Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Honoring Veterans at the Library

Our library is located in a military community, and we wanted to reach out to our local veterans.  In search of ideas on programs for veterans, I sent an email to the Publib listserv for public librarians.  As always, the Publibbers came through with some fantastic suggestions.  They are compiled below.

1. The Library of Congress currently is conducting a Veteran's History Project in which they hope to collect, preserve and make accessible American war veterans' first hand accounts.  A local library could participate by acting as a collection area to record interviews and gather letters and diaries written by veterans.  This would also be a good project to collaborate with a local high school or college.

2. Libraries are well suited to provide for one of veterans' greatest needs: information. This may include books on filing for benefits, pathfinders, miliary families, deployment, wounded warriors, PTSD, etc. Information programs could also be offered.  Michigan has mobile law units from a law school that visit the libraries to provide advice and information.  Space is another need.  In a recent conversation, the commander of our local American Legion stated that they have a need for space in which the counselors from the state VA administration office can meet with the veterans.  Libraries can provide conference or meetings rooms for no charge.

3. One of my favorite library software products is  Libguides.  Libguides are an interactive web page much like a pathfinder.  You can embed Youtube videos, widgets, chat windows, and many other items into the guide.  You can also link it to your catalog.  When I worked at New Mexico State University I began, but did not complete before I left, a guide for veterans.

4. There are also programs with encourage the community to give back to the veterans.  One Publibber organizes Valentines for Veterans.  The library provides materials for children to make cards for the veterans, and then the library distributes the cards to the local VA hospitals and/or VA retirement homes.  Another publibber's library organized a drive to collect books and magazine to be sent to deployed military members.  These could also be donated to local VA hosptials and retirement homes.  Another option is to create military penpals.  Websites ares http://www.anysoldier.com/ and www.defense.gov/specials/abbey.

5. I was reminded by yet another Publibber that women veterans often do not feel comfortable attending events for all veterans, and that they might like programs geared to just women veterans.  Promotional materials should also include women veterans.

Finally, at my library, we have decided to have a Veterans' Information Fair on November 12 - the Saturday after Veterans' Day.  We are inviting veteran organizations from around the state in addition to representatives from local colleges and universities.  We hope to collect pictures of veterans from different eras to organize into a collage for the library.  We would also like to invite area VIP for the opening ceremony, and one of the local high school bands to play the national anthem.  This is the first of what we hope will be many programs and services offered by the library for our veterans.

Please feel free to add suggestions in the comment box below.

No comments:

Post a Comment