Gateway to Knowledge Guest Post #16

This is the 16th 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:

It’s hard to believe that we have reached stop #30 with the Gateway to Knowledge Tour.  We have rolled into 13 states now, putting on about 33,000 miles since departing from the MRA shop – our truck’s home base in Michigan.  I can’t say that there has been a typical day yet – from the blazing temperatures we saw in Washington at the National Book Festival to a blizzard in Janesville, Wisc. – there is never a dull moment.  Neither the heat nor the snow has kept folks from coming to see us.  Even a snow day in Michigan couldn’t keep parents from stopping by with their bundled-up kids to take advantage of the exhibit.

Howell, Mich., Jan. 7-8

One real treat in 2011 has been the increasing number of student groups that come to the exhibit and have an opportunity for a very in-depth introduction to America’s Library.  Josh and I have a great deal of fun answering questions; one of the most popular is about the “Book of Secrets.”  It’s heartwarming to have students tell you their favorite part was reading about Thomas Jefferson’s rough draft of the Declaration of Independence and how they think the Library is cool.  I’ve met more future curators for the Library than can be counted.  There is a comment book inside the exhibit, and our young guests often write about enjoying learning about American and world history.

I’m writing this as we roll along another strikingly beautiful highway, this one through the Ozark Mountains.  Even though we have been smothered in snow most of this winter, visiting the rural tour stops gives us a chance to leave the interstates and see amazing views.  I already loved the view from my seat, but every day has something new to gawk at.

Freemont, Neb., Jan. 14-15

I encourage everyone to keep visiting the Gateway page, check for newly released stops and if you see us drive by, give a wave!


  1. Nora Quinlan
    February 12, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    Hi – I am a librarian at Nova Southeastern University in Davie, FL near Ft. Lauderdale.

    Are you planning to bring this exhibit down to south Florida — we would love! to host it.

    We are a unique joint use public academic library and we are about to celebrate our 10th anniversary —

  2. Craig Scott
    February 12, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    Can’t wait till you arrive in Gadsden, Alabama! We’re looking forward to hosting you on April 1st and 2nd!

  3. Gary
    February 13, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Just a quick question about the Gateway to Knowledge traveling exibit. Why is it not accessible to the disabled ? There were steps and going inside the exibit. Where was the ramp? I have two artificial legs and was unable to view this exibit. What about people in wheelchairs? What about elderly who have trouble with steps? I am very troubled about this exibit not being able to be enjoyed by everyone.

  4. evelyn
    February 15, 2011 at 2:47 pm

    Hello, I really didn’t want to ask this in the blog, but why are the hours so short. For the stop scheduled in San Angelo, Texas, the exhibit will only be open 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Most people work during those hours and their children are in school. I would love to bring my children, but I live away from the city and by the time they got out of school and I could pick them up, we would maybe have 5 minutes.

  5. John Sayers
    February 16, 2011 at 2:32 pm

    Gary, the Gateway unit does indeed have ADA-compliant accessibility. There is a lift is located in the rear of the unit. You simply need to let the docents know of your need, and they’ll assist.

  6. John Sayers
    February 16, 2011 at 2:34 pm

    Evelyn, the Gateway hours are determined in concert with the local host site contact, e.g., the school principal or the library director. Typical hours are from 10-6 but in some cases have been modified to cater to the local interests. The hours are posted on the Gateway website as soon as they are finalized so that visitors can plan in advance. Another factor in our timing is the to allow our docent drivers rest time and travel time between locations.

  7. Gary
    February 19, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Hi John
    Thank you for the reply. This disabled entrance should have been made obvious beforehand, though. I did not see a way in for disabled, nor did the elderly couple I talked to. They did as I did. We just left. I wonder how many other people in other cities left because they did not know about this entrance.

  8. Brian MacWithey
    February 24, 2011 at 11:25 am

    How can a library become a host to this traveling exhibition? We would like to host it here in Fredericksburg, TX.

  9. Raphael Sarmiento
    February 25, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    For Alexander Hamilton, only lifelong terms could check the “amazing violence & turbulence of the democratic spirit.”

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