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.