Cedar Rapids Public Library Flood Update 2008

I’m reposting with permission an update about the Cedar Rapids Public Library. I would like to add that despite an early hopeful report in the Gazette that has appeared on some Geneaology message boards, the Geneaology collection is definitely gone. The good news is that their letter from Laura Ingalls Wilder, in addition to the rest of their original children’s illustration collection is safe and in a climate controlled atmosphere until it can be returned to the library. You can follow up and find out about access to the library and its services on their temporary webpage, here: http://crlibrary.info

The rest of this message is from their acting director.
Sarah Uthoff

First, I want to thank all of you for the tremendous outpouring of support and concern we have received from our wonderful Iowa library community.  Moral support has been sorely needed, and you have all been very generous to us.  Thank you!


Second, I want to update you on our library’s progress.  It’s been a pretty wild month, but we have been bolstered by fantastic support from our Board, support groups, city government & community.  I’ll boil it down to the basics:  Our facility received about 5 feet of water on the main floor.  It was unsafe for us to enter for a couple weeks after the flooding, which limited what we were able to save. We estimate (very roughly) that about 2/3 of our collection was lost.  The children’s illustration collection is safe, as are the 2nd floor books (mostly children’s books.)


We are currently operating out of our West Side Branch in Westdale mall.  Bear in mind that our Main library is about 85,000 square feet, and West Side is 2,600 square feet. That will give you an idea of the tight quarters.  The mall management has generously donated a couple extra empty storefronts that approximately double the space we have there (around 5,000 SF with the addition.)  We are planning to open our “West Side Annex” with a Grand Opening celebration on August 1. 


Many of our staff has been assigned to help other city departments during this emergency. We’re grateful for this opportunity to keep our people employed until we are able to re-open in a larger space (as yet to be determined.)  Our downtown library will probably not be useable for at least a year. Our staff is fantastic!


Five of our own staff members suffered significant flood damage to their homes; two people lost their homes completely.


The library’s email server is still down. I have re-subscribed to this listserv using a city email address, so please use this address if you need to contact me.


We’re truly lucky in so many ways.  A third of our collection is intact, our building appears to have survived, our staff remains with us, and people have been wonderful to us.  We’re counting our blessings every day.


We’ve mourned our losses, and we’re ready to move ahead.  Readers rebuild!!

Tamara Glise





Laura Ingalls Wilder Counting Book

I was poking around the Hoover website and I don’t remember seeing this before.  I thought it was kind of cute and wanted to share.


Book: Herbert Hoover and West Branch by Joan Liffring Zug and John Zug

This booklet came out in 1974. I really enjoyed its short view of the relationship between Hoover and his birthplace West Branch, Iowa. It includes things that you don’t see elsewhere like when Presidents have come to visit West Branch. It also offers detailed descriptions and dates for some commonly reproduced images to help provide a date for them. Rare images include things like an ad for Jesse Hoover’s implement dealership, a Hoover letter explaining his Tommyknocker, and Hoover’s bathtub cable to Truman. Other rare images include very early photos of the birthplace, Hoover’s return visits to West Branch, and Hoover’s burial. I was especially pleased to see the photo of Hoover’s parents’s graves. Frankly it just never occurred to me that they were buried somewhere close by and now they are on my list to seek out during my next visit to West Branch. Although, this little booklet is long out of print, keep an eye out for a copy Hoover fans.

McGuffey Museums in Oxford, Ohio

The early association of McGuffey with Miami University led them to collect his papers and various editions of his readers. The special collections library holds most of this material. There are finding aids are on the following link. Scroll down to William Holmes McGuffey. There are several different finding aids, several with much more information than typical finding aids. http://spec.lib.muohio.edu/publications.php

A digital scan and transcription of McGuffey’s papers is available here: http://doyle.lib.muohio.edu/cdm4/mcguffey

For many years, there was a special display of McGuffey material in the library. This included the 8 sided lazy susan style desk to keep multiple tasks open at once, the way we keeps multiple windows open on our computers today. After years of service as a private home and with various university functions, the house was purchased in 1958 and has been restored to a similar condition to when the McGuffeys lived there.  The McGuffey objects previously on display in the library are now on display in the home. The house is pictured above.
The museum produces a quarterly newsletter known as The McGuffey Report Card. Unfortunately they do not offer postcards, but they have started a series of McGuffey themed Christmas tree ornaments with a new issue every year.

The McGuffey bust off the McGuffey Memorial in front of McGuffey Hall
The McGuffey bust off the McGuffey Memorial in front of McGuffey Hall

Also, on campus, is a McGuffey statue in front of McGuffey hall. The statue consists of a bust with a smaller statue of three children reading from a McGuffey reader behind them.

Often times people say the McGuffey Readers are like those Laura read, but the biggest period of McGuffey Readers had already passed before Laura came along and she didn’t use them. In Walnut Grove she used the Watson Independent Reader and De Smet used the Swinton series (with a few other texts also required). However, according to one author, part of the McGuffey appeal was there emphasis on proper public speaking and reading aloud and that tradition was certainly alive and well in Laura’s education.

UPDATE 2014: I have more McGuffey links to add. One is the text of the program given at the conference by the lady in charge of the McGuffey special collection

The other is a children’s information sheet put out by the National Park Service.

McGuffey and His Readers – Book on Internet Archive

Find McGuffey’s grave on FindaGrave:

Find reprints of the 1836 version from Mott Media:

Find reprints of  a later version from John Wiley and Sons:

Sarah S. Uthoff 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.Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on  FacebookTwitterGoogle+,  LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is currently acting President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.