SPRINGFIELD – These days, the fountain outside the steps of Springfield City Hall and the Springfield Public Library has been a mecca for children trying to beat the heat. Daily, kids have been wading through the shallow water, welcoming a spritz from the cascading fountain and pushing a playful splash onto their young comrades.
On July 19, the location also served as the perfect spot to host the launch of “A to Z Springfield,” an alphabet book curated by both the Springfield Museum and the Library, which served as a passion project to “uplift local artists and bring the community together” according to Mindy Linder, Springfield’s community engagement outreach specialist.
On July 19, families gathered at the fountain to celebrate the release and listen to a live reading of the book. The book is fully bilingual in English and Spanish, as demonstrated by Springfield mayor Sean Van Gordon, who read the English portion, followed by community leader Johanis Tadeo, who read in Spanish.
“I’m really excited for it. Oftentimes we talk about the distinctive Springfi eld experience and I had a really distinctive experience hearing our story and seeing it in this book,” Van Gordon said.
The event was organized by Maddy McGraw, curator of the Springfield History Museum and Taylor Worley, youth services librarian for the Springfield Public Library. “A to Z Springfield” is the first collaborative project between the two entities, according to McGraw. “On all the pages you’ll see a bit of the library and a bit of the museum. That is one of the things that I’m most proud of with this project,” McGraw said.
Springfield mayor Sean Van Gordon reads the English portion of “A to Z” followed by community leader Johanis Tadeo in Spanish.
The book features 55 local artists, the youngest being two years old. The majority of the artists were there to sign their pages for anyone purchasing a copy, like the “D page” artist, Josiah Martin, age 8, who drew Dorris Ranch. Martin said he chose Dorris Ranch because it is his go-to place to ride bikes with his family in the summer.
John Douglas, age 12, drew the zig-zag bridge at Dorris Ranch for the letter “Z.” Douglas said that Dorris Ranch is one of his most frequented locations, and he chose to draw the zig-zag bridge because it’s the first thing he thinks of when he thinks of Dorris Ranch.
“We wanted to create a project that could bring Springfield together during a pandemic and inspire pride in Springfield during a time when we couldn’t spend a lot of time together … We wanted people to get all the ‘warm and fuzzies’ when looking through this book.” said Worley.