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"That Book Woman" Makes a Special Delivery
"That Book Woman" Makes a Special Delivery
Posted on 10/28/2021
Pack Horse Librarian

First graders took a trip back to a unique time in American history when building young readers took a bit more effort. After reading the book, “That Book Woman,” students received a delivery of bookmarks, which was preceded by a delivery of books, from very special pack horse librarians.

In the book, nine-year-old Cal lives high in Kentucky’s Appalachian Mountains. While his sister Lark is an avid reader, Cal stubbornly resists her excitement over the consistent book deliveries from the dedicated pack horse librarian. Cal finally gives in and asks Lark to help him learn to read, and by the time the pack horse librarian appears again, she’s made another convert.

The pack horse librarians on horseback were none other than Sarah Cross, Avoca Elementary librarian, and Brooke Fleenor, Holston View librarian. Students from Anderson, Avoca, Fairmount, and Holston View took part in the event.

“I enjoyed seeing the looks of surprise on the children’s faces when they saw me coming on horseback with books,” Cross said.  “Whenever a book can be brought to life, it is a memorable experience. As the children in the story anxiously awaited the arrival of the librarian on horseback, our students were equally sharing the same feelings of anticipation of getting a new book to read.”

"I loved hearing squeals of excitement as I rode up," Fleenor said. "They were so excited and so surprised. It was truly a magical moment! One student even said, 'The story came to life.'"

Pack horse librarians delivered books on horseback to remote regions of the Appalachian Mountains in the late 1930s and early 1940s as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) project. The program provided books to many people, especially children, who would not otherwise have had access to them. At that time, the regions served by the Pack Horse Library program were suffering the effects of the Great Depression with scarce food, education, and economic opportunity. Literacy was seen as a means to escape poverty and improve their lives.

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