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Library News

By: Pat Whitfield & Marlene Conklin
For: Red Rock News
Date: September 18, 2009

A Volunteer's Voyage into Arizona's Past

Your Sedona Public Library works well to serve you because of the many volunteers who staff it. One such volunteer is Marlene Conklin. She and her husband moved to Sedona from Ohio 19 years ago. Even before they closed on their home they visited the library at its old site on Jordan Road and acquired their library cards before the deed on their home.

Avid hikers, they encountered ruins, pot shards, and evidence of former civilizations, all of which activated their desire to know more about these things. They found materials in the library that answered their many questions about the plants, geology, hiking trails, history and pre-history of their new surroundings in the Red Rocks. Thus began Marlene’s avid interest in the Sedona Public Library and in archaeology.

Because they felt so welcome as newcomers and found the volunteers and staff at the library so helpful, Marlene decided to become a volunteer herself. She was a “shelver” at the old library and became a “trouble shooter” at the new one, becoming familiar with many aspects of the library and providing liaison between the staff and volunteers. After confronting a health challenge, she transferred to donations where she continues to work.

Her interest in Arizona history, geology, flora, and fauna continues unabated to this day. In fact, she was recently honored as the winner for outstanding service in the field by the Governor’s Commission in Public Archaeology.

As a newcomer, Marlene soon discovered the library’s Arizona Collection. On its shelves she found novels with an Arizona setting and memoirs of earliest settlers and movers and shakers from early  territorial days. She encountered a wide variety of information on the Native American peoples of the Southwest, their cultures, arts, and lifeways. Among these sources are Clowns of the Hopi by Barton Wright, Anazasi by Richard Ambler, Letters from Wupatki by Courtney R. Jones, and Once They Moved Like the Wind: Geronimo and the Apache Wars  by  David Roberts.

When the spring flowers appeared the field guides helped her identify them. She found Field Guide to the Plants of Arizona by Anne O. Epple to be an invaluable resource. Because of her keen interest in wildflowers, Marlene helps create the annual wildflower exhibit at the Library in the spring of each year.

For birdwatching there were also field guides and travel guides for exploring the wonders of this diverse state. She also enhanced her knowledge of Navajo rugs, Indian jewelry, and kachinas, their makers, and the rise of trading posts in the region. Several enlightening sources are Tall Sheep: Harry Goulding, Monument Valley Trader by Samuel Moon, Indian Trader: The Life and Times of J.L. Hubbell, and Blanket Weaving in the Southwest by Joe Ben Wheat.

For hiking adventures, she perused walking guides and books on how the landscape was formed and what made the rocks. For these adventures she recommends Sedona through Time and Carving Grand Canyon, both by Wayne Ranney, Hiking Arizona’s Geology  by Ivo Lucchita, Sedona Hikes by Richard and Sherry Mangum, and The Desert Smells Like Rain by Gary Nabham. Particularly memorable is All My Rivers Are Gone in which Katie Lee, nearly 90, who still lives in Jerome, joyously and irreverently shares her memories of Glen Canyon, and mourns its loss.

Although not yet 100 years old as a state (Arizona’s centennial will be celebrated in 2012), humans’ presence in this region goes back 12,000 or more years. The Arizona Collection has much information about those who came before us, with accounts of many explorations and archaeological excavations, many with special emphasis on those in the Verde Valley.

The Collection also includes a reference section where resource information can be found about the city and state governments, local and regional laws. Copies of heavily used references may be used in the library when all the circulated copies have been checked out.

Whether you explore Arizona from its highways and back roads, or your favorite arm chair, the Arizona Collection has resources to enlighten your journey. Be sure to check the shelves on your next visit. You may be in for some delightful surprises – and learn something new about our beautiful state.

Pat Whitfield
Pat Whitfield, author of this week's article,
is a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Sedona Public Library.
Marlene Conklin, aurhtoer of this week's article,
is a longtime volunteer of the Sedona Public Library.

Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News
and is also presented on: Gateway to Sedona and Sedona Biz.