Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Book Tips Across the Atlantic: Love from Jane

Charlotte Canelli is the library director at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, MA. Read Charlotte's column in the April 24, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.     

       At times I wonder if you are fatigued of my writing. Lately, my columns seem to include too many stories about disaster and loss. I’ve tried to tie those discussions to books in the library that might benefit one of our readers who might be intrigued by the topic or those who are journeying through experiences much like I have. I’ve tried to share stories that might strike a chord, touch a place in your own heart, or encourage you to read what I've shared with you.

            This week I lost a very special colleague who was a Massachusetts librarian for 25 years.  Her death came as a shock.  How could someone younger than me and one so inspirational to others leave so quickly and unexpectedly?

I must admit, I don’t know many personal details of Jane Dutton’s life before I met her.  I do know she was raised up in California just as I was. I know that she received her master’s in library science from Simmons College in Boston and her first years as a professional librarian were spent in the children’s room, much like mine were.  Nine years after becoming the children’s librarian in Holden, Massachusetts, she was promoted to library director.  For another 12 years she was much loved in Holden where her enthusiasm for the community and her love for reading became legendary across Massachusetts.

            When I relocated back to Massachusetts to take on the directorship in a central Massachusetts town, a group of local, caring librarians took me under their charge and shepherded me through my first years as an administrator. One of those amazing librarians was Jane Dutton. They provided guidance while I tackled bureaucratic and confusing reports.  They encouraged me while I battled difficult library scenarios.  They were undeniably the finest resource for insider information in Massachusetts.  They were also the definitive proof that librarians are the most valuable friends on the planet.

            Jane Dutton was a voracious reader.  Over the years, I relied on Jane’s Picks – her monthly book reviews and recommendations. In breakfast meetings, with her usual wicked wit, Jane would recall the latest episode of the television series that she was watching and she would leave us in stitches.

Jane watched it all, she read it all, and she shared it all.

            Jane retired from the Gale Free Library in Holden, MA and ended her official library career earlier than expected in 2011.  On a wing and a prayer (and an enormous belief in the great things that would come) she moved to The Netherlands to live with her newfound partner (and future wife), Natasha. From the town of Utrecht, twenty miles from Amsterdam, Jane quickly began writing blog posts that described her unique experience of a retired-American librarian in The Netherlands.  I wasn’t alone in loving to read Jane’s blog. Two years after writing her first post, Jane announced that she was receiving 30,000 web hits from all over the world.

True to Jane’s form, each of Jane’s posts was headed by a movie title.  The posts usually finished with some kind of recommended reading or watching. Some posts were poignant and most were hilarious.
            One of my favorites was “The Breakfast Club” written on April 15, 2011.  She explained the Dutch love of Nutella and sprinkles (as large as ‘ants on steroids’) - a touch of sweetness simply spread on bread for breakfast.  She described omelets eaten for any meal, any time. She ended that "Breakfast Club" post with Jane’s Boekentips (translated from the Dutch to English as “book tips): Breakfast with Scot by Michael Downing, Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo and Bachelor Brothers’ Bed and Breakfast by Bill Richardson. 

In another early blog post named Up, Jane described the years she spent as the tallest girl in school in California.  As an adult, she stood 5’8” and felt as if she towered above most people.  In Holland, however, the Dutch (the tallest people in world) often made Jane “feel like a Smurf in the land of Avatar.” Her recommended reading?  The Giant’s House by Elizabeth McCracken and The Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker.

            In February, Jane described how she had just received a jury summons from Massachusetts, three years after she had departed the Commonwealth for Holland.  “I guess word of my exit had not reached the courthouse,” she wrote.  She then explained that there are no juries in The Netherlands.  The judge decides the case.  Her post ended with a recommendation to watch 12 Angry Men.

            Jane wrote her last post from The Netherlands just three years after her first.  On April 15, Jane’s wife Natasha posted for her; Jane could no longer type or write. It was a dictated description of her last journey with The Mary Tyler Moore Show - hilarious, American 70s television that was helping her to ease the pain of liver cancer. As usual, Jane was remarkable. She was funny and honest, and she shared her love of all 168 episodes.

            When Jane Dutton lost her not-quite-three-month battle on April 17, I sat in disbelief.  A group of her friends, myself included, had just gathered the week before for a photograph meant to humor and heal her. While the photo touched her deeply when it reached her online through the magic of Facebook, how could she have lost her battle so quickly? My heart broke for her wonderful new family and her host of friends around the world.  How would we never read another post, another book or movie recommendation, another bit of wicked wit from a woman who spent her life sharing her wisdom with others?

I will always be inspired by Jane Dutton, the quintessential librarian.   If I could have, I would have told her: “Rest in peace, Jane, knowing that I will reread your blog posts and “boekentips” with the same smile - but this time with a tear in my eye.”

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Going to the Dogs

Read Kate Tigue's column in the April 17, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin. Kate is a Children's Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library.

The library’s current community program, Norwood Reads: Following Atticus, kicked off with a fabulous author event at the end of March and is now in full swing! After reading the book and reflecting on Tom Ryan’s thoughts on dog ownership, I started to reminisce about dogs in my life. When I was a young child, I was deathly afraid of dogs. I blame Honeybun, a yappy dachshund with no love for small kids and overindulgent owner. If a dog was being walked down the street, I had to be on the other side, wailing while clutching the leg of a bewildered parent. My dad often had to carry me into dog owners’ homes. My two dog-loving parents didn’t get it and set out to find a permanent solution to my canine phobia.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Boston Stronger

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the April 10, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

Many of us remember where and when we first learned that President Kennedy was assassinated, that the Twin Towers had been struck on September 11th and that kindergarteners were murdered in cold blood in the classrooms at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  We hold that coffee cup again, we shake our heads in disbelief, we stare at the television screen or the words on a computer monitor. We wonder how we will face the world we now know and we mourn for the lives of childhoods that have lost their innocence.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Pitter Patter of Little ... Paws?

Read Alli Palmgren's column in the April 3, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin. Alli is the Technology Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library.

A few years ago, my husband Andy and I decided to expand our family of two. We settled on getting a puppy.

While I had had a dog as a kid, my family had rescued our Boxer, Helen (she was from Troy, New York), as an adult. Because she had been used for breeding in a puppy mill, the only thing she knew was how to be a mom. For all intents and purposes, she was a human that just happened to walk on four legs instead of two. She didn’t fetch or play with toys. Helen just liked to watch TV. We had never really trained her and while she didn’t know any fancy tricks, she knew how to act like a civilized person.

Lost: Mysteries in the Air

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the March 27, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

           As I compose this column, there has been no news about the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 that went missing on Saturday, March 8.  Searches are continuing in the Indian Ocean, numerous miles from the Australian coastline.  Families are frustrated with grief and disbelief. 26 countries are included in the search that now covers millions of square miles.

            Possibly by the time of printing of this column, some kind of explanation will have been determined.

            Of course, most of us have been baffled by this mystery.  Some ask how their cellphones disclose their actual location in Norwood, MA, but there is no means of finding the wreckage of this Boeing 777. Others ask why there is no tracking device for this immense jet other than its elusive black box.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Indianapolis - A City and a Ship

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the March 20, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

Last week, a day or so before I was scheduled to travel to a professional library association conference in Indianapolis, I stumbled across a book on the discount shelf in the Barnes and Noble entryway. The name in the title, Indianapolis, piqued my interest because I was curious about the city that warned of over 8 inches of snow buffeting a bevy of hotels crowded around a busy convention center.

I’m a city-lover and I wondered what memories and images I take home with me from the Indiana's capitol. Conferences never leave me sufficient time for meandering or touring, yet I always try to fit in a journey to the library or to a park where I can learn a bit of a city's history or glean a taste of its culture.  So, I decided to check out a copy of Doug Stanton’s “In Harm’s Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors” (2001) from our the library and read it on the plane.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Lords of the Household

Margot Sullivan is a part-time reader's advisory and reference librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read her column as published in the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin on March 13, 2014

The library will begin its ONE BOOK ONE COMMUNITY READ with multiple events on Tuesday March 25.  As many of you may already know the book that we chose is FOLLOWING ATTICUS: FORTY-EIGHT HIGH PEAKS, ONE LITTLE DOG, AND AN EXTRAORDINARY FRIENDSHIP by Tom Ryan.  I have already learned that Atticus is a miniature schnauzer and is a delightful dog to have as a companion. This got me thinking about the pets in my life and I was amazed to remember some names!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Long Winter

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the March 6, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

           This winter, the mounds of snow, the icy walks, and seemingly never-ending Nor’easters have reminded me of two famous books.  One is the “Winter of Our Discontent” by John Steinbeck.  The other is “The Long Winter” by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

            Of course, the “Winter of Our Discontent” by Steinbeck doesn't reference snow and ice and storms. Steinbeck’s “Winter” is based on the first lines of Shakespeare’s “Richard III”, a play that eludes to a stormy and metaphorical winter of discontent, contrasted by the analogous splendid summer.  The discontent is relevant because of the constant dialogue we’ve all had with ourselves and each other.  “I’ve had it with winter!”  “Winter makes me sick.”  Or “Winter.  I’m sooooo done with it.” Discontent might be an understatement.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Running with Conviction

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the February 27, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

            When Marian Walsh was 33 years old, she sensed that something was missing in her life. Born into a loving family in one of Boston’s southernmost neighborhoods - Roslindale, Walsh attended and graduated from Ursuline Academy in Dedham and Newton College of the Sacred Heart in Newton Centre (part of Boston College since 1974). 

             By 1988, she had several advanced degrees – a master’s degree from Harvard’s Divinity school and a law degree from Suffolk University.  Yet, Walsh felt what she now describes as a ‘void’ in her life. She had been raised with a sense of gratitude – or paying it back. That feeling of appreciation became a passion for public service as a means to pay it forward.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

All Dogs Go to Heaven

April Cushing is the Adult Services Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read her column published in the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin on February 20, 2014.

July 6, 2013—seven months and seven days ago today—was an unlucky one for me. It was the day my dog got run over and killed. It happened in my driveway on the Cape while I was in the backyard. It was an accident, I know, and Duffy was no pup. Nonetheless, I was devastated, and so was the driver. My devoted companion of almost 14 years was gone and I never even got to say goodbye.

Shortly afterwards I received a condolence note from my boyfriend’s mother. “I’m sure it cast a pall over the entire weekend,” she wrote. You have to admire someone who has so thoroughly mastered the art of understatement. I handed the note to her son to read.

“Mom’s not much of a dog person,” he admitted.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sweetness and Light

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the February 13, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

Volunteers from Norwood (and some surrounding towns) donate thousands of hours each year working in the Morrill Memorial Library.  From those who pick up canvas bags of books to deliver to the those who can’t physically make it into our building, to those who tutor students from countries all over the world, our volunteers are a wonderful bunch of people.  We have volunteers in every department of the library who contribute an hour or two or more of their time each and every week giving generously to the Norwood community.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

"Once" Upon a Time

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the February 6, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

Sometime in the last year or so, I saw the DVD of the Indie film “Once”.  I’m not certain if the film was one of the lucky things I stumbled across when working at the front desk of the library, or whether I heard about it from someone else first. One of the delightful advantages of being a librarian is that the world of books, music, movies and more that sit within my easy reach every day.

I adored the movie – it's the story of a somewhat hapless Dublin busker and a young Czech girl who meet on the streets of Ireland. Although it is the fictional tale of a story of unrequited, yet star-crossed, love, it is also a story of hope. The movie is full of tenderness and lovely musical moments – surely ingredients for success in my book.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Accounting for Dogs

Nancy Ling is an Outreach Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read the published version of Nancy Ling's column in the January 30, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

As with many children growing up in the seventies, I had a love of dogs that began with one television show—Lassie. Didn’t every kid long for heroic friend to push all the world’s bad guys into a well? While Lassie took less than 30 minutes to solve her weekly drama, I’d wait on the edge of my seat for the commercials to wrap up and a happy ending to occur.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The New England Connection: Authors We Love

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the January 23, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

It goes without saying that we live in a region of the country abundant in literary tradition.  For several centuries, much of the literature of our country had its roots in Massachusetts and the five other states in New England. No college American literature course is complete without a discussion of John Winthrop, William Bradford, Increase Mather and Roger Williams. And while many of us may have struggled to keep awake reading “The History of the Plymouth Plantation”, we only had a century or two to get through before we could indulge ourselves with Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Scarlet Letter” and “House of Seven Gables”.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Broken Hearts - Grieving a Child

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the January 16, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

This column might be troublesome to read.  I know.  It was difficult to write.

The unthinkable has happened once again to our extended family, one that has been especially saddened by the loss of now four children.  That incomprehensible loss touched us again just days after Christmas when my husband Gerry's sister's son - and another extended family - lost their precious 2-year old child, Noah.

Contributors to the Morrill Memorial Library "From the Library" Column

Library Director, Charlotte Canelli began writing columns for the Peterborough Transcript in 2001 when she was the Youth Services Librarian at the Peterborough Town Library, 2001-2005. Soon after becoming the director of the Morrill Memorial Library, she began to write weekly columns for the Norwood Bulletin and Transcript. Since February 2009 other Morrill Memorial librarians have written guest columns. They include: April Cushing, Adult and Information Services Librarian; Jean Todesca and Kate Tigue, Children's Librarians; Allison Palmgren, Technology Librarian; Bonnie Warner, Literacy and Outreach Librarian; Diane Phillips, Technical Services Librarian; Norma Logan, Literacy Coordinator; Nancy Ling, Outreach Librarian; Cynthia Rudolph, Graphic Artist and Circulation Assistant; Margaret Corjay, Circulation and Outreach Assistant; Patricia Bailey, Circulation Assistant; retired librarians Hope Anderson, Marie Lydon, Shelby Warner, Margot Sullivan and Tina Blood; previous MML librarians, Beth Goldman, Kelly Unsworth, Brian Samek and Jenna Hecker; and library interns, Samantha Sherburne, Melissa Theroux and Khara Whitney-Marsh.