Iowa School Librarian Requirement Saved

Recently there was an effort in the Iowa General Assembly to remove the requirement that there be at least one librarian and nurse in every school district. This is being done under the ideal of local control. That is something that I also believe in to as an ideal, but there are certain times and places when the state government needs to step in to ensure something happens. There are times when people making the laws for the state may know things (through constituents reaching out) that the local school board isn’t aware of.  For example, study after study proves a student in a school with an active library program and a well supported library achieves more than a student without these things. Another example of this kind is requiring certified teachers which is done on a state level, not a local level. That’s the way to think of this requirement. There are times when the state should step in and I think having a librarian and more so an information literacy program is one of them.
I’ll note here that I worked as a school librarian in two K-12 school districts. However, I’m not employed in one now and I don’t really even know many K-12 librarians any more so this isn’t about me wanting to save anyone’s job. This is about what’s best for the state in creating an educated population.
I’m happy to say the amendment was killed. Below I’m reposting with permission the statement from the Iowa Library Association about this attempt to remove librarians from our schools.
If you want to know more about this instance or about efforts to support libraries and information literacy in schools, or for support for libraries across the board a good place to start is EveryLibrary’s post and then on to the rest of their page.

This from Dan Chibnall, ILA President:

Last evening [Ed. Note: February 28, 2019], the [Iowa General Assembly] Senate Education Committee met to discuss SSB 1190, the bill that contained language striking the requirements for teacher librarians and nurses in Iowa schools. As of last night, that threat no longer exists.

During the committee meeting, Sen. Mark Lofgren proposed an amendment striking the teacher librarian and nurse language from the bill. It passed by voice vote with no opposition. The bill now goes to the full Senate but our teacher librarian colleagues are safe.

Katy Kauffman, the 2019 Iowa Association of School Librarians President, wrote a great email last night to her IASL members and I’m going to borrow a little from that here so you know who was all involved in leading these efforts. The IASL Board, Lisa Beal (IASL Advocacy Chair), Karla Krueger, Joan Taylor, Mike Wright, Zach Stier, Shannon Miller, Cara Stone, Dara Schmidt, and Amanda Vazquez. There were others too, on listservs and social media, in email threads and at the Capitol. Thank you all for your hard work.

I want to give a special shout-out to our incredible lobbyists, Craig Patterson and Amy Campbell. Without them I don’t know where we would be. Thank you so much. Also, another special shout out to EveryLibrary, who came in at the 11th hour to help us in our time of need. If you’re not familiar with them, visit their site and get to know them. Patrick “P.C.” Sweeney and John Chrastka were so helpful with language and for helping us setup on their site to get the emails rolling. They also put together this website telling the story of our victory last night. I recommend you all take a look and share it with others:

I cannot thank all of you enough for your incredible efforts to help make this win a reality. When I ran for ILA President years ago, I talked quite a bit about the importance of communication between librarians, libraries, and our legislators. Last night those communication efforts paid off and I was so impressed by the sheer volume of your voices, telling your stories and sticking together with your colleagues across the state. Bravo to all of you. Let’s keep those voices loud and clear for our Legislative Day on March 13th at the [Iowa] Capitol.

If you have a few minutes today, please consider emailing or calling the senators who helped us last night and thank them for their tireless work and their votes.


Iowa Genealogical Society to Hold Fall Conference

My great-grandparents and me

Posting this as a service to the Iowa Genealogical Society, but if you’re interested in Genealogy and Trundlebed Tales. Here’s where to start. I haven’t gone, but I hear it’s a great event. It’s on my life goals list. – SSU

Posted on behalf of the Iowa Genealogical Society—please send questions to Kevin Spire at

Iowa Genealogical Society to Hold Fall Conference

The Iowa Genealogical Society (IGS) will hold their Fall Conference on October 12-13, 2018 at the State Historical Society of Iowa Resource Center, 600 East Locust Street, Des Moines, Iowa. Registration is from 8:00 to 8:45 AM.

Lisa Louise Cooke will present six programs over the two-day event:

  • How to Organize all this Genealogy Stuff
  • Reconstruct Your Ancestor’s Life with Google
  • How Alice the Genealogist Avoids Falling Down the Rabbit Hole
  • How to Reopen and Work a Genealogy Cold Case
  • Google Earth for Genealogy
  • Inspiring Ways to Capture the Interest of the Non-genealogist in Your Family.
Cooke, is the producer and host of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, an online genealogy audio show. She is the author of The Genealogist Google Toolbox, Mobile Genealogy, How to Find Your Family History in Newspapers, and Genealogy Gems: Ultimate Research Strategies as well as the Google Earth for Genealogy video. She is a writer, instructor and podcaster for Family Tree Magazine. She has been featured as a keynote speaker and presenter at conferences and seminars such as Who Do You Think You Are?, Live in London, Roots Tech and the National Genealogical Society Conference.
In addition, Tony Jahn, State of Iowa Archivist will present an update on events and changes at the State Historical Library and Archives. Attendees can choose one from the following topics during a Breakout Session: Open House Tour of the State Historical library and Archives; Census and Squirrels by Linda Greenhurst; or International Round Tables covering English, German, Irish, Italian and Scandinavian research.
Conference fee, which includes lunch, is due by September 29, 2018. Fees will increase after that date. Non-members may purchase a one-year membership and be eligible to attend this conference at the reduced rate. The membership also provides reduced rates on other conferences and classes held at the IGS library as well as additional benefits. For more information, call 515.276.0287 or to register for the conference, go to

Take Your Class to a Day in a One-Room School

19th century teacher sitting at desk
Sarah at Teacher Desk in Stone Academy – Solon, Iowa

Every spring and fall I work with the Johnson County (IA) Historical Society to put together an opportunity for schools in the area to step back in time. Classes come on a field trip to take their students back to 1876.

One-Room School in Coralville, Iowa

Coralville’s one-room school is actually a two story brick structure. Coralville thought they were going to boom and so built a bigger two story building thinking they’d soon need more than one class. Unfortunately for them, instead Coralville faced several setbacks. It was decades before they needed to use the second floor as a classroom. By the time they built a graded elementary school – Coralville Central – in 1950, they were running one class on each floor plus one in the town hall (recently moved across the street from the school) and one in the old fire department.

Experience for Students

The elementary classes study the time period before they come and each is assigned a character. Most of these characters are based on actual students who attended the school that year, but some have been added to support current large class sizes.

Students dress up and act out their role as I lead them through a taste of what life was like in a late 19th century one-room school. I serve as a historical interpreter helping the students understand the what and the why as we go through some of the classes they’d have in a one-room school.

Learn more about the program, including the lesson plans and preparation handouts.

Whether You Live Close or Farther Away

Do you live locally? Suggest to your school they come.

Do you live some place else? Look for a one-room museum near you. Most have a school program of some kind.

Sarah S. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many times at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. She is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic, and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. How can you help? Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, look at her photos, and find her on Facebook , Twitter , Google+LinkedIn , SlideShare, and . Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and former director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Mary Ingalls Society Report Fall 2017

A report from the Iowa School for the Blind and Sight Saving School for Fall 2017. The future of the School for the Blind building and artifacts is in doubt, but if you want to do your part to encourage continued activities in Vinton please consider a membership. If visiting the blind school is important to you, do it as soon as you can – Sarah S. Uthoff

IBSSS Mary Ingalls Society Member Sheet

Blind School from hospital
Blind School from hospital

Dear Members and Friends:

October 2017 marks the 5th year the IBSSS Mary Ingalls Society has been working with the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School.  It is also time to renew memberships.  With that in mind we thought we would share some highlights from this past year.

  • It has been a busy year that has brought over 600 people, from many other states as well as Iowa, through the front doors of Old Main. The number includes 6 bus tours and at our October 15 “Prairie Fiddle” show in the Auditorium.
  • In October 2016, through our “Lot 31 Project”, we dedicated a monument and headstones at Evergreen Cemetery in Vinton. They now mark the graves of students from the School who had been laid to rest there in the late 1800s and early 1900s without permenant monuments.
  • October 2016 also saw us making a presentation to the Iowa Board of Regents outlining our position on the disposition of historical artifacts and records for the School in light of the Board’s decision to sell the campus property. Our focus centered on the preservation of Old Main and maintaining the historically significant items there.
  • Throughout the year we continued the work of cataloguing and preserving historic records and photos. We used grant money obtained through the Benton County Community Foundation and your generous membership gifts on the following projects.  60 VCR tapes were digitized for easier viewing and use.  Newspaper and scrap book articles dating from the 1950s through the 1980s were moved from folders in file drawers to acid free clear protective sleeves and stored in acid free boxes making them easy to view and available for use in displays and programs.  Some of these articles  accompanied us to a presentation at the State Lions Meeting in Cedar Rapids in June.  Acid free sheets for photos are now being filled to further enhance their preservation and ease of use in displays.  Additional storage boxes have also been purchased and filled with various archival materials.
  • In May 2017 we marked our second year for the Vinton-Shellsburg 6th graders to visit the campus. We are excited to tell you there are plans for the next group to visit in May 2018.  The School also hosted a group of secondary students belonging to a group called, Future Leaders of America.  Making this school connection has been a goal of ours since the beginning, and we continue to look at ways to expand our outreach to other schools in Benton County and beyond.
  • We participated in and had a display for the Rare Book event held at the Cedar Rapids Library.
  • This year has also marked a continuation of a great working relationship between the Mary Ingalls Society and the School’s alumni. They have been valuable allies in working on preservation of artifacts and have proven to be the highlights for many of our tour groups.

None of this work would have been possible without the participation of the IBSSS Mary Ingalls Society’s  members/supporters.  We sincerely thank you and invite you to renew your membership/support.  If you are not a member, we invite you to join us in this work.


Mary Ingalls Society

Laura and the Butter Cow

GREAT NEWS! Laura Ingalls Wilder will be attending the best fair in the country this August! (OK, Texas might have a bit of an argument with that, but honestly we’re the one they wrote a book about see State Fair by Phil Stong – or watch the movies.)

The Iowa State Fair has announced:

The Iowa State Fair Butter Cow heads to the prairie with her companion sculpture, Laura Ingalls Wilder! In 2017, Laura Ingalls Wilder will be cast in 100% cream butter to celebrate her 150th birthday. Stop into the Agriculture Building and see Laura, along with a replica of the official Solheim Cup trophy, all sculpted in butter August 10-20.

George Washington Carver carved in Butter
George Washington Carver in Butter – One of my all time favorites

So What’s a Butter Cow?

A butter cow is one of those things that are unique to State Fairs. Other fairs still have them, but the Iowa State Fair’s is famous. The line to view this year’s cow reaches the full length of the Agriculture building. The tradition in Iowa began in 1911. They are part of the long tradition of showing off your agricultural products to help boost sales. The butter cow was a bit of a late comer to the tradition since to really be viable you needed a refrigerated case.

There had been a series of sculptors with the most famous being Norma “Duffy” Lyon who did a butter cow from 1960 to 2006. In 2007 her apprentice Sarah Pratt took over and has worked on the butter cows ever since.

Learn more about the butter cows and find links to Iowa Public Television’s news stories about them through the years:

Butter Cow Line
Butter Cow Line

Beyond the Cow

The focus used to be all cow, all the time. However, every so often an occasional second sculpture joined and starting in at least 1996 one has appeared every year.

This year they’ve chosen someone whose 150th birthday is this year and some sports thing.

In 2017, Laura Ingalls Wilder will be cast in 100% cream butter to celebrate her 150th birthday. Laura Ingalls Wilder spent part of her childhood in Burr Oak, Iowa and her sister Mary attended the Vinton School for the Blind in Iowa. Various birthday celebrations and festivals are happening across the Midwest in recognition of her birthday. More butter please- West Des Moines will be host to the international golf tournament for women. Sarah Pratt, Iowa State Fair butter sculptor since 2006 will be bringing a little bit of the Solheim Cup to the Iowa State Fair as she creates a replica of the official trophy. Both Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Solheim Cup trophy will be on display with the Butter Cow in the John Deere Agriculture Building throughout the Fair. 

Viewing Tips

The butter cow is located on the agricultural products section of the Agriculture Building on the Iowa State Fair grounds in Des Moines, Iowa. The statues are only displayed during the actual run of the fair, this year August 10-20. A line forms to walk directly in front of the glass case. Normally you can get a semi-decent view from passing on the other side of the line or from the top of the balcony on the opposite side but either will be partially blocked by the line directly in front of the case.

Be aware that standard practice now is to demonstrate the sculpting during the fair so early in the run of the Fair Laura may not be fully done.

For tips about visiting the Iowa State Fair in general check out my touring plans on my podcast:

Snow White - Another all time favorite
Snow White – Another all time favorite

News Coverage

I’m sure there will be a lot of coverage of this as the fair goes on but these two articles are first out of the gate.

Thank You

I also want to send thanks to DMACC and Kelly Pelzel who sent me the news.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on  Facebook,  Twitter,  Google+LinkedIn, and Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

One More On the Way: Niland Cafe

I’ve posted about the famous Lincoln Highway (now roughly followed by US 30) before, but it wasn’t more than a few years ago that I learned there was a Jefferson Highway (now roughly followed by US 69) too that went north-south. (The Lincoln Highway goes east-west.) The Jefferson Highway had the advantage of a neat nickname. It was known as Pine to Palm. Where these two once mighty roads cross is the little town of Colo, Iowa.


Bypassed For Bigger Roads

Much like Route 66, in the dilemma depicted in Cars, towns that once made their living off travelers stopping found themselves drying up as they were bypassed and larger and newer restaurants, gas stations, etc were built to cater to the interstate traveler. These Lincoln Highway gas stations establishments were actually small garages – where they could fix cars as well as pump gas – despite being a lot smaller than those we know today.  They had a porch extending out from the building and usually featured those globe top gas pumps that are prized by collectors today. (Those globes lit up and helped guide motorists in at night before the days when it was always as light as daylight by a gas station.) One famous manufacturer of the pumps was the Tolkheim company that designed all sorts of pumps for various purposes right here in Cedar Rapids, Iowa – visit a display on them at Ushers Ferry Historic Village.

The Mom and Pop Cafe

lincoln-and-jeffersonNearby was often a mom and pop style cafe and sometimes the type of motel that was small individual cabins. You will sometimes see these buildings still there or preserved as museums or rotting by the side of the road. It’s much rarer to find one up and working. There is the Youngsville Cafe near the turn off 30 to Vinton, Iowa, but this is the only example I know of where you can actually eat in the real cafe (now themed with Lincoln and Jefferson Highway artifacts) AND stay in the real hotel. The gas station is just a regular type museum that displays artifacts from the two roads that you can view from the outside.

The pole above is inside the restaurant. It dates to a time before roadsigns when highways were designated by painting on telegraph, telephone, or electrical poles whichever were close to the road. The L is the symbol for the Lincoln Highway and the JH symbol is for the Jefferson Highway.

Cabin Type Motel to Stay In

This motel isn’t QUITE that old. This version of the motel was built in the 1940s as one of the first “modern” motels in Iowa which basically meant the cabins were smashed together in a row sharing interior walls. Six units were restored to resemble the 1940s period in 2008, except with updates like bathrooms, wireless access, cable and self-controlled heating and cooling.

Reed/Niland Cafe

Named for two sets of owners, Reed/Niland Corner was originally started in the 1920s. In 2003 it was restored to the 1940s and serves a roughly 1940s style menu. They advertise “hot beef sandwiches, ham and bean soup with corn muffin and homemade pies.” Plus milkshakes from a real milkshake machine.

I’ve stopped there twice and eaten there once. It’s worth a stop, especially if you’re tracing one of the routes or if you’re passing nearby on the modern Highway 30.

If you’ve read  A Little House Traveler, these are the types of places where Laura and Almanzo would have stopped on their journeys, so try it for yourself.

**I will note that service was not great at the cafe when we were there. They were understaffed. I understand that, but we were not offered any of the apologies that servers normally give to customers in that situation (we were there before a large group came in and only got a chance to order well after them). In fact, we were pretty much ignored for long stretches of time. I had to get up and walk over to the waitress for her to take our order. After we finished we had to wait a long time for the check even after hunting down the waitress again to ask for it until finally we gave up and asked at the cash register to get our bill. I have not had anyone else I’ve talked to about the cafe who had had this kind of experience, so we probably just caught them on a bad day, but I thought it was fair to say.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on  FacebookTwitterGoogle+, LinkedIn, and Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.

Mary Kopsieker RIP

Mary Making a Corncob Doll
Mary Making a Corncob Doll

I’m sorry to announce belatedly that Mary Kopsieker has passed on. We normally got in contact when there was a Laura event. I was a little surprised she didn’t contact me or show up for Bill Anderson’s talk at Hoover this last Labor Day or respond to my e-mail about it, but I was busy around then so I didn’t think too much about it. I just sent postcard Christmas cards in 2015 because we were busy with our Disney trip so I also didn’t really think it was that important that I didn’t get a Christmas card back which I normally did and postcards aren’t returned if the address is wrong. So I was kind of shocked when I got my Christmas card returned this year and when I searched for her online I found her obituary and discovered that she had passed away August 4, 2015.

Continued Laura Connection

Mary had been an early visitor to the homesites, going with a friend, and had lots of stories to tell of those early days. One great story was that she had gone to DeSmet for one of the anniversaries and told about taking a tour of the town riding via a hay ride (square bales on a hay wagon). After that friend passed on she didn’t really feel comfortable traveling all that way by car alone so she didn’t go for some time.

She did come with me to the original De Smet event in 2005 and went on the 2007 tour Burr Oak organized to Malone. You might have met her there. She co-presented with me at the Laura themed Hawkeye Doll Club workshop in 2008. My post about that continues to be one of most visited blog posts.  She’s also the one that visited the What Cheer Opera House with me when we were planning the doll club workshop. She attended pretty much every Laura event within a reasonable drive and still presented on Laura at her local school and libraries.

Mary by Memorial
Mary by Memorial

Still Active

She was an avid flutist and continued to travel to the national flute convention each year (by plane which she felt much more comfortable traveling on her own). Since she was still traveling extensively and very active it was quite a shock to find that she had suddenly passed away.


Terrible Reminder

This is also a reminder for all Laura collectors that you need to make arrangements for your collection officially in your will or go ahead and pass it along as you get older. Her Laura collection didn’t go where she had always said she was going to leave it and my guess is – since her family didn’t care anything about Laura – that it got pitched or was included in her estate auction which probably also lead to most of it being pitched. So don’t let all the work you put in gathering your Laura collection go to waste. Tell your family where you want it to go with contact information and spell it out in your will – I have.

Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on FacebookTwitterGoogle+ LinkedIn, and Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.