Friday, May 23, 2008

Volunteer Spotlight: God's (Latest) Gift to NPL

There's a spark of the divine in NPL volunteers--they're giving the most precious gift anyone can give: their time.

For Kenneth Cracknell and Susan White, pursuit of the divine has been a full-time job: they're theologians.

They have authored boxfuls of books individually and together: he on interfaith dialogue, she on women and worship, they on the history of Methodism, among their many topics and titles. Kenneth was the head of interfaith dialogue for the British Council of Churches. Their theological pursuits seem to be more about the search for unifying truths than rationales for narrow doctrine.

Nearly two years ago the two decamped from their last full-time gig at a Texas divinity school to head to Norwich, where they immediately rolled up their sleeves to give their time to a variety of community causes. Both came right in and volunteered at the library. In addition, Susan sings in the choir and is a deacon at the Norwich Congregational Church. She role-plays patients with a variety of disorders and dysfunctions to students at Dartmouth Medical School. Kenneth runs a fascinating and well-attended theology study group from their home, for which Susan bakes a variety of decadent desserts and chimes in as the spirit moves her. He's taught classes on religion for the ILEAD program at Dartmouth. He's treasurer of the Friends of the Library.

And those are just the commitments that I know about. God only knows (pun intended) what else these two are up to.

For two people relatively new to the community, their familiarity with NPL patrons is extraordinary. They make me think of my own mama's conviction: there's hardly any such thing as a stranger. They are as warm as they are wise.

If I didn't know Whom to thank for such bright lights before, I have a pretty good idea now.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

It's the Lost and Found Fashion Show!

Ours is a community of plenty in a land of the same name. So it's inevitable that some of the largesse of our town will wash up on the banks of NPL.

Our lost and found basket overfloweth.

I am old enough to have had a mother who grew up in the Great Depression. Whenever I misplaced a jacket she hounded me until I tracked it down. To her consternation, there was one car coat that eluded recapture. (I am old enough to have had a car coat, too.)

Recently we decided to hold a Lost and Found Fashion Show of Wayward Apparel for this blog in order to post images of the treasures that overpopulate the basket behind the circulation desk. We recruited Micheline Lyons, because every fashion show, however humble, should
feature a glamorous French woman. At the top she, Sue Bridge, and Lisa Milchman are modeling some of the exquisite chapeaux we offer for reunion with their owners.

Hats are especially abundant in this year's L&F collection. Here Lisa Milchman, fearless leader Lucinda Walker, Micheline and Sue model additional options. I tried to stack bicycle helmets on top of one another To Make a Point (subtlety has never been a virtue of mine), but they tumbled
off, so here are Lucinda and Lisa, with Sue Bridge lurking in the background, playing the parts of Lands End-type tourists to highlight the bicycle helmets, hats and gloves available to today's trendy outdoor enthusiasts. (The pink camera is part of the collection, too. Is it yours?)

Not only are hats, gloves, jackets, and a single pair of children's snow pants awaiting you, but books and toys grace the basket as well. It's no accident that several images from our photo shoot feature Lisa thoroughly absorbed in a book left behind by what
must have been a particularly philosophical child.

Lisa has never been one to shrink from life's Big Questions, so it was no surprise that she should immerse herself in Who Lives in the Pond? a book as padded in presentation as profound in inquiry. Who, indeed, lives in the pond? And under what auspices, hmmm?

I don't suppose that this is the season for noticing that winter hats are missing, but we do reach out and hope that some parents who are reincarnations of my own waste-not, want-not mama will drop by and relieve us of a few of our treasures.

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Sweetness of Spring

That we are all ready for warm weather, sunny skies, and brilliant blooms goes (almost) without saying.

But there are other pleasures of spring, some of which come through the chores of the season.

Last week the kindergarteners from Marion Cross School descended upon us, rakes in hand,
to assist with spring clean-up. Out went all the leftover leaves, fallen branches, and other detritus of winter. In came the sweet spirits that seem to run on limitless energy and delight in small things.

The children work mostly in the back yard of
the library, a place that we adults don't see often enough. Just peeking in on them reminds us of why school kids enjoy the area so much on sunnier days.

Spring clean-up is an annual tradition that bridges the library with the school community. We appreciate and enjoy it immensely!