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Archive for March 30th, 2011

LDR 2009

This Wednesday I wanted to make a point that there are numerous ways to volunteer.  I’m not talking about the different organizations you could become a part of.  I’m talking about the actual actions you could partake in, or the ways in which you prefer to offer up your time.  You get out of your volunteer work what you put into it right?  There are easy ways to volunteer just as well as lengthy, time-consuming ways.  If you have a busy schedule, maybe you just want to contribute to your community with a donation that you can quickly drop off.  If you have more time, like a spring or summer break, maybe you want to go on a mission trip.  Another option could be something you are very passionate about, in that case, you might want to make your work an on-going process at which you spend a few hours a week.

My point is, there is something out there for everyone, you just have to look around and see what works out best for you!

For example, my first post was about donating books to prisoners through the Appalachian Prison Book Project (APBP).  This is a good example of a way to make a quick and easy donation of a box full of old books for someone else to benefit from.  Other ideas may be to donate old clothing to shelters or a local Good Will.  There is a Good Will on Green Bag Road in Morgantown, or there is a bin outside of the Student Rec Center that collects donated Clothing.

My previous post was about So.Zo, the coffee shop downtown on High Street that promotes social justice.  If you are someone who is passionate about social justice, organic food, and going Green, you could spend a few hours a week volunteering at So.Zo.  Better yet, you could periodically check into So.Zo to see what events they are showcasing that promote social justice and sign up!  For example, on April 10th, the Amizade Water Walk will take place behind the Mountain Lair.  Registration will be going on all week.

On the way to Madisonville, Kentucky

This week’s volunteer organization is going to feature The Lutheran Disaster Response Team (LDR), which is located right on campus beside St. Johns Church.  LDR is a coalition of WVU students who respond to disasters as they occur.  The goal is primarily to help those who don’t have the skill or money after a disaster, such as a flood or earthquake.  The group usually plans one big trip over spring break to any place that is in need of assistance.  They also respond to sites locally in West Virginia. 

The type of volunteer work includes, rebuilding people’s homes, replacing roofs, dry wall, staining, etc.  Though this kind of work is more hands on than other volunteer organizations, you do not need any prior experience before signing up.  You will learn all of the skills once you get to the site.

That truck was blue before the gps system got us lost in a muddy cow field.

I was a part of LDR my freshman year.  For spring break we went to Madisonville, Kentucky to help those who needed our assistance after the ice storms had hit in 2009.  Our mission while we were over there was to help people clean up their properties.  Though this wasn’t really the type of work LDR was used to (they were used to gutting out and rebuilding homes), there was no doubt we still made a difference for people. 

Half standing trees were everywhere. Their trunks and branches were strewn through yards and clogged ditches.  The half-standing trees were posing a danger to falling on homes, roads, telephones lines, or other properties.  We came to clean it up. 

The sides of the road as we drove through Madisonville, Kentucky.

While everyone else was off in Cancun or Panama taking in the sun, I was in Kentucky cutting down trees (that’s right, I learned how to cut down a tree) unclogging ditches, sweating, ripping my clothes, and removing wheel barrel after wheel barrel of debris out of people’s yards for 8 hours a day.

“LDR is an Organization that works hard and does things right,” said Mary Klinestiver, treasurer of LDR. 

What I remember the most from that trip was a little old man who was in his eighties.  He lived alone in a little log cabin out in the woods with his two dogs.  He didn’t have any family around and he was starting to lose his eye sight.  Because he was in the middle of the woods, the storms had done a great deal of damage to his property.  We typically only spent about a day at each site, but it took two or three days to help him clean everything up.  He really appreciated everything we did for him. I could tell he was emotional about our help.  On the last day, he thanked us with a large cookout.  I remember thinking that helping this man was the highlight of my trip. 

The log cabin.

“I think LDR has helped people do what they cannot do for themselves. It has been a joy to know that you made life a little easier for people,” said Klinestiver.

If anyone would like to find out more about LDR contact chaplain@lutheranmountaineer.org

Klinestiver also said that any girls who are interested in service organization can contact her about Kappa Phi, a Christian service organization for women in college, at mklinest@mix.wvu.edu.

To conclude, this post isn’t about me telling you to go on a mission trip because it’s the best way to make a difference.  The best way to make a difference is simply to do what you can, as well as what you enjoy.

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Did you know that I’ve hidden a quote in a book in the library, and if you find it you can win a Stephen King hardcover novel?

Did you know you can rent DVDs out the wazoo down in the lower level of the downtown campus library?

Did you know that the library itself is actually two buildings on the main campus, and that there are five in the system?

Did you know that there are now ebook collections?

Do you know where the bust of Dante is?

Did you know that the library has one of the largest collections of books by Isaac Asimov, as well as large collections of Mark Twain and Shakespeare?

Did you know that there are librarians that like to text answers to you?

No? Read on. With the help of some librarians and students, I got to poke around in the nether regions of one of the more interesting places I’ve been in.

I am the son of a librarian. I’m also the son of a mechanic, but for some reason I turned out to be a bibliophile, much to my dad’s chagrin. I have a healthy respect for libraries, especially libraries that are adapting to today’s technologies and oft-changing times. Anyone in the digital media market knows how volatile it can be with DRM platforms constantly changing, along with the devices people are using (Kindle, Nook, iPad, iPhone, etc.). Students are demanding folks, especially undergrads that have never been around a strong, university library system.

The atrium is a lovely place to study, and marks the separation of the "old" and "new" libraries on the downtown campus.

Here in Morgantown, at West Virginia University, is a lovely collection of libraries. Individually they are known as the Evansdale, Health Sciences, Law, Charleston Health Sciences, and downtown campus libraries. The most action – and intrigue – is found at the downtown campus library. When I first entered the library last semester, I got lost. For those who haven’t been indoctrinated, the downtown library is actually TWO libraries—the Wise Library (or “old” library) and the addition to the front of it, simply called the downtown campus library. You’ll also notice that if you take the stairs on the front half of the building, you’ll end up going to floors two and four. In the back half, you’ll have to go up a flight of stairs, and then go up a half flight of stairs on either side to access places like the Robinson Reading Room. If you want to access the rare book room in the Wise Library, you have to go to the back left elevator, go to the sixth floor, and then walk across the access hall into the other building. Let’s just say that you’ll want to stop by the main desk for a map if you have to look something up.

At that main desk I had a chance to chat up Linda Blake, the electronic journals coordinator and science librarian. It turns out that what my librarian mother always said, “If you don’t know, ask a librarian,” is true. If you think about it, most librarians have to have a master’s degree in a field like information technology. They’re pretty savvy, and they put to rest the old stereotypes of bitter women with peacock glasses and a hatred for children. If you talk to someone like Linda Blake, you can find out a lot.

Librarian Linda Blake and her assistant, Jaclyn Carenbauer, a freshman studying social work, at the main desk of the downtown campus library. When in doubt, ask a librarian!

“Did you know about the Asimov collection?” said Blake, “There was even an article in the D.A. (Daily Athenaeum) today about it.” And so there was. Turns out that over 600 Isaac Asimov books now reside in the downtown campus library, and you can take a look at them.

“Or how about the bust of Dante?” Blake was referring to a beautiful bust of 13th-century poet Dante Alighierhi. There’s a fascinating story that can be found here, regarding the history of the library, where in 1940, Italian immigrant Thoney Pietro commissioned the bust to be given to WVU “as a token of his appreciation of happiness which had come to him since his arrival from Italy.” In short, it took 19 years for the bust to find its way home, after spending some time in the Library of Congress. For those in Morgantown not indoctrinated in the history of Pietro, you can check out pictures of one of his houses on Kingwood here, or a rendition of his “castle” (an old friary) here. (You really should take a look at the friary, at least). Blake stated that on her tours of the library (oh, yes, there are tours), the history of Dante’s bust is one of the stories she tells.

Thoney Pietro's bust of 13th century Florentine poet Dante. It's located in the Robinson Reading Room, one of the "deep quiet zones."

But if you want to catch a glimpse of history, you should take a tour of the rare book collection. Librarian Christy Venham gave me a short tour.

On the sixth floor of the "new" library, you can access a hallway to the Wise Library, home to the rare book collection.

When you go, the process is pretty strict. First, you need to check in with one of the students at the entrance.

Criminology freshman Dominic Lowman is ready to check you into the rare books section of the Wise Library.

He’ll have you fill out a form if it’s your first time in the rare books section. If you have a backpack or purse he’ll give you a locker key. Then you’ll be monitored when you look through the books. White gloves keeps the oils from your hands from rubbing off on the books. You can always ask curator John Cuthbert any of your questions.

The hallowed grounds of antiquities, history, and culture

More of the rare books collection

“We’ll let you take books into the Stealey Manuscript Reading Room, and you can only have a pen or pencil, paper, or a laptop, and nothing else.” said Venham. “We have security cameras and one-way mirrors to observe the readers.” Needless to say, the experience is something all students should go through. “Some classes come here—a variety of English classes are assigned to rare books.”

Venham wants students to know that to look at the rare book collection you can only come on Monday through Friday.

But if you’re like most students, you’ll probably want to know the cool stuff, like the fact that you can check out DVDs in the lower level, a floor a lot of students don’t think of venturing to. Linda Blake wants to remind students that the collection isn’t “browsable like Blockbuster,” and that if you want to find out ahead of time what you might want, go to the media section of the website, and look up DVD or VHS.

It’s also good to know that you can always text or instant-message a librarian one of your questions. And if you’re really into the digital world, it’s good to know that WVU is building an Ebrary, and Blake is in charge of around 30,000 electronic journals.

Of course, if all else fails, you can still go make out in the stacks.

The stacks. Just to the right you'll be able to find the book I hid the clue in.

And speaking of stacks, here’s your clue to win a new, hardcover book by Stephen King—Under the Dome. There’s a book in the stacks that has to do with one of Americana’s finest writers and humorists on the subject of the Mississippi River. There is a rare, first edition book in the rare books that you can view, but librarians will ask if you’ll read one of the other editions downstairs, like the one I hid the clue in. I’d give you the call number, but that would be too easy. Here’s another hint: the rare book collection has the 1883 edition. I’ve hidden my clue in a 1957 edition. The first person to write the clue down in the comments section will win. Disclaimer: Librarians and library staff are exempt from winning.

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