(STILLWATER, OKLAHOMA / October 12, 2021) –The Stillwater Public Library invites the community to explore the theme of human resilience at “Pandemics of the Past” on Tuesday, Oct. 19, at 6:30 p.m. Epidemiologist Dr. Aaron Wendelboe will discuss historical pandemics and their impacts on society, a topic that closely connects to the plot of the “NEA Big Read” book “Station Eleven.” The novel focuses on life in the aftermath of a global flu pandemic. The program will take place outside at the Southern Woods Park Ballfield, located at 600 West Twelfth Avenue across from the splash pad. Space is limited and registration is required.


Dr. Wendelboe has a lifelong love of epidemiology or the branch of medicine that studies the distribution, patterns and control of diseases. He especially enjoys research.


“I find it fascinating how people respond to and adapt to epidemics,” Dr. Wendelboe said. “Understanding people’s responses, discovering what was effective and what wasn’t, helps us prepare for future epidemics.”


Dr. Wendelboe is the Edward E. and Helen T. Bartlett Foundation Chair in Public Health and Williams Companies Presidential Professor at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (OUHSC) in the College of Public Health. He also acted as Oklahoma’s Interim State Epidemiologist between March and July of 2020 and has prepared for and responded to various diseases, including the 2009 influenza H1N1, Ebola virus, Zika virus and COVID-19. 


Librarian Emily States thinks that the community is fortunate to get a disease expert to speak on this topic. 


“Dr. Wendelboe has a wealth of experience and knowledge. Being able to get his analysis of historical pandemics should prove to be fascinating,” States said. 


One thing Wendelboe plans to talk about is that there have been several epidemics in our lifetime.


“The difference between those epidemics and a pandemic, like the current COVID pandemic, is one of the topics I will be going over,” Dr. Wendelboe said.


Librarians hope that the heavy topic will be lightened by having the event outdoors at a ball field. To fit the mood of the location, free cracker jacks and drinks will be provided courtesy of the Friends of the Stillwater Public Library. 


“It’s very different from any place we’ve ever had a library event before,” States said. “But, it’s also very aligned with ‘Station Eleven.’ After the pandemic, people repurpose places to take on new roles. A ball field seems like a place where characters in the book might meet for important community gatherings. Ultimately, Dr. Wendelboe’s program is one of those important gatherings. I think we’ll learn that our society has experienced and successfully overcome pandemics in the past, and we’ll do so again”


Individuals who attend “Pandemics of the Past” will also be entered in a drawing to win a free annual parking pass for Lake McMurtry. 


Registration is required and all attendees should plan to bring their own chairs or blankets for seating. Sign-up for this event and learn more about “NEA Big & Little Read: Stillwater” at http://library.stillwater.org/nea_big_read_stillwater.php. 


For families looking for a “Little Read” science activity, the library would like to invite the public to join the “One Community, One Challenge” project funded by the National Science Foundation to make solar lanterns. Materials to make the lantern at home can be picked up at the Stillwater Public Library, Prairie Arts Center, the OSU Family Resource Center or Our Daily Bread. If more instruction is wanted, a hands-on workshop will take place at Prairie Arts on Saturday, Oct. 17, from 2-4 p.m. Sign-up by emailing infoartscenter@okstate.edu.  


NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment of the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. Additional funding for “NEA Big and Little Read: Stillwater” is provided by the Friends of the Stillwater Public Library, the Stillwater Public Library Trust and the OSU Library.


The Stillwater Public Library is located at 1107 S. Duck St. Library hours are Monday- Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.