Wednesday, May 30, 2007

June 10 Open House: Everybody's Coming!

It's an Open House to show off our new colors, new layout, better signage--all that sort of library stuff.

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

Volunteer Spotlight: Merveilleuse Micheline

The National Weather Service has issued a gush alert, effective during the time this blog is being written. High winds of excessive admiration may cause considerable damage to the prose style of this post. Readers are advised to take shelter until the blogger's emotions come under control.

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

How the (Little) Pros Do It

We're hoping you won't recognize this scenario, but we know that some of you will: on a Friday or Saturday, the mail comes, and in it is an overdue notice from us. What gives? You returned those books and DVDs last week, and on time!

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!

And thanks!

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

NPL Volunteer Spotlight: Connie Cadow

If you're new to town and want to meet interesting people, meet (or become!) a library volunteer. I am continually amazed by the talents and experiences of NPL volunteers.

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

More Grim News on the Pet Food Front

My closest friend is a California librarian whose motto is "Information is my life." It's always been good for a chuckle between us, though it's certainly true. In libraries, information is the product.

Now it seems that, more than ever, information is crucial to the preservation of lots of lives, especially for those who are in no position to act on it.

The FDA now tells us that the pet food scandal is getting worse instead of better. Here are the latest FDA figures:

* Total reports of illness or death: 17,000

* Total cats reported dead: 1950

* Total dogs reported dead: 2,200

These figures depart wildly from those reported during our last posting. The number of brands has jumped, including some "premium" brands found at our local feed outlets, and certainly the "store" brands at such places as Wal Mart and Price Chopper.

Itchmo has additional, vital information.
Please follow the link in the headline above to the specific information that will help you to keep your pets safe. And share information with your friends and family, here and far away. There's an update of withdrawn brands at the circulation desk, too. Check it out.