National Hot Dog Month

How did I miss it? And it’s almost over! July is National Hot Dog Month, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. (librarians always cite the source of their information). While everyone else at the cookout oohs and ahs over the burgers and steaks and kabobs, just give me an all American hot dog, the more charcoaled the better. In fact, while the rest of my family is eagerly anticipating an August trip to Miller Park to see the Brewers, I’m going for the hot dogs.

After 2 days at a top notch WiLSWorld conference, talking about open source, research and development, net neutrality, and online communities, (see previous 6 posts) it will be good to think summer, cookouts, and hot dogs.

End of a long week

Joy to the World — and boy, did it feel good. It’s been a grueling week — long meetings, lots of windshield time, personnel challenges, reports that didn’t get done. It was a great way to put it all to rest. The company was good (the cousins), the music was loud (3 Dog Night), and it all took me back to a time when I didn’t have to be a grown-up, for the moment anyway.

And why is this post appropriate to my librarian blog? Well, it was a replay of ALA 2001 in San Francisco, where I last saw 3 Dog Night when they played for the Scholarship Bash.
Night Out at Treasure Island

4th of July Reflections

Forgive me if I’m a little sentimental today. I always get this way on the 4th of July, as I have ever since my family lived in Berlin. It was in the years just before the Berlin Wall came down – not “fell” as is often said, but was torn down with picks and hammers and bare hands after border crossings were opened on November 9th, 1989.

During the time we were there, there were frequent hints that the way things were would not last forever. My husband and son were at the Brandenburg Gate when President Ronald Reagan said:
General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

I’ve always wished that I would have been at the Brandenburg Gate on June 12, 1987; but as a recent military award recipient, I was one of the lucky few to receive a ticket to the reception for President Reagan at a hangar at Tempelhof Airport, the Air Force base during the Cold War years. So, my family constantly reminds me that the speech they heard made history. The only thing I remember about the Tempelhof reception was a quip that President Reagan made when one of thousands of dropped balloons popped “you missed me that time.” (he had earlier in his term survived an assassination attempt.)

It was in the shadow of the Wall that we lived a pretty normal life, with frequent reminders that we were living the life of the privileged free, while a stone’s throw away, East Germans did not have the same privileges. I was a Cub Scout leader, and took the kids on hikes that followed the walking path at the foot of the Wall around the American sector. Once during a winter walk, a snowball hit the back of my legs, and as I turned around to reprimand my charges, I realized that the kids had entered into a snowball fight with the East German border guards from the watch towers above us. They were giving as good as they got, so we all smiled and waived as I hurried the Cubs on our way. It sure left me with a lump in my throat.

Every 4th of July, the Americans threw a huge celebration, and invited the other Occupation Forces (the Russians, the French, and the Brits) as well as all our German neighbors. We had food, and the Army Band playing all the best patriotic music, and fireworks that shone high above the Wall long into the night. What a rush!

I wrote my mother during that time, “I’m learning two things during this time of my life, how great America is sometimes not, but how great it is to be American.” She saved all my letters, and returned them to me as a chronicle of our family’s life in Berlin. I often resurrect that filter to take a step back and look at news items, as they would appear from afar. I think it enables me to be productively objective. Also, on a daily basis I marvel in the debates and challenges that occur in running America’s public libraries that provide unfettered access to the information that equips citizens and communities to reach their full potential.

Happy July 4th!

Library service for military families

Minnesota National Guard troops will be home this summer, according to almost every news source in Minnesota. The Minnesota division has served almost 2 years, longer than any other state’s Guard division. As a former military librarian as well as a military spouse and mom (retired USAF), I feel the excitement with every one of those families.

While my family went through numerous deployments, we always lived on a military installation where the infrastructure provided lots of support and the families around us shared the same experiences as we did. Guard troops will return directly to Hometown Minnesota after a short demobilization period at Fort McCoy.

All troops don’t live near their Guard units and most hometown communities don’t have a very experienced long-term support structure to help military families. Most military families will attest to the fact that coming home is only the beginning of stressful family times, as they re-acclimate to life back together, sometimes more different than the same as it was before deployment.

Community libraries are well placed to function as an information source to military families to help them through the next period, reintegration. I encourage library staff members to familiarize themselves with the information on these two resources. You never know when you’re working the desk and can offer something of value to military families.