Library Lines

Presidents Day is a day to remember and honor our past presidents. While our current president’s legacy has yet to be written, libraries in Pocahontas County have material on the other 43 presidents (although President Trump is the 45th president, Grover Cleveland served two nonconsecutive terms- making a total of 44 presidents). Stop by any location of Pocahontas County Free Libraries and check out the following books, and others, on our nation’s leaders, their families and the White House.

First, there is a children’s book titled, So You Think You Want to Be President, by Judith St. George and David Small. Did you know that we have had six presidents named James, four named John, four Williams and three Georges? And how did our presidents feel about their position? George Washington feared that “my countryman will expect too much of me.” Theodore Roosevelt said, “No president has ever enjoyed himself as much as I.” While John Quincy Adams felt that being president was “the four most miserable years of my life.”

The Living White House, by Lonnelle Aikman, gives the history of the “President’s House,” as it was called until Theodore Roosevelt officially gave it the title of The White House. The book is full of photographs, drawings and text ranging from the fire of 1814, to the first day baby John Kennedy Jr. arrives at the White House, to the variety of pets kept by the first families (dogs, cats, birds, goats, sheep and horses). This book highlights the joys and challenges of trying to carry on normal life in the public eye.

Our White House: Looking in, Looking Out is a collection of prose, poetry and art by 108 authors and illustrators “to help young people become informed citizens.” According to contributing author Katherine Paterson, the White House press corps was officially established in the West Wing under Theodore Roosevelt. Before then reporters would stand outside in all types of weather for hours, trying “to get the news of what was happening inside.” Now they are in the West Wing every day, as Paterson puts it, “as allies whose job it is to ferret out the truth of what’s happening inside the White House – and also to let the president know the truth of what is going on outside its gates.”

The library system has biographies for children and adults of all of the presidents. For example The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, by Geoffrey Ward and Ken Burns, highlights Theodore, Eleanor and Franklin Delano Roosevelt with extensive research and 796 photographs. The libraries have Pulitzer Prize winning author David McCullough and his biographies of John Adams and Harry Truman. Also available is Pulitzer Prize winner Ron Chernow and his biography, George Washington and Jon Meacham, another Prize winner, and his biography, Thomas Jefferson, the Art of Power. These biographies give us a glimpse into the lives of these early presidents and their struggle to shape the identity of a new nation.

In Our Country’s Presidents, by Ann Bausum, we learn that Laura Bush was an elementary school librarian when she met her future husband, George W. Bush, at a barbecue. Her chief focus as first lady was literacy. It was Laura Bush who presented former Pocahontas County Free Libraries director Allen Johnson with the National Award for Museum and Library Service in 2003. This award is given to institutions with outstanding records of community service and is the nation’s highest honor for museums and libraries. A photo of the former First Lady presenting the award hangs in the McClintic Library. It is a link to the White House and a reminder that we can all be of service to our communities.

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