Since 1978, the Friends of the Seward Community Library has offered college scholarships to Seward area youth pursuing academic education or vocational training after high school. The scholarship is named for Viola Swetmann, founder of the Seward Library. All Seward area youth between the ages of 16-21 are eligible, as long as they hold a current library card. Applicants are invited to “wander the Seward Community Library Museum to identify a passion or subject of interest that they would like to render into an original project that is created solely for this scholarship application.” The project is intended to elicit each applicant’s connection to Seward’s unique history and resources through creative, personal expression. Projects are scored based on the number of resources cited, the depth of exploration, originality, clarity, and technical accuracy. This year’s applications were strong and demonstrated a wide variety of interests.
Winner of the $1,500 scholarship was graduating Seward senior Robin McKnight. Robin found inspiration in the exhibits of the Seward Museum where she found “historical figures that had spirit and strength.” To celebrate Seward’s female founders, such as Alaska Nellie and Sylvia Sexton, Robin created a hand-made book entitled Northern Hands: Women of the Resurrection Bay Area. Northern Hands combines the biographies of several Seward women with eight original poems celebrating the complex lives of these strong and spirited figures. Robin utilized original materials available through the Museum to research these biographies.
Maria Jackson, also a graduating Seward senior, was awarded a $1,000 scholarship for her original quilt exploring the Klondike gold rush history of Alaska. Maria was inspired to represent “the first major migration to Alaska” after exploring exhibits at the Seward Museum that highlighted the gold rush history of our state. Maria undertook her first quilting project to create a four-part quilt with cut-outs to represent Alaska, the mountains experienced by miners, mining tools, and a miner panning for gold.
These projects will be on exhibit at the Seward Community Library through the remainder of the summer. Please find them displayed upstairs near the young adult room! Current library hours can be found at www.cityofseward.us/libmus.
The mission of the Seward Community Library Association, a.k.a. The Friends of the Seward Library, is to support and enhance literacy in our community, provide educational opportunities through scholarships and other programs, support library functions, and encourage community-wide involvement in cultural activities for all ages. For additional information, please visit our programs page here on our website.
2015 Seward High School graduate, Robin McKnight, won the Seward Community
Library Association’s scholarship with a hand-made book combining historical
stories with original poetry.
Maria Jackson poses with her quilt about the Klondike gold rush,
inspired by a visit to the Seward Community Library & Museum.