Port Townsend Public Library Director Melody Sky Weaver is preparing to share “My Great Swedish Adventure: The Power of Libraries, Family and Travel in a Pandemic” ...
Port Townsend Public Library Director Melody Sky Weaver is preparing to share “My Great Swedish Adventure: The Power of Libraries, Family and Travel in a Pandemic” on Wednesday, Aug. 2, at 7 p.m. in the library’s Carnegie Room.
Weaver was well-aware of her Swedish heritage growing up, between what she described as her mother’s resemblance to Galadriel from “The Lord of the Rings,” and her grandfather’s claims that their family hailed from Swedish nobility.
Weaver found such stories entertaining, but as a librarian, she required more substantial evidence of her supposedly distinguished pedigree before she could take it seriously, so she thought little more of those tales until she became a fan of a Swedish reality TV show, “Allt för Sverige,” known in the U.S. as “The Great Swedish Adventure.”
Weaver was introduced to the show by friends whose families also had Swedish roots, since every year, it transports 10 Swedish-descended Americans back to “the old country,” to learn all about their lineage, explore the country and compete for the grand prize of a family reunion with all their living relatives in Sweden.
Five years ago, Weaver’s friends suggested that she try out for the show, for which she applied online in 2018, filled out a comprehensive application documenting her family tree, and conducted a video interview via Skype, but she failed to make the cut.
“A master genealogist warned me beforehand what I already knew, which was that half of all folks think they’re descended from royalty,” Weaver said. “Still, when they asked what I did, they liked that I was a ‘loud librarian,’ who was involved in my community.”
By the next year, however, Weaver’s efforts had elevated her to the short list in 2019, and after being flown out to Hollywood for a casting call and an all-day interview, she was confirmed for the show’s 10th season in February of 2020.
“I think it helped that I sent a video of myself in Poulsbo during its annual Viking Fest, so I was surrounded by Nordic trappings,” Weaver said.
COVID delayed the show’s production so long that Weaver almost thought it had been canceled, and in the meantime, she even eloped with her boyfriend in June of 2021, on the summer solstice — “it’s a big holiday in Sweden, so they loved that I’d chosen that date” — before filming commenced in August of that year, in time for the season to air in early 2022.
Without disclosing any spoilers before her talk, Weaver told the Leader, “I learned the truth in Sweden, and it’s amazing! I may be pursuing the family profession!”
Not only did Weaver get to meet distant relatives for the first time, in a foreign country, while starring in a reality TV show, but she also took part in events such as “Medieval Week” on the Island of Gotland in 2021.
This year, Weaver returned to Sweden, to celebrate midsummer with her Swedish family, again on a small island in the archipelago.
In addition to sharing all these details, Weaver will also explain how the Port Townsend Public Library’s genealogical resources helped her get cast on the show.
“I was able to trace my lineage back to my great-great-grandparents, who emigrated to New York from Sweden,” Weaver said. “It was humbling to be a librarian and realize that even I wasn’t making full use of all the library’s tools, to demystify my own heritage.”