Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v14n16)
Pack Horse Librarian Project - Glendale Branch - by Mario Morone
posted: Aug. 04, 2017
Glendale Branch librarian Tracy Hilton described the inspiration for her Pack Horse Librarian project idea.
"About eight years ago, I read Down Cut Shin Creek by Kathi Appelt and Jeanne Cannella Schmitzer and My Librarian is a Camel by Margriet Ruurs. Down Cut Shin Creek is about pack horse librarians delivering books to families in rural Kentucky during the historical Works Progress Administration (WPA) era. I got so excited about the book and I wondered how this could be reinvented to bring into the community to give kids the opportunity to have that in today's world," she explained.
Glendale Branch librarian Tracy Hilton created the Pack Horse Librarian Project that begins this fall.
image courtesy of The Indianapolis Public Library
Communications Specialist Jon Barnes wrote in a recent library press release, "Harkening back to a Depression-era New Deal program that provided library books on horseback to people in rural areas of eastern Kentucky, a new service piloted this fall by the Glendale Branch of The Indianapolis Public Library will offer reading adventures to Washington Township school children in a unique way.
"In essence, there are people around the world (foreign countries) doing what the pack horse librarians did. They take books to children in rural areas by camel, elephant and donkey cart. My Librarian is a Camel is a juvenile non-fiction book about this topic. I thought, 'How can we bring this kind of experience to kids in the local community today?' This year, when the Indianapolis Library Foundation created a new contest, my manager liked my idea, so I sent my submission in and it moved from that time on," Mrs. Hilton said.
She contemplated how to bring horses into it. "In Indianapolis, we have them on patrol. I asked them if they could participate and be pack horse librarians. We are focusing on the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) mounted horse patrol for the pilot of this this program in the Glendale service area. The Pack Horse Librarian Project is about the kids, the community, the library, the adventure of reading and about bringing all of that together in one innovative program. We are scheduling for this fall onward in the 2017-2018 school year."
Mrs. Hilton combines her prior experience being around animals with education. "I have an equestrian background and I know how neat it is for kids to interact with animals. My elementary school principal organized Wednesday assemblies every week for the entire school and brought in guest speakers. One time the speaker was an antique dealer who brought antique toys and another time was a person who brought a pony to our baseball field and taught horse care. Kids got to handle antique toys and to help groom the pony during those assemblies. I also had a wonderful third grade teacher who took a small group of us to do extra reading projects and that group remained through sixth grade. We read and discussed the books and did projects on those titles."
"Books have always been an inspiration to me. Third grade is the general time when students transition from learning to read into reading to learn. We will focus on this important age group for the pilot. Learning accelerates rapidly once kids are reading to learn. I wanted to help inspire them to read for fun," she noted.
"My background is in the fine arts and I went to a fine arts school because I wanted to write and illustrate children's books. I ended up working five years in children's programming (doing summer reading and story time programming as well as community outreach) in Atlanta before moving to Indianapolis," she added.
Tracy Hilton is writing a new chapter promoting reading and education for the Indianapolis Public Library.