by Colette Hayes
Ever since I learned about the pack horse librarians of the 1930s, I’ve been obsessed with them. The Pack Horse Library Project was initiated under Roosevelt’s New Deal and funded by the W.P.A. David Tabler, a blogger at www.appalachianhistory.net, explains:
“Established in 1935, the Pack Horse Library Project was aimed at providing reading materials to rural portions of Eastern Kentucky with no access to public library facilities. Librarians riding horses or mules traveled 50 to 80 miles a week up rocky creekbeds, along muddy footpaths, and among cliffs to deliver reading materials to the most remote residences and schools in the mountains. Some homes were so remote that the book women often had to go part of the way on foot, or even by row boat.”
I love this image of librarians — rolling up their sleeves, saddling up, and fearlessly galloping through the mud to get their job done. Similar economic conditions as well as a host of metaphorical mud puddles, steep climbs, and sudden cliffs exist for current information professionals. Thus, as I begin the MLIS program at SJSU, my goal is to become a pack horse librarian – that is, one who is confident of her skills and ready for the ride every day.