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Ask A Librarian – National Edition!

December 19, 2018

Ask a Librarian. Little known fact (okay, it’s not really a secret), but librarians love to help you find answers to your questions. We recently received a letter from a fifth grade class in Albany, California requesting our assistance on a class project, and we were all too excited to jump in and help.

The student shared some fun facts about California, his class, and then added, “Can I ask for your help? I have included in this letter a self-addressed and stamped postcard from your state and hoping you’ll send it back with a note telling me a bit about where you live.” He continued to share that in his part of the country, the weather is moderate, “it rarely ever snows,” (wait, what??), and that, “all we have to worry about are earthquakes and wildfires.” (Okay, we’ll take the snow.)

He finished by saying, “Now it’s your turn! Will you tell me about where you live? Maybe you can write a note about the geography, climate, natural disasters, or culture of your state/area since we are trying to learn all about what different parts of our country are like.”

Can we share more about Wisconsin?! The excitement was almost too much. Of course! But, naturally, we thought, “With a great request like this, one does not simply send back JUST a postcard.” This called for a UW-Madison / Wisconsin care package.

Included: A Bucky Badger READ poster (because, libraries!), a Harry the Steenbock Library cow and Bucky READ bookmarks (also, because, libraries!), the original postcard with a note back from Bucky, an additional postcard with more information about our fine state, as well as one with a photo of a couple of our own Wisconsin cows wishing the best to the Happy Cows of California (more on that in our “20 Facts about Wisconsin” sheet we sent – see below). Also, thanks to the UW-Madison Office of Campus and Visitor Relations, we were able to provide Bucky Badger stickers, banners, pencils, stick-on tattoos, more bookmarks, and kid-friendly information packets. We rounded out the fun with some Haribo gummy bears (again, see the 20 facts), an official forecast graphic of Wisconsin winter weather from WKOW (one of our local news stations), and of course, a cheesehead.

Too much? We don’t think so!

We send our best wishes to our new friends in the Golden State from your friends in the Badger State. Best of luck in your Great Postcard Race! Enjoy the treats, and…On, Wisconsin!

20 Fun Facts About Wisconsin!

(Thanks in part to Travel Wisconsin)

  1. California surpassed Wisconsin as the top overall milk producer in the country, but Wisconsin is still the top cheese producer. Our happy cows from Wisconsin sent you a postcard for your happy cows in California.
  2. The first kindergarten classes in the U.S. were held in Watertown, Wisconsin in 1856.
  3. The first ever ice cream sundae was served in Two Rivers, Wisconsin in 1881.
  4. Wisconsin has the world’s largest cranberry festival each September (and Wisconsin produces 60 percent of the nation’s cranberries!).
  5. The coldest temperature ever recorded in Wisconsin is -55 degrees Fahrenheit in Sawyer Countyin 1996. (That’s without wind chill, folks.)
  6. The term “cheesehead” started as a term German soldiers used to insult the Dutch during World War II. These days, the term is used to describe cheese-lovin’ Wisconsites.
  7. Celebrities rumored to be Packers fans include: Lil Wayne, Harry Styles, Larry the Cable Guy, Erin Andrews, Ryan Reynolds, David Ortiz, Shawn Johnson, Ellen DeGeneres and Justin Timberlake.
  8. Marathon Countyproduces most of the ginseng grown in the U.S. and 10 percent of the world’s supply.
  9. Barbie hails from the fictional town of Willows, Wisconsin.
  10. Soviet satellite Sputnik IV fell out of orbit in 1962 and a 20-pound piece crashed in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
  11. Wisconsin’s state symbol, the badger, doesn’t refer to the animal but the 1820s lead miners who traveled for work and dug tunnels to sleep in and keep warm, much like a badger (including our most famous, Buckingham “Bucky” U. Badger – that’s me!).
  12. Famous names from Wisconsin include Kurtwood Smith, Harry Houdini, Frank Lloyd Wright, Chris Farley, Georgia O’Keeffe, Orson Welles, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Liberace, Mark Ruffalo, Les Paul and Frank Caliendo.
  13. Wisconsin banned margarine from 1895 to 1967, and while the ban was lifted, some restrictions on margarine remain today. It’s still illegal for a restaurant to serve margarine as a butter substitute unless the customer specifically requests it.
  14. Wisconsin’s name comes from the Wisconsin River, which was called Meskousing by the Algonquian-speaking tribes. The name was recorded in 1673 by French explorer Jacques Marquette.
  15. The Onion was started by two University of Wisconsin-Madison students.
  16. The largest wooly mammoth ever excavated was found in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
  17. Freshwater surfers know Sheboyganas the “Malibu of the Midwest.” Peak surf season takes place between September and March!
  18. The first ever Flag Day was celebrated in Ozaukee Countyin 1785.
  19. “On, Wisconsin” was first said by Arthur MacArthur, Jr. in the Battle of Chattanooga at Missionary Ridge during the Civil War.
  20. German confectioner Haribo announced in 2018 it is set to build its first US factory in Wisconsin (we’ve enclosed some to share with your class)!