Mt Pleasant News
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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 22, 2017

Mt. Pleasant one of 50 libraries to receive Ken Burn’s ‘Vietnam War’ documentary

MP Public Library and IW Chadwick Library plan panel discussion about Vietnam War
Oct 31, 2017

By Karyn Spory, Mt. Pleasant News

 

The Mt. Pleasant Public Library and Iowa Wesleyan’s Chadwick Library will be hosting several Vietnam War related programs this winter as Mt. Pleasant was one of 50 libraries to receive a grant that included Ken Burn’s documentary “The Vietnam War.”

The grant was through the American Library Association, according to Jeffery Meyer, director of the Mt. Pleasant Public Library. “The American Library Association was working with PBS (which recently aired the documentary series) to distribute 50 (copies) of the documentary series to 50 different public libraries from across the country.

Meyer heard about the grant opportunity through Paula Wiley, reference and instruction librarian at Chadwick Library. This past summer, Wiley attended the American Library Association’s annual conference in Chicago, Ill. One of the sessions she attended was about the Vietnam War and programs libraries could put on to engage residents.

“I thought that sounded interesting and thought it would be a good thing for the college,” she said.

Wiley was really excited about the grant, until she realized it was for public libraries only. So Wiley contacted Meyer and the two began working on the grant application together. “He wrote up the grant proposal and sent it to me. I adjusted it a little bit with more of the college’s involvement and he submitted it and we won.”

According to Wiley, Mt. Pleasant was one of only two cities in Iowa to receive the grant. “There is also a public library in Dubuque that got a copy,” she said.

Wiley says she believes it was the partnership between the two libraries that allowed them to win one of the few copies. “We were speaking to specific things that I think they were looking for,” Wiley said of why Mt. Pleasant received the grant. Those specifics, she said, included the number of international students the university has, as well as the number of Asian-Americans and veterans living in Mt. Pleasant.

“I think what’s really unique about Mt. Pleasant is we’re a small town that has a lot of diversity. We’re a small town that has a lot of people from Southeast Asia and we’re a small town that has a lot of veterans,” said Meyer.

Besides a DVD copy of the documentary, the library also received a program guide and the book the series is based off. Meyer said the book will soon hit the shelves at the library. But the Vietnam War programming doesn’t stop there. The public library has already hosted a conversation about the war and Meyer has his sights set on more discussions. Wiley says Chadwick Library will hold showings for the documentary so students and members of the public can see Burn’s work free of charge.

In February, Meyer and Wiley plan to hold a Vietnam War Forum at Chadwick Library. Wiley says as of right now the forum is set for Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. “It will have several members of the community. We’re looking to get some veterans who would like to participate. We have a priest from Mt. Pleasant who is Vitenamese-American and was in Vietnam as a boy during the war,” said Wiley.

The panel also will consist of academics from the university as well as former Ambassador to Cambodia, Kenneth Quinn. Quinn is currently the President of the World Food Prize Foundation. “During the Vietnam War he was in the Foreign Service,” said Wiley. “He has actually received medals from the Army for his service at that time.”

Meyer said he is especially looking forward to the panel discussion in February. “We’re getting to the point where (the Vietnam War) was long ago enough that we can have a really interesting and I think meaningful conversation about Vietnam,” said Meyer.

For Meyer, receiving the documentary was just a jumping off point. Meyer said Burn’s documentary is a great conversation starter and that’s the purpose of the grant.

“We want conversation starters. We want people to discuss their different ideas, their memories and their interpretations of the Vietnam experience.”

Wiley is excited for how aspects of the grant and documentary will be incorporated in course work for students. “Joy Lapp teaches global issues and she’s going to incorporate that into her class as well,” Wiley said noting she knows of at least one history professor and education instructor who will add the Vietnam War and the upcoming discussion into their class.

Wiley added she was pleased to see how Mt. Pleasant receiving the grant was spreading into other aspects of the community.

For veterans interested in participating in the February panel, contact Wiley at 319-385-6268 or email her at paula.wiley@iw.edu.

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