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Books tell stories of great women

By Sara Grajek
Rowan Public Library
Throughout history, there have been many great women to look to as role models.
Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton and Rosa Parks made history by standing up for what they believed in and for those who needed their help.
We have made heroes out of these amazing women, and yet there are many other lesser known stories, just as much a part of our history, available at Rowan Public Library.
ěThe Mercury 13: The Untold Story of Thirteen American Women and the Dream of Space Flight,î which takes place in 1960 and 1961, is by Martha Ackmann. She writes of 13 women selected to undergo the same rigorous testing as the Mercury 7 astronauts (which included Alan Shepard and John Glenn).
Hoping to become astronauts, the women endured a battery of tests that at times seemed to border on torture. One such test, designed to see how a person would react to orbiting in a gravity-free state, required the insertion of a large syringe into the ear. Cold water was trickled into the test subjectís eardrum to throw off their balance.
Nurses evaluated how quickly ó or slowly ó the test subject reacted. Test subjects reported loss of movement in their hands, rapid movement of the eyeballs and staggering disorientation. The worst part was repeating it in the other ear.
While preparing for the third phase of testing, the 13 were informed by NASA that they would not be moving forward. Sending a woman into space was not a priority, and although the women of Mercury 13 had come further than any others in training, it would be 1983 before a woman astronaut made it into space.
ěThe Woman Behind the New Deal,î by Kirstin Downey, tells the life and achievements of Franklin D. Rooseveltís Labor Secretary. Frances Perkins became the first female Secretary of Labor, agreeing to take the post in 1933 just after a plunge in the American economy that sent real estate values plummeting, un-employment rising and the stock market into a free fall.
Firm in her belief that many thought themselves wealthy but had little savings, that companies had spent money on expensive machinery to boost productivity and employed fewer workers, Perkins created a list for the new president, hoping to make a difference.
After FDR was sworn in, he consulted with Perkins. She outlined her dream plan for revamping the Labor Department. In short, the department would need to provide work for the unemployed with short term public works projects, prohibit child labor, limit work days to eight hours, create a minimum wage, implement workers compensation, create unemployment compensation, provide social security for the elderly and move responsibility for immigration to another department.
In their final form, these would emerge as a series of programs and departments known as the New Deal.
Perkins came to the job with a strong background, having witnessed the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, served as an Industrial State Commissioner of New York ó making her the highest paid woman in government at the time ó and due to her talks on fire code and safety became known as a national expert on fire prevention.
Many women have played important roles in history that should be remembered. Browse Rowan Public Libraryís shelves to see whose story you can discover.
Computer classes: Classes are free. Sessions are approximately 90 minutes. Class size is limited and on a first-come, first-serve basis. Dates and times at all locations are subject to change without notice.
Headquarters ó Tuesday, 2 p.m., Absolute Beginners; May 16, 7 p.m., Uploading & Downloading Photos (basic computer skills required); May 23, 7 p.m., Microsoft Word 2003 (basic computer skills required).
South ó May 16, 7 p.m., Introduction to Heritage Quest; May 19, 11 a.m., Digital Photo Editing.
East ó Registration required for East Branch only. May 12, 1 p.m., Digital Photography: Part 1.
RPL Book Sale: Headquarters, Monday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.
Items for sale include hardbacks, paperbacks, videos and CDs. Everything $2 or less.
JRís Adventure Club: Headquarters, May 21, 11 a.m. The club will choose a project to build, and have books from the library and recommended websites that go along with the project. The club is open to all school-age children. Light refreshments will be served. Call 704-216-8234 to learn more.
Teens invited to meet authorCheralyn Lambeth: East Branch, May 24, 5:30 p.m. Lambeth will speak about the paranormal investigations that were used to create her ghost books and much more. She is a paranormal researcher and nonfiction author who has also worked on multiple feature films. Join us for this free teen event.
Roads Scholar program ěHard Times at the Millî: South, May 24, 7 p.m. Thanks to funding from N.C. Humanities Council and their Roads Scholar program, Dr. Roxanne Newton of Mitchell Community College is bringing her program ěHard Times at the Millî to the South Rowan Regional Library. The program is free and open to the public.
American Girl Club: Headquarters, May 28, 11 a.m. A book discussion group about the life and times of the American Girl characters.
Book Bites Club: South only; May 31, 6:30 p.m, ěDeath Comes for the Archbishop,î by Wanda Cather. Book discussion groups for both adults and children on the last Tuesday of each month. The group is open to the public and anyone is free to join at any time. There is a discussion of the book, as well as light refreshments at each meeting. For more information please call 704-216-8229.
Library closings: May 30, all RPL locations closed for Memorial Day holiday.
Displays: Headquarters ó Doll Society by Jim Bourdain, Lee Street Theatre by Robert Jones; South ó student art by South Rowan High School art class; East ó Art by Colleen Walton.
Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.

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