2020 census operations continue; self-response deadline extended

Even though the COVID-19 pandemic created delays in the Census Bureau’s 2020 census operations, the 2020 census continues to move forward. Because of the pause due to the pandemic, it is important for librarians to get the word out that it’s not too late to participate in the census. U.S. residents now have until Oct. 31 to use self-response methods to complete the forms for their households.Beginning on Aug. 11, the Census Bureau plans to send out workers for the non-response follow-up part of census operations. Census workers will be clearly identified as they go door-to-door to visit homes. They will operate through Oct. 31 to help residents complete questionnaires until every household is counted.

This means July is a key month to remind library patrons to count their own households before a census worker comes to their door. Librarians can instruct patrons to follow the steps below in order to help them complete the census:

  • Go to the Census Bureau’s online portal and enter the Census ID they received in the mail. If they don’t have a Census ID, click the button that says Start Questionnaire, then click the link that says “If you do not have a Census ID, click here” and follow the prompts.

OR

  • Call the Census Bureau at 844-330-2020 for English, or at 844-468-2020 for Spanish. For deaf assistance and languages other than English, see responding by phone.

OR

  • Fill out the 2020 Census form they received in the mail and mail it back.

It’s that easy, and it should only take 10 minutes!

It is important to continue providing information about the 2020 census to ensure a complete and accurate count of our communities. This once-per-decade count will determine political representation, federal and state funding and planning decisions for the next 10 years. Find outreach materials on the Census Bureau’s website and Indiana’s 2020 Census website.

Library patrons might also be interested in 2020 census jobs being offered by the Census Bureau. Patrons can apply for jobs here.

The State Data Center at the Indiana State Library is here to help you with questions and further outreach through Oct. 31. Contact us here.

This blog post by Katie Springer, reference librarian. For more information, contact the Reference and Government Services Division at 317-232-3678 or submit an Ask-A-Librarian request.

Reducing barriers to access: Fine-free libraries

If you’ve ever accidentally kept a stack of books for an extra week, or needed an additional few days to watch a borrowed DVD, you’ve felt the pinch of the resulting library fines. While fines might be as little as a dime a day for a book, they seem to accrue exponentially. Not only are fines an annoyance, but they can be a legitimate barrier to service. Every day at circulation desks across the state, public library users are denied borrowing privileges, sometimes years after accruing fines, because of balances owed for overdue or long-lost items.

There are many reasons patrons acquire fines. For some, it’s simple forgetfulness. For others, it’s a larger issue stemming from life circumstances like a lack of transportation, work schedules or changes in housing. For example, when moving between families, foster children may forget to return borrowed books from their previous library. Or when packing up and leaving a precarious living situation, people may need to leave their library materials behind.

What if there was a way for library users to start over from scratch? Or what if there was more leniency for people who needed to keep books an extra week or so? Luckily, over the past years, there has been a nationwide push toward eliminating library fines, and the push isn’t only coming from library users, but the librarians themselves.

In Indiana, over 20 public library systems have opted to go fine free. This includes but is not limited to: Kendallville Public Library, Evansville Vanderburgh County Public Library, West Lafayette Public Library, Monroe County Public Library, Vigo County Public Library, Owen County Public Library, Morgan County Public Library, Anderson Public Library and more. Many more library boards are considering the move, especially after the Chicago Public Library boldly made the move in October 2019. The Indianapolis Public Library recently stated that in an effort to provide equitable service they are suspending the accrual of all fines and fees until further notice. Each library’s policy varies, and some fees may still exist for extremely overdue, damaged, or lost items, so please check with your local library for more details.

But don’t libraries need the money? While the public might perceive library fines as a major source of income for the library, they’re not. In Indiana, about 87% of a library’s budget comes from local sources like property taxes.1 Of the nearly $400 million in total revenue Indiana libraries received in 2019, only $6 million – about 1.5% – was received from fines and fees. Additionally, many systems have practiced writing off “uncollectable” fines over the years. At times, the cost of recovering materials or lost items can cost more than the materials are worth in staff time and collection service fees. Losing materials has always been a cost of doing business.

Some opponents to the fine-free library movement believe that fines and due dates teach “responsibility,” and not having them will encourage patrons to ignore due dates and hoard library materials. What some libraries are finding is the opposite. When fines are eliminated, not only are older materials are being recovered, and most items are still coming back before they are considered lost.

As a patron, what should you do if you have a large amount of library fines, but your library hasn’t eliminated fines? Try reaching out to the director or circulation manager at your library. While each library’s policy varies, some libraries offer the ability to reduce or waive fines and lost book fees in some situations. Some libraries periodically offer “amnesty” weeks where the fines on any books returned are forgiven. Some even offer opportunities to pay down fines with canned good donations or by tracking time read to “read off fines.” Some libraries write fines off as uncollectable over time, so the fines you thought you owed may have already been eliminated years ago. Please don’t let the $17 in fines you racked up in 1993 deter you from checking out all that’s happening in today’s public libraries.

1. 2018 Indiana Public Library Annual Report

This post was written by Jen Clifton, Library Development Office, Indiana State Library.

Toucan Tuesdays author interview series to start this month

Do you love authors? The Indiana Center for the Book is excited to announce an opportunity for you to learn more about Indiana authors through their new initiative, Toucan Tuesdays at 2:00! Join us on the Indiana State Library’s Facebook page on select Tuesdays at 2 p.m. Eastern Time for a weekly Facebook premiere party to watch the newest installment and share your comments in real time. You do not need to have a Facebook account to watch the videos.

Each video features an Indiana writer being interviewed by the Indiana Young Readers Center’s chatty correspondent, Sammy the Interviewing Toucan. Join us for one or more of these premieres:

June 9 – Barb Shoup
June 16 – Maurice Broaddus
June 23 – Skila Brown
June 30 – Rob Harrell
July 7 – Peggy Reiff Miller
July 14 – B. A. Williamson
July 21 – Michele Eich
July 28 – Meg DamakasAfter making their premieres on social media, the full interviews will be available to stream on the Indiana State Library’s YouTube page.

If you are an Indiana author and are interested in being interviewed, please reach out to Suzanne Walker. We are interested in authors of fiction and poetry for all ages.

We hope you can join us!

This blog post was submitted by Indiana Young Readers Center Librarian Suzanne Walker.

Hoosier youth chronicling COVID-19

The Indiana Center for the Book and the Indiana Young Readers Center are calling out for youth up to age 18 to report how their life experiences have changed in light of the global health crisis. The current pandemic has brought many aspects of life to a stop, while other aspects of life, like time with family, have been magnified. Youth are invited to share their observations during this unique time in the history of our state. Entries will be added to a permanent collection at the Indiana State Library.

Entry is simple. Download the editable PDF titled Hoosier Youth Chronicling COVID-19 and complete online or by hand. Each entry will need a License to Use form signed by both the child and a parent or guardian. This allows the Indiana State Library to use your form in future possible publications, in print or to display in our collection or online. You may also want to include one to two images, such as photographs you have taken or pictures of artwork you have created. Images are optional.

All entries may be submitted via email to Tara Maxwell Stewart, or mailed to the Indiana State Library:

Indiana State Library
Attn: Indiana Young Readers Center

315 W. Ohio Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202

While there is no current deadline for entries to the collection, we would like to collect thoughts in real time as students are home from school.

The Indiana Young Readers Center also wants to draw your attention to a wonderful packet created by Natalie Long of Long Creations. Natalie says, “This is something I designed for fellow families with children living through this difficult time, it is meant as a gift, not for profit.” Families are welcome to include the packet in their submissions to the Indiana State Library, but please note that the packet is optional.

If you have any questions about submitting your child’s work to the Indiana State Library, please reach out to Tara Maxwell Stewart.

The post was written by Indiana Young Readers Center Program Coordinator Tara Stewart and Indiana Young Readers Center Librarian Suzanne Walker.

Sonny Wharton: ‘Southern Indiana’s best-known bartender’

During this time of social distancing, some of us are likely missing our favorite watering holes and beloved bartenders. What better time to tell one of their stories? Bartender extraordinaire, William “Sonny” Wharton was born around 1905 in Nashville, Tennessee. Our story finds him much later on in Evansville, Indiana, where Wharton was mentioned in the Evansville Argus when that newspaper first began its run in 1938. The Evansville Argus was a weekly African American newspaper published in Evansville from 1938 to 1945 and included local, national and international news. By the end of 1938, Wharton began an informal column on liquor and mixing drinks. At the time, he was likely working at the Lincoln Tap Room, located at 322 Lincoln Avenue, per articles from early 1939. It’s clear that “Sonny” had much to say and a wealth of knowledge on the fine art of imbibing. His column began with insight into the importance of garnishes, the premiere liquors to choose for your cocktails and the etiquette of glassware amongst other topics. As time went on, he also began sharing more recipes.

Wharton was best known for working at the Green Room at the Palm Hotel, which was located at 611 High Street. He was a mainstay in Evansville’s black community and his expertise behind the bar at the Palm Hotel was advertised heavily. He was “night time head bartender” in the Green Room for most of the early 1940s. By early 1939, his Argus column had developed into “Tid-bits from Sonny” and featured regular cocktail recipes. While many spirits were in limited supply due to wartime restrictions, rum was readily available during the 1940s due to trade with Latin America and the Caribbean. Rum’s availability and popularity is reflected in Sonny’s columns and recipes.

In his personal life, Wharton had a daughter with Leola Marshall of Indianapolis. Both Leola and their daughter, Juanita Oates – later Johnson – worked for the Madam C.J. Walker Company in Indianapolis. Johnson later became the manager of the Madam Walker Theatre Center. Additionally, “Sonny” was married to Naomi Wharton, but they divorced in 1941.

The lifetime of the Palm Hotel could not be determined by the author at this time, but it was advertised with “Sonny” as its bartender into 1943. Wharton’s obituary notes that he had lived in Indianapolis for 19 years upon his death in 1961, so it’s clear that he left Evansville around this time, although the reason is not known.

Thankfully, the legacy of good times and good drinks continues and Wharton left behind his column for us. I decided it was only right that one evening after work I re-create, to the best of my ability, one of the cocktails he noted as a favorite. I chose the commodore, which was referenced twice in his column. A brief internet search on this drink notes that it also appeared in “The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar Book” from 1935. While I had most of the ingredients on hand, mixing this drink did involve a commitment to making fresh raspberry syrup. Not as difficult as you’d think, actually! I used aquafaba in lieu of egg white and eliminated the additional half teaspoon of sugar surmising that it would push the drink over the edge in terms of sweetness for my taste. Served in a martini glass, the commodore is sweet, frothy and certainly boozy. It’s sure to brighten your day and maybe even make you forget your troubles. If fruit and rum aren’t your game, you can find more “Tidbits from Sonny” in the Evansville Argus via Hoosier State Chronicles. Cheers!

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.”

Celebrate Earth Day with activities inspired by Indiana picture books

Earth Day has been observed every year in April since 1970. That’s 50 years of celebrating the planet we all call home. It might feel difficult to celebrate Earth Day this year because of COVID-19, but here are two activities that everyone can do, inspired by two Indiana picture books.

Take a walk and look for native Indiana plants
“Wake Up, Woods,” published by Indiana’s Rubber Ducky Press in partnership with the Indiana Native Plant Society, is a beautiful picture book all about Indiana native plants. The book pairs lilting rhymes with informational text about 12 plants native to Indiana. The book is illustrated with delightfully accurate drawings of not only the plants, but also the creatures who live in and around the plants. On the cover a mouse, caterpillar and bee coexist among violets.

For this activity, all you need to do is step out of your home and take a little walk. You can do this on your own or with members of your household. Keep your eyes to the ground and look for violets, spring beauties or any other Indiana native plant. Violets are probably the easiest to identify because of their distinctive flowers and heart shaped leaves. The flowers can be violet in color, white or even yellow. Take a closer look and observe their petals. They have two top petals, two side petals and one bottom petal. Violets are relatively easy to find because they like to grow in a variety of soils and could even be found on the edges of parking lots. For more information about Indiana native plants, take a look at the Indiana Wildlife Federation’s lists and resources.

Write a thank you note to the earth
“Thank You, Earth,” written by Indiana author April Pulley Sayre, pairs glorious photographs with a simple sentiment: a thank you letter to the earth. As the pages turn, the reader experiences rich vocabulary while taking a visual tour of the world, including several images of Indiana like a redbud tree and a blooming bloodroot plant. The back matter at the end of the book describes several ways to write a letter of thanks to the earth, and where to send it.

For this activity, all you need is a piece of paper. Write a letter to your planet, thanking it for the air you breathe, the blue sky and the water you drink. If you have children in your household, get them involved, too. Instead of writing a letter, make a poster and hang it in a window so passers-by can enjoy the sentiment as well. Mail your letter to your local newspaper or radio station.

Indiana has many authors who have written picture books that celebrate the earth. Take a look at some of these authors for more information:

Rebecca Kai Dotlich
Helen Frost
Phyllis Root
April Pulley Sayre
Lola Schaefer

This blog post was submitted by Indiana Young Readers Center Librarian Suzanne Walker.

River city maps

Town maps can certainly be beautifully done, but they are at the mercy of the grid of streets to give them visual interest. Throw in a variable, like a winding river, and they become ever more interesting. The way the water meets the land and how a town is forced to bend along the banks adds lines and color to the maps. Where waterways meet cities the grid breaks down and leaves behind some visually rich maps.

Sometimes the river makes the city, both in development and in character. Indiana’s most famous river city is probably historic Madison, along the mighty Ohio River. Kentucky is usually omitted from maps, making it look like the town is situated at the edge of a cliff. The river is impossible to ignore there.

Likewise, Huntington was built up along a river. The Wabash, Little Wabash and the canals; waterways were ever important to its development. The maps are beautiful in the way the angled streets disorient the buildings. Especially lovely with the illustrations is this detailed map from 1879.

Other times, the city seems to develop while almost ignoring the river. Columbus seems to just dip a toe into the East Fork of the White River. Indianapolis, too, seems to be shying away from the White River and looking inward toward the circle center. Both of these towns have had interesting relationships with their rivers, but now Columbus Riverfront and Indianapolis are looking for ways to embrace their beautiful waterways.

It seems Logansport’s not afraid to straddle and nestle within the arms of the Wabash and Eel rivers. And Elkhart, too, appears not to have shied away from the St. Joseph and Elkhart Rivers. The river seems to be coming and going, swirling and whirling on the page.

If you enjoyed looking at these maps, take time to explore some of the great digital map collections available online. Don’t we all need something for our minds to linger on right now?

David Rumsey Historical Map Collection
American Geographical Society Library
Osher Map Library
New York Public Library

This post was written by Indiana Collection Supervisor Monique Howell

Duplication on Demand – coming soon to Talking Books!

This summer, the Indiana Talking Book and Braille Library will be changing its service model from the current practice of sending patrons one book on one cartridge to Duplication on Demand, which will involve cartridges customized specifically for you with multiple books on each one. The new service will involve the same player and cartridges that we are currently using, but the cartridges will have more books on each one. Your cartridges will continue to come in the same type of container, but the mail card will be foldable and will contain a list of books on the cartridge. When you are ready to return a cartridge, you can throw away the mail card and book list; there is an address sticker on each container that will get your book back to us.

There are many benefits to this change. Currently, our audiobook collection contains thousands of older titles that are only available to download from BARD; these books will now be as readily available to you as new books are. In addition, you’ll now have access to new books faster and will never have to be on a wait list for a popular title. If patrons return their cartridges as they finish them, this will also help with slower mail times.

To access the titles on your DoD cartridges you can either use the player’s bookshelf mode or the sequential play feature. There are instructions for both options below.

While we were initially scheduled to make this transition in April, we now expect it to be delayed a month or two. Please contact us at 1-800-622-4970 if you would like to be among the first patrons to try it.

Sequential Play and Bookshelf
When you have a cartridge with multiple books on it, there are two ways to access the books: sequential play and bookshelf mode. Sequential play will play your books in the order they have been loaded on the cartridge, bookshelf mode lets you pick what book you want to listen to. To use sequential play, you will need to have the latest version of software for your player; it will install automatically when you play your first DoD cartridge. Or you can install it now by downloading it directly from NLS.

To use the sequential play feature, you put your cartridge in and listen to the first book as usual. At the end of the book, let the closing announcements play; when they are finished a voice will say “end of book, press play/stop to go to the next book”. Press the play/stop button and the next book on the cartridge will begin playing. Repeat this step until you have listened to all of the books.

To use bookshelf, turn your player on and put the cartridge in. Next, hold down the green “play/stop” button for ten seconds, or until your player beeps and says “bookshelf mode.” Once in bookshelf mode, you can use the fast forward and rewind buttons to scroll through the books or magazines recorded on the cartridge. When you have located the item you wish to read, press the green play/stop button again and it will start to play. Repeat the process for each item on the cartridge.

This blog post was written by Maggie Ansty of the Indiana Talking Book and Braille Library. 

28th United States Colored Troops

War Department General Order 143 officially created the Bureau of Colored Troops on May 22, 1863. Maj. Charles Foster was put in charge of recruitment, training, placement of troops and officer selection.[1] At the beginning of the war, offers to recruit troops of color had been refused, but after 1862 and the Emancipation Proclamation, liberation of enslaved people became a stronger driving force of the war.[2] Allowing African Americans to enlist also helped states meet their enlistment quotas, which became more difficult to do as the war went on. Gov. Oliver P. Morton wavered on whether to recruit black troops in Indiana for political reasons – one of the main risks being that as a border state the outcome could result in losing Union support from Hoosiers in the southern part of the state.[3] Prior to the official order, it wasn’t uncommon for black men to leave their home states to enlist in states where they could fight.[4] On Nov. 30, 1863, Morton finally gave the order to form a regiment of black troops in Indiana, one of the few black regiments formed in a Northern state, the 28th United States Colored Troops was born.[5]

Nathan Wilson letter to Adj. Gen. Lazarus Noble, Dec. 7, 1863, L548 Anna W. Wright collection, Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library.

The 28th USCT departed Indianapolis for Virginia in April of 1864 to a positive reception from the local press. They were assigned to the Fourth Division of the Ninth Corps – part of the Army of the Potomac – under Maj. Gen. Ambrose Burnside and commanded by Gen. Edward Ferrero.[6] From there, they were involved in some of the most famous events of the Civil War, including the Petersburg Campaign, Battle of the Crater and the fall of Richmond. On their way toward Petersburg, they were involved with a number of skirmishes which allowed them the chance to prove their mettle amongst the other troops, both boosting morale and reputation. In summer of 1864, the Army of the Potomac planned another siege on Petersburg with most of the existing troops exhausted from weeks on end of combat. This situation left the Fourth Division in a position to lead a charge that could potentially end the war. It was also, unfortunately, the ill-fated Battle of the Crater.[7]

Petersburg, Virginia. Gen. Edward Ferrero and staff photograph. 1864, Sept. From Library of Congress: Civil War photographs, 1861-1865. Accessed Feb. 27, 2020.

The Battle of the Crater was supposed to clear the road to Richmond and the end of the War. The Fourth Division had trained for weeks while others dug a mine shaft underneath a Confederate fort where explosives would be utilized to commence the battle. Less than 24 hours before the anticipated explosion, Maj. Gen. George Meade told Burnside to have one of his white divisions lead the charge instead. This decision was backed up by Lt. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant.[8] The morning of July 30, 1864 was riddled with snafus including communication errors, delays and issues lighting the fuse on the explosives. By the time the Fourth Division entered battle, two hours after it had commenced, there was a veritable bloodbath in the crater that was left behind by the explosion. Leading Union troops were unable to climb out of the crater. The black troops charged forth gallantly into the battle with valor that none could deny, but met a storm of bullets from Confederate troops and few white soldiers were willing or able to back them up.[9] With African American troops officially part of Union forces, the Confederate soldiers fought with increased fury and atrociousness. Massacre of black soldiers trying to surrender was commonplace and very few black soldiers were taken prisoner.[10] Reports of the losses of the 28th USCT from the Battle of the Crater vary, but have been noted to be between 40-50%, not including officers.[11] Afterwards, there was a Court of Inquiry looking into the calamity at the Battle of the Crater and Burnside was relieved of command. Racism is frequently brought up as a primary factor in the Fourth Division being re-assigned at the last minute before the Battle of the Crater. Burnside was the only leader who had faith that the black troops could succeed at the time. In the Court of Inquiry, blame was even placed on the Fourth Division for the chaos of the Battle of the Crater. It is clear that the USCT were never fully accepted as brothers in arms during the Civil War.[12]

“What Eight Thousand Pounds of Powder Did” photograph. In Civil War, through the camera. McKinlay, c. 1912, p. 193.

After the Battle of the Crater, the 28th USCT was assigned to the Army of the James – as part of the 25th Corps they helped make up the largest formation of black troops in American history.[13] They weren’t put in active service until the spring of 1865 when they were moved to the front lines between Petersburg and Richmond.[14] On April 1, 1865, the Confederate government fled the city of Richmond. With the Army of Northern Virginia defeated, the road was clear for Union troops to march into the city. The 28th USCT advanced and was one of the first to enter Richmond at the end of the war.[15] After a brief stint in Texas, they were mustered out of service on Nov. 8, 1865.

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.”

[1] Moore, Wilma L., “The Trail Brothers and their Civil War Service in the 28th USCT”, Indiana Historical Bureau. https://www.in.gov/history/4063.htm. Accessed February 13, 2020.

[2] Forstchen, William R., “The 28th United States Colored Troops: Indiana’s African-Americans go to War, 1863-1865”, Ph.D., diss., (Purdue University, 1994), p. 21, 36.

[3] Forstchen, p. 21.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid., p. 8, 42.

[6] Ibid., p. 9.

[7] Ibid., p. 99.

[8] Williams, George W. A History of the Negro Troops in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865. New York: Harper, 1888, p. 244-245.

[9] Forstchen, p. 129.

[10] Ibid., p. 132.

[11] Williams, p. 250 and Forstchen, p. 146.

[12] Forstchen, p. 161-162.

[13] Ibid, p. 10.

[14] Ibid., p. 193.

[15] Ibid.

Suffrage materials in the Indiana Digital Collections

“We are convinced that the time has arrived when the welfare of the nation would be most effectually conserved by conferring upon women the privilege of voting and holding political office.” – Ida Husted Harper from “Suffrage – A Right”

In conjunction with the 100-year anniversary of the passing of the 19th Amendment, the Indiana Division has digitized many of our materials about the suffrage movement of the late 19th and early 20th century.

You can find materials in the “Women in Hoosier History Digital Collection,” one of many collections at the library. Once there, you can click on “Women’s Suffrage” under “Browse these suggested topics.” The collection can be found here. Below is a sampling of some of the collection.

One of the earliest items is a pamphlet from 1888 during the presidency of Benjamin Harrison. It includes an article written by Susan B. Anthony.

The collection also includes two pamphlets by Ida Husted Harper. One pamphlet is about suffrage, in general, from 1906 and other about the international suffrage movement from 1907. Born in 1851, and raised in Indiana, Harper was a nationally-know writer, lecturer and suffragist. Her works include a three-volume biography of suffrage leader, Susan B. Anthony, and part of a six-volume “History of Woman Suffrage.” She also served as secretary of the Indiana chapter of the National Woman Suffrage Association.

Organized in 1911, The Women’s Franchise League of Indiana began when the Indianapolis Franchise Society and Legislative Council of Indiana Women merged together. The League was associated with the National American Woman Suffrage Association and was the prominent suffrage group in the state. Their membership was 1,205 across the state. Their constitutions, programs and directories provide information about the league and its members.

The Leagues’ publication, The Hoosier Suffragist, was “a monthly newspaper published in the interest of the woman suffrage cause in Indiana.” First published on Aug. 22, 1917, it provided information about the activities and people involved in the movement across the state.

The Women’s Franchise League of Indiana remained the prominent suffrage group until 1920, when it became the Indiana League of Women Voters, which remains in existence today. Their first congress was held April 6-8 in 1920 at the Claypool Hotel in Indianapolis. You can find their first program in the collection.

These are just some examples of what one may find in the “Women in Hoosier History Digital Collection.” Explore the collection to see what you can find.

For additional information:
Indiana Women’s Suffrage Centennial
League of Women Voters of Indiana

This post was written by Christopher Marshall, digital collections coordinator for the Indiana Division at the Indiana State Library.