Rock Island Library celebrates sports

Quad Cities residents can now visit a traveling Smithsonian exhibit, celebrating sports and their impact on communities. “Hometown Teams” is now on display at the Rock Island Main Library.
The interactive exhibit combines national and local sports footage, photos and memorabilia. Television screens, iPads and flip-books are included in each “Hometown Teams” display. Visitors can even smell the food from one Pittsburgh ball park by squeezing a fake mustard bottle.
Lisa Lockheart, Rock Island Library spokeswoman, said the exhibit’s interactive element inspires learning beyond the library display.
“Every interactive element is something either that you flip over and look at or something that encourages you to think about your own experience,” Lockheart said. “And perhaps, you can even upload your own story using the free ‘Stories on Main Street’ app.”
Throughout the display are “story stops,” which prompt visitors to download the app and answer personal questions about the impact of local sports.
Lockheart said the Smithsonian Museum provided displays for national teams, but local high schools and colleges also contributed.  For example, a Rock Island High School year book from 1963 is incorporated into one display.
She said Rock Island was chosen by the Smithsonian as one of six Illinois stops for the exhibit.
“I think we were chosen largely on the basis of the great story we have to tell here in Rock Island,” Lockheart said. “And high school and college sports are such a big thing around here, and such a fabric of community life. So, we wanted to share that story as well.”
Along with the exhibit, the library is hosting 12 free programs, each featuring a different highlight from Quad Cities sports history. Programs include local stadium tours, a lecture on women in baseball and a discussion of African Americans in the NFL.
Library programming director, Natalie Struecker said the exhibit and programs are relevant to everyone in the area.
“It’s not just about sports, but about how sports have shaped small town America,” Struecker said. “Every town has a team that they all go out and support. It’s a great community connector, including small town rivalries between towns and big cities. It gets everybody involved, even if they aren’t big on sports.”
“Hometown Teams” will be on display until Oct. 25.