An exhibit almost two years in the planning is set to open at the Waupaca Area Public Library.
“Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War” opens in the library’s exhibit room on Monday, Aug. 16, and runs through Sept. 25.
The Waupaca Area Public Library is the only library in Wisconsin that will host the touring exhibit from the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
Waupaca’s library is among the original 25 libraries that received a $2,400 grant from the American Library Association and National Endowment for the Humanities to pay for the exhibit. The library was asked to match those funds. An additional 25 libraries throughout the country have since been selected to host the Lincoln exhibit.
“We went after it because it was an opportunity,” said Patsy Servey, who is the interlibrary loan librarian and exhibit room director at Waupaca’s library. “It was an opportunity to get a significant exhibit for the exhibit room. The library is always looking for ways to participate in historical and educational programs.”
It was about two years ago that the library learned the grant was available. She said the grant was only for libraries.
For Servey, it was the first grant she had written. About a year after she wrote it, the library learned it was among the 25 selected to host the exhibit.
Last year, she traveled to Philadelphia for a training session, and it was last September that the first library hosted the traveling exhibit.
As part of the grant, libraries had to commit to holding at least two humanities programs.
“We actually have seven major programs,” Servey said.
The exhibit opens next Monday, with the opening reception to be held from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The grand opening will include the singing of African slave spirituals. Waupaca High School choral director Dan Wolfgram will lead the choir. It will be followed by keynote speaker state Rep. Kevin Petersen. Plans call for the opening ceremony to be held on the library lawn, weather permitting.
Programs are planned for each of the six weeks that the exhibit is here.
There will be a Lincoln Log Building Contest, with the winners announced on Monday, Aug. 23, and a Lunch & Learn Lecture at noon Tuesday, Aug. 24, with professor David McKay. He will speak about “Lincoln, Slavery and the Jeffersonian Dilemma” in the library’s downstairs meeting room.
The Wisconsin Veterans Home, which began as a home for Civil War veterans, is also part of the programming. There will be walking tours of the veterans home from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, Aug. 30, to Friday, Sept. 3. On Thursday, Sept. 2, there will be a Supermarket of Veterans Benefits outreach program all day at the veterans home.
Servey said that of the libraries chosen to host the exhibit, Waupaca’s library is the only one to offer a program for veterans.
She was in Leadership Waupaca County at the time of the grant writing process. During the group’s visit to Madison, she asked a representative from Wisconsin’s Department of Veterans Affairs what could be done for the veterans.
Servey learned about the Supermarket of Veterans Benefits – a program that educates veterans about the benefits that are available to them.
“We thought it was a wonderful opportunity that we could do for the veterans. Originally, we thought about using the library. Due to space, we are having it at the veterans home,” she said.
In addition to the veterans home, the library has partnered with the Waupaca Historical Society, Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce, Waupaca School District and area individuals.
“When we found out we got the grant, we sent out information to as many people as possible,” Servey said. “They all turned out for the Planning Committee. We met once, and they went off in their directions.”
Other events planned in connection with the exhibit include a Civil War Encampment Sept. 10-12 at South Park, a film discussion at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 16, and a Winchester Academy program with Jack Rhodes at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20. The subject will be “Hollywood Images of the Civil War.”
Lincoln impersonator Fritz Klein will present a program at 6 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 23, in the library’s downstairs meeting room.
Servey said the Lincoln exhibit is a panel exhibit of five standing pieces that incorporates three main themes – divided, dissent and bound.
The exhibit will be enhanced with not only programs for the public but with Civil War photography of Kim Heltemes and Lincoln projects done by the third-grade classes of Mary Jo Tomaras, Melissa Durrant and Sheri Olsen. The photography and student projects will be on display in the library’s exhibit room.
Servey said that many of the libraries chosen to host the exhibit are in the southern part of the U.S. and are located on college campuses.
“Of the 25 libraries, between six and eight are public libraries or public library systems,” she said.
In Waupaca, the exhibit may be viewed during library hours.