By Ms. Jessica Marie Ryan (IMCOM Europe)October 22, 2018
CHIÈVRES, Belgium -- World War I's history is deeply embedded in the city of Mons and its surrounding towns. Historical markers, commemorative plaques and monuments are located throughout the area, but people may not realize the significance of the battles fought and the lives lost on the same land they walk on each day.
Dan O'Riley, library technician at the SHAPE International Library in Belgium, did not initially know about the historical significance of the monuments that he drove past on his commute to work. He began researching the local area's history and visited the historical sites. Inspired by his findings, he embarked on a project which tied in local exploration and education.
His project became the WWI Scavenger Hunt, which hosted by the SHAPE International Library in commemoration of the war's centennial anniversary. The hunt is conducted through a mobile app called Actionbound where players receive directions to visit different WWI markers in the surrounding area. At each site, they perform different activities, such as taking selfies and answering trivia questions, in order to receive points.
"We are guiding our patrons to understand what happened here in World War I," said O'Riley. "It's not just about learning through books. It's about the physical aspects of the local area and having patrons develop a deeper meaning of the Great War by visiting those sites."
According to O'Riley, those who complete the scavenger hunt will receive a prize. Players can work individually or in teams. However, they must record and save their progress on the app to receive points.
O'Riley advised people to visit the library so the staff can show them how to set up the app on their phones. For those who cannot make it to the library, they can visit Actionbound's website at https://actionbound.com/bound/Monsww1 for download instructions.
OTHER WWI EVENTS AND RESOURCES
In addition to the scavenger hunt, patrons can learn more about WWI through resources at the library. Books, poems and videos about WWI are on display. There are also artifacts from the war, which are on loan from different historical organizations.
"Each artifact here has a specific story behind it," said O'Riley. "Soldiers had a lot of time to pass while waiting in the trenches so they would build these items called trench art."
O'Riley pointed out a ship, in the display case, made from shrapnel, armor and bullets. He also talked about a picture frame created from a broken plane propeller.
Leading up the centennial anniversary, the library staff plans to share the stories behind each item. In addition, the library will host a special commemoration Oct. 26 from noon to 12:45 p.m. in the library's atrium. The event is a time for reflection as the library staff present the music, video footage and poems from that time period.
THE START OF ARMY LIBRARIES
Not only does WWI has a significant tie-in to the local area, but it is also a meaningful connection to the Total Army Library Program. According to Lisa Steinacker, library director at the SHAPE International Library, the American Library Association established the War Library Service under the direction of the Librarian of Congress in 1917. The intent was to provide a library support services to service members in World War I. Today, there are 52 main Army libraries worldwide serving service members, families, retirees and civilians.
More information on upcoming events and programming at the SHAPE International Library is at https://chievres.armymwr.com.