Remembering World War One: A Community Centered Approach to Commemoration

By Christine Pittsley
Project Manager
“Remembering World War One: Sharing History/Preserving Memories”
Connecticut State Library

As the centenary of America’s entry into World War One approaches, libraries and museums around the country are trying to figure out how to commemorate a war that has had an enormous impact on our nation yet is not well understood by the majority of Americans. One way of addressing this is a ground-up approach that examines the war from the local and individual perspective. Here at the Connecticut State Library, in partnership with the Connecticut Digital Archive (CTDA), we’ve launched a project called “Remembering World War One: Sharing History/Preserving Memories,” a digital preservation repository at the University of Connecticut Libraries. We are creating an extensive digital archive of privately owned WWI photos, papers, keepsakes and knowledge collected at public events around the state. The digital images we capture, along with information and stories from our participants, are added to the CTDA for access and preservation and are freely available for use by scholars, students or anyone interested in learning more about the war.

Three WWI soldiers in uniform pose for photos

Percy Winslow Eustis, right, with two unidentified men. Digital image donated by Percy’s granddaughter.

As this project began to grow we realized that our partners in the cultural heritage community needed support as well. From digitization to programming to traveling exhibits, the museums and libraries around Connecticut wanted guidance, support and ideas as they begin to think about the centenary. The Gunn Memorial Library & Museum in Washington, Connecticut, created a truly monumental exhibit, “Over There: Washington and the Great War.” This exhibit was a brilliant example of what can be done on a shoestring budget with mostly volunteer labor. The programming they created around the exhibit engaged the community in really exciting ways that everyone here in Connecticut still talks about.

Museum exhibit with a soldier in a bunk.

“Over There: Washington and the Great War” exhibit at the Gunn Memorial Library & Museum in Washington, CT.

With the guidance and support of the United States World War One Centennial Commission (WWICC), we have established an ad hoc WWI Centennial Committee to coordinate and provide much needed support to the grassroots efforts of museums, libraries, and community organizations in the state. This committee, guided by the leaders of our cultural heritage community, is working with legislators to establish an official commission. It will also continue to work with the WWICC to learn about how other states have formed commissions, what kinds of activities and projects are being planned, and what partnerships are available.

Edwin Fountain delivers a speech behind a podium in front of the Connecticut State Capitol

Edwin Fountain, Vice Chairman, U.S. World War One Centennial Commission speaks at the launch of “Remembering World War One” in front of the Connecticut State Capitol.

The efforts of institutions like the Gunn Museum, Connecticut State Library, and the WWICC have allowed us to begin to tell the story of The Great War through the lens of the nation, the state, the community, and the individual. Connecticut residents have been eager to tell the stories of their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends who served during World War One. Preserving these stories, photos, letters, and keepsakes gives a voice to the silent generation for generations to come.

Christine Pittsley is the Project Manager for “Remembering World War One: Sharing History/Preserving Memories” at Connecticut State Library.

Posted in Collections Care/Preservation, Cultural Heritage/Sustainability, Grants to State Library Administrative Agencies | Leave a comment

Quick Ideas for Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the ADA this July

Ed. Note: This blog was originally posted by the WI Libraries for Everyone blog. To view the original post, click here

Guest post by Katherine Schneider, Ph.D., Senior Psychologist, Emerita at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

This July the nation will observe the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This is a far-reaching piece of civil rights legislation for equal access for the 19% of Americans who have disabilities. For those of us with disabilities, the ADA anniversary on July 26 is sort of like the Fourth of July Independence Day. So celebrating is a good thing to do. There many kinds of accessibility to celebrate in addition to curb cuts and wide doors, like service animals, hearing loops, and accessible websites.

If your library would like to celebrate, here are a few ideas:

  • A lively interactive program titled something like “Being an Access Daredevil: Celebrating 25 Years of the Americans with Disabilities Act” featuring your library patrons with disabilities talking about what they’re celebrating, and showing off high and low tech adaptive devices they use.
  • A display of the American Library Association’s Schneider Family Book Award winners for books for children and teens about the disability experience.
  • A display of accessible library materials like books that are both in print and braille, DVDs that are captioned and/or audio-described, large print newsletters, and iPad games that are accessible using voiceover.
  • A display of memoirs of the disability experience by writers from your state.

    Icon of a person in a wheelchair

    Check out the new symbol at The Accessible Icon Project

  • An informational display about local service agencies and consumer groups such as Centers for Independent Living or Aging and Disability Resource Centers. Use a few access gizmos to attract people to the display. Use the new access symbol in your display as well as the old one to point out how the times are changing! Also consider pictures of local sites like accessible playgrounds, audible traffic lights, and local disability history milestones.


Some useful websites on disability history are:

  • An informational display about local service agencies and consumer groups such as Centers for Independent Living or Aging and Disability Resource Centers. Use a few access gizmos to attract people to the display. Use the new access symbol in your display as well as the old one to point out how the times are changing! Also consider pictures of local sites like accessible playgrounds, audible traffic lights, and local disability history milestones.
  • Center on Human Policies: Disability Studies for This site is a reference tool for teachers in Grades 6-12. It includes lesson plans, activities, and materials for teaching disability history.
  • Disability History Museum: This site promotes understanding about the historical experience of people with disabilities by recovering, chronicling, and interpreting their stories. The site’s library contains document and visual stills collections.
  • Disability Social History Project: This resource is a community history project that provides information about famous activists in the disability movement, a disability history timeline, and related information.
  • Family Village: This resource centralizes a number of resources on disability history.
  • Resource Center for Independent This site provides a timeline of the disability civil rights movement.
  • Smithsonian National Museum of American This site offers a virtual tour of the Disability Rights Movement Exhibit at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.
  • Tolerance.Org: Activities for classrooms or programs.
  • The ADA Legacy Bus Tour at:

A couple books to give good background are:

  • A Disability History of the United States by Kim E. Nielsen, 2012
  • What We Have Done: An Oral History of the Disability Rights Movement by Fred Pelka, 2012.

An important step in making a good exhibit is figuring out what you can do to make the pictures and text available to those of us who cannot see. Perhaps you could record a description of your exhibit and hand them an mp3 player with the recording on it. Then we can celebrate together how far we’ve come toward realizing the idea of accessibility behind the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Written by:
Katherine Schneider, Ph.D.
Senior Psychologist, Emerita
Counseling Service
University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Author of Occupying Aging: Delights, Disabilities and Daily Life, To the Left of Inspiration: Adventures in Living with Disabilities and a children’s book Your Treasure Hunt: Disabilities and Finding Your Gold  and the kathiecommentsblog.

Posted in Accessibility, Learning Tools and Interactives (Information/Media literacy), Lifelong learning/ Intergenerational | Leave a comment

Apply for a Mind in the Making Training Session on Executive Function Life Skills

By Ellen Galinsky
President and Co-Founder of Families and Work Institute

In libraries and museums, you share human adventures in seeking to understand ourselves and our world through the written word and exhibits. My work is an adventure too. It began with a study the Families and Work Institute conducted on youth and learning, where we found far too many young people were not just dropping out of school, they were dropping out of learning; they were turned off by learning. In contrast, we are all born voracious learners. Babies want to touch, to understand, and to master everything. The fire in their eyes burns brightly.

My adventure over the past 15 years has been to pursue the question: What can we do to keep the fire in children’s eyes burning brightly?

To find the answer, I turned to neuroscience, cognitive science, child development and educational research, working with the top researchers in the field, filming their experiments and studying their results to bring the science of children’s learning to families and the professionals who work with them.

Because I had an opportunity that so few others have had—to travel into and across the various academic disciplines, I could see that the children most likely to thrive now and in the future were those with Executive Function Life Skills.

Executive Function Life Skills

Life Skills all involve what researchers call “executive functions of the brain”—functions that take place in the prefrontal cortex and that weave together social, emotional and intellectual capacities, enabling us to use what we know in pursuit of our goals. This skills that are most essential are Focus and Self Control, Perspective Taking, Communicating, Making Connections, Critical Thinking, Taking on Challenges, and Self-Directed Engaged Learning.

The Seven Essential Life Skills Modules for Museums and Libraries provide a new approach to learning and teaching. These are stunning, creative PowerPoints with embedded videos:

  • Promote executive function life skills for children by promoting them first for adults. We start by engaging families and professionals in an experiential process of self-reflection and self-discovery where they experience their own competence in each of these life skills, probe why this skill is important in their own lives and take responsibility for improving this skill in themselves.
  • Provide adults with first-hand experience with child development research. In the Modules, we then connect the adults’ experiences to the research on this life skill in children’s lives—why it is important and how it can be promoted—through videos that present compelling child development research on the skill in an accessible way.
  • Use the language of science. In sharing the science, the Modules introduce some new terms, which are intended to move away from old educational debates and create a shared language.
  • Reframe adults’ approach to children’s behavior away from managing children’s behavior to providing opportunities to teach life skills. Our approach is an asset-based one, where challenging situations are opportunities to promote life skills.

Foster goal setting. Executive functions are always goal directed and the Modules have been designed accordingly. At the end of each Module, participants set specific goals for promoting the life skill they have been studying in themselves and in children.

Apply for the Mind in the Making Learning Journey

Please join us for a learning journey where we share the science of early learning with professionals who work in museums and libraries. We have developed a series of Learning Modules on executive function life skills that we’ve been using in communities and states all over the country. Based on the many requests to adapt the Modules for museums and libraries, we have done so in partnership with the Boston Children’s Museum. In addition, we have secured funding to offer them on the east and west coast in the fall.

How to Apply

  • The application is due on August 1, 2015. Applicants will be advised of acceptance by August 17, 2015.
  • Participants will be required to pay their own travel expenses, lodging and food. The Families and Work Institute will provide the materials and training free of charge.
  • The two locations are Boston Children’s Museum in Boston on October 6-8, 2015 or the New Children’s Museum in San Diego on November 3-5, 2015.
  • This is a three-day train-the-trainer Institute, and participants will be responsible for delivering the 16-hour series to frontline staff over the next year.

To apply, please go to:

Ellen GalinskyEllen Galinsky, President and Co-Founder of Families and Work Institute, helped establish the field of work and family life at Bank Street College of Education, where she was on the faculty for twenty-five years. Her more than forty books and reports include Ask The Children, the now-classic The Six Stages of Parenthood, and the bestselling Mind in the Making, published by HarperStudio in April 2010.


*This blog has been updated to reflect the extended deadline. A previous version had the deadline of July 20, 2015.

Posted in Early Learning, Education Support, Learning Tools and Interactives (Information/Media literacy), Lifelong learning/ Intergenerational | Leave a comment

Let’s Move! Gardens are Buzzing with Pollinators

By Sarah Beck
Program Manager, American Public Gardens Association

Through the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge and Let’s Move! Museums & Gardens initiatives, public gardens move millions of individuals, kids, and families outdoors and make a connection between pollinators and the healthy food people eat.

Pollinators are responsible for 1 out of 3 bites of food we take each day, and yet pollinators are at a critical point in their own survival. Many factors contribute to their recent decline. We know for certain, however, that more nectar and pollen sources provided by more flowering plants and trees will help improve their health and numbers. Increasing the number of pollinator-friendly gardens and landscapes will help revive the health of bees, butterflies, birds, bats, and other pollinators across the country.

Bees on a flower

Denver Botanic Gardens demonstrate pollinator-friendly habitats.

The National Pollinator Garden Network (NPGN) is an unprecedented collaboration of 26 national and regional conservation and gardening organizations in support of the President’s executive strategy to “Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators.” The Network recently launched The Million Pollinator Garden Challenge to mobilize America’s extensive gardening community and support them in making more native and non-invasive pollen and nectar producing plants available in their gardens.

Currently, nearly 700 museums and public gardens in all fifty states are participating in Let’s Move! Museums and Gardens through interactive exhibits, afterschool/summer programming, and food service that help young people to make healthy food choices and be physically active. Many of these public garden programs already make connections between pollinators and our own food supply. For example, the Chicago Botanic Garden, in collaboration with the United States Botanic Garden, developed a comprehensive how-to website for teachers and schools wishing to establish and maintain school gardens with free plant-based education curriculum such as “Pollination Pondering.”

Children holding a butterfly in the United States Botanic Garden

Children learn about pollinators at the United States Botanic Garden.

Dr. Casey Sclar, Executive Director of the American Public Gardens Association (APGA), explains the role of public gardens in connecting these initiatives: “APGA is proud to be a founding member of the Let’s Move! Museums and Gardens initiative, and we were thrilled that the First Lady launched the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge at her White House Kitchen Garden Harvest in June. We will be able to provide opportunities for parents and teachers to get kids and students excited about pollinators, gardening, and healthy lifestyles—engaging them from seed to table with greater environmental connection through lessons and activities provided by Network partners. Our initiative is set to grow over several years. And through individual and collective efforts of Challenge supporters, we will reach one million gardens and landscapes for pollinators.”

Now that over 500 pollinator habitats at public gardens have been counted on the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge S.H.A.R.E. map, it is easy to find nearby resources, see examples of pollinator-friendly gardens, and learn about growing and preparing healthful food through programs at your local public garden. Myriad Gardens Foundation in Oklahoma City has installed two new pollinator gardens just this year–one is a Prairie Garden with native plants especially selected for bees, butterflies, and birds, and the other was planted in the Children’s Garden. Find out what your closest public garden has to offer!

Posted in Afterschool/Out-of-School, Early Learning, Education Support, Environment and Energy, Health, Let's Move! Museums & Gardens | 2 Comments