Libraries marking the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster

On April 10, 1912, the RMS Titanic embarked on its first - and what turned out to be its last - voyage.

Sailing from Southampton, England, to New York City, the passenger liner, considered unsinkable, struck an iceberg two days later. By the next day, the Titanic, along with 1,500 of its passengers, was underwater, where it would remain, undiscovered until 1985.

But the ripples created by that voyage have reverberated to this day, with the event memorialized in popular books and blockbuster movies.

This year, several libraries will be marking the anniversary with events and programs.

The Somerville Public Library branch of the Somerset County (N.J.) Library system will have reference librarian James Sommerville III deliver a multi-media presentation that will feature a slideshow with images of the vessel. 

But that is only the tip of iceberg when it comes to commemorative events.

The Kansas City Public Library shot the following video, starring Howard Iceberg & the Titanics, focusing on its commemoration of the event from April 13-15.

 One creative youth librarian who taken the helm of her library's Titanic efforts is Abby Johnson, who discusses the subject on her blog "Abby the Librarian."

Johnson, children's librarian at  the New Albany-Floyd County Public Library in New Albany, Ind., writes in her post, "Titanic at Your Library," As you're probably aware, the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic is coming up this April. Kids are fascinated with the Titanic, so you'll want to make sure you've stocked your shelves well with titles like Unsinkable (and sequels) by Gordon Korman, ! by Barry Denenberg, and The Watch That Ends the Night by Allan Wolf. (Of course, don't forget Blizzard of Glass by Sally M. Walker, which is not about the Titanic, but makes a great readalike for interested tweens!)"

Talking about what sparked her Titanic love affair, Johnson said, "The Titanic is a perennially popular topic for school-age children, and at the public library we have kids asking for books about it quite often. I knew it was something the kids were interested in.

"I know it's a bit irreverent, but when our theme for the Collaborative Summer Library Program was "Make a Splash" in 2010, one of my first thoughts was, "What made a bigger splash than the Titanic?!" and I knew I wanted to do a program on it for the kids."

She said, "We're constantly trying to entice older elementary school kids (especially boys) back to the library and I knew that this high-appeal topic would bring them in (and it did!)."

Asked what it is about the ship and its fate that captures the imagination, she said, "Definitely the sheer size of the Titanic is something that captures the imagination, and I think the ship's luxury, too. And then, of course, there's the irony behind an "unsinkable" ship hitting an iceberg and going down. I think that's intriguing to a lot of people."

Last year, she set up the room by arranging chairs in a big circle and putting out some historic newspaper articles. On the wall, she put up a time line with important dates and times of the events. She also created some paper flags to resemble the White Star Line flags and also made name tags with the White Star Line logo on them.

And I made some paper flags to look like the White Star Line flags. I also used some blank labels to make name tags with the White Star Line logo on them. When the kids arrived, I let them in the room and gave them some time to look over the newspaper articles while we waited for everyone to show up. While they were checking out the articles, In the meantime, she played music from Titanic: Music as Heard on the Fateful Voyage

Using 882 1/2 Amazing Answers to Your Questions About the Titanic and the Magic Tree House Research Guide: Titanic as a reference, she offered some fun facts for the children.

To give a more vivid impression, she said she actually brought out a mini iceberg, fashioned out of frozen baggies of water joined together to form a huge chunk of ice. She floated this in a clear container of water dyed with blue food coloring.

After reading a passage from a Titanic survivor, she spoke a little about Morse code and demonstrated with a flashlight.

In addition, she played 1912 music from a CD.

Johnson recommends such resources as the website History on the Net and Titanic worksheets. She also recommends Encyclopedia Titanica.


Titanic Trivia Questions

Q. How much did the Titanic cost to build?
A. $7.5 million (which would be $123 million in today’s money).

Q. In the name RMS Titanic, what does “RMS” stand for?
A. Royal Mail Ship.
Q. Who was the Captain of the Titanic?
A. Edward Smith.
Q. How many dogs were on the Titanic?
A. At least nine including an Airedale terrier named Kitty, a Pekinese named Sun Yat Sen, and a champion French bulldog named Gamon de Pycombe.
Q. How many children were on board?
A. 103 – 5 in first class, 22 in second class, and 76 in third class. 54 of the children on board did not survive.
Q. Who was the youngest passenger on the ship and how old was she?
A. Millvina Dean, 9 weeks old.
Q. Did any passengers travel under false names?
A. Yes! At least 15.
Q. The Titanic shipped 76 cases of dragon’s blood. What is dragon’s blood?
A. The sap from a type of palm tree found in the Canary Islands. It was used to color wood varnish and women’s makeup.
Q. How many bathtubs were in third class?
A. Only two for 700 people!
Q. What was the most exotic object in the Titanic cargo? (Any guesses?)
A. The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, a book of ancient sayings. The illustrated copy in the Titanic’s hold was adorned with 1,050 precious stones, each set in gold. It had recently sold for $2,025 (about $33,000 in today’s dollars) and was being sent to its new owner. It sank.
Q. Are there any Titanic survivors still living today?
A. No. Millvina Dean was the last living survivor and she died in 2009 at age 97.
Q. Where do most icebergs in the Atlantic Ocean come from?
A. Glaciers in Greenland. 
Q. How big was the iceberg that hit the Titanic?
A. Over 60 feet high.
Q. Which was the closest ship to the Titanic the night it sank and how far away was it?
A. The Carpathia was 60 miles away.
Q. Who were the first people aboard the lifeboats?
A. Women and children.
Q. Which ship picked up the Titanic passengers who had survived?
A. The Carpathia
Q. After the Titanic disaster, the International Ice Patrol was formed. What do they do every year on April 15 to commemorate the victims?
A. They drop wreaths of flowers around the spot where the Titanic sank.
Q. Who found the remains of the Titanic and when?
A. A French/American team headed by Dr. Robert Ballard, 1985. Dr. Ballard is an American oceanographer. He was born in Kansas and is a former Navy commander.
Q. What is the Argo?
A. An underwater device with cameras that helped researchers find the wreck of the Titanic.
Q. What was the first part of the Titanic that researchers saw when they spotted it? A. The boiler.


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