a ballpark of those dates; especially if the name is common.

Photo credit Fred Holroyd

Discerning his regiment and company was more difficult. In order to determine and verify his regiment, I cross-checked a combination of the muster rolls, the military records at the Indiana Archives and Records Administration and the Civil War Index website. Eventually, I was able to confirm that Raybell enlisted in Peru, Indiana, serving in Company F of the 109th. This was more difficult in part because the 109th was only in service for seven days in July of 1863! The 109th was organized to combat Morgan’s Raid, an incursion by the Confederate cavalry into Northern states by Captain John Hunt Morgan. They used two captured steamboats in order to cross the Ohio River and there was a battle in Corydon before the raiders moved toward the Ohio border. In the end, federal troops captured Morgan’s raiders in southeastern Ohio.

I’m proud to say that thanks to Fred Holroyd at the Mount Hope Cemetery, the Sons of Union Veterans Topeka and in a small part, the Indiana State Library—Thomas J. Raybell’s headstone has been created and will be installed after 102 years. I hope this gives a small snapshot into what archivists can do!

This blog post was written by Lauren Patton, Rare Books and Manuscripts librarian, Indiana State Library. For more information, contact the Indiana State Library at (317) 232-3678 or “Ask-A-Librarian.”

Collaborative Summer Library Program annual meeting report

By now, you may be aware that the Collaborative Summer Library Program (CSLP) is an organization that works together to develop a theme, slogan, artwork, manual, program ideas and incentives for public libraries nationwide with the goal of making it easier for those libraries to execute a top notch summer reading program, thus combating “summer slide” and bringing communities together.

But who is making all of those decisions? Each year, a group of representatives from all 50 states, plus several U.S. territories, gathers to discuss and vote on themes, slogans and general initiatives for the future of CSLP. The representatives are volunteers – a mixture of public librarians and youth services consultants at state libraries, like me. In April, I had the privilege of representing Indiana at the CSLP annual meeting in Denver, Colorado.

The 2018 meeting was an exciting one. The CSLP board of directors rolled out their strategic plan, which includes taking more control of the program’s artwork, manual development and printing services, among other aspects. Ultimately, this will result in more flexibility in what the organization can offer to libraries, and should result in better quality products.This plan will take several years to roll out and may not be immediately evident, but by the program year 2020 we hope to have made significant improvements.

The meeting this year also saw the announcement of some excellent allies and resources for summer 2019. Most notable was Starnet, who shared information about their STEM Activity Clearinghouse. This database is full of STEM activities and resources for libraries, including full program activity descriptions. Though summer 2018 has barely begun, next year’s space theme, “A Universe of Stories,” looks to be bursting with promise!

Upcoming CSLP themes:
2019: A Universe of Stories; space
2020: Imagine Your Story; fairy tales, mythology and fantasty
2021: Tails and Tales; animals
2022: All Together Now; unifying communities

In personal news, I’m pleased to announce that I was elected to be a member of the Collaborative Summer Library board of directors as a member-at-large. This is a wonderful opportunity for me to bring the voice of Hoosiers to the CSLP membership as we tackle the changing landscape of summer reading. I welcome your constructive suggestions for the program, and hope to see many of you when I roll out my 2019 CSLP trainings around the state this winter!

This blog post was written by Beth Yates, children’s consultant for the Indiana State Library.