by Jim Blanton
When I first started out as a librarian, I envisioned a future of providing reference service and assisting patrons with locating books and information. While that certainly comprised a significant part of my job duties, almost from the word go I was drawn into the area of library programming. Unfortunately programming was a subject that was notably absent in my graduate school program. I vividly remember during the orientation week of my first professional position, sitting in a board room with other new librarians, and being told we would be responsible for coordinating two programs a year. At the time I had no idea what that would entail, but I dutifully nodded and figured I would work it all out later. Boy did I ever! Over the course of 12 years in Chesapeake, Virginia, I became well known in the community for doing large scale programming, 3 of which ended up winning statewide awards.
One of those award winners was a program called Fantasmo Cult Cinema Explosion. The program was concocted by me and a dedicated library volunteer named Rob Floyd. Both lovers of B-movies, we thought it would be cool to do a monthly series in which we would screen a double-feature of thematically similar, really bad movies. Added to that foundation we would also bring in guest speakers, and “enhance” the films with gimmicks employed from the days of old when all B-movies were accompanied by outrageous ballyhoo. The show proved to be a huge hit right out of the gate, and is still running to this day.
Beyond the pure fun of hosting Fantasmo, the most rewarding part of the program was seeing folks from the community interact with each other. Residents from all walks of life came out to the library on Friday nights. Parents and teens, teachers and college professors, local celebrities, elected officials (even the mayor) – and they all had a blast together! Folks would usually show up an hour before the movies just to talk about all things cinema related, and then for about 3-4 hours enjoy our antics and hoot and holler at the screen as the outrageously bad films played on. It was truly something to behold, and just one of the programs that taught me what an amazing place a library can be for bringing folks together (many who otherwise would never have met).
Upon arriving at the Daviess County Public Library, one of my primary goals was to start up programs that would pull in the community in a similar fashion. While doing a movie program at some point was on my radar, I was surprised when barely into my first full month I was approached by a local filmmaker, PJ Starks, about putting together a series. The concept was to bring in local filmmakers to screen and discuss their works across a wide variety of genres. Needless to say I was excited by the possibilities, as the concept added that important layer of community by screening films made by folks from the area. Long story short we held our first round of Unscripted over 6 weeks in January and February and received a fantastic response. Over two hundred movie lovers attended and the local PBS affiliate even came out to capture the proceedings.
Most importantly, those who came to Unscripted were engaged in the same way I had experienced with Fantasmo and other programs I had coordinated back in Chesapeake. They were talking with each other and connecting in a meaningful way. Better still we had many participants who were not regular library users, and some visiting for the first time. That was always a thrill for me in Chesapeake, especially when I would see program participants coming back to the library to read and hang out, check out materials, or attend other programs. It just took the right hook to get them interested and aware of all the great things the library can be. With Unscripted I had staff members coming up and excitedly pointing out to me how there were so many folks they had never seen before in the library. My response to that observation was – this is only the beginning!
As for Unscripted, we will shortly be holding our second series, again with a diverse range of films. But that’s not all! We think it’s important to keep the community informed about the artists working locally more than just a couple of times a year, so to that end we’re launching an Unscripted page here on the web site which will feature interviews, blogs, trailers, and more. We hope you’ll keep visiting the site and checking out the latest and greatest indie films, and of course join us live for our shows. See you at the movies!
by Wesley Johnson
Filmmaker Martha Stephens was born & raised in Kentucky. Although she now lives in West Virginia, her work makes it evident that she still has a great fondness for the Bluegrass State. Her latest feature, Pilgrim Song, tells the story of a freshly pink-slipped music teacher leaving his home in Louisville to figure life out while hiking the Sheltowee Trace Trail in Eastern Kentucky.
Pilgrim Song will show at the library this Saturday promptly at 7:00 PM (doors open at 6:30 PM). Miss Stephens will be in attendance and participate in a brief Q&A after the film. She kindly answered a few questions via email to let folks know what to expect from the film.
Wesley- Give our patrons an overview of what Pilgrim Song is about.
Martha- Pilgrim Song follows a recently laid-off middle-school music teacher who embarks on a cathartic solo backpacking adventure along Kentucky’s Sheltowee Trace Trail. He’s essentially hitting the trail in hopes of rediscovering a lost sense of personal fulfillment.
Wesley- Your two features – Passenger Pigeons and Pilgrim Song – are set in Eastern Kentucky, where you’re originally from. How did your upbringing there inform your style of filmmaking and the stories you wish to tell? What’s one thing you hope the world learns about Kentucky from your work?
Martha- Both of my first features could be considered “slow cinema”, where the pacing and rhythm of each film more or less beat with the rhythm of a measured life. Growing up in Greenup County, Kentucky, life was very deliberately spent. As a kid, I thought it was an incredibly dull place to live, but as an adult, I really appreciate the solitude one can easily find and the intoxicating hill country that engulfs Eastern Kentucky. I also believe the scripts I write tend to be fairly naturalistic, inspired by real people I’ve known from back home. I had an interesting family dynamic that I’ve drawn a lot from. My mother is a terrific painter and came from a very creative family including novelists, poets, and musicians; my father grew up baptist and is very religious and conservative. I guess that’s why you may find a lot of religious elements in my films as well as a lot of dope smoking. Ha. Folks from the Kentucky hills are a breed unlike any other. I have a lot of admiration for their spirit, their toughness, and their ties to their land and heritage. I guess that’s why I tend to contain my stories here. I hope that any audience watching my films will fall in love with the beautiful landscape, and get a better sense of the character and beauty surrounding this country.
Wesley- You mentioned in one of your emails to me that the film is purposely paced like a novel. What books most influenced its creation?
Martha- It’s funny, I definitely think in terms of novels when I’m writing scripts. A good book is always more influential to me than other films. John Steinbeck is one of my heroes, so Travels with Charley was very inspirational. I recall reading a lot of travel literature a few years prior to writing the script, so books like A Walk in the Woods, A Walk Across America, and Into the Wild also moved me to write a script like Pilgrim Song. In all of these works, the author or subject hiked/drove/hitchhiked away from the mundane security of their normal lives to find answers to questions, seek happiness, or as a way of reaching personal redemption.
Wesley- What regional creative works do you feel need more attention?
Martha- Anyone who has interest in Appalachian literature should subscribe to Appalachian Heritage. It’s a quarterly journal that celebrates various Appalachian writers and I’m quite taken with its simplicity and sincerity. Roger May is a KY/WV native that will be publishing his photography book, Testify in the near future. His pictures depict his visits to his ancestral land (KY/WV) as well as investigating his relationship with his childhood home now that it’s no longer his home. In a nutshell, it’s a lovely prodigal son story told through visuals.
Wesley- What’s next?
Martha- I’m currently developing two projects: one Appalachian coming of age story called Papaw Easy and one comedy I’m co-directing called Lay of the Land. The latter film is set in Iceland and is a story of two mismatched babyboomers sowing some wild oats in an unassuming place. Papaw Easy is a very nuanced, meditative story about an abandoned child forming a friendship with a foul-mouthed, down-and-out elderly playboy. I hope to film Lay of the Land later this year and Papaw Easy in early 2014.
Pilgrim Song Trailer:
Have Facebook? RSVP for the Pilgrim Song screening by clicking here.
School is out, and now is the perfect time to start planning for the summer! Make the Daviess County Public Library a part of your summer routine by enrolling your child in our “Get into Character @ your library” Summer Reading Program sponsored by The Friends of the Library.
All young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer. Numerous studies have shown that reading over the summer prevents “summer reading loss” (Heyns, 1978; Entwisle & Alexander, 2007). Summer Reading loss is cumulative. Children don’t “catch up” in the fall because the other children are moving ahead with their skills. By the end of 6th grade, children who lose reading skills over the summer are two years behind their classmates (Entwisle & Alexander, 2007). Reading four or five books during the summer is potentially enough to prevent a decline in reading achievement from spring to fall (Kim, 2004).
The Daviess County Public Library would like to help encourage reading during the summer months with our Summer Reading program. Everyone (all ages) can participate in the program. All you have to do to participate is register, read, and log five books (books, audiobooks, ebooks) to receive one entry into our grand prize drawing. If you want to continue reading, you will receive an additional grand prize entry for each additional five books read and logged. The more you read, the more chances you have to win! In addition, children 12 and younger will receive one free book after logging the first five books. Weekly participation prizes will be awarded in the Children and Teen categories, and Grand Prizes will be awarded in the Children, Teen, and Adult categories. You may register online at www.dcplibrary.org. The program will run June 1-July 31.
The Daviess County Public Library will also be hosting exciting programs for people of all ages this summer. We have fun programs planned for children 12 and younger every Wednesday afternoon during June and July to help them get excited about reading. For adults, we will be having music concerts, a film festival, and author Rick Robinson will be visiting on June 3. You may pick of a copy of our events calendar, the ballyhoo, or visit the Daviess County Public Library Events page to see the full schedule.
We look forward to seeing you throughout the summer!
Youth Services Programming Coordinator
by Wesley Johnson
by Kim Mattingly
The 94th celebration of Children’s Book Week will be held May 13-19, 2013. Established in 1919, Children’s Book Week is the longest-running national literacy initiative in the country. Administered by the literacy organization Every Child a Reader and funded in part by the Children’s Book Council, Children’s Book Week celebrates books for young people and promotes the joy of reading.
During Children’s Book Week, the 6th Annual Children’s Choice Book Awards Gala will take place on May 13th at the Liberty Theater in New York City. Children’s book author Lisa Yee will host the awards ceremony, and the awards are to be presented by popular authors Tomie dePaola, Henry Winkler, Lois Lowry, Meg Cabot, Katherine Applegate, Brian Selznick, and Walter Dean Myers. The Children’s Choice Book Awards are the only national book awards where the winners are chosen by children.
To celebrate Children’s Book Week, the Daviess County Public Library will be hosting a drop-in craft all day Wednesday, May 15th. Children ages 12 and younger are invited to make a leather bookmark to take home. In addition, regularly scheduled storytimes will take place on Monday and Thursday at 10:00 a.m. for children 0-5 and their parents or caregivers.
For more information about national programs occurring during Children’s Book Week visit www.bookweekonline.com.