Friday, October 29, 2010

Celebrating a Natural Connection

Some of my fondest memories of my youth are associated with reading and eating. (I say youth because in those days I could combine these two joys with impunity).

It's therefore no surprise that I greeted the fall fundraiser, BookFeast, Read It and Eat, with more than a glimmer of recognition. A story walk that's combined with breakfast crepes! A master baker who writes cookbooks! Foodies who blog! The possibilities are endless.

I even found a blog entry that focused on the best and worst foods to eat while reading

Along with the events that comprise this fundraiser, we have some amazing books on display. One that I find most compelling is What I Eat, a series of photographs of  people and their basic diets.  Also available are such diverse treatments of food themes as Eat My Words: Reading Women's Lives through the Cookbooks They Wrote, What Einstein Told His Cook: Food Science Explained, The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, My Year of Meats, and Confessions of a Closet Master Baker. Add to these titles those from our considerable collection of cookbooks and our subscriptions to Cook's and Bon Appetit, and you have just about everything you need to personalize this connection.  

Clearly there are lots of ways to bake this cake.The events take lots of forms, too:  Tuesday, Nov. 2 Jeffrey Hamelman talks about his life as a baker with King Arthur, with a lunch catered by King Arthur and Lisa Cadow. Thursday, Nov.4, Lucinda will lead kids and parents on a story walk with breakfast crepes to be prepared by Lisa Cadow. (Definitely an event for the Dawn Patrol, since it begins at 7:15 a.m. on the library lawn.) Friday night, Nov. 5 will be foodie-movie night in the Community Room, featuring Mostly Martha

And on we go, eventually heading for the Gala cocktail party Nov. 18, from 6-8, the piƩce de resistance, featuring both cocktails and hors d'oeuvres to die for.

In the meantime, don't be distressed if someone at the circulation desk tells you that the item you're checking out is restricted. It only means that you've won a chocolate doubloon from Champlain Chocolates.
That kind of restriction I could definitely live with.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Day of the Pelican: Dive Right In

As a transplanted coastal person, my affection for pelicans goes 'way back. I worried about their survival in the 1960s, when they were on the Endangered Species list. I rejoiced at the regeneration of their numbers when I visited the Oregon Coast last year and saw them flocked in the hundreds everywhere we went.

I've spent many happy hours watching pelicans dive; their dive is the oddest combination of clumsiness and grace. You can't feel bad when you are watching pelicans dive.

I know that Katherine Paterson's Day of the Pelican is more about refugees than birds, but I can't help but take pleasure in the title. It's my read for this weekend, and perhaps it's yours, too. In the last week 75 copies have flown out of here, all for free, all simply taken rather than checked out, with the understanding that they might well find their way into many homes rather than simply one, as the community reads this novel as a shared experience.

It's pretty common knowledge hereabouts that Katherine Paterson is a Vermont author, a Barre resident. She also is a wonderful storyteller. 

Long ago and in another country I watched groups of otherwise well mannered elementary teachers come almost to blows as they sparred to add her Bridge to Terabithia to a district's core reading list. Would it be assigned to grade 4, grade 5, or grade 6? I listened to teacher after teacher argue for its placement in her grade, her classroom, so passionate was each to have the pleasure of sharing Paterson's little masterpiece with her students.

And so it's off I go to my weekend encounter with another Paterson gift. If you should have one of the Pelicans, I urge you to enjoy, then to pass on to a friend, neighbor, or family member. If you haven't gotten a copy and a neighbor has, ask to be next on the list. 

Let's send these books throughout the delightful community that is Norwich, and then, when the frost is on the pumpkin, let's get together and share our impressions. Beth Reynolds will be gathering with our kids, and Stephanie Smith will be conducting a discussion with adults, sometime around or just after Halloween. 

No tricks; just treats.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Happy to Share

For some time I have been noticing people parked in their cars and bent over their laptops and PDAs early in the morning before we open. It's a sight that makes me smile, because our wireless signal transcends our ordinary schedule. 

Our latest public survey tells us that many people would like it if the library were open (check each that applies) earlier, later, and on Sundays. We'd like that too, in the better world that lies out there in the vapors. (Vapors are notoriously short on cold, hard cash).

So it surprised us to learn of a library in Alaska that actually encourages the police to arrest those who access its wi-fi when it's closed. Where's the harm?

Concerned that I was missing some subtle library point, I asked Lucinda. After all, I'm not a Real Librarian, and I wondered if I was being loose with resources, rather like a kid who works in an ice cream parlor and wants to give free cones to all her pals.

The boss was puzzled. "Why would they do that?" she asked. "I like knowing that there's something we can offer the public 24-7."

She went on to tell me that some libraries do turn off their wi-fi when they close, because they don't want the public "using" their signals, as if they could somehow wear them out.

They can't.

So come ahead, Norwich. The boss says it's all right. If we could be open more hours, we'd be delighted. In the meantime, if a cup of joe in a travel mug and an email check-in in our parking lot is helpful, we are more than happy to share.

Chief Robinson, it's cool.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Dive Right In!

Those Friends of ours.

They're Friends with  a capital F, to be sure, as in the Friends of the Norwich Public Library, and on Friday and Saturday of this week they'll be selling quality used books at bargain basement prizes in the Community Room here at the library.

Hours for the sale are 3-8 p.m. on Friday, June 25, and 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, June 26. Everything is half price after 1 p.m. on Saturday.

As is so often the case, we've been inundated by quality donations, so you can count on a great selection.

On Friday I'm sure I'll see a line of buyers trailing from the top of the stairs to the door of the Community Room. We see a lot of book sellers come through who are eager to re-stock their inventory.

You come, too. We like to see the best bargains go to our wonderful patrons.

Surf's up!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

No Secret Handshake Required

It's really simple, our new adult summer reading club. You just sign up, toss down a bit of chocolate to seal the deal (not required, but yummy), and go about your business.

There'll be weekly drawings for prizes--a gift certificate from a local business, a pretty plant, a product from a local crafts person. Something grand at the end of the season (September 3, just before Labor Day weekend, to be exact.

There'll even be a couple of small, tasteful get-togethers to chat with one another about what we're reading and what we might read in the future, and a discussion group around the novel Look at Me, by Jennifer Egan, featured in our newest book bag.

Yes, yes--very nice. But how does this prize business work?

Just drop a slip into the jar at the desk each week with your name and the name of the book you've read, and we'll have a Friday drawing. We'll keep the undrawn slips from each week and apply them toward the grand prize drawing on September 3.

The more you read, of course, the greater the number of little slips to be drawn for the various prizes.

Do join us! It's going to be fun. And we'll keep our word about the no deadlines, no pop quizzes, and no secret handshakes.

Just pleasant and stress-free summer reading.


Feel the Power!

As I pore over the comments from the surveys so many of you took the time to fill out, I can't help but notice that we have work to do when it comes to communicating the existence of services we already offer.                                

I learned, for example, that many patrons wish that we'd provide services like online notification of impending due dates and electronic notifications that books on hold have come in. Patrons also want to be able to place items on hold and renew them online.

Guess what! We already do offer these options. They are some of our well-kept secrets, not that we mean them to be.

Follow these guidelines, and you'll feel as empowered as this hunk of burning love (although perhaps not as fortified by symbolic back-up. We're the library, and we can do only so much.)

Your first item of business has to be to come into the library, (or if you're feeling cavalier about revealing your log-in and password, to give us a call. We can help you over the phone.) We need to modify your record to establish our online relationship.

(Oh, dear. That sounds like e-dating, doesn't it? Fraught with potential disappointment!)

This option is much more promising than e-compatibles. Once you've set up your account, then you can Exercise Your Options. Do you want to be forewarned and forearmed about due dates for your books and DVDs? Just check the box asking for an email that will do so. 

Monday, May 3, 2010

Taking to the Skies

Kites and children have so much in common.

For one thing, there's their beauty. Both are inherently gorgeous. For another, both are capable of soaring, one physically, the other spiritually.

We're having a delightful spring as we get together with our Norwich children for a series of kite-making workshops.

We worked with about 20 children on Saturday at the Rubber Duckie Race, and what a thrill it was to see them color and build their kites, then take them for test flights across Huntley Meadow! We couldn't help but cheer.

On Wednesday, the 5th of May, we will meet with children after school for another round of kite building workshops. We'll be making sled kites, bird kites, and delta kites.

We'll invite the kids to join us at Huntley Meadow on Wednesday, May 12, to send them aloft. This get-together isn't to be confused with the kite days formerly held by Marion Cross School. We haven't the resources to walk everyone to Huntley Meadow, as the entire school used to do. The sixth graders won't be passing out popsicles to the entire student body. (It gives me no pleasure to note this last fact.) This will be a smaller group, and we ask that children under 8 be accompanied by a parent or otherwise responsible adult.

We'll be there from 12:30 to 2 p.m., (it's an early release day) and then, alas, we library types must return to our library duties. Older students may want to stay on, weather permitting. Children will otherwise need transportation home or to their next adventure of the day.

Speaking of weather, we haven't scheduled a rain date, should Mother Nature withhold the necessary support for good flight. If we must cancel, we'll be in touch with Marion Cross staff by 11 a.m.

Let's hope that we're greeted with blue skies and sweet breezes. Those kites fly pretty nicely with just a little encouragement.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Lord Loves a Duck, and So Should You

What a thrill it must be to back a champion.

Since Hannah Kearney already has sponsors, those of you looking for a little vicarious local sporting glory might consider sponsoring a promising young quacker in the upcoming Rubber Ducky Race, brought to you by the Friends of the Norwich Public Library.

Their first-ever Great Rubber Ducky Race, to be held Saturday, May 1, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. offers you a shot at the spotlight, however reflected.Meet us on the Blood Brook side of Huntley Meadow to join in the fun.

Claim bragging rights (and a hundred bucks) when the ducky you've sponsored crosses the finish line first! Or enjoy the comfy Red Sox Rocker that currently graces our lobby. (That's second prize, but I have a patron who would happily take it over first prize, so obsessed is he with the Red Sox.) You can whip up a batch of goodies from one of the several cookbooks provided by King Arthur's Baking Store, or you can win a $25 gift certificate for the Friends' upcoming Mother's Day plant sale.

Of course, champions are made, not born. I suggest that you sponsor a duck for $5 (or six for $25) and then do what all good coaches do these days: focus on the fundamentals, and supply affirmations and winning visualizations to psyche your ducky up.

You can sign up to sponsor a duck at the circulation desk of the library, and then the mental work will be up to you. 

Race day ought to be hilarious. Do take an hour or two off from the Nearly New Sale and head down to Huntley Meadow to cheer on your favorite.

And may the best duck win!

Friday, April 2, 2010

More than Just Pretty Faces

What a pleasure it was to work with volunteer Anne Goodrich at the Circulation Desk last Saturday. She's an amazing person, and I always learn something from her. (She's also lots of fun, but that's another story.)

As we checked people in and out, I noticed how frequently Anne encouraged patrons to get the new library cards. I have been pretty laid back on their promotion, but I noticed that by promoting them, she was raising patrons' awareness on what we actually offer now. Talk about a marketing natural! Anne, you could sell me my own car, and I'd see it as new!

You don't actually have to trade in your old  library card to get some of our new offerings, but the new card is emblematic of what has some with it: new software that empowers the patron. So why not make it a package deal?

Once you come in to perform the old card switcheroo, you can sign up for some of our new services. By giving yourself a log-in name and password, you will be able to search the catalog for the item you want and place a hold on it. Once you've checked the item out, you will be able to renew it online. If you give your account additional settings, the software will even send you an email of its due date in advance. 

As my Uncle Al used to say, about the only thing this software doesn't do is fluff up your hair and tell you how pretty you are.
As you can see here, we offer two new designs, the I Read, Therefore I Am motif by Ken Davis, and the glowing facade of the library by Libby Tolman. They come with an additional key tag for people who are weary of rummaging through their bags for their cards, but who always have their keys at the ready.

Are you sentimental about your old purple card? Some people are, and you can still access the opportunities described above. Just ask to set up your account so that you can conduct library business from your home computer.

Next time you're in, avail yourself of the account, if not the new card. Better yet, make it both.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Under a Spell of Sorts

How do you spell dumbbell?

That was the first challenge for the teams among which the Buns of Steel competed this year. In that Mulligan round the Buns alone provided the correct number of Bs, but Mulligan rounds being what they are, we went on to bomb out in the Regular round on moiety. (Moral of the story: never forsake an honest diphthong.)

The Buns this year were made up of Captain Lisa Milchman, Friends Treasurer Kenneth Cracknell, and buck-private Stephanie Smith. Kenneth's ducky-chapeau created the fashion statement of the evening, and he delighted in  pressing a button near his temple that resulted in a resounding series of quacks. He was publicizing the upcoming Friends' Rubber Duckie Race May 1.  (Be there or be square!)

"K.C.," observed Buck Private Smith, "You seem to have found your voice." He did not disagree. 

As usual, victory eluded us, and above you can see Nancy Dean, Priscilla Vincent, and Sandra Dell savoring their win. The Spell Chicks of the Norwich Women's Club were delighted, as were we. That organization does so much for the community.

Here we are, performing the 2010 version of our signature "Shh!" cheer, which was accompanied by a sort of seated choreography.

The Spelling Bee has become one of my favorite events. It has just the right balance of silliness and stimulation to capture my heart. 

Maybe we'll study next year. Who knows?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

TTBOOK Explores the Fascinating Nooks and Crannies of Living and Thinking

This post isn't about the library.

I'm breaking form to sing the praises of a most stimulating new show on Vermont Public Radio, To the Best of Our Knowledge. It's the creation of a team of very bright people in Wisconsin, one of which is the daughter of our patrons Edmond and Susan Strainchamps, interesting people in and of themselves, as so many NPL patrons are. That's the lovely, lively, and very bright Anne Strainchamps in the photo.

You can catch To the Best of Our Knowledge, (shortened to TTBOOK for acronymic convenience)at 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoons. If you find yourself away from the radio on Saturday afternoon, you can catch the podcast at your convenience through ITunes.

TTBOOK, which features Jim Fleming as the anchor and Anne Strainchamps and husband Steve Paulson as principal interviewers, organizes episodes around themes. Yesterday I did my quilting to a show organized around physics, and another on the hive mind. This morning I listened to a podcast on writers and writing.

The physics show focused on physics in all directions--the necessity of physics knowledge for the President of the US, a profile of the family of High Everett, who hatched the theory of parallel universes, a discussion of eccentric physicists, and physics-based literature, including a novel on Newton and physics poetry.

The Hive Mind featured everything from an expert on honeybees to swarm intelligence to a critique of the hive mind in a culture impacted by communications technology. An episode on the writing life featured an interview with John Cheever's biographer, an interview with novelists Elizabeth Strout and Marilynne Robinson, and one with writing workshop diva Natalie Goldberg. Great stuff!

I've subscribed to TTBOOK's podcasts. They're wonderfully enriching and energizing. Anne, Steve, and Jim are able interviewers, and I both admire their skill and envy them the opportunities they create for themselves in pursuing such fascinating topics.

Susan and Edmond, you must be terribly proud. As for me--I'm addicted.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Embracing Hannah-Mania

Don't ever mistake us bookish types as being indifferent to Olympic glory, especially when it's rooted in our community.

Like Hannah Kearney fans everywhere in the Upper Valley, we were excited about her triumphant parade through the towns that claim her. Lisa very graciously agreed to tend the fort while Lucinda, Wendy, and I went in shifts to celebrate with the rest of the town.

I took the early shift, and in came Hannah, in a blaze of VW Bug glory, waving while the children (I count myself among these) yelled and waved. Hannah did us one better--taking pictures of the crowd on her own camera. She hopped out of the car and walked down the street, high-fiving the children who reached out to her, accepted a hat in the shape of a Seuss-like birthday cake, and headed for the bandstand while she graciously listened to everybody older than she say nice things about her. I hopped around with the library's digital camera, firing away, reveling in the beauty of the community and the talent, spunk, and tenacity of the young woman we were celebrating.

At that point my shift was up, and sighing, I returned to my library duties. I handed off the camera to the arriving Lucinda and came back, delighted by the very warm and delightful Olympic champion who knew just how to connect with kids, who quickly donned the signed tee shirt that Dan Frasier gave her, and who seemed the very ideal of the hometown girl who knows where she came from. I went home and raved about what a wonderful person she seemed to be, how like the good-hearted community she came from.

A few days rolled by, and as I was working the desk, a young woman came in with a poster rolled up under her arm. She waited patiently while I checked out a book. I thought she was one of the many people who come in seeking bulletin board space for posters. "May I help you?" I asked.

"I just wanted to leave this poster for the library," she said, handing it to me, along with an envelope that said, "For NPL from Hannah Kearney."

That magic name! I asked, "Oh, Hannah Kearney! How is she? Where is she?" hoping for a little news.

"Uh, right here. I'm Hannah," she said.

Great visual memory, Lulu. I'd only watched her perfect moguls run a dozen times on the Internet. Maybe if she'd come in in helmet and goggles... Hannah grinned at my gaffe and shook my hand and asked my name. Very personable, as lovely up close as she was from the bandstand the week before.

The poster I'd assumed was for the bulletin board turned out to be a signed and suitable for framing picture of Hannah; the envelope contained the proceeds of the Hannah bumper sticker sale at Dan & Whit's.


We will be framing the poster. We are most grateful for the donation. Most of all, we are warmed by the down-to-earth spirit of our town's young champion.

If you needed to create a perfect Olympic champion, full of heart and mind, of agile and disciplined body, you couldn't do better than the young woman we already have.

Thanks, Hannah. All your stars are out, and it couldn't happen to a nicer person.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Food-Fine-Forgive Connection

This is the week of the Norwich Lions' food drive on behalf of the Haven, and NPL is playing a modest role as drop-off point for contributions of comestibles.

We're kicking up our commitment to the drive with this offer: in return for an item of food from the Lions' recommended list, we'll waive a fine on an individual item.

What items are recommended? Juices top the list as most-needed. Also on the list:
rice side dishes
canned fruit
canned vegetables
baked beans
canned beef stew
canned chili
peanut butter
instant mashed potatoes
canned tomatoes
baking mixes
baby formula

So drop by with your items. The donation box is set up by the circulation desk. Give us a heads-up, and we'll remove a fine on an item for you. Bring in two recommended items, and we'll remove two fines, three and we'll remove three fines, and so on.

Thanks in advance. In these times your generosity is especially appreciated.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The New Year's Must-Have Accessory

It's great to have a secret pal, especially one with special powers.

Ours has the power to send sweet-faced people bearing tidy little sums of money into the library.

The Norwitch, as s/he signs on the local list serve, has launched a campaign of unity and good will that includes the library. Request one of the keen bumper stickers, and the Norwitch will slip over to the main post office at White River Junction, someone told me, the better to keep his/her identity secret. The request? Walk into the library and give 'em five bucks for each sticker.

We have nothing to do with the production and distribution of the sticker, but we seem to be beneficiaries. How nice is that?

And so this week we have have the pleasure of a variety of patrons walking up to the Circulation Desk, bearing the cash that corresponds to the number of bumper stickers sent their way.

The Norwitch is a sort of post-holiday Secret Angel. Someone out in the vast tracts of Norwich's lovely and lively acres has figured out a way to bring a smile to our little librarians' lips.

Who is our benefactor? It's as much fun to guess as it is not to know. After all, not knowing makes everyone a potential library supporter. I do have my suspicions, but they are all I have.

The generosity of the Norwitch and the willingness of holders of the bumper sticker to carry the kindness forward certainly send us into 2010 with a spring in our step.

Just another reason that this non-resident holds this community close to her heart.