As the 2012 commemoration of the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War draws to a close, it seems fitting to pay tribute to the life of Abraham Lincoln, the most notable figure from that time. Steven Spielberg’s new film Lincoln, released nationwide on Nov. 9, took its inspiration from the final weeks of the war in Doris Kearns Goodwin’s 2005 book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. The book itself focuses on Lincoln’s mostly successful attempts to reconcile conflicting personalities and political factions on the path to abolition and victory in the Civil War. One of the most poignant photographs of Lincoln was taken by Alexander Gardner during the time period portrayed in the film. Gardner had been a member of a team of photographers hired to make a visual record of the war. A poster-size rendering of this photograph, which was taken a mere two months before Lincoln’s assassination, hangs in the entrance to our library director’s office. [The poster was provided as part of the Picturing America series of artwork awarded to classrooms and libraries across the United States by the National Endowment for the Humanities in cooperation with the American Library Association, many others of which also grace the walls of the library.] It reveals a haggard 55-year-old president, weary and worried from his struggle to preserve the Union. The online library catalog lists more than 270 titles written about this great man. A few of the more recent ones are fictionalized such as “The Lincoln Conspiracy” by Timothy L. O’Brien, “The Lincoln Letter” by William Martin, and even an alternate history by Stephen Carter “The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln”.
On an ancillary note, you might also consider checking out local author Mary Trindal’s book Mary Surratt: An American Tragedy about the boarding house owner who was convicted of the conspiracy to assassinate Lincoln and became the first women executed by the United States Government. The library also has a copy for checkout of Robert Redford’s film The Conspirator on the same topic.
But by all means, if you haven’t already read it, put Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin on your “must read” list. Though Goodwin can’t help but cover some familiar territory from many biographers before her, her perspective offers fresh insights into Lincoln’s leadership style and his deep understanding of human behavior and motivation, something necessary for any great leader.
As any parent or caregiver knows, adolescence is an especially important (and sometimes challenging) time of life. The years between 12 and 18 bear witness to enormous physical, emotional and intellectual changes. Given the impact these changes can have on future development and progress, it is crucial to engage teens in activities that encourage independent thinking while providing a sense of structure and guidance.
The Teen Advisory Group (TAG) at the County Library is just such an activity. At its core, TAG is intended to give teens a means of shaping library services, allowing them to generate program ideas and make suggestions for book purchases. Over the 13 months of its existence, the group formed at the County Library has become much more. Of course, our monthly meetings provide opportunities for teens to practice their leadership and decision-making skills, but our group also has become an important social outlet. We tend to spend as much time sharing pizza and playing video games as we do focusing on library matters, but having fun has lessons to be learned as well—not least, how to interact with others in respectful and appropriate ways.
We are always on the lookout for new members and new perspectives! Our next TAG meeting is on Friday, November 30 at 4:30 pm, and no registration is required to join us. For more information, please give David a call at 984-8200.
It’s election season, and voting day is just around the corner. By now, you probably have an opinion about the Presidential candidates, but do you know who else is on the ballot? How about where to vote? Here’s a quick guide to find out some of the finer details before you head out to cast your ballot:
Virginia State Board of Elections
If you live in Virginia, the State Board of Elections is a one-stop shop for just about everything you need to know except which candidate you should pick. Non-partisan, and authoritative, their website answers:
- Am I registered?
- Where do I vote?
- What’s on the Ballot?
- What ID should I bring
And, of course, much more. If you live in Virginia and have any questions about election day, this should be your first stop.
Can I Vote?
If you live in another state – or need to help a family member who does – your next visit should be CanIVote.org. This non-partisan site is maintained by the National Association for the Secretaries of State and serves as a comprehensive resource for questions about voting.
Internet Public Library – Election and Voting
Curated by librarians (who else?) the Internet Public Library Election Guide has information about both partisan, non-partisan and mainstream media resources to satisfy all but the most rabid election-mania.
Visit your local Library
If you still want more information, just stop by and see us. We can answer just about any question you might have. Except, of course, exactly which candidate should get your vote!