A to Z : Alphabet book blends new and old

Youth services librarian at Springfield Public Library Taylor Worley, left, and Madeline McGraw, curator at the Springfield History Museum, collaborated on the book.

By RYLEIGH NORGROVE, [email protected] 

I think it’s fair to say that everyone responded to the pandemic a little differently. Some of us slunk into sedentary bliss. Some embraced new callings as bread bakers or couch potatoes. Others got mashing, roasting, and frying, becoming at-home gourmet chefs. A few of us got creative – while the rest of us fought off the guilt of not creating. However you rolled with the punches – I think it’s fair to say we all missed exchanging smiles on the sidewalk. And I’m happy to report that the Springfield Library and History Museum missed you, too.  

Springfield Public Library and Springfield History Museum’s first publication, Springfield A to Z, is finally hitting the press after a few unprecedented and challenging years. The alphabet book is a product of the pandemic and grew from a desire to find community in a time defined by that challenge. “We were really looking for a way to connect with our community whenever we couldn’t necessarily allow a lot of folks into the library,” said Taylor Worley, youth services librarian at Springfield Public Library. “We wanted to find something people could do in their own homes but still feel connected to each other. And that’s where this project came from.” 

In 2019, the Springfield Public Library received nearly 200 “medium kits” from their partner foundation, the Friends of the Springfield Library. FSL packed each kit with art supplies and tools to get creative at home. “We were able to use this as an opportunity to get people who were already stuck in their homes to be doing art, but then also giving them supplies. It helped us keep this whole process accessible and fun,” said Madeline McGraw, curator at the Springfield History Museum. Most of the artwork created using the “medium kits’’ was shipped back to the library and alphabetized, eventually filling the pages of Springfield A to Z. Around 70 submissions were received – some watercolor, some pastel, some acrylic – all showcasing the city of Springfield. 

McGraw curated a collection of historical photographs and artwork to accompany each letter, blending new with old. “For the museum, Springfield of the past exists in real-time all the time,” said McGraw. “With this book, the past, present, and future are all together in one community. Springfield has an identity, and that Springfield and its history belongs to everyone who lives here.” The project allowed McGraw to catalog and scan photos that have never been released to the public, which was a bonus, she said. 

Springfield A to Z displays the photography of library volunteer Don Gustavson, the translation work of Amy Costales and illustrations of 55 locals. The book is fully bi-lingual, featuring a land acknowledgment in both English and Spanish. “To reflect as many folks that live here, we wanted it to be as accessible as possible. And part of that is making sure as much of our materials that go out are translated as possible,” Worley said. 

To promote the book, SPL and SHM will be hosting events: a book launch on June 19 at 6 p.m. and a signing on August 20 at 2 p.m. At the June 19 event, Mayor VanGordon will be reading Springfield, A to Z, with another speaker reading in Spanish. 

The book is now available for pre-order through the Friends of the Springfield Public Library’s online bookstore. The book retails for $24.95, but shoppers can order their copies for 20% off the list price ($19.95) exclusively through the Friends’ store. Shoppers will be notified when their copies are ready for pick-up and can expect them to be available no later than July 19, 2022. All profits directly support Library and Museum programs and events through the Friends of the Springfield Public Library. If you’d like to look at the artwork used for Springfield, A to Z, it’s on display in the Springfield Public Library for the remainder of the month. 



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