History room making do in pandemic
Monroe County Local History Room Director Jarrod Roll, as guest speaker at the Sparta Kiwanis Club’s weekly Zoom meeting Tuesday, Oct. 12, said there was one bright note in the COVID-19 pandemic.
“From the very beginning we were closed,” said Roll, preventing visits to MCLHR exhibits, public programs and research facilities.
Typically, some 12,000 people would have been served in the spring season. But Roll described how History Room activity continued. In his office-at-home he created a series of educational videos for 4th and 5th grade teachers’ Civil War studies.
MCLHR staffers, working with the Sparta Kiwanis Club, sponsored a successful citywide Scavenger Hunt for Sparta area students. MCLHR Museum Services Associate Hannah Scholze, uninterrupted, updated nearly one million key-word names for researchers. And most visible to the public, the MCLHR staff was able to paint the Research Library and Workroom walls and replace worn flooring.
Roll reminded Kiwanians of the MCLHR exhibit “Lost Voices of Mariel’ which chronicles the sudden arrival of 14,000 Cubans in Monroe County 40 years ago. He said MCLHR is already asking, ”What should we save that would speak of how the Pandemic has affected Monroe County?”
In June the Museum reopened for visitors and researchers. In keeping with COVID restrictions, reservations must be made by phone (608-269-8680) or by email (MCLHR@centurytel.net). The new holiday exhibit, The Toys We Love, featuring the top toys from the 1940s-1990s, opens November 19. 2020. As always, admission to the Museum is free.
Roll’s appearance coincided with the launching of the Local History Room Fund Drive. The Annual Fund provides two-thirds of the MCLHR budget, with the other third coming from fund raising efforts.
The Sparta Kiwanis Club, part of Kiwanis International, focuses on improving the lives of young people. In November it will begin a year-long celebration of its 100th anniversary.
It is seeking artifacts and stories related to its 100-year history as a Sparta-area service club. For more information contact Jim Liska, 608-269-6888. For membership information contact Doug Dengel, 608-269-2939.