AT THE LIBRARY
It’s the time of the year when we are making vacation, day trip, recreation and stay-cation plans. Some of us will go to the beach or camping, while others might choose a specific destination to visit relatives, see the sights, hike or fish. In Mifflin and Juniata counties, we are fortunate to be able to drive almost anywhere in the commonwealth in less than six hours. I decided this year I will not leave the state, but rather take a day or an overnight trip and rediscover Pennsylvania. So, like the good librarian I am, I used my local public library resources and technology to make plans.
If you have not mucked about on our new A to Z the USA database, you can log on to our website. On the home page, click on the A to Z icon. Enter your library card number and start your trip. A to Z the USA covers all 50 states, five territories and Washington, D.C., with topics ranging from state animals and plants, historical timelines, maps, census information and much more. Delve into the diversity and history of the United States.
While this database is aimed at school assignment report writers, and is really a summary of factual information about each state, there are some unique features. Did you know: “Prior to the arrival of William Penn and his Quaker colonists in 1682, up to 90 percent of what is now Pennsylvania was covered with woods: more than 31,000 square miles (80,000 km) of eastern white pine, eastern hemlock and a mix of hardwoods. In fact, Penn named the state in honor of his father, adding “sylvania,” Latin for “woodlands,” to the family surname.” Somehow I missed this fact in 9th grade PA history class.
Our official state cookie, designated in 2001, is sugar cookies and there is even a recipe. When I was a child I used to like to go into my Poppa’s garage and see the old license plates. This database has the history of PA plates. Baseball card collectors will love the page of vintage baseball cards. However, our own native son, Fred Frankhouse is not included, which leads me to believe that this database, while good, is limited in its information. However, it’s a great overview tool and the maps feature is helpful.
If you are a Facebook user, there is a terrific page called “Only in Pennsylvania.” When you like and follow this page, you will be introduced to unusual places, and suggested road trips to parks, ice cream stores, pizza, waterfalls, cheese wonderlands and 150 mouthwatering wings restaurants, just to name a few. Off the beaten path, small town businesses and local attractions offer an eclectic choice from the standard Liberty Bell, Hershey Park or Pittsburgh Zoo destinations. Would anyone consider going on the ice cream road trip with me?
As I get older, I am more and more content with stay-cations and armchair vacations. I checked our card catalog for Pennsylvania guide/tour books and unfortunately, many of our titles are older and somewhat out of date. We are working to remedy that, even as I write this column. But, I did find 224 fiction titles with a PA setting. Have you read the Pennsylvania Dutch Mystery with Recipes series? There are 18 books in this series so I have my next armchair vacation all set.
On April 20, The Sentinel’s Living section had itineraries for local locations and self-directed tours. What a great way to spend a day or two for the price of a tank of gas. Take a look at the Juniata River Valley Visitor’s Bureau (jrvvisitors.com) for additional ideas. Other options can be found at the official tourism website of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community and Economic Development (visitPA.com).
Whatever your plans for the summer, remember to take a book (in whatever format you choose) because no vacation is complete without visiting the world inside the pages of a story.
Molly S. Kinney is the director of the Mifflin County Library and has traveled into 1940s Britain with Jacqueline Winspear’s “To Die But Once” (Maisie Dobbs #14).