Thoughts of studying the Founding Fathers might conjure up images of stuffy men in powdered wigs drafting scholarly documents rather than rogue pirates sporting eye patches and engaging in sword fights.
But Lynnda Wangsgard, director of the Weber County Library System, saw a connection between the roots of democracy and the pirate code -- which was a more democratic system than most might suppose.
"Many of the stereotypes are not true. The way (pirates) ran things is probably a big surprise to most," Wangsgard said.
As a way to bring young people all over the county into a discussion about America's founders, the library developed a curriculum detailing the pirate way of life and distributed it to local schools. The staff also planned multiple events with a pirate theme.
Weber Reads volunteer coordinator and retired schoolteacher Margaret Rostkowski, of Ogden, explained that pirates practiced a form of limited democracy, with a code that allowed ship captains to be elected by a majority vote and crew members to give input on laws.
In addition, pirates divided their booty equally, and prisoners from captured ships were given the option to join the crew if they wanted.
About 15 area schools will welcome guest lecturers from the library to lead discussions with students.
"They will ask questions like 'Why would people like pirates want to elect their own captains? What difference would that make?'ââ" Rostkowski said. The questions will lead to a discussion about the advantages and problems of that method of doing things and how that relates to our present-day democracy.
In addition to distributing curriculum and providing guest lecturers, librarians also visited local parks last summer and distributed to children hundreds of books from the Weber Reads suggested-reading list. Professional storytellers shared the tales of revolutionaries and pirates, as well as a graphic novel illustrating the preamble to the Constitution.
Children participated in pirate games, made colonial hats and colored U.S. flags. The events were repeated at Fort Buenaventura in the fall.
Now, children can participate in more pirate fun at parties held at branches of the library, including one in the North branch at 7 p.m. Jan. 31, and one in the Southwest branch at 6 p.m. March 26.
The Main Library will also host a Pirate Survivor night at 7 p.m. April 11. Deborah Smith, the library's youth services programming coordinator, said the event is geared toward elementary-school-age kids who will be taught what life was like on a pirate ship and then given a chance to role play.
"They may also be voted off the ship," Smith said.
"I really love Weber Reads," said librarian Carlos Camacho, who helps plan the activities. "The kids can learn in a very fun way. We engage the whole community, no matter what the age or economic background. It really bridges the gaps and brings people together."