This is the 19th in a series of guest posts by Abigail Van Gelder, who with her husband, Josh, is journeying across the country on the Library’s “Gateway to Knowledge” traveling exhibition:
After spending almost an entire month in Texas, we were beginning to feel like residents, sporting cowboy hats and all. Before we left Athens, Texas, Judge Richard Sanders ensured that we would miss the state. During a ribbon cutting, he shared with area students his deep love for the Library of Congress. While working for Rep. Jed Hensarling, he spent many hours in the institution’s reading rooms. His knowledge and passion for the Library’s mission was something both Josh and I understand well.
While we did have to leave Texas, our southern adventures were just starting. A torrential downpour during our stop in Pearl, Miss., gave a truck full of firefighters a good excuse to come inside. Usually we can tempt skeptical guests with the promises of air conditioning, but this time a dry place to have a moment of calm did it.
You can’t do a national tour without some stops in sunny Florida, right? Next time I complain about my job, remind me of March in Florida instead of Michigan. We were able to cover north and central Florida over a few weeks of beautiful weather. Clear skies and temperatures in the mid 80s kept our exhibit filled with students and community members.
Many of the show dates coincided with the area’s spring break schedule. To see students coming with their parents was a nice change of pace. It was great to see how parents take on the educator role and share special connections to the Library with their children.
After our show in Brooksville, Fla., a teacher there shared with me that one of her seventh grade students wanted to add a visit to the Thomas Jefferson Building to her “bucket list.” We should all add such things.