The Library is now open the following hours Monday-Friday 10:00 am - 7:00 pm and Saturday 10:00 am - 6:00 pm. Tuesday and Thursday 9:00 am - 10:00 am for at-risk/seniors. Curbside is still available.
The Library is now open the following hours Monday-Friday 10:00 am - 7:00 pm and Saturday 10:00 am - 6:00 pm. Tuesday and Thursday 9:00 am - 10:00 am for at-risk/seniors. Curbside is still available.
 

 

History

  •  Juneteenth

    Happy Juneteenth! 155 years ago today, Union soldiers reached Galveston, Texas, with the news that the Civil War and legal slavery in America were over. Though Lincoln had delivered the Emancipation Proclamation more than two years earlier, enslaved people throughout the south remained had remained unaware of that fact, since slaveholders weren’t eager to spread the word.

    Since 1980, Juneteenth has been celebrated as a Texas state holiday thanks to the efforts of State Legislator Al Edwards, who has also campaigned for national observance of the holiday. In recent years, Juneteenth has been increasingly observed across the country, and popular momentum has built urging Congress to name it a national holiday.

    It’s a complicated day to celebrate, since many white southerners continued to keep Black people cut off from the news and in bondage long after Juneteenth, but then no perfect, unequivocally successful day of emancipation ever really happened for Black Americans. The history of fighting for civil rights in America is long, complicated, often ugly, and filled with setbacks as well as triumphs.

    It’s also a history that’s far from over.

    For that reason, this Juneteenth, I’d encourage us all to learn a more complete and painful history of the United States than we may have been taught growing up. In many American history classes, we tend to focus on the highlight reel – the Emancipation Proclamation, the passage of the 13th amendment, Martin Luther King’s march on Washington, the civil rights legislation of the 1950s and 1960s. Though those were triumphant moments of real progress, if we focus on only them, we lose sight of the ways that Anti-Black racism is excused, ignored, reshaped, hidden, and thus allowed to flourish in individual's hearts and even in modern laws, policies, and institutions.

    With that in mind, here are a few books that are helping me to fill in some gaps in my own understanding of American history:

    6.19 StampedSTAMPED FROM THE BEGINNING
    By Ibram X. Kendi
    (2017)

    If you only make time for one book from this list, start with this one. As the subtitle, "The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America," suggests, historian Ibram X. Kendi does a masterful job of tracing anti-Black thought in American history, beginning with the words of Puritan thinkers and working all the way through to modern life. There is also a young adult version if you’d like to help the teens in your life understand racism and antiracism in ways that are accessible to them.

     

    6.19 Stony the RoadSTONY THE ROAD
    By Henry Louis Gates Jr.
    (2019)

    In Stony the Road, Henry Louis Gates, a historian you might know from PBS’s Finding Your Roots, fills in the gaps most of us have in our knowledge of history on the century of racist and antiracist thought and activism in the century between emancipation in the 1960s and the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

     

    6.19 Why We Cant WaitWHY WE CAN’T WAIT
    By Martin Luther King Jr.
    (1964)

    You can't go wrong with a primary source, so it's worth it to learn who Martin Luther King Jr. was through his own words. Following the publication of Letter From a Birmingham Jail (also included in this collection) and national attention for the Birmingham campaign, America’s most famous, but often misrepresented civil rights activist wrote this book to clarify the history, beliefs, and nonviolent resistance methods behind the movement.

     

    6.19 The New Jim CrowTHE NEW JIM CROW
    By Michelle Alexander
    (2012)

    Civil rights lawyer and legal scholar Michelle Alexander traces the rise and effects of mass incarceration of Black men over the past 50 years and examines the racially charged reasoning of the Republican and Democratic politicians alike who enacted the War on Drugs and the War on Crime. While this book traces the broader history, for a more personal account filled with individual stories, read Bryan Stevenson’s beautiful book JUST MERCY or watch the recent film adaptation, which is also excellent (there's a big of a wait for a library copy, but it's also currently free to rent on multiple streaming platforms).

     

    6.19 White RageWHITE RAGE
    By Carol Anderson
    (2017)

    The status of Black people in America is not just a Black person’s problem, and the responsibility to fix it should not be placed on Black shoulders. In this work, historian Carol Anderson discuss the backlash, legal and social, from angry white Americans that has followed every major civil rights gain, and the way that anger has shaped policy and institutions that still exist today.

     

    A celebration of Juneteenth shouldn’t end with understanding history, however. If you’re interested in learning about how to be an anti-racist today, this list of books has helped me understand and may help you too. There are also countless other books to help us understand Black American experiences. We can read modern classic novels by Toni Morrison, Colson Whitehead, Alice Walker, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, and more. We can read memoirs by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Roxane Gay, Michelle Obama, Jacqueline Woodson, and others.

    And don't forget to include books in your favorite genre from a Black perspective. Like romance? Try a book by Jasmine Guillory or Talia Hibbert. Love YA fantasy with a bit of romance mixed in? Don’t miss Tomi Adeyemi’s books, which have been massive hits, and check out Roseanne A. Brown and Dhonielle Clayton’s books too. Do you devour sci-fi and epic fantasy? You’ve got to give Octavia E. Butler and N.K. Jemison a try. Love a funny memoir? Pick up The Last Black Unicorn or We Are Never Meeting in Real Life.

    In the past few weeks, we’ve had more requests than ever before for books by Black authors about Black American lives, and we’ll keep doing what we can to help provide the resources you’re looking for. If there’s anything you see missing in our collection, please fill out a purchase suggestion form, and we’ll do our best to add it.

     
  • BW FB

    Working up in The Attic, I have the chance to see a lot of different art exhibits come through. This month, our art gallery has been lucky to house a collection of photographs depicting African Americans during the early part of the 1900’s. These images are part of a movement known as the Harlem Renaissance and I thought I’d take a bit of time here to talk about this art movement and the collection itself. 

    The Harlem Renaissance was an explosion in African American art, photography, writing, film, theatre and music. This movement lasted from about 1918 to 1937. Though artists would appear from many different midwestern and northern states, Harlem became the center of the movement. This borough of NYC is located on Manhattan Island. Since before the Revolutionary War, it was a safe haven for runaway slaves and a strong center for abolition and African American rights. In fact, Alexander Hamilton lived and worked in Harlem, practicing law. When he was elected a representative of New York, he would go on to write the state’s first petition to ban slavery. 

    During the early 1900’s, many black southerners chose to leave the South and move into northern and midwestern cities. Known as the “Great Migration”, Harlem and other urban areas provided also provided many economic opportunities. This allowed black citizens better access to education as well as economic stability. As a result, black artists had the time, money and means to create artwork that would be seen by the rest of the world. 

    John Johnson was an amatuer photographer living in Lincoln, Nebraska. He was born the son of an escaped slave and a Civil War veteran. Though Johnson never had a professional career, he was able to take pictures of his fellow neighbors, coworkers and family. Not only was he able to create beautiful images and experimented in this early art form, but his photos also document the changes that were happening in black communities during the Harlem Renaissance.

    For one last chance to see Johnson’s photo exhibit before it closes, visit the Attic, located on the 4th floor of the Provo Library today between 4:00 and 9:00 pm.

  •  microhistory

    Despite being a lifetime book lover and professional librarian, I just recently discovered my favorite book genre, microhistories.

    Microhistories give the reader what I call an “ant’s-eye view,” or in other words, a view of something from the ground up. I love to dive deep into one specific topic and explore every nook and cranny history has to offer.

    It’s so refreshing to learn about a topic with a more focused perspective. Luckily for me the Provo Library offers plenty of options when it comes to microhistories. If you need a place to start, the library has you covered. Listed below are some of my favorite microhistory reads.

    1.24 The Big OysterTHE BIG OYSTER: HISTORY ON THE HALF SHELL
    By Mark Kurlansky
    (2006)

    In my eyes, Mark Kurlansky is the king of microhistory. If you’re new to the microhistory genre, you can’t go wrong with any books by Mark Kurlanksy, but I highly recommend starting with this book. Kurlansky gives the readers a history lesson on The Big Apple (New York) when it was the Big Oyster, and how this salt-water bivalve influenced its economy, culture, and food scene.

     

    1.24 The Disappearing SpoonTHE DISAPPEARING SPOON
    By Sam Kean
    (2011)

    Imagine chemistry class spun into a series of delightful short stories and you’ve got a fun, new way to learn about the periodic table. You’ll walk away from this read feeling like a genius and wondering why it took you so long to find chemistry funny.

     

    1.24 StiffSTIFF
    By Mary Roach
    (2004)

    Talk about digging deep! This book explores the many uses of human cadavers. What role do cadavers play in space exploration? You’ll have to read the book to find out. WARNING: If you’re squeamish, you may have a hard time getting through this one (but please try, I promise its worth it!).

     

    1.24 Just My TypeJUST MY TYPE
    By Simon Garfield
    (2010)

    Where do fonts come from? This book answers that question along with many other questions you might not even know you had about fonts. You’ll learn about the typographers behind the typefaces and find yourself thinking twice about the font you choose for your next school assignment (that is, if your teacher hasn’t assigned Times New Roman 12 pt.).

     

    1.24 BananaBANANA
    By Dan Koeppel
    (2007)

    There’s so much more to the banana than meets the eye. Split ways with any preconceived notions of your favorite yellow fruit and learn about origin of the banana. The combination of science, history, and politics makes for an informative and entertaining read. Quite appealing, right?

     
  •  Train Tracks

    On May 10th, 1869 the transcontinental railway was completed, and the meeting point of the East and West going railways was right here in Utah. This year marks the 150th anniversary of this historic event and there are several celebrations planned throughout the state. You can find more information about events and celebrations at Spike150.org, or plan a visit to the Golden Spike National Historic Park and see where it happened.

    In honor of this anniversary, visit the library to peruse unique books from our Special Collections area about Golden Spike and the history of trains and railroads in Utah.

    5.10 Golden SpikeGOLDEN SPIKE: NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE 
    By Robert M. Utley
    (1969)

    Part of the “Historical Handbook Series” published by the National Parks Service and U.S. Department of Interior, this small book packs a lot of history into its 60-ish pages. It details how the Promontory site was chosen and the record breaking 10 miles of track laid in a day the push to complete the railroad was happening.  

     

    5.10 Railway ReflectionsRAILWAY REFLECTIONS: A HISTORICAL REVIEW OF UTAH RAILROADS 
    By  Gilbert H. Bennett
    (1999)

    This unique book is a collection of paintings by artist Gilbert H. Bennett. It takes the reader on a historical journey through railroading history in Utah, beginning at the Golden Spike. The beautiful full color prints of the oil and watercolor paintings are beautiful and add a great visual to a fascinating history.

     

    5.10 Iron Horses to PromontoryIRON HORSES TO PROMONTORY: GOLDEN SPIKE EDITION 
    By Gerald M. Best
    (1969)

    Chock full of illustrations, some historic photographs, and scans of newspaper clippings, this book is perfect for the history buff with a propensity towards the visual. The high quality photos are pretty remarkable, and make the already interesting piece of history more robust and accessible.

     

    5.10 Crossroads of the WestCROSSROAD OF THE WEST: A PHOTOGRAPHIC LOOK AT FIFTY YEARS OF RAILROADING HISTORY IN UTAH 
    By Blair Kooistra
    (1998)

    Another photographic collection, this book goes beyond the Golden Spike and delves into more modern railroading developments and uses. It includes breathtaking full color photos of more recent trains and rail lines, including Kennecott’s specially designed train cars and the Rio Grande’s Carbon County coal train. This is a must read for any true railfan.   

     

    5.10 Golden SpikeTHE GOLDEN SPIKE 
    Edited by David E. Miller
    (1973)

    The Western History Center at the University of Utah compiled this book of well researched historical articles from colleges and organizations around the state. They published it in conjunction with the centennial or 100 year anniversary of the Golden Spike.

     

    If you’d like to know more about the Transcontinental Railroad and this fascinating time in our nation’s history, there are some very thorough and well researched books about this topic available on our e-book and audiobook service, Libby. Here are a few that come highly recommended:

    NOTHING LIKE IT IN THE WORLD

    RAILROADED

    EMPIRE EXPRESS

  • Downton Abbey

    Hello, fellow Downton Abbey fans! If you’re anything like me, you’re awaiting the Downton Abbey movie with a mixture of hope and trepedation. I’m excited to return to my favorite period drama and become reaquainted with beloved characters, both above and below stairs.

    At the same time, I’m worried. They’d wrapped up the final season so happily for everyone, hadn’t they? A sucker for a happy ending, I was pleased with where characters ended up in the final season, and I’m just not sure I can take it if Anna and Bates are subjected to new trauma. JUST LET THOSE POOR PEOPLE LIVE IN PEACE, Julian Fellowes!

    Nevertheless, I’ll be there on opening night.

    In the meantime, here are a few library materials to get you back into that Downton frame of mind. 

    9.13 Lady AlminaLADY ALMINA AND THE REAL DOWNTON ABBEY: THE LOST LEGACY OF HIGHCLERE CASTLE
    By Fiona, Countess of Carnarvon
    (2011)

    Downton Abbey, is, alas, a fictional place, but the entirety of the series was filmed at Highclere Castle, a country house in Hampshire England with history going back to the 9th century (though the current building was build primarily in the 1600s and 1700s). This book, written by the current Countess of Carnarvon who lives in the castle today, tells the story of one of Highclere’s most famous residents, Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon.

     

    9.13 Below StairsBELOW STAIRS: THE CLASSIC KITCHEN MAID’S MEMOIR THAT INSPIRED UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS AND DOWNTON ABBEY
    By Margaret Powell
    (2012)

    If you were always more interested in the exploits of Daisy and Mrs. Patmore than in the goings-on of the Crawleys, this is the book for you. Margaret Powell, who lived from 1908 to 1984, became a bestselling writer with this memoir about her experiences as a maid and later a cook in aristocratic houses in the 1920s and 1930s. As the title suggests, her book was eventually a source of inspiration for Downton Abbey.

     

    9.13 Downton Abbey MusicDOWNTON ABBEY: THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION: FEATURING THE MUSICAL HIGHLIGHTS OF ALL SIX SEASONS
    By John Lunn
    (2016)

    It doesn’t take much to conjure up the notes of Downton Abbey’s opening theme in my mind. This CD collection brings together favorite musical pieces from throughout the show’s run. And if you’re a pianist, why not check out the sheet music too?

     

    9.13 Edwardian CookingEDWARDIAN COOKING: 80 RECIPES INSPIRED BY DOWNTON ABBEY’S ELEGANT MEALS
    By Larry Edwards
    (2012)

    If you’re feeling especially motivated, you can try your hand at one of the delicious recipes in this historically-inspired cookbook. It blessedly stays away from away from aspics (a.k.a meat jello) and the like, instead favoring classics like pork tenderloin with sweetened cinnamon apples and any number of tea sandwiches and biscuits. 

     

    9.13 Downton Abbey A CelebrationDOWNTON ABBEY: A CELEBRATION
    By Jessica Fellowes
    (2015)

    Written by Jessica Fellowes, niece of show creator Julian Fellowes, this book goes behind the scenes on the Downton set, with gorgeous location shots of Highclere Castle and stills from all six seasons of the classic period drama. It's a perfect refresher course if you’re feeling a little foggy on the timeline of the series. 

     
  • Utah History

    Here in Utah, Pioneer day is July 24th, so I thought this might be a good time to mention some pioneer stories you could read with your family. Children are naturally curious about pioneers and the lives they lived. They often wonder what children in the past did for fun, what kind of food they ate, what kind of chores they did, and what their families were like.

    One of the best ways to answer those questions and more is by reading historical fiction stories together. If your child is especially interested in pioneer girl stories, here are a few of the best.

    7.23 Hattie Big SkyHATTIE BIG SKY
    By Kirby Larson
    (2006) 

    It’s 1917 and 16-year-old Hattie Brooks has just inherited her uncle’s homesteading claim in Montana. Hattie, an orphan, decides she must make a home for herself and travels from Iowa to Montana to become Hattie Homesteader. Once there, she finds out that in order to keep the place, she must prove the claim with enough fencing and farming to satisfy government specifications. This is a great story with an amazing and determined character who will steal your heart.

     

    7.23 The Evolution of Calpurnia TateTHE EVOLUTION OF CALPURNIA TATE
    By Jacqueline Kelly
    (2009) 

    Callie Vee Tate wants to be a naturalist and study science, but girls in 1899 didn’t become scientists. With the help of her grandfather she figures out why the yellow grasshoppers in her backyard are so much bigger than the green ones and she imagines a future much grander than a life spent in the kitchen making meals for her husband.

     

    7.23 The Ballad of Lucy WhippleTHE BALLAD OF LUCY WHIPPLE
    By Karen Cushman
    (1996) 

    California doesn’t suit Lucy Whipple. She enjoys the comforts of her home in Massachusetts but moving out West was her mama’s dream and she finds herself, with her family, in California during the American Gold Rush. Lucy is suddenly thrown into back-breaking work, and worst of all, days with no books. But slowly Lucy begins to understand that home isn’t just where you live, it’s being around the things you love and the people you love.

     

    7.23 May BMAY B
    By Caroline Starr Rose
    (2012) 

    Written in verse, this is a beautiful story about a strong new heroine who is determined to find her way home again. May is helping out on a neighbor’s homestead in Kansas until Christmas. But when the couple she is staying with disappears, May finds herself all alone in a blizzard. She must somehow find a way to make the fifteen-mile journey back home.

     

    7.23 Our Only May AmeliaOUR ONLY MAY AMELIA
    By: Jennifer Holm
    (1999) 

    Inspired by the diaries of her great-aunt, the real May Amelia, Jennifer Holm gives us a beautifulll crafted tale of one young girl whose unique spirit captures the courage, humor, passion and depth of the American pioneer experience. May Amelia will touch your heart.

     
     

    7.23 Caddie WoodlawnCADDIE WOODLAWN
    By Carol Ryrie Brink
    (1994) 

    This is a story about a young girl who has to make her own place in the world. Caddie is living on the open plains of 1860 Wisconsin with her family. She isn’t your ordinary girl who likes to spend time sewing and baking like her sisters. Caddie is a bit of a tomboy and would rather hunt, swim or visit the Native Americans. This is a look into her life as a young pioneer girl.