Thursday, September 18, 2014

Vermeer - Master of Light

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Charlotte's column in the September 18, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

Johannes Vermeer died at the age of 43 in 1675. He left his wife and family of ten children in debt and certainly could not have been considered a financial success.  Although it is believed that Vermeer may have produced as many as 60 works of art, only 35 known paintings remain known to the world.  21 are housed around the globe and the majority are housed by museums in Europe.  Another 14 of them are owned by institutions or private collections in the United States. One of those is, of course, missing.  The Concert was stolen from the Isabella Gardner Museum in a notorious theft on March 18, 1990.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Boys Will Be Boys

Norma Logan is the Literacy Coordinator at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read Norma's column in the September 11, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

The day my grandson was born, 6 years ago in September, I knew that the pink frilly clothes, dolls and tea sets from my three daughters would have to continue to stay retired in the closet.

I would have to start all over with collecting cars, trucks, and boy things since I had not had any sons. The first toy/book that my husband and I bought for our new grandson was a board book in the shape of a tractor, wheels and all. More books and toys followed. That was the easy part. As time went on, and I watched his development, it became clear he did not respond or act in any way that resembled my three girls. As he is now approaching his 6th year, it is more apparent.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

California's Trembling Hills

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts.  Read Charlotte's column in the September 4, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

In 1984, an earthquake hit Northern California on April 24. The Morgan Hill quake was situated on a less famous fault than the San Andreas, the Calaveras Fault, which runs along the San Jose area (south of San Francisco and a bit to the west).  It registered 6.2 on the Richter scale and  resulted in damages in several communities, San Jose among them.

At that time, my daughters and I lived further north in the East Bay area of San Francisco, near the American Canyon. We might have felt a jolt, but it wasn’t particularly memorable.

In the fall of 1984, we moved south to the foothills of Mt. Hamilton, near the epicenter of that very Morgan Hill quake. Later, in the spring of 1985, I distinctly remember an earthquake that rocked my house with enough force that I ran for the doorway of my sleeping daughters’ bedroom. That quake is not even mentioned on any significant earthquake list except the United States Geological Survey, which lists hundreds of quakes between 2.0 and 6.0 in both 1984 and 1985.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Step Into Reading Literacy Program

Read Kate Tigue's column in the August 28, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin. Kate is a Children's Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library.

The weather is getting cooler and less humid. The back-to-school sales are on. The summer reading program is winding down. It’s almost fall! Hurray! Autumn is New England’s season to shine with breathtaking foliage, crisp high weather, and amazing food. Librarians are usually happy to see September every year as summer is often the busiest season on the library calendar, especially in for the Children’s Department. Most libraries in Massachusetts provide an intensive summer reading program for school aged children during the summer months. This year, over 500 children participated in the Morrill Memorial Library’s Fizz Boom Read! Summer Reading Program by reading nearly 5,000 books! The library hosted a total of 36 programs that brought in a combined total of 800 people in a 10 week period. The Children’s Room staff has answered nearly 1,100 questions in July and August alone. That means we’ve had the best summer possible: every day was packed with helping patrons, running programs, marshalling volunteers, and generally keeping everyone busy.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Quest for Longitude

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts.  Read Charlotte's column in the August 21, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

Most of my life, I was continually confused over the definitions of longitude and latitude. As an elementary school student, I thought of the earth as simply being measured by a ruler or yardstick, or straight up and down.  Therefore, longitude seemed logically (or illogically in this instance) as measuring the earth’s length, which is, of course, the north-south measurement or latitude, instead.

This confusion followed me for years. (Along with my lifelong dysfunction differentiating my left from my right, I might add. I drive Gerry crazy when I am instructing him in the car. “No, no!  My other right!”)
My troubles with longitude and latitude finally ended over a decade ago when I was present when Joan Dash received the Boston-Globe Horn Book Award for non-fiction in 2001 in Boston for her book “The Longitude Prize.” This most-prestigious award is given in the categories of picture books and non-fiction and literature for children and young adults. 

Dash’s book was published in 2000, and I hadn’t, as yet, read it. Her acceptance speech was intriguing, and I was impatient to read the story John Harrison and the quest for a method of determining longitude. Although her book was written for older children, or young adults, the subject by nature is technical and thorough.  Dash’s book won several other prizes, and it makes a compelling read for anyone, including adults. It includes a glossary and timeline. Most importantly, it explains the problem that had endured for centuries – that of solving timekeeping at sea.

For hundreds of years, ship voyages were harrowing adventures. Ocean travel had opened up the world to adventure and trade, but hundreds of ships had gone down at sea by the beginning of the 1700s. One of the major reasons for these disasters was the fact that there was no way to perfect the determination of longitude, or east-west location at sea.

Since ancient times, accurate latitude (or north-south location) had been found pretty easily by using the North Star or the sun as a starting point. Longitude, on the other hand, required an experienced navigator who would spend hours in the day calculating a position that was at best, an estimate.  At worst, it was in error and ended in disaster.

In October 1707, the British Navy suffered an unthinkable loss when six ships hit the shoals off the Isles of Scilly (28 miles off the coast of Cornwall, England). Four of the ships went down and over 1700 sailors were lost. In 1714, the British Parliament made an unusual decision. They promised a prize – the Longitude Prize – to anyone who could come up with an accurate way to determine longitude at sea. The prize was worth 20,000 pounds – a fortune and equal to several million dollars today. Of course, this was a paltry sum compared to the lives – and fortunes – being lost at sea.

After reading Dash’s young adult version, I realized that Dava Sobel had written the adult version of this amazing story in “Longitude: the True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time” (1995).

Dava Sobel had long been interested in science – it began in childhood with Galileo, maps, geography and measurement of the earth. After becoming a writer, her scientific curiosities led her to attend The Longitude Symposium at Harvard in 1993 headed by William J. H. Andrewes. (The symposium was organized at Harvard in connection with the 14th Annual Seminar of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors.”  The papers presented at the 3-day event are published in “The Quest for Longitude” (1996).  Scholars from around the world described the problem of longitude in the centuries before the 19th and the struggles of William Harrison to not only make a clock capable of keeping time at sea, but of his struggle to convince the Board of Longitude to award him the prize in 1765 after four decades of work. In the end, Harrison’s mechanical timekeeper, known today as the chronometer, kept perfect time at sea.

“The Quest for Longitude” includes the entire story with lavish illustrations but it can be a heady work with many long and scholarly lectures.  Dava Sobel encapsulated the story perfectly in “Longitude.”  In 1998, Andrewes and Sobel collaborated and published “The Illustrated Longitude” complete with Sobel’s prose and illustrations from Andrewes studies.

Two wonderful video recordings are based on Sobel’s book. “Longitude," produced by A&E for television in 1999, stars Jeremy Irons and Michael Gambon. This version combines the stories of John Harrison's forty-year obsession with building his perfect timekeeper and naval officer Rupert Gould.  In 1976, Gould discovered Harrison's chronometers that had been neglected for many years.  He devoted himself to restoring the masterpieces.  The second production is “Lost at Sea: the Search for Longitude” (1998).  It was produced by NOVA and is narrated by Richard Dreyfuss.  Both video recordings include short interviews or introductions with Dava Sobel.

Two books for children explain the quest for longitude and the invention of John Harrison. Katherine Lasky and Kevin Hawkes teamed up on a beautifully written and illustrated picture book, “The Man Who Made Time Travel” in 2003. Louise Borden wrote the poetic (and sometimes too wordy) “Sea Clocks: The Story of Longitude” (2004) illustrated by Erik Blegvad.

Whatever your interest or preference for learning, I urge you to read or watch any of the accounts of John Harrison’s inventions and the world’s quest for longitude. They are all in the Minuteman Library catalog and librarians at the Morrill Memorial Library can help you find the version you prefer.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

My Future Library Will Look Like . . .

Nancy Ling is an Outreach Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read the published version of Nancy Ling's column in the August 15, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

There are lots of books about the future. From classics like Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 to modern books like Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games and Lois Lowry’s The Giver, authors have spent years imagining the world that awaits us. Needless to say, most of these portrayals are downright dystopic.

 So it was with some trepidation that we announced the topic for this year’s essay contest—“My Future Library Will Look Like. . ..” Sponsored by the Andrew and Ernest J. Boch Memorial Fund, our essay contest had become quite the hit around town. Still we wondered if we were opening up a can of worms with this year’s prompt.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Big Ditch - The Cape Cod Canal

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts.  Read Charlotte's column in the August 7, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

The Panama Canal and the Cape Cod Canal both opened the same year – 1914.  The Cape Cod Canal, 7 miles long, opened to some traffic on July 29 just one day after the start of World War One (or the Great War) on July 28.  The Panama Canal, 48 miles long, opened two weeks later on August 15. These amazing feats of engineering may have started years before by entrepreneurial investors, but both were completed as American ventures.

The centennial of these two principal waterways were celebrated this summer.
  The Panama Canal has, of course, world significance as it provides a water route between the two oceans, or more accurately from the Caribbean Sea through the Isthmus of Panama to the Gulf of Panama at the Atlantic Ocean. Noted author David McCullough wrote “The Path Between the Seas” (2001), the story of the 400 years of blood, sweat and tears and the eventual successful building of the Panama Canal. The canal’s rich history includes its ownership by several countries and partnerships, its triumphant completion by the United States government, and its final control by the Panamanian government in 1999.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

To App or Not to App - What's Best for My Baby's Brain

Read Jean Todesca's column in the July 31, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin. Jean is the Head of Children's Services at the Morrill Memorial Library.

As children’s librarians, we are often faced with the screen time question.  What is too much?  Should babies and young children be allowed screen time?  We are often challenged over the use of iPad and computers.  We are currently developing a storytime that incorporates the use of iPad and apps.  As we move forward, we understand some parents will have concerns.

Dr. Dimtri Christakis, Director of Child Health Behavior & Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute states “Screens are purely a delivery mechanism.  What parents should be focused on is content”.  He feels former statements by the American Academy of Pediatrics are out of date.  I agree.

Apps and games need to be interactive not passive to stimulate and develop the child’s brain.  Recently, I participated in a class where app reviews were a requirement.  I compared the “Pop-Up Peter Rabbit” storytime app to “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” app.  The pop-up version promoted exploration within the app while the other version was flat with no interaction.  Often when a parent has a young child who does not want to sit and be read to, I suggest interactive books.  Interactive books will draw the child into the story through the use of flaps, pop-up, touch & feel or repetitive verse.  They are all vehicles to involve the child in the reading process.  Apps are the same approach, but a different mode of delivery.  The child will explore and grow with activities that call for their response or touch/swipe to control the activity.  Young children can improve eye/hand coordination, speech & language and conceptual thinking.  The library has recently added iPads for young children’s use.  One of the apps that was loaded on to the iPads is Color Zen Kids.  It’s a great example of design to develop conceptual thinking. 

Parents as well as teachers and librarians must make thoughtful app choices.  Some of the best sites for app reviews are Common Sense Media, Graphite and Google Play for Education.

Like any other technology or activity, moderation is the key.  Screen time can be fun, entertaining and educational, but only screen time is too much for anyone whether an adult or child.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Do You Scream for Ice Cream?

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts.  Read Charlotte's column in the July 24, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.
According to the International Dairy Foods Association's website, President Ronald Reagan selected the third Sunday of the month of July as National Ice Cream Day.  At the same time, he chose July as National Ice Cream Month.
Now, that’s a celebration I can get behind. Of course, most New Englanders understand the importance of summer in our lives and in what way ice cream plays into it.  Some of us even know the exact date our local ice cream stand will open.  We also mourn the day that it closes for the season.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Home Remedies: Turning A House into a Home

Read Alli Palmgren's column in the July 17, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin. Alli is the Technology Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library.

For the past few years, my husband and I lived in a rented house located in his hometown.  The location was great and the rent was beyond cheap, but it would be kind to call the house a fixer-upper. The roof leaked, the ceiling in the master bedroom was so low that my husband once put his head through it while putting on a pair of pants, we used one of the bathrooms as a closet because the plumbing was not functional, and so many critters found their way in that we could have started a wildlife sanctuary. In short, the house was a dump.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Rock On, James Dean

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts.  Read Charlotte's column in the July 10, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

While James Dean acted in both television and commercials from the beginning of his career starting in the early 1950s, he made three movies and three movies only. Of course, the iconic star’s films were released when I was only 3 and 4 years old and I didn’t catch them on reruns as a teenager and never quite bothered to watch them on television or DVD. I watched two of them for the first time this past weekend.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Fast Riding and Other Local Color

Shelby Warner is a Reference Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read Shelby's column in the July 3 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

     Back in the 1890’s Warren Taylor was charged for “fast riding”.   Norwood’s finest said he had exceeded the town’s posted 10 mile an hour speed limit.  He suggested there was collusion between the police and “some” clergyman.  To add to the charge, the offense happened on Sunday. 
     This took place during the time bicycling became very popular in Norwood.  Those who purchased “wheels” even made it to the front page of the newspaper.  In a letter to the editor, Taylor defended himself, claiming the charge against him “opened a wide door for the arrest of every driver of vehicles into and through the town”.    He had many supporters.  Those who opposed him thought bicycle riding on Sunday opened the door for baseball, football and other Sunday events.  Well, wouldn’t those people turn over in their graves today?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Fighting for the Mentally Ill

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts.  Read Charlotte's columns in the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

In the 80s, when we lived in a small Central Massachusetts town, my eldest daughter had a particular admirer named Micah. Micah was a precocious and very handsome six-year old classmate. His mom, Paula, asked me to arrange a playdate for the two first-graders and shortly after, we mothers became fast friends.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A Fox or a Hedgehog?

Liz Reed is an Adult and Information Services Library at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts.  Read Liz's column in the June 19, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

I recently returned to my undergraduate alma mater for my five-year reunion.  St. Lawrence University (SLU) is a small liberal arts college nestled in the river valley between the Adirondack Mountains and the St. Lawrence River in Northern New York State.  New York State covers a huge geographical area, and in this case, “northern” does not mean just north of New York City, or even near Syracuse or Rochester.  The university, located in Canton NY, is at the tippy-top of the state, about a half hour drive from Canada.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Bright Morning Dawning - Maya Angelou

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts.  Read Charlotte's column in the June 13, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

It was a crisp and brilliant morning when I first became acquainted with Maya Angelou. Oh, I don’t suggest I actually met Ms. Angelou. It was more like I was stirred to her powerful genius.

I’ll give away my political inclinations (love me or hate me) when I declare that I was thrilled to attend the presidential inauguration of William Jefferson Clinton on January 20, 1993. A life-long democrat since my early days in a Democratic household, I was first registered to vote in the early days of 1970s. Congress had passed the 26th Amendment in 1971 providing the right to vote to any American aged 18 or over and so, the 1972 election was just around the corner. I was a starry-eyed and idealistic young politico. In neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay Area, I knocked on doors for Democratic presidential candidate, George McGovern. Some of my best friends joined me and we felt that we could change the world.

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 many other columns. They include: April Cushing and Liz Reed, Adult and Information Services Librarians; 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.