It came to my attention recently that there were shocking gaps in my children’s upbringing. This surfaced when I referenced John Henry to our youngest child, and she did not know who that was. When I began loudly singing, “A man ain’t nothin’ but a man…” right there on the street, she was even further confused, as perhaps were passers by. I explained John Henry the person, and “John Henry” the song, and later texted her 3 versions to listen to. (A fun fact: My second favorite version of this song is by a band called Gangstagrass, which is an enthusiastic fusion of bluegrass and hiphop—the joy I get from the combination of twang, banjo, rap, and history-lesson-spoken-word is gleeful and profound.) Right about now you may be thinking, “Isn’t this the Elsie Quirk Library column? What has any of this to do with the library?” Well, it has all kinds of things to do with the library!
First of all, if you, or your children, also have somehow missed the story and song of John Henry, get yourself to the Elsie Quirk Library. Check out the audio John Henry, with music by B.B. King; or the book Hear My Sad Story: The True Tales That Inspired ‘Stagolee,’ ‘John Henry,’ and Other Traditional American Folksongs; or the lavishly Illustrated picture book, titled, you guessed it, John Henry. Are you reading this while the library is closed, and want to know more about John Henry right now? No problem! With your Sarasota County library card you can access e-books using cloudLibrary or Hoopla; or use our databases of scholarly and popular articles to learn more about the Steel Drivin’ Man and why he died with a hammer in his hand.
The discussion of John Henry led my daughter and I to talking about traditional folk music in general, and inevitably “Goodnight Irene” came up. Our children do know that song because I sang it to them many, many nights…but my version was a far cry from the traditional song. This led to a confession that Goodnight Irene is not about how all the different animals gently go to sleep (which is my invented version) but is actually a rather morose ballad. There are many varied and beautiful versions of this song, from the classic Leadbelly rendition to Willy Nelson to Brian Wilson to Keith Richards to Little Richard. But the real point I’m working towards is that the mistakes I made as a parent are all mine, but credit for the successes has to be shared with public libraries, which helped us raise our children in so many positive ways. Your local library provides books on all manner of parenting conundrums, as well as books to help your child learn, programs to support children and parents, an accepting environment for children and parents to find community, and librarians to help you and your children find the information they need, desire, and deserve.
A Sampling of Library Events, Opportunities, and Resources to Explore:
Take home bags full of amusement.
- Journal Kits
All ages can enjoy our journal kits—create your own journal and record your observations.
- DIY Time Capsule
Pick up a time capsule kit and save mementoes of this momentous time we are living in.
- Job Seekers Kit
A purple folder packed with helpful tips, resources, and tools for job seekers, available at our community resource table.
- Care Kits
Reusable sinch bags with useful everyday items for those in need, such as personal hygiene supplies, sox, first aid supplies, and Kind Bars, available by asking any library staff member.
- Snack Bags
Full of popular snacks for children and teens 18 and under, available in the youth department.
Sign up or learn more at: scgovlibrary.librarymarket.com/events
- Alphabet Storytime
Online storytime for kids, enjoy Elsie Quirk’s own Cris and George reading books with their favorite letters, and discover new library friends from other branches.
- Tech by Zoom
Need help with your new phone? Can’t figure out how to get e-books on your iPad? Want to find out how to make Word stop putting spaces where you don’t want them? Set up a tech by Zoom appointment with an Elsie Quirk staff member by registering online or giving us a call. We are also happy to talk you through setting up a Zoom account over the phone.
- Trivia Walk
Keep an eye out for Elsie Quirk’s trivia walks, happening throughout the 100 days of centennial celebration. Pick up an answer card at the desk, stroll the walkway to read our trivia boards, and submit your answers to be entered into a drawing for intriguing prizes.