Monday, September 29, 2008

Abe Lincoln in Hawaii?

As we celebrate the new Lincoln pennies, let us not forget the lost years Lincoln spent in Hawaii. Obviously, the time Lincoln spent surfing and finding himself in the 50th state benefited the nation.

OK, yes this humor. My thanks to Tom McMahon for this picture. His blog has sent a lot of traffic here over the last few years and I am happy to return the favor.

This fake Lincoln penny resonates with me for one reason. A few years back, I dealt with a reference question from a student seeking information on Hawaiian deaths in the American Civil War. I naively assumed the student was seeking information on Hawaiian Kingdom volunteers who fought for the Union or the rebels. It was a tough question.

However, after a more extensive reference interview, I discovered that the student had been tasked with finding information on the casualty rates of southern states in the war. As Hawaii is the most southern state in the Union, she assumed Hawaii had been a Confederate state and wanted more information...

As a librarian, I am an educator. I spent a good half hour teaching this patron about Hawaiian history. She was shocked to discover that Hawaii was not annexed to the USA until 1898 and did not join the Union until 1959. I am thankful that the reference desk was not busy when I talked with her. The desk is often backed up with patrons and had she come in at a busy time I would have had lesser opportunity to interact with her. She switched her emphasis to Georgia and we had great success in finding statistics.

Although I was a bit alarmed by her lack of knowledge of American history, I enjoyed the interaction. Us librarians can really make a difference at the reference desk.

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