Posted October 22, 2013
Recently-retired ISU English Professor Susan Swetnam was honored by the Idaho Library Association with the Idaho Book Award for 2012 this month.
Swetnam’s winning work, “Books, Bluster, and Bounty: Local Politics and Carnegie Library Building Grants, 1898-1920,” was chosen from among all books which appeared that year written by Idaho authors or dealing with Idaho or western subjects.
Her book examines how proponents of books and reading in the Intermountain West at the turn of the twentieth century managed to inspire grassroots support among their fellow citizens for public library development. As it tells this historical story, the book offers inspiration and practical lessons for contemporary readers interested in promoting cultural resources in their own communities.
Though based on two decades of research, “Books, Bluster, and Bounty” presents a readable, anecdotal narrative history featuring intimate glimpses of life a hundred years ago in six dozen Intermountain West communities, including Pocatello, Idaho Falls, Twin Falls, Preston, Burley, Boise, and many cities in northern Utah. Its stories feature a variety of determined, quirky, even outrageous real-life characters.
The book is illustrated with many never-before-published historical photographs and features original maps designed by ISU Anthropology graduate student Adam Clegg and an index compiled by recent ISU English graduate Martin Baker, both of whom worked with Swetnam as interns during the book’s production phase.
Swetnam, the only ISU faculty member ever to win all three of the university’s distinguished faculty awards (Teacher, Public Service, Researcher) is the author of seven books and many articles and essays. Her second book, “Home Mountains,” was awarded an Honorable Mention (first runner-up) for the Idaho Book Award in 2000; her late husband, Ford Swetnam, won an Idaho Library Association Lifetime Achievement Award for his books of poetry.
In retirement Swetnam is working on a memoir and a novel, among other writing projects, while taking classes in ISU’s College of Technology to earn her Massage Therapy certificate. Once she achieves licensure, she hopes to do volunteer work in addition to her writing career, especially with infants and premature babies, and with the bereaved.
“Books, Bluster, and Bounty” is available from Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com, as well as directly from the publisher, Utah State University Press at www.usu.edu/usupress/orders.