Friday, December 28, 2007
It isn't unusual for patrons to return a book to us that belongs at the Howe; many patrons have cards at both libraries. We also share patrons with the Marion Cross School library, and we have a place on the shelf for their strays as well. If we have someone headed in those directions, we drop them off ourselves. We otherwise call over and have the librarians check in with the appropriate patrons. Pretty simple.
But this one isn't simple, though I find myself moved to act. This copy of Matilda comes from a very special library, Grandma's Library. In an elegant hand, a message on the flyleaf says, "This book belongs in Grandma's Library. Please bring it back! Thank you!"
It's easy to see how one of Grandma's copies could end up at NPL. Clearly, Grandma is a pro: the dust cover is protected by a the clear protective stuff that other libraries use. There's even a card in the back with due dates carefully stamped, and a little pocket with author and title. Best of all, she's chosen a child-friendly book filled with humor and delight.
Grandma forgot just one crucial thing: her name!
Her address and phone would be dandy, too. If there's one thing a librarian appreciates, it's another librarian, particularly one who shares her private collection as Grandma has been willing to do. We want this crucial volume returned to our respected colleague.
So I appeal to you, my readers (all 3 of you!): should you encounter this post and know the Grandma-Librarian of whom I write, please contact her or me. We are eager for Matilda and Grandma to experience the joyous reunion that we hope awaits them.
Friday, December 21, 2007
Dickens is such a giant presence in our entertainment industry that it's easy to forget what a master writer he was. Every child actor from Freddie Bartholomew on has taken a crack at cuting up Dickens' title characters. Musicals abound, all "based on Dickens' timeless tale" as the display ads always put it. It's easy to lose the core creations in all the spin-offs.
Happily, the books on tape and CD in NPL's collection can serve as a reminder of his fundamental genius, along with the print versions of his many masterpieces. I have been working my way through our Dickens audiobooks, starting with A Tale of Two Cities and proceeding on to David Copperfield. At the moment I am listening to Great Expectations, which I hadn't experienced since the ninth grade. My God! I find myself thinking, These works were wasted on my callow, youthful self! It's wonderful to sit before a roaring fire and listen to the words--the characters, the dialogues, the descriptions-- that so many have enjoyed before me. I find that I can't quite get enough.
I tend to become a little fanatical in my enthusiasms. Since I have fallen in love with red kuri squash, I find myself buying it wherever I can find it, knowing that its availability will be gone too soon. Similarly, I've been scanning NPL's catalog just to see how long I can stay on this Dickens-go-round. Happily, I see that we also have recorded versions of Bleak House, the Pickwick Papers, and Oliver Twist, as well as A Christmas Carol.On the print side of things we have two volumes of Dickens' Christmas Stories, as well as all the titles mentioned above, as well as Nicolas Nickleby.
It's that vision of justice thwarted, the boundless sympathy for innocents, the push for reconciliation, the mastery of language, those unforgettable characters and their well-tailored names that have me as filled with wonder. With our positively Dickensian weather forecasts, perhaps you'll find stories for drawing near the fire as well.
Monday, December 3, 2007
It turns out that it's only because I never took a good look. When Nancy Osgood was in recently and mentioned the magazine, I felt my mind opening. Anything Nancy values is worth at least a try. The American Scholar, a publication of Phi Beta Kappa, turns out to be something akin to the New Yorker, only without as many cartoons.
In its pages lie superb fiction and non-fiction, by the likes of Alice Munro, John Barth, Anne Beatty, Louis Begley, and Ethan Fishman. I read wonderful poems by Louise, Gluck, Robert Pinsky, David Sofield, and John Hollander. There are lively and fascinating articles on cell biology and religion, whether or not Alger Hiss was the spy the government said he was, the life and legacy of Ralph Ellison, and one I particularly enjoyed, "Church and State: How to Tell the Difference," which examines our forefathers' take on the First Amendment and includes a wonderful section on Roger Williams.
I suppose the title put me off initially. As it turns out, American Scholar simply appeals to the part of me that believes in lifelong learning. I'll be reading this magazine regularly from now on. The
If the authors above click with you, pick up a copy next time you're at NPL.
It's a gem.
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
This lively and informative organic food blog is looking for new subscribers, so intensely, it seems, that it's going to pay Norwich Public Library $2 for every subscriber it refers.
This blog is not only generous with public libraries; it's creative, witty, and filled with news of the off-the-beaten path food producers who are transforming the way we eat.
My most recent visit took me to profiles on organic farms, links on groups who keep track of seafood safety, a good article on cage free eggs, a recipe for basil-cucumber infused tequila, an article on Vermont's Woodstock Water Buffalo Company, and a hot source for Taiwanese tea lollipops! The writing is as witty as it is informative, and the topics are truly a cut above what we usually read about the food scene.
Visit their site. Then if you'd like to subscribe (it's free), you can specify a $2 donation to NPL. To specify the donation, enter NPL in the space for Promo Code.
Easy! What's not to like about that?
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Story time is no mere frill. As I read an surge (you should pardon the expression) of articles on the struggles of schools trying to meet the requirements of No Child Left Behind, I find myself thinking about the many institutions within the community that contribute to the education of children. As the African elders said, and Hillary Clinton echoed, it takes a village.
Story times provide toddlers with socialization, the development of an attention span, and exposure to a wide range of books, not to mention familiarity with the friendly face of the children's librarian. In addition, they give mothers and dads a chance to gather together, a break from the isolation of the home. With more parents working, the demand for story time doesn't go down; it goes up, since work schedules tend to vary, necessitating the involvement of both parents. We have some dedicated dads who bring their children to story time.
I live in a town south of Norwich which, a few years ago, allowed its citizens to be bamboozled by a misinformation campaign that ultimately meant passing on the establishment of a strong central library in favor of the preservation of the small village libraries. When the dust settled, the library for the largest of these villages had been shut down. So much for the preservation of small village libraries.
In my town are many children who find themselves hard pressed to keep up with their peers in wealthier towns. It's short-sighted to think that the job of developing literacy is that of the schools alone. Parents have a vital stake, as do community institutions, the chief of which is the public library.
The parents who make the most of our library are rich indeed, not necessarily in personal finances, but in opportunities for their children. Some of them come in and check out bags full of books at a time, knowing that their children will love some of them, reject others. They are developing interest in and enthusiasm for reading that will last their kids a lifetime.
It's ironic that struggling schools can seldom afford the services of a good public library. They're the ones who need them most.
Friday, October 12, 2007
Poet Peter Money will emcee the event, and area poets are likely to show.
Don't let potential luminaries limit your participation, though. Lots of attendees are people who simply love poetry and are willing to share a longtime favorite. If you simply want to listen rather than read, feel free to come.
The event is open to everyone from grandparents to grandchildren. Bring a dessert to share, and let's see you there!
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Assembled, it looks like one of the Discovery Packs from the Children's Room, but its intended audience is us big kids, so look for it upstairs.
Provided by the Norwich Energy Committee and the Sustainable Energy Resource Group (that's SERG to you), the materials provide information about the effects of global warming and ways to reduce energy use. Between reduced energy use and the switch to renewable resources, SERG estimates that many homeowners can cut energy bills by up to 50 per cent.
In the kit are a mix of tools and information: a watt meter (or Kill-a-Watt Monitor, according to SERG) with instructions on how to test appliance efficiency, two DVDs--An Inconvenient Truth and Kilowatt Ours. There are books: The Citizen-Powered Energy Handbook: Community Solutions to a Global Crisis by Greg Pahl, and Your Green Home by Alex Wilson. Consumer's Energy Guide helps with product selection and use for maximum energy savings. Additionally, there are a collection of "energy briefs" from the Rocky Mountain Institute, and a home energy calculator produced by SERG.
The kit will circulate for a week (it'll be 50 cents a day for overdues, so be sure to return it on time).
Lucinda is anxious to use it for an energy analysis here at NPL.
Here's to better conservation, one household --and one library!-- at a time.
Friday, September 21, 2007
Go figure! But I digress.
Art on a Limb involves a series of wooden maple leaves, each decorated by a Vermont artist, with the proceeds from its online auction going to the library of the bidder's choice.
As is the case with most events involving Vermont artists, the responses to the basic problem of design vary wildly. There's something for everyone.
Bidders purchase a "paddle" for the auction for $25, and that's applied to the bid on the chosen art. At this time bidders designate the library to receive their donations.
Online bidding goes until October 14. The winning bids will be announced October 15.
Friday, September 7, 2007
There's shivery glee in the gross, a vein of gold that writer Roald Dahl mined richly. His Revolting Rhymes recast fairy tales into hilarity. His Vile Verses collects his frisky couplets from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, Rhyme Stew, Fantastic Mr Fox, and many others.
Although she is every inch a lady, Children's Librarian Beth Reynolds is hosting a celebration of the works of the frolicsome author Thursday, September 13, at 3:30 p.m., featuring fare from the Revolting Recipes book. The party is best experienced by kids in grades 3-6, who have had the opportunity to read the books and learn to stomach Mr. Dahl's truly unique literary voice and... um... subject matter.
It's best if you call ahead to reserve a place at the table. Lady Beth wants to be sure that she's made a sufficient batch of Bogtrotter's Cake for anyone who might want to attend. She's rather punish herself with a month's worth of Stink Bug Eggs than run out of food for her guests.
Friday, August 31, 2007
My name is Azor Peach. I’m a wizard who lives at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I’m a fourth year student and I love to study Quiddich and flying. I live in the Gryffindor House and my roomates are Harry Potter, Charlie Weasley, Fred and George Weasley (the twins) and Percy “the Prefect” Weasley. My favorite class is Defense Against the Dark Arts. I love to study about counter-hexes and ways to make dark wizards stop being mean. My magical pet is a Saltwater Crocodile named Ironjaw. He’s not like other crocodiles because he can fly. Ironjaw can tell which wizards are bad and he helps me save people who are being cursed. This year I became a seeker on the Gryffindor Quiddich team. I’m a very good flyer and someday I hope to become a professional quiddich player.
There are 27 players on my team. Our captain is a seventh year student named Oliver Wood. I just got a new broom called the Jetbroom 9000. This is the fastest broom in the world! Our team color is green and Ironjaw is our mascot. He comes to all of our games. Last year Gryffindor won the house cup when Harry Potter was seeker. This year, I’m the seeker and I hope to win the cup again.
Our first match of the year is against Slytherin. Draco Malfoy is a Bludger on the Slytherin team. Draco Malfoy is a dark wizard. He cheats and uses the leglocker curse in the middle of games. Draco Malfoy is scared of Ironjaw because Ironjaw knows he’s bad news. Usually Ironjaw can’t catch Draco Malfoy in a match because we keep him on a leash. Today Fred and George, my roomates, took Ironjaw’s leash off to play a joke on Draco Malfoy. Just when I was about to catch the Golden Snitch, Draco Malfoy yelled “locomotor mortis” and sparks flew my way. Before the curse hit me, Ironjaw flew out of the stands and bit Draco Malfoy on the ankle. He crashed to the ground and the sparks went away. Draco Malfoy spent the next couple of days in the Hospital Ward and Gryffindor won the match.
Gryffindor won every game that season. I was the best seeker in Hogwarts history. Scouts from professional teams came to watch me. I was drafted to play on the Saint Louis Stifflebricks as soon as I finished my seventh year of school.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
If you have never read a short story (or twenty) by Grace Paley, one of life's great pleasures still awaits you. If you have read them, you'll doubtless want to read them again. Her output was dwarfed by her political activism; she nonetheless is undisputedly one of our greatest short story writers.
I first stumbled upon her writing when she was to be the featured speaker at a writing workshop I attended each summer on the Left Coast. She would be unable to make her original date, since she had to spend it in jail for pouring blood on the White House lawn.
When she did arrive, she charmed us all with a reading of her stories, which were equal parts witty, earthy, funny, and sad. Her voice was and is singular. I gobbled up her short story collections, The Little Disturbances of Man, Later that Same Day, and Enormous Changes at the Last Minute. She had always said that poetry and short stories were kindred forms, and so it was that her next books would be collections of her poems, Begin Again and Leaning Forward. Her most recent publication was with her husband Robert Nichols, Two by Two.
Here's one of her poems:
Here I am in the garden laughing
an old woman with heavy breasts
and a nicely mapped face
how did this happen
well that's who I wanted to be
at last a woman in the old style sitting
stout thighs apart under
a big skirt grandchild sliding
on off my lap a pleasant
that's my old man across the yard
he's talking to the meter reader
he's telling him the world's sad story
how electricity is oil or uranium
and so forth I tell my grandson
run over to your grandpa ask him
to sit beside me for a minute I
am suddenly exhausted by my desire
to kiss his sweet explaining lips
When I left Santa Cruz and moved to Vermont, there was Grace. I would see her in the parking lot at the co-op, out in front of Lou's, on the Thetford green, at the puppet show in the art gallery. She was easy to spot in the community with that wonderful, soft mane of fluffy white hair. "Amazing Grace," I would say, loud enough for her to hear, then I would scurry shyly away. I have never been good at chatting up famous people.
Since the news of her passing reached us at the library today, the staff has been bustling about, pulling together words and pictures as a tribute--not merely for purposes of display, but out of deep love and respect for the writer and the person.
I comfort myself with the thought that her writing is a way for me to channel her wit, her wisdom, her inimitable voice for as long as I can read. But I'll sure miss that dear, fuzzy head.
Friday, August 3, 2007
Wednesday, August 1, 2007
Take my death shroud and
The remnants of my body.
Take photographs of my corpse at the grave, lonely.
Send them to the world.
To the judges and
To the people of conscience,
Send them to the principled men and the fair-minded.
And let them bear the guilty burden, before the world,
Of this innocent soul.
Let them bear the burden, before their children and before history,
Of this wasted, sinless soul,
Of this soul which has suffered at the hands of the "protectors of peace."
In a genre known for its slim volumes, Poems from Guantanamo (University of Iowa Press), Marc Falkoff, ed., borders on skinny. There are only 31 poems. The Pentagon has confiscated and destroyed many more, 25,000 lines from one poet alone, holding that poetry presents "a special risk" to national security because of its "content and format." The translations that appear have been done by linguists with top secret clearances; Falkoff notes that the grace of phrasing in the originals has been sometimes lost.
Detainees were denied paper and pen for the first year of their incarceration. They wrote on styrofoam cups using pebbles for pens. Most poems ended up in the trash. Once they were granted writing materials, many of their poems met the fate of the cup poems. Many more poems are being stored at the Pentagon, which fears that the poems contain codes to be interpreted on the outside by terrorists.
Handcuffs befit brave young men,
Bangles are for spinsters or pretty young ladies.
--Shaikh Abdurraheem Muslim Dost
It is interesting to note than only eight per cent of the detainees are accused of being al Qaeda fighters, and only five per cent were captured by U.S. forces on Afghanistan battlefields, and fewer than half are accused of committing a hostile act against the U.S. The author of the Cup Poem above was finally released in 2005 after being judged as not a threat to the U.S. When he and his brother began to publish their memoirs of his Guantanamo experience, he was picked up by Pakistani intelligence and hasn't been heard from since.
For one of the very few possible glimpses of the detainees, do read this book.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
She's a familiar sight as she zips from one place to another in town, from the Norwich Historical Society, of which she is a volunteer and president, to our library, where she performs the tasks that help our books to survive the many passages from library to patrons. Nancy is a book processor, adding the protective covering and identifying stamps and labels that mark the volumes of our collection and tell shelvers where they ought to be placed.
Nancy has always fascinated me. She is such a dynamo and has so much direction. A Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania native, Nancy taught fourth grade to the lucky children of Concord, Massachusetts, for many years. She still volunteers with children at the White River School, using the Orton-Gillingham method, a multi-sensory and kinetic program for improving decoding skills in young readers.
When Nancy isn't promoting literacy, protecting books, and fostering an interest in Norwich history, her idea of a good time is an archeological dig. She's gone after Jurassic mammal bones at the DInasaur National Montument and dug at the Popham Colony in Maine, a settlement which was a contemporary of Jamestown. She enjoys a good walk and loves spending time with her grown sons, both of whom live in the Boston area.
Simply being in Nancy's presence is energizing. Intelligent, generous, and community-spirited, she's a one-woman gift to the community. To Nancy, it's all no big deal. She says simply, "Life is full. So why sit around?"
Monday, July 9, 2007
Well! It should take me no time at all to install black lights in the computer area, the better to highlight our da-glo make-up and fingernail polish. If our time has come, we mean to experience it fully. We'll install espresso and bistro bars in the non-fiction and fiction rooms respectively, and we'll have to remind Lucinda to hire us a house band. The new chairs in the fiction room should be perfect for all the soirees that lie ahead of us.
Oh, wait. That's the New York Times. I don't suppose we'll see bars that cater especially to the library crowd with Dewey Decimal-themed drinks any time soon. This is Vermont. Lucinda, cancel the band. Still, motivations for going into librarianship ring true:
Working as a librarian is intellectually stimulating, and the hours are reasonable, for those who have creative pursuits beyond work hours;
Handling information is a call to activism for idealistic folks who see bad things happening when access to information is restricted;
The increase of technology in libraries provides new challenges for a more diverse talent pool.
Librarians as a group are seen today as "smart, well-read, funny people who seem to enjoy their jobs."
Well, shucks. But we do enjoy the job, especially the patrons, who are a delightful part of it.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Monday, July 2, 2007
By Garrison Keillor
June 27, 2007 Consumer confidence was down in June, and so was mine, though for other reasons. I see politics stuck in a spiral of dumbness and the Republican candidates -- the Cavalcade of Unhappy White Men -- leading the way. The other day, Mr. Giuliani came out against "putting government in a situation where government is in charge of so many different things," and a short time later he called for the government to build a fence the length of the Mexican border, "a technological fence," which I guess means something fancier than a mud fence, possibly using kryptonite. And shortly thereafter, he and his fellow Republican candidates arm-wrestled to see who could be more in favor of torture, or "enhanced interrogation techniques," as it's called now.
When politics gets mean and dumb, you can cheer yourself up by walking into a public library, one of the nobler expressions of democracy. Candidates don't mention libraries -- they're more likely to talk about putting people behind bars and no coddling or shilly-shallying with appeals and that judicial nonsense, just throw them in the dungeon and stick their heads in the toilet and do what you gotta do -- and yet when I walk into the library near my house and see a couple hundred teenagers studying, most of them Hmong or Vietnamese, I see the old cheerful America that Washington has lost touch with, the land of opportunity.
The library is the temple of freedom. Growing up, we kids were aware of how much of our lives was a performance for adults. In school, at church, in Scouts, adults were watching, cueing you, coaching, encouraging, commenting; but in the library, you didn't have to perform for the librarian. She simply presided over an orderly world in which you had the freedom of your own imagination. The silence was not repressive but liberating: to allow your imagination to play, uninhibited by others.
Of course, a boy's imagination headed in some directions that the public library could not satisfy, or would not satisfy -- I thought that those particular books were kept behind the librarian's counter and that if she liked me, she would let me see them, so I was a very, very good boy, but then it dawned on me that she probably thought a very, very good boy wouldn't be interested in that sort of thing. (This would happen to me often with women.)
Libraries have rushed forward into the new age (whichever one we're in now), and the word "librarian" is out. They're Information Professionals now, and it's a Media Resource Center, and it's wired to the max. Just as we novelists have become experiential document specialists producing sensory-data-based narratives encoded in a symbolic format that informally we refer to as English. But a library is still a library. It's a place where serious people go to have the freedom to think without anybody poking and prodding them, in the company of other serious people who sit silently around us and yet encourage us in our own pursuits and projects.
My old hometown Carnegie library with the columns and high-domed ceiling was irreplaceable, and so of course it was torn down by vandals in suits and ties and replaced with a low warehouse-looking library that says so clearly to its patrons, "Don't get any big ideas. This is as good a library as you clowns deserve." But the spirit lives on, in the ranks of dedicated women and men who run the place.
The ceremonial strut of candidates competing to show cruelty is pornographic politics. The thrill of talking about torture -- "I would tell the people who had to do the interrogation to use every method they could think of," said Mr. Giuliani. "Water-boarding?" asked a reporter. "... Every method they could think of," said Mr. Giuliani -- it was like a bad novel come to life. (The bald man looked out the window toward the trees where the prisoners were sitting chained to each other. He lit a cigarette. "Use every method you can think of," he said quietly. "How about red-hot needles?" asked the lieutenant. "How about dragging them behind trucks and beating them with barbed wire?" The bald guy smiled. "Spare me the details," he said. "And get me the information.")
(Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" can be heard Saturday nights on public radio stations across the country.)
(c) 2007 by Garrison Keillor. All rights reserved.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Lucinda pointed me to the British Library's site which features the diaries of Iraq's director of the national library. In them he documents the power and water failures, the death threats against library employees and security guards, the lengthy and circuitous routes to work occasioned by the destruction of bridges and roads. Members of his family urge him to leave Baghdad for the security of a city less under siege. Corrupt government officials sit on their hands. The library staff swelters as generators fail. The sun itself (which he capitalizes, significantly) becomes an oppressor to be survived.
The British Library site includes a link to the web site of the Iraqi National Library. I clicked on it, only to have the connection "refused." As I read more of the diaries, I realized that once again, there was probably no power to the library. The diarist has to go to internet cafe to retrieve his emails, so often is there no connection to the library itself. (Update: I did get into the site Wednesday, June 27--it's really interesting and includes articles on restoring the country's national heritage and rebuilding the library. Try the link above; if you aren't successful the first time, keep trying. It's worth the effort.)
As I sat exclaiming over the diaries, children's librarian Beth Reynolds slipped downstairs and returned, bearing The Librarian of Basra, written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter. (The illustration above is from this book.) It's the true story of a dedicated librarian in that city who, when learning of the likelihood of war, began to take bags of books home, to see that they will be spared in the event that the library is bombed. As war became more and more inevitable, she enlists the neighbors of the library in her campaign, and in the course of a few sleepless nights, these guardians of literacy are able to relocate 70 per cent of the collection. Beautifully written and illustrated, it's a children's book worthy of the attention of adult readers.
Here my authorial voice fails. The danger, the destruction, the staff's persistent yearning for the light is more than I can fathom. Keep these brave people in your thoughts and prayers.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
So it turned out that 80 people provided Vermont Public Radio's Meteorologist Mark Breen with a standing room only audience in NPL's Community Room last night. The library staff had to remain outside the room in deference to preserving space for the public, although our Lisa did manage to insert one-half of one shoulder blade into general proximity of the presentation. If the room was hot, the reception was warm!
When it came time for the outdoor portion of the program to what Breen refers to as the visible night sky, the moon and Venus were the only objects bright enough for identification on the evening before the summer solstice. Mark Breen turns out to look as nice as his voice sounds, and the audience really seemed to enjoy what he had to say. There were lots of questions, always a good sign.
For those who didn't quite fit into the Community Room or find the time to attend the presentation, Mark left behind a little of himself: the interactive kiosk from the Fairbanks Museum. When I first saw it, I asked where the joy stick might be found. It looks almost like a video game! Instead, it holds a computerizedl presentation on the planets, and for all those who felt a pang of regret at the declassification of Pluto, a view of it and its sort-of-moon, Charon, is still there for the seeing, along with the rest of those "rocks" who have held onto their jobs.
Come by the library and wander the heavens with the kiosk. It'll be across from the circulation desk till July 18.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Dubbed Get a Clue @ Your Library, this summer reading program offers more than books.
Along with the rich reading fare that is has become a staple to NPL's young patrons, there is the opportunity provided by excursions designed by the good people at Valley Quest.
I'm always interested in discovering what pockets of illiteracy remain in my considerable self. Clearly, I was clueless about Valley Quest. When I asked Children's Librarian Beth Reynolds about the connection between the Get a Clue theme and Valley Quest, she shot me a look that said, "Oh, you poor dear," (my interpretation, I'm sure) and then told me that Valley Quests were actually treasure hunts. In any of the adventures taken by the Questers lies a box, the quest destination, if you will, at which place successful Questers can leave evidence of their having been there and can, at the same time, discover the names of others who have been similarly successful. Sounds like great fun for families and groups of friends.
Beth tells me that she's hoping that her young readers and their families will avail themselves of the Valley Quest option, in addition to the time for relaxed, recreational reading. To offer support to that end, she's offering a rubber stamp workshop for families on Monday, June 25, at 7 p.m. Participants will be given both the know-how and materials for making rubber stamps for the families--a great way to sign off on having found the magic boxes that are part of the Quests. It's a good idea for families to come to this workshop together, since some of the tools used for making rubber stamps are a bit sharp and best handled by the More Mature generation (or so we like to think of ourselves).
Because space will be limited and Beth hopes to have materials for everyone, interested families should call 649-1184 to save a space.
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
But there'll be old friends there, too: people you may not have seen in a while.
Poets. Novelists. Humorists. Biographers. Women and men of letters.
We'll sweeten the deal with refreshments, laughter, community.
Sunday, June 10.
We shan't be gone long: 2-4 p.m. You come, too.
Friday, May 25, 2007
If you're in the mood for a little international experience but your passport has expired, drop by the circulation desk on Thursday afternoons. There you'll swear you've somehow stumbled into the lilt and color of the Champs Elysées, but really, you've just entered the aura of Micheline Lyons.
We at the library are smitten with Micheline. She's smart, chic, and insightful. She's incredibly well read. She leads the Women's International Club in the Community Room, a gathering of bright ladies discussing issues in fine French. When Micheline comes on Thursdays we gather around her like a flock of admiring daughters. We revel in her wit, her warmth, her casual elegance, her joyous energy.
Micheline is passionately involved in the turning fortunes of the world, and the quest for greater international understanding comes naturally to her. A Jewish Parisian whose family fled Hitler's forces during the second World War, Micheline came to the U.S. on the last non-military ship to cross the Atlantic and settled in New York City. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College in a year and a half, then returned to France after the end of the war.
Back in Europe, Micheline worked in Geneva for the World Health Organization of the United Nations as a public information officer, covering meetings, writing press releases and feature stories. One night she attended a cabaret and noticed a handsome young actor ("He was in drag, and I noticed that he had the most beautiful legs!") named Gene Lyons. He wrote and performed witty satires on the local scene. Micheline and Gene married and had their three children in Geneva, continuing to work for the UN, until Gene was posted to the New York headquarters.
Eventually Gene decided to finish his doctorate, and the family headed to Hanover. Gene found a career at Dartmouth as professor, chair and dean, and Micheline co-founded the French program at Marion Cross School, and eventually taught at all levels, including French language, literature, and culture at Dartmouth. She was the executive director of the Rassias Foundation for Language and Culture. Through her work and Gene's, Micheline made friends of many of Dartmouth's famous visitors, and in her continuing search for greater understanding, she continues to read widely in world literature.
Micheline is yet another reason to treasure the connection to this community of readers. She's our one-woman City of Light.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
We are undergoing an awkward period in NPL history: too many books are being shelved without being checked in. Our collective faces are burning red!
We meet as a staff about the problem. We conference on the run. Lucinda orders triple-checks, one above the usual double check. How do they slip through our systems? The last thing anyone needs is an overdue notice on returned books!
There is one thing we ask of patrons: when you're in the library, please use the book return slot. We have found that books left on the counter have occasionally ended up on shelves. This doesn't account for all our mistakes, but we'll know where the returned books are. Putting them through the slot doesn't injure the books. And don't worry about our back as we stoop to pull them out. We'll survive! Sometimes we find books on the counter, and we don't know why they are there.
So take a lesson from our young patrons, Caleb and Madeleine Zuckerman, and use the slot!
Wednesday, May 9, 2007
It's a warm day, but cool air greets us as I follow Connie Cadow down into her basement. After months of talking about gardening and plants, I've asked to see Connie's greenhouse set-up, since I can't quite imagine it. A greenhouse in the basement?
There, among boxes marked Family Pictures and other treasures of time, are Connie's secret for getting the jump on spring: rows of grow-lights, trays of young marigolds, snapdragons, ageratum, and petunias are glowing; tiny basil seedlings are just pushing through. On a table next to the lights is a notebook, with meticulous records on planting dates and germination rates. One day the seedlings were under several suspended lights; the next day, when I returned to take pictures, she'd moved them over to where her husband had set up a hydroponic operation. She's since converted it to more growing space. "Hydroponics have never excited me as much," she explains.
We wandered back upstairs to Connie's quilting set-up: a handsome sewing machine and long counters for spreading out her projects. She's been part of a group meeting at Bugbee Senior Center in White River Junction for the last four years, her projects growing with her expertise. "I gave my grandson a big box of cloth squares last year," she said as she held up the handsome quilt that they were in the process of becoming.
Connie also enjoys a standing date with son Ken, also a Norwich resident, for Western square dancing. They head up to Bradford every week. "It's becoming a lost art," she lamented. "We have just enough people for three full squares."
Most of all, Connie's greatest interest is her family. Pictures of children and grandchildren are everywhere, and she often scoots home from the library in time to welcome them into her home. Last year she and granddaughter Charlotte Cadow teamed up to staff the circulation desk.
Gardener, craftswoman, library volunteer, family woman: Connie Cadow is a special part of Norwich.
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
Itchmo has additional, vital information.
Friday, April 27, 2007
It's often said that busy people get more done, and that has to be the case with our bunch.
They're from everywhere: England, France, Holland, Scotland, and beautiful downtown Vermont. (Someone once said that the whole state's a small town.)
They do and have done everything: parenting, painting, poetry-writing, proof-reading, engineering, musicologizing, theologizing. And I'm not even started!
This afternoon a group of third-graders is outside, taking leaves and picking up fallen branches.
Last night Mike was here paying bills, and Anne and Stefanie were running the circulation desk. They were chatting with Sandi about the Mother's Day plant sale, which they will run under the auspices of the Friends organization. (More about that group soon.)
They're all amazing people with the energy of community. We're incredibly lucky.
Friday, April 13, 2007
We just received a card from Linda Pierce, book wrapper extraordinaire. Linda was writing from Indian Creek Falls (pictured here) in the Great Smoky Mountains. Linda, a nurse at DHMC, has zoomed in regularly to wrap our books in the protective wrappings that help them to survive being loved by many different readers.
I say has zoomed in because we are Linda-less for the next six months, while Linda hikes the 2173-mile Appalachian Trail, all on her own. Linda is a hardy lass, aglow with fitness and good health, and I have no doubt that she will be successful in her quest. I have fretted about the isolation and safety aspects of the journey, but after the video I just borrowed from NPL's collection, I feel a little better.
The DVD is Walking in Freedom, and it's a film made by a hiker who made the journey. I was glad to see that hikers may set out alone, but in the process of taking on this challenge, they quickly bond with others who may be just the helping hand they will need in a tough spot.
There are people in towns along the trail who welcome hikers to rest a bit, to take the half-gallon challenge (eat a half-gallon of ice cream in a sitting), or to consume platter-sized pancakes, since calories are no object. Hiker-friendly boarding houses and camp shelters bring people together, too.
No one can fail to recognize the daunting challenge that hikers face, but it's good to know that there will be some supportive souls along the way. Check out the DVD and take a peek at Linda's journey.
Friday, April 6, 2007
Monday, April 2, 2007
This event is open to everyone: grandparents, grandkids, and everyone in between. Bring a dessert to share, and a favorite poem--yours, if you write them; someone else's if you are a reader-enthusiast.
This is our second annual event, one that we hope to turn into a cherished tradition. Last year over 30 poetry lovers of all ages joined us to celebrate the music of the spoken word.
NPL, hoping to provide local poets with a gathering place, also hosts the Poetry Round Table one Sunday a month. In that group, poets bring their work to share in a supportive group environment. More about that group in an upcoming blog.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Thursday, March 15, 2007
And Tango Makes Three has drawn fire in children's libraries and elementary schools for what critics call its "favorable portrayal of homosexuality." It's about a pair of male penguins who parent an egg from a mixed sex pair of penguins who have one egg too many.
The Top Ten challenged books include, along with their recorded complaints:
- And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell, for homosexuality, anti-family, and unsuited to age group;
- Gossip Girls series by Cecily Von Ziegesar for homosexuality, sexual content, drugs, unsuited to age group, and offensive language;
- Alice series by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor for sexual content and offensive language;
- The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler for sexual content, anti-family, offensive language, and unsuited to age group;
- The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison for sexual content, offensive language, and unsuited to age group;
- Scary Stories series by Alvin Schwartz for occult/Satanism, unsuited to age group, violence, and insensitivity;
- Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher for homosexuality and offensive language.
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky for homosexuality, sexually explicit, offensive language, and unsuited to age group
- Beloved by Toni Morrison for offensive language, sexual content, and unsuited to age group;
- The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier for sexual content, offensive language, and violence.
Children's librarian Beth Reynolds reports that NPL owns a copy of Tango. "It goes out all the time, because it's a nice story," she says.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Monday, March 12--Book Character Party. Conspire with your children to create book character costumes, then join us from 3:30-4:30 p.m. to enjoy the results. For elementary aged children.
Monday, March 26--Library Night! Come play board games from 6 to 8 p.m. Parents and kids welcome!
Thursday, March 29--Scrap Booking at NPL. Bring some photos and put them into the fun format of a scrap book. It's from 7 to 8 p.m. For parents and children.
Consider the library as a resource for other Unplugged activities as well. We have lots of jigsaw puzzles (March 20), and our Friends Book Sale is the perfect follow-up to Floribunda on March 17. You can even pick up cards at Floribunda that will entitle you to a 10% discount at the book sale. The No Homework, No Meetings Night of March 21 can be enhanced with some of our magazines. We have them for all ages.
It's your library. Let us work for you!