Why I love librarians

Hi everyone,

The only thing I have left to finish on a manuscript under contract — and it’s a biggie — is to compile a list of books I read for research before, during, and after the writing process. I already have a sizable list of online references as well as titles from my own library, but I needed more.

Early this week I queried Kathleen O’Dell, Community Relations Director for the Springfield-Greene County Public Library District, to see if I could ask for help in the search for authoritative, recently published texts on my subjects.

I sent a list, which Kathleen passed along to reference librarians at The Library Center on South Campbell. Two days later, Tammy Flippen, Anna Mattonen, Jana Dimond and circulation assistant Leanne Burgess presented me with a stack of wonderful reference books, with more on the way from branch libraries! I couldn’t believe it! They used their expertise to aid me in writing a new book for children. It not only saved me time, I probably wouldn’t have found all the sources they did.

Librarians are famous for going that extra mile to give personal service to patrons, but this was above and beyond anything I could have asked for. It’s my book, but here’s a splendid example of how we rarely write alone. It may take a village to raise a child, but it also takes a lot of helping hands to make a book!

With sincere thanks to all,

David

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I had a fine time

Hi Everyone,

Thanks to all who attended last night’s David Harrison event at The Library Center. I think Don Barrett and his daughter Carina Hurt Blair traveled the farthest, making a roundtrip from Camdenton, Missouri. It was a pleasure to once again join with Chris Craig and Gale Clithero as Bryon Biggers Band. Sarah Wiggin led a splendid RAE troop including Jeff Jenkins, Melissa Herr, and Colton Williams in performing many poems and stories from my work. I sat in the audience and cackled the same as I always do when they carry on. My favorite number is when they impersonate cows during a skit based on WHEN COWS COME HOME. I’ll show you some pictures if anyone shares what they took.

We had a nice turnout and somehow managed to stay on schedule. Sandy and I both had cousins there as well as many old friends. It was a good way to spend an hour and a half on a Thursday evening in July. Thanks to Kathleen O’Dell for facilitating the event and sticking with us all evening to see that everything went well. I do love The Library Center.

Planning An Evening with David Harrison and Friends for July

Hi everyone,

I’ve working with Kathleen O’Dell, Community Relations Director, Springfield-Greene County Library District, to plan An Evening with David Harrison and Friends, 6:00-7:30, July 23 at The Library Center on South Campbell in Springfield.

Plans are not finalized but we’re thinking three roughly 30-minute segments. I’ll take one to read from of my work and provide a few back stories.

A second half hour will feature Byron Biggers Band, the musical group consisting of Chris Craig, Gale Clithero, and me that performs musical versions of my poetry. We’ve made occasional appearances around town for several years including a couple of times on KSMU public radio. The original idea was Chris’s who is, in addition to being Associate Provost for Faculty & Academic Affairs at Southwest Missouri State University, a fine musician with a great baritone voice. Gale, the dapper Dan of the group (as well as being a cool math teacher), adds voice and percussion. As for me? Well. I do what I do.

The third half hour will feature a tremendously talented group of equity actors that bill themselves as Resident Artist Ensemble (RAE for short). I don’t know yet the full cast but Sarah Wiggin and Michael Frizell are confirmed and there will be at least three others. What they do is perform selected poems and stories from my work. I’ve had the pleasure of watching them before and I guarantee you they’ll have you laughing the whole time. In my wildest dreams I never thought I’d see my work brought to life in such delightful ways. Everyone loves them.

More about these talented people later. They all have incredible creds and I intend to tell you more about them as we draw closer to the date. Needless to say, I’m excited about the program and hope that we’ll attract an audience of children and adults who want to have a good time celebrating the endless versatility of words and ideas.

July 23
6:00-7:30
The Library Center
South Campbell
Springfield, Missouri
Be there!

Check this out at the library

Hi everyone,

Congratulations to Bonnie Bailey who knocked me out in the first round of this year’s March Madness. I lost the general vote, 171-172 when Bonnie made up a 22 point deficit in the last eighteen minutes, won the vote by other poets who are involved this year, 41-8, and lost the classroom vote, 6-11. Bonnie’s goats on cleats beat my “whatever.” It was an exciting event and I thank all of you who supported me throughout the day. Bravo to Ed DeCaria for leading this annual game that gives poets a chance to play among ourselves. It’s a unique opportunity and I encourage everyone to continue watching the results as other pairs of poets compete to see who goes on to the next round.

Here are two events you are going to like if you live in the Springfield area. Thanks to Kathleen O’Dell, Community Relations Director for Springfield-Greene County Library District. Here’s what Kathleen writes:

Pam Flowers: ALONE ACROSS THE ARCTIC. Author and adventurer Pam Flowers tells the unforgettable story of her 2,500-mile, solo Arctic expedition with eight sled dogs from Barrow, Alaska, to the hostile wilderness of eastern Canada.

Flowers has worked with dogs for 32 years, and shows her love and respect for them in her books including “Ordinary Dogs, Extraordinary Friendships,” a collection of 11 positive stories about dogs’ loyalty, courage, perseverance and trust; and “Hiking The Appalachian Trail,” about her trek with her dog Ellie along the 2,174-mile Appalachian Trail. Her Big Read talk is based on her book “Alone Across the Arctic: One Woman’s Epic Journey by Dog Team.”

Pam Flowers is a registered respiratory therapist and public speaker. She is the 14th recipient of the Gold Medal from the Society of Woman Geographers, following in the footsteps of Amelia Earhart, Margaret Mead and Jane Goodall.
She was named Outsider of the Year by Outside Magazine, and has participated in nine arctic expeditions.

Pam will sign and sell copies of her books after the talk.
Wednesday, April 2, 7 p.m. For all ages
Library Center auditorium 4653 S. Campbell Ave.

Also, Bruce Cameron is coming at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 10, to the Library Center for “Come. Sit. Stay. An Evening with Bruce Cameron.” From “A Dog’s Purpose” to “8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter,” Bruce brings best-selling humor to the world of dogs, dads and teenage daughters. “A Dog’s Purpose” and the sequel, “A Dog’s Journey,” were New York Times best-sellers. He has won numerous writing awards including Best Humor Columnist. His visit is funded by The Library Foundation, and is part of the Library’s Big Read, which this year features the Jack London classic, “The Call of the Wild.”

My thanks to Kathleen for the information and to The Library Foundation for bringing such a good program to Springfield!

Family Voices

Hi everyone,

In June 2009 I asked several people I know to join me in starting a project, which we named Family Voices. Its purpose is to encourage parents of children under five years old to read to them on a regular basis. Here’s an article that I wrote for the newspaper with help from committee member Kathleen O’Dell.

FAMILY VOICES, Connecting Generations with Stories

This fall, several child advocates will launch a project called Family Voices: Connecting Generations with Stories. The goal is to help your children succeed in school. We’re going to do it by reading stories to them.

Sound radical? It is in many homes.

Only 49 percent of our nation’s children under age 5 are read to at home on a regular basis. That drops to 36 percent in families living at the poverty level; 31 percent when neither parent is a high school graduate.

That’s like withholding tools a child needs for a good life. Literature’s words through stories build a child’s language skills, and kids who are good with language are more likely to succeed in school. Poor readers at the end of first grade are likely to remain poor readers after fourth grade, and become prime candidates for dropping out of school.

Family Voices is an effort to make more parents aware of the positive long-term effects of reading daily to their preschool children. Beginning this fall with a trial effort at Boyd and McGregor elementary schools, project volunteers will record parents reading to their preschool children. Age-appropriate books will be selected by children’s librarians and provided at the recording session.

The parents’ voices will be preserved on a CD along with the voices of more than a dozen community leaders reading more stories. The result will be a treasury of more than one hour of stories for young children, read by adults who want kids to grow up loving books and literacy.

Each participating family will receive the CD that includes their own voices, and one free book for each child under age 5 in the family. Even when a parent is unavailable to read to a child, the CD will provide opportunities to listen to good stories read well, and help the child develop a love for books and the magic of words.

Family Voices is an independent committee of literacy advocates whose members represent Drury University, Springfield Public Schools, Springfield-Greene County Library District, Parents as Teachers, and community leaders. The project is sponsored by Drury University’s School of Education and Child Development and chaired by its poet laureate, David Harrison. Checks made to Drury University, earmarked Family Voices can be mailed to Alumni and Development Office, Drury University, 900 N. Benton Ave., Springfield MO 65802

I’m not posting this to ask for money. I just want to share the project idea with you in case you might see a way to pass the idea along to others. So far Family Voices has recorded about 150 parents and given them their personalized CD plus a book for each child in the family under five. We’re getting wonderful feedback. One mom said they took a long driving trip and their two-year-old listened to the CD in the car going and coming. By the time they returned home the child had learned many sounds from the CD and wanted to listen over and over.

Let me know if you have comments. Thanks.

David

In her comment below, Joy Acey mentioned my mother reading to me as a youngster. These two images are part of my response to her.