Once again on May 23, 2017, the Morrill Memorial Library's submission to the Massachusetts Library Association 2015-2016 Public Relations Awards won first place in the News category. A representative 25 columns were submitted. They were written by Charlotte Canelli, Nancy Ling, April Cushing, Allison Palmgren, Kate Tigue, Liz Reed, Bonnie Wyler, Diane Phillips, Norma Logan, Jeff Hartman, Sam Simas, Nicole Guerra-Coon, and Meredith Ruhl

On May 4, 2015 the Morrill Memorial Library's submission to the Massachusetts Library Association 2013-2014 Public Relations Awards won first place in the News category. A representative 24 columns from 2013 and 2014 were submitted. They were written by Marg Corjay, Shelby Warner, Nancy Ling, Diane Phillips, Brian Samek, Bonnie Wyler, Marie Lydon, Norma Logan, Allison Palmgren, April Cushing, Liz Reed, Kate Tigue, Jillian Goss, and Charlotte Canelli.

Library staff have written over 485 columns since 2009.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Light and Darkness of Anthony Bourdain

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Charlotte's column in the June 21, 2018 edition of the Norwood 
Transcript and Bulletin.

Anthony Bourdain describes himself as a child being irresistibly drawn to the headiness of fresh, raw oysters in France. As a young man he was lured to the restaurant kitchen to the love of food and the thrills of the unsavory truths of working in food service. Throughout Kitchen Confidential, he admits his attraction to the dark and risky, to the drugs and drinking, and to a life spent in restaurants and at bar tables. In that memoir, Anthony Bourdain invited us on a ride through “the culinary underbelly” of the kitchens, freezers, and back alleys of New York City restaurants.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Diving Into a Good Book

Nancy Ling is the Outreach Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts.  Read Nancy’s column in the June 14 issue of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

We all love to find a book that we can dive into. If that book changes our outlook or carries us away to a whole new world, all the better.

“If I Could Dive Into the World of Any Book” was the very topic of our essay contest this year for the younger participants. Thanks to the Andrew and Ernest Boch Memorial Fund, the Outreach department ran this event for the 7th year in a row. Not surprisingly, the books chosen and the worlds disclosed were as varied as our own town’s population.

Before going any further, however, this might be a good place to announce the names of our essay contest winners:

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Navigating Retirement and the Social Security Maze

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Charlotte's column in the June 7, 2018 edition of the Norwood 
Transcript and Bulletin.

Everyone who knows me, particularly my family, realizes how much I love my job. Ancient philosopher Confucius is attributed with saying something like this: “Choose a job that you love and you never work a day in your life.”

Certainly, in my profession that is very true. Most librarians are insatiably curious about knowledge and they love to give that knowledge away. It makes us a strange breed of generous know-it-alls who live that passion 24 hours a day.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

True Crime War Crimes Edition

Lydia Sampson is the Technical Services Department Head at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read her column in the May 31, 2018 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

Long Walk to Freedom -
The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela
I already admitted to my true crime addiction in my May 3rd column/confession. The genre generally refers to murders, assaults, kidnappings and the stuff of Investigation Discovery programs. Although it’s hard to imagine worse crimes than these, victims throughout history have experienced such horrors on a grand scale: genocides, torture, ethnic cleansing. Grim as it may sound, my non-fiction leanings extend into the realm of some of the most disturbing events in modern history. A book that impacted me deeply, for example, bears the shockingly candid title, We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families: Stories From Rwanda, by Philip Gourevitch.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Love @ First Click

Liz Reed is the Adult and Information Services Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read her column in the May 24, 2018 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou internet Romeo? Buckle in and hang on to your hats, folks, we’re about to take a ride through the exciting, data-driven world of online dating. If you don’t agree that something data-driven can be exciting, then we probably wouldn’t be a good match. Swipe left.

You may have heard the phrases “swipe left” or “swipe right” bandied about in recent conversations or on weeknight sitcoms. These phrases have become part of our modern lexicon thanks to “swiping apps” where you swipe right to “like” a photo, or swipe left to “dislike” a photo. One of the earliest swiping apps was Tinder, a location-based dating service that launched in 2012 and that is still going strong today. When you open the app, you only see potential  matches within a certain distance of your location who are also using Tinder, and all you see are a person’s photo and some brief bio information.  Everyone swipes left or right through their potential matches, and when you and Mr./Ms. Dreamboat both swipe right, demonstrating interest, the app lets you start chatting. Location-based  efficiency of meeting someone is Tinder’s big strength, and therefore the app has a reputation as a “hook-up” app, yet many people who meet on Tinder end up in long-term relationships or even marriage.

The Day the Fugitive Stopped Running

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Charlotte's column in the May 24, 2018 edition of the Norwood 
Transcript and Bulletin.

I was eleven when I moved from the city to the suburbs in the East Bay Area west of San Francisco. I left all the city streets behind – in the 1880s Berkeley had been designed as a grid that easily and efficiently moved from the Bay waters to the golden hills above. Those foothills rose across to the Sierra in the distance.

Moving as a pre-teen, I also abandoned all of my elementary school friends and started afresh in a town where the valleys and grassy rolling hills were situated next to the freeway that headed to Sacramento and Nevada.

There were three or four floor plans in the houses of this post-World War II development of Pinole Valley Estates. Houses were lined up on the streets that were tucked among the ravines. The outside paint color and landscaping distinguished one home from another, but the interiors were eerily similar. Spending the night in a classmate’s home was always a bit surreal when the pink or green porcelain sink in the twin, back-to-bath baths matched those in my own home. Each kitchen had the modern miracle of a dishwasher; each garage was built for two cars.  One was usually a station wagon. The small, manicured yards were fenced and lines with wild, red berried pyracantha and tall, resilient oleander bushes.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

A Surprise Royal Watcher

Victoria Andrilenas is a reference librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read her column in the May 10, 2018 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

After my one column about space turned into two I did not think I would be writing more anytime soon. However, when I discovered my colleagues did not share my level of excitement over the upcoming royal nuptials I knew I had found something else to write about. For those of you who attended our “Real Hollywood Royalty” film series featuring Grace Kelly (m. Prince Rainier III of Monaco) and Rita Hayworth (m. Prince Aly Kahn), I hope you enjoyed my attempt to build excitement for when American actress Meghan Markle marries Prince Harry on May 19.

As a child I was fascinated by Queen Victoria because we shared a first name. She was my go to option for any assignment on a historical figure where she could be made to fit the requirements. Given that interest in the British royal family, the marriage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 was very exciting for nine year old me. It came as no surprise, to my mother at least, that I wanted to get up early enough to not only see the 11:20 am BST ceremony (6:20 am EDT) but also the procession to St. Paul’s and guests entering the Cathedral. Fortunately it was summer so I didn’t need to worry about missing school, but I never voluntarily got up that early! Like many young girls I was taken with Princess Diana’s seemingly fairy tale marriage and so impressed by the spectacle that I decided I would require female guests to wear hats when I got married. I outgrew that fascination before I got married, much to the relief of my female relatives and friends, though not until after I graduated from college.

Of course I was excited to read about the births of Prince William in 1982 and Prince Harry in 1984. The 1996 divorce of the Prince and Princess of Wales four years after their separation made it clear the marriage was not a fairy tale. 4 am EDT was too early for me to watch the entire thing live but I did get up early to watch part of the funeral of Princess Diana after her tragic death in 1997. The 2006 film The Queen depicts the royal family’s response to this event.
When Sarah Ferguson married Prince Andrew in 1986 I was a teenager and we had a VCR so I had my dad record it and watched it at a more reasonable time of day. I had not been at my first professional job for very long when Prince Edward got married, and for some reason wasn’t very interested anyway.

When the engagement of Prince William and Kate Middleton was announced in 2010, my previous workplace had some lunchtime conversations about reusing an engagement ring from a wedding that ended so unhappily. The general consensus was that we’d be happy to have to such a beautiful piece of jewelry, but not as an engagement ring. In the months leading up to the wedding, whenever I was in a waiting room I devoured PeopleUs Weekly, and the like for photos of the couple and information about their wedding plans. I took the day of the wedding off so I could watch it on TV. 

Although I watched the repeat broadcast rather than the live version, I was up early making British scones and cakes to eat with my friend who came to watch it with me. I was not alone in having a wedding watching party. In fact, serious royals fans would consider me an amateur since I didn’t watch it live and we didn’t dress up or wear hats. I did get some awesome swag though: a commemorative tea tin and china mug. The births of their children has also been exciting and I eagerly awaited the arrival and naming of Prince Louis last month.

While I’m sure there are many people who will find it easier to watch Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding on a Saturday, I would prefer a workday since my family would be busy at school and work leaving the TV, and my time, free for binge watching the wedding. My understanding is the British would have preferred a work day as well so they could get a Bank Holiday. Unfortunately my friend who watched the 2011 wedding with me will be working, and my other potential watching partners live elsewhere, so I probably won’t spend much time creating a special menu just for me.
I was too young to pore over gossip magazines when Princes Charles and Andrew got married and am not a committed reader of them now, but if you are, Morrill Memorial Library’s Flipster app gives you access to several of them. I prefer to look at a few blogs that follow the royal family. My favorite is written by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. Each week they do a “Royals Round-Up” with links to articles about and photos of European royals from the preceding week. When the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge travel, the site often has daily posts with photos from the trip. The two also wrote book The Royal We about an American who goes to college in England where she falls in love with the heir to the British throne. What Kate Wore has fashion coverage of the Duchess of Cambridge and an offshoot called What Kate’s Kids Wore has information about what the young princes and princess wear. Meghan’s Mirror covers Ms. Markle’s style including an entire page about her handbags (a weakness of mine).

I know some of my coworkers were surprised to learn just how interested I am in the British royals.  I am clearly not a slave to fashion, do not watch reality TV shows, and generally have very little interest in celebrities. The truth is I love some of the fashion worn by the Duchess of Cambridge and Miss Markle but my practical nature means that even their off the rack styles aren’t likely to be found in my closet since my lifestyle doesn’t call for cocktail dresses or high heels. But now you know I’ll be glued to the TV next Saturday morning!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Being Mom Versus Being a Librarian

Kate Tigue is a children’s librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read Kate’s column in the April 26, 2018 issue of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.
Everyone assumes that if you work with children professionally, you’ll be a natural in the parenting department. There definitely are some overlaps that help with the adjustment to family life, but some things are harder to translate.

Working as a children’s librarian has kept me abreast of current issues in the parenting world and in particular, in the world of early literacy. I know all the stages and signs of pre-literacy and how to build to a good foundation for lifelong readers. I encourage and advise parents about this topic regularly as part of my job at the library.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Little Green Mountain Men

Alli Palmgren is the Technology Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Alli’s column in the April 19, 2018 issue of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

A few months ago, my husband and I were having dinner at my sister’s house when my sister floated the idea of buying a family vacation property. We gave her some grief about buying a Kennedy-esque compound on Nantucket Sound so we could “summer,” until she said, “No, I’m serious. Let’s buy that Vermont house you always wanted. Life’s too short, let’s do it.”

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Shooting for the Moon: Part II

Victoria Andrilenas is an Adult and Information Services Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Mass. Look for Victoria’s column in the April 12th edition of the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin.

In addition to the many anniversaries I mentioned last week, the Space Shuttle program has two this year: the 35th anniversary of the first American woman in space, Sally Ride on Challenger STS-7, and the first African-American in space, Guion Bluford, two months later on Challenger STS-8. As with last week’s column, all titles mentioned are available through the Minuteman Library Network.

The first Space Shuttle flight with astronauts was in 1982 on Columbia. The final flight of the Space Shuttle program was in 2011. Unlike earlier spacecraft, the shuttle was designed for reuse. The program had 135 flights with all but two, the Challenger explosion in 1986 and the Columbia explosion in 2003, returning safely. Spacelab was flown on the Space Shuttle until its decommissioning in 1998. Shuttle crew constructed portions of the International Space Station and launched the Hubble space telescope.
The 1978 astronaut selection group included the first six American women astronauts and the first African-Americans who would go into space, three men. Sally Ride’s first flight was twenty years after Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space. Frederick Gregory’s first spaceflight in 1985 made him the first African-American shuttle pilot on Challenger STS-51B. Mae Jemison (selected in 1987) was the first African American woman in space in 1992 on Endeavor STS-47. Eileen Collins (selected in 1990) was the first female shuttle pilot on Discovery STS-63 in 1995 and first female commander on Columbia STS-93 in 1999.
Margaret Lazarus Dean’s 2015 book Leaving Orbit: Notes from the Last Days of American Spaceflight is my favorite of the adult books mentioned this week or last. Although the book is primarily about the end of the space shuttle era, it includes quite a bit of NASA history. Dean writes about traveling to Florida for the final launch of each of the remaining three shuttles and the friends she makes during her visits, including NASA employees and other fans of space flight.
Space Shuttle: the First 20 Years includes essays and interview excerpts from many shuttle astronauts, as well as photos from training, launches, space flight, and landings. Scott Kelly is one of the few widely known recent astronauts. In 2015 he spent almost a year on the International Space Station. His memoir Endurance: a Year in Space, a Lifetime of Discovery describes that experience. Leland Melvin was an engineer mission specialist after being drafted by Detroit Lions and having to leave the NFL due to injury. His memoir is Chasing Space: an Astronaut’s Story of Grit, Grace and Second Chances.
There are some wonderful children’s books written by astronauts. Buzz Aldrin’s book Look to the Stars is illustrated with beautiful paintings and provides an overview of significant events in the history of flight and American space exploration. Michael Collins’ book, Flying to the Moon and Other Strange Places, is about his early career, training for space, and the first lunar landing. To the Stars!: First American Woman to Walk in Space, by Carmella van Vleet and Kathy Sullivan is about Kathy Sullivan’s first spacewalk. Mae Jemison wrote a biography for YA audiences, Find where the Wind Goes.
Of course there are lots of children’s books about space not written by astronauts. Two about female astronauts are: Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream, by Tanya Lee Stone, and Mae among the Stars, by Roha Ahmed. Not surprisingly there are several about Apollo 11 including One Giant Leap by Robert Burleigh, and Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon, by Catherine Thimmesh. In Race to the Moon: an Interactive History Adventure, by Allison Lassieur, readers can choose to be a scientist working on rocket technology, a reporter covering the space story, or a member of Mission Control for Apollo 11. If your child is interested in what it takes to be an astronaut, you should check out Go for Liftoff!: How to Train like an Astronaut, by Dave Williams and Loredana Cunti. Ready, Jet, Go is a PBS kids show about our solar system. Season one is available on Hoopla. There are also books about the moon, the sun, the solar system, and space.
I suspect anyone who has been to a space-themed museum with elementary or middle school age children has seen the freeze dried ice cream for sale at the gift shop. Many may have given into the pleas to purchase it. My parents did. I hated it. Turns out astronauts did too. According to The Astronaut’s Cookbook: Tales, Recipes, and More, by Charles T. Bourland and Gregory L. Vogt, it only flew on Apollo 7. This cookbook is somewhat like an Alton Brown cooking show with information about the science of food including the moisture content of various foods and how that impacts the foods’ suitability for space flight. Tortillas are better than bread because they don’t make crumbs, and it turns out food packaged for vending machines is also good for going into space.
For those who want to visit some of the places where space history happened, there are several great options. MLN collections include travel guides to the general geographic areas where these sites are located. Alan Shepard’s Mercury Spacecraft can be seen in Boston at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Kennedy Space Center in Florida is about a one hour drive from Orlando and well worth the trip. All of the Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle launches took place there. In addition to the original Mission Control, visitors can also see the Astronaut Hall of Fame, Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo spacecraft, an unused Lunar Module, and the Space Shuttle Atlantis, which made the final flight of the shuttle program. Space Center Houston, Texas, site of Mission Control since Project Gemini, is also the site of astronaut training and the Lunar Receiving Laboratory where astronauts were quarantined after going to the moon. The Virginia Air & Space Center in Hampton, Virginia, is about a half hour drive from Colonial Williamsburg. In addition to being where the women of Hidden Figures worked, the museum has Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo spacecraft on exhibit. At the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in New York City visitors can see the Space Shuttle Discovery. The USS Intrepid served as a recovery ship for some Mercury and Gemini missions. At the California Science Center in Los Angeles visitors can see the Space Shuttle Endeavor. The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Illinois has Mercury and Apollo spacecraft on exhibit. The U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama is also the home of Space Camp which has programs for children, families, and adults. The Smithsonian has two aerospace museums, one on the National Mall in Washington, DC, and a newer building at Dulles Airport in Chantilly, Virginia. The Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly has the Space Shuttle prototype Enterprise on exhibit, as well as a Gemini capsule. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC has Mercury and Gemini spacecraft, the Apollo 11 Command Module, and an unused Lunar Module on exhibit. Over the next 18 months the Apollo 11 Command Module will be traveling around the country as part of the traveling exhibit “Destination Moon: the Apollo 11 Mission.” So if your travels take you to the Saint Louis Science Center in Missouri, the Senator John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, or The Museum of Flight in Seattle, maybe you can see it on tour. If you have European travel plans, you can see the Apollo 10 Command Module at the Science Museum in London, England.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Shooting for the Moon: Part 1

Victoria Andrilenas is an Adult and Information Services Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Mass. Victoria’s column in the April 5th edition of the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin.

The National Air and Space Administration, commonly known as NASA, celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. The first orbit of the moon was Apollo 8’s December 1968 mission, the 50th anniversary of that this December marks the first of a series of significant Apollo mission anniversaries for NASA. 2018 also marks the 20th anniversary of Mercury Astronaut John Glenn’s return to space at the age of 77 on Shuttle Discovery, STS-95. The shuttle flight made Glenn both the first man to orbit the earth and the oldest person in space. Although I am a child of the Space Shuttle era, I find the earlier space programs Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo equally, if not more, interesting. I also find the stories of those who did the engineering and design work of getting man into space fascinating.
The Mercury Program ran from 1958-1963 and its purpose was manned orbit of Earth. Alan Shepard’s May 1961 flight (Mercury-Redstone 3 / Freedom7) as the first American in space and John Glenn orbiting Earth in February 1962 (Mercury-Atlas 6 / Friendship 7) are probably its most memorable missions. The Gemini Program, 1961-1966, had two man crews and its goal was to get the American Space program ready for the Apollo Program, including Gemini 4 in 1965 with the first spacewalk. The purpose of Apollo missions, 1967-1972, was manned lunar landing. The tragedy of Apollo 1 when Astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger B. Chaffee were killed in a launchpad fire, the first orbit of the moon in December 1968 (Apollo 8), the first man on the moon in July 1969 (Apollo 11) and Apollo 13 in April 1970 are probably its most memorable missions.
MLN collections have plenty of films and books about the America’s early exploration of space. There are popular movies based on true books and documentaries depending on your preference. In addition to the many books written about the space program, there are also several books written by early astronauts. There are also books about less well-known aspects of America’s early space efforts. An article I found online from Computer Weekly’s 2009 40th anniversary coverage of the Apollo 11 mission provides a technical explanation of the often heard comment about today’s smartphones being more powerful than the computers that powered the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo spaceships. It’s a sobering thought that crosses my mind often as I read about or watch films about that era.
For the truly early years of America’s space program, Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff (1979) starts with Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier in 1947 and covers the Mercury missions. The book and movie of the same name are both in the Morrill Memorial Library collection. Although the film did not do well at the box office it received several Oscar nominations and in 2013 it was selected to be preserved in the United States National Film Registry. The Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13 by astronauts Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger, and the 1995 movie Apollo 13, which was based on their memoir, are also both in the Morrill Memorial Library collection. Watching this movie today shows the difference in technology between 1970 and 2018 far more than when I saw it in the theatre and most people didn’t even have flip phones. An interesting bit of trivia regarding the two movies is Ed Harris plays astronaut John Glenn in The Right Stuff and Gene Kranz Flight Director for Gemini and Apollo missions in Apollo 13. If documentaries are more your speed three from 2008 include interviews with astronauts and NASA employees: When We Left Earth: the NASA MissionsIn the Shadow of the Moon: Remember When the World Looked Up, and the HBO miniseries From Earth to the Moon.
When the first groups of astronauts were selected being a military test pilot was a prerequisite, this requirement eliminated racial minorities and women from the candidate group since in 1959 military test pilots were all white men. There were women and African-Americans who applied to be astronauts before the requirement was lifted in 1965 but it was not until the Space Shuttle era that America had female and non-white astronauts. They had a Dream: the Story of African-American Astronauts, by J. Alfred Phelps (1994), has chapters about six African-American astronauts including Edward J. Dwight, Jr., Robert H. Lawrence, Jr., Guion S. Bluford, Jr., and Ronald E. McNair. Dwight applied to the aerospace pilot research course at Edwards Air Force base in 1962 and was accepted in 1963. However he was not selected for an astronaut group. Lawrence was selected to an astronaut group in 1967 but died the same year in a plane crash. Bluford and McNair were both Space Shuttle astronauts. Two books from 2003 tell the experience of female pilots who underwent astronaut testing and training at the same the time Mercury astronauts did: Promised the Moon: the Untold Story of the First Women in Space, by Stephanie Nolan, and The Mercury 13: the Untold Story of Thirteen American Women and the Dream of Space Flight, by Martha Ackermann.
Margot Lee Shetterly’s 2016 book, Hidden Figures: the American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, and the 2017 movie based on her book, bring the critical role African-American women played in the space race to a public audience. Both the book and the film are available in the Morrill Memorial Library Collection. Watching the women use slide rules for calculations and teach themselves how IBM punch cards worked was moments when the technology limitations of the time struck home.
Another more recent book that gives us insight into the wives and families of the early astronauts is Lily Koppel’s 2013 book, The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story. The author conducted extensive interviews with “astrowives” and children. The book provides a different perspective on what Americans read in the 1959-1963 Life magazine coverage of the astronauts. Many of the women were no longer married to their astronaut husbands who at home were often not the heroes they were to the American public. It also makes the women real people who had interests and skills outside of the homemaker role shown in earlier books. For example, Trudy Cooper, wife of Mercury astronaut Gordon Cooper was an accomplished pilot herself. There was also a 2015 TV series with the same title based on the book.
If astronaut memoirs are more to your liking, memoirs by Mercury 7 astronauts include Moon Shot: the Inside Story of America’s Race to the Moon, by Alan Shepard and Deke Slayton, and Leap of Faith: an Astronaut’s Journey into the Unknown, by Gordon Cooper. Eugene Cernan was the last man on the moon during Apollo 17. His book, The Last Man on the Moon: Astronaut Eugene Cernan and America’s Race in Space, is also a documentary.  For a non-astronaut account of the era, Gene Kranz’s book, Failure is not an Option: Mission Control from Mercury to Apollo 13 and Beyond, is an excellent option.
Check back next week for books about the Space Shuttle, children’s books about astronauts and information about some tourist sites that allow visitors to see this history in person.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Escaping to Alcatraz

April Cushing is the Adult and Information Services Supervisor at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Mass. Read April’s column in the March 29th edition of the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin.

I spent some time behind bars recently. It was my second stint in the slammer in three years, and I don’t plan on returning any time soon. I’m talking about my recent trip to Alcatraz while visiting my daughter and son-in-law in San Francisco. I had a macabre desire to tread the concrete and steel corridors of the most notorious prison in America one more time.
The ferry departed from Pier 33 in mild-for-March sunshine for the 1.4-mile trip to The Rock. Minutes later, buffeted by a raw wind, we were completely enveloped in fog. Not until we arrived at the Alcatraz dock did the fortress materialize through the mist.
As I trudged up the hill to the main cellblock, the chill I felt wasn’t just from the cold. I thought of the island’s three most infamous inmates—Al “Scarface” Capone, Robert “The Birdman” Stroud, and George “Machine Gun” Kelly–making that same trek, only in handcuffs and leg irons. And with no round-trip ticket back to the mainland.
Thousands of years before the most hardened, incorrigible convicts in America were imprisoned on “Hellcatraz,” Native Americans paddled out to the island to fish and collect bird eggs. In 1775, Spanish sailors came across the 22-acre landmass and named it Isla de los Alcatraces after a species of cormorants found in Spain.
After the U.S. acquired California from Mexico, the first lighthouse on the West Coast was built on Alcatraz in 1854 to guide ships into San Francisco’s harbor at the height of the Gold Rush. That same year, construction began on an army post and Hopi Indians and Civil War convicts were detained on the island. In 1907 the military fort closed and the “disciplinary barracks” became a minimum-security prison. When FBI director J. Edgar Hoover announced the need in the 1930s for a “super prison” in which to incarcerate the country’s most recalcitrant criminals, Alcatraz was it. But after only 29 years, the crumbling facility was deemed too expensive to maintain and the last prisoner departed in 1963. The island’s colorful history, however, continued.
Beginning in 1969, the Tribes of all Nations occupied the island for 19 months to protest two centuries of mistreatment by the U.S. government.  In 1972, Alcatraz became part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. The first tourists arrived on The Rock the following year. And almost half a century later, I joined the nearly two million annual visitors to see the legendary penitentiary for myself.
Back at Cellblock B, I plugged in to the excellent self-guided audio tour narrated by former inmates and guards. I wandered down the dank corridor lined with three stories of claustrophobic single-person cells, known as Broadway, where prisoners were locked in for at least 13 hours a day—longer when fog obscured the guards’ direct line of fire outside. I jumped the first time I heard the noise of multiple cell doors slamming shut simultaneously. From my trusty Fodor’s San Francisco guidebook I learned that George Lucas recorded the sound of those same prison doors banging shut in his “Star Wars” blockbuster. I see where the term “slammer” originated.
Former Alcatraz inmate Jim Quillen described the island as cold, gray, lonely, and haunting. When the wind blew in a certain direction, according to Quillen, you could smell the Italian cooking in North Beach and hear the laughter of women and children, which he admitted was nearly intolerable. Maybe it was better to be enshrouded in fog after all.
While your America the Beautiful National Park Pass won’t get you into Alcatraz for free, the entrance fee does include a brief stay in a solitary confinement cell of your choice. I tentatively stepped inside and shut my eyes. One prisoner recalled how he would flip a button and crawl around in the dark until he found it, repeating the process multiple times in an effort to relieve the isolation and monotony of a stint in “the hole.”
The day before our Alcatraz excursion, the general manager of the Fairmont San Francisco spotted us ogling the photographs of the hotel’s many celebrity guests and offered us a peek at the penthouse suite–clearly a slow day on the job. The view from the terrace overlooking the bay was spectacular—and terrifying. Upon hearing that Sean Connery tossed the luckless FBI agent over that very same balcony in the 1996 film “The Rock,” we had to snap a selfie. You too can check out that scene as well as another film playing fast and loose with actual facts– “The Birdman of Alcatraz”–at the Norwood Library.
I found the accounts of escape attempts particularly fascinating. In the 1946 Battle of Alcatraz, six prisoners hatched a plan to disarm their captors and escape through the recreation yard. Several guards were locked in a cell, but when the key to the prison yard was not forthcoming the desperate inmates opened fire, killing two officers. The Marines were brought in, eventually ending the uprising but inadvertently killing a guard still inside the cellblock. Three ringleaders died during the fighting, two were executed for murder, and a 19-year-old accomplice, whose life was spared, was sentenced to an additional 99 years.
Not all the residents’ efforts to, ah, relocate, were bloody. In the most elaborate break-out attempt, three convicts fashioned tools from spoons and made drills with which to widen the vents in their cells leading to the utility corridor. From there they crawled up the pipes to the roof and down a drainpipe to the ground, using a raft made from prison raincoats to navigate the frigid currents to freedom. Their fate remains a mystery.
The mystique of Alcatraz has become part of the American culture. If your own visit piqued your curiosity or you prefer to experience the “pen” vicariously, the library can aid and abet.  “Alcatraz Screw: My Years as a Guard in America’s Most Notorious Prison,” by George H. Gregory, says it all. For a first-hand look at life behind bars, read Jim Quillens’ chilling “Inside Alcatraz—My Time on the Rock.”
Perhaps the most heartwarming depiction of the prison as playground is Jolene Babyak’s “Eyewitness on Alcatraz,” in which she recalls an idyllic childhood as the daughter of the acting warden. In “Children of Alcatraz: Growing Up on the Rock,” Claire Rudolf Murphy portrays the stark island as a safe haven where families never locked their doors, kids played hide and seek in the prison morgue, and became friendly with some of the prisoners.

Whether you’re in the mood for a feel-good story of the sunnier side of Alcatraz or a foray into the most fearsome prison of all time, escape to the Morrill Memorial Library to immerse yourself in the enduring drama of life and death on The Rock.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

It Doesn't Hurt to Ask

Nancy Ling is the Outreach Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts.  Read Nancy’s column in the March 22nd issue of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.
Funny thing! My Dad told me this a lot growing up: “Go ahead! It never hurts to ask!” As a shy child, I wasn’t so sure. Secretly I hoped things would work out on their own so I wouldn’t need to say a word. Requesting information, like “how much does that movie cost,” or “where do you shelve the toilet paper,” took a monumental dose of bravery on my part. I am the model child for Susan Cain’s book Quiet.
Whether we like it or not, life provides opportunities to stretch ourselves, even on a daily basis. Contrary to popular belief, I don’t stick my head into books all the time as a librarian. I am called to be social and help our patrons. Likewise a big part of my day is spent answering patrons’ questions, which means asking a few of my own. And, as I’ve discovered, asking the right question at the right time can sometimes bring surprising results.
Case in point, several years ago I asked a question that changed my life. For years I’d submitted my poetry to June Cotner’s anthologies. When several of my poems first appeared in Baby Blessings, I was over the moon. After that first acceptance, June and I began corresponding regularly and she soon became my mentor in so many ways.
Then in the summer of 2012 I discovered I’d be heading from Boston to Seattle for a writers’ retreat. At last June and I were to meet in person! Before my trip June happened to mention that she was overwhelmed with work because her assistant had recently moved away. Without hesitation, I asked the simplest of questions: “June, is there any little thing I can do to help you from the East Coast?” I thought I might assist her by reading a few of the many submissions she receives regularly.
I was completely shocked by her answer. “Well Nancy, how would you like to coauthor a book together?” I don’t think anything could have knocked my socks off more. I could barely reply with a “Wow!” and a “Really?” and yet my travels to Seattle began a new phase in our relationship. We were becoming coauthors! Of course, that initial question was followed by many more. What project should we work on first? How should I gather entries to our anthology? Who would we submit our proposal to?
As it turns out, Toasts: The Perfect Words to Celebrate Every Occasion was our first book together. June graciously walked me through every step of the way. While I’d written poetry and children’s books before, this was a whole new experience for me. I had so much to learn. What am I talking about? I am still learning.
This New Year’s Day we signed a contract with Andrews McMeel for our second co-authored book entitled Family Celebrationsand thanks to the fabulous work of our agent, Anne Marie O’Farrell (Marcil-O’Farrell Literary LLC), we are excited to say our first children’s anthology, For Every Little Thing, has been accepted by Eerdman’s Publishing. On top of that, we have co-authored a children’s manuscript called Be Creative that my agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette (Erin Murphy Literary Agency) is shopping around.
Yes, I have to say, I find that I am pinching myself on a regular basis these days. Could this all be real? It is hard to believe this long and winding road to publication is part of this shy girl’s journey. To think it all began with a question, or maybe two or three. What do you think about that? 
Come check out the books mentioned in this article at our library, including Quiet by Susan Cain.
And here are a few other titles that you can find in our library. They may help if you are thinking about writing or publishing a book of your own in various genres:
The True Secret of Writing by Natalie Goldberg

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Her Truth is Marching On

Liz Reed is an Adult and Information Services Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Liz’s column in the March 15, 2018 issue of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

Happy National Women’s History Month! I’m writing this article on March 8, which is celebrated by men and women around the world as International Women’s Day, or IWD. March has been officially designated as National Women’s History Month since 1987 in the United States, but IWD has been celebrated since 1911 and can trace its roots back to political action by women in New York in 1908. According to internationalwomensday.com, “International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.” IWD is not as well-known in the United States. However, it is an official holiday in other countries, with men and boys honoring their wives, mothers, sisters, colleagues, etc. with flowers and small gifts. In some places, the day is treated as the equivalent to Mother’s Day.
No single organization is responsible for overseeing IWD celebrations and activities, but instead groups in different countries coordinate their efforts to push for similar causes. Political action and popularity of IWD has waxed and waned with the feminist movement, and is currently seeing a resurgence in activity, most likely influenced by the recent Women’s March and #MeToo movements.
What has put women’s history on my mind? Calendar of global and national events aside, I was recently asked to be a reader and reviewer for a prestigious award for local authors, the Julia Ward Howe Award. Awards are given in the categories of Fiction, Nonfiction (the category for which I’m reading), Poetry, and Young Readers, by the Boston Authors Club. The award is named for the club’s first president.
The Boston Authors Club was unique in its time in that both women and men were members. In 1886, a group of men authors in Boston discussed forming such a club, but were unable to agree about the inclusion of women, and efforts to form the club dissolved. In 1899, several women authors met to discuss the idea of an author’s club in Boston. They agreed that it was a splendid plan and approached some of their male colleagues to join them. Soon, the Boston Authors Club was formed and Julia Ward Howe was elected the first president.
You almost certainly know of Julia Ward Howe’s work, even if you didn’t realize it. She wrote the poem, “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” which was then set to the music of “John Brown’s Body” composed by William Steffe. The song “John Brown’s Body” was popularized as the Union Army’s marching song in the American Civil War, and today “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” is a national anthem, of sorts. Her publication of “Battle Hymn” in 1861 brought her immediate celebrity, and she became one of the most famous women in 19th century America.
Howe was a writer of fiction, travel and children’s books, poetry, plays, essays, and articles. She was born to privilege in New York City in 1819 and married young. A series of poor business decisions by her husband and male family members lost most of her wealth, though, and as a widow she worked to earn a meager living. Howe had seven children and was instrumental in the creation of Mother’s Day.
The women’s suffrage movement was Howe’s biggest consideration, and she worked tirelessly writing, lobbying, and editing  journals and magazines to spread information and promote her causes. She was also an abolitionist  and social and human rights activist, worked to promote world peace, and was at the forefront of gender and sexual politics. In short, Julia Ward Howe was a strong feminist activist before feminism was even a widely used term.
Howe was an ambitious, outspoken, fiery poet, but was ahead of her time in the 1800s. Her husband was autocratic and patriarchal, and was dismayed to find he hadn’t married a demure, decorous wife. He threatened to leave Julia and take their children after she anonymously published a volume of poems called “Passion Flowers” which alluded to intimate personal details of their married life. Julia continued her activist work but scaled back certain aspects, and today is best remembered for “Battle Hymn”

Boston has always been a literary firebrand of a city, and we can proudly claim Julia Ward Howe as one of our foremothers. To learn more about Howe’s fascinating life and work, visit the library to check out “The Civil Wars of Julia Ward Howe,” by Elaine Showalter, or “The Vintage Book of American Women Writers,” edited by Elaine Showalter.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Flip Turn the Page

Alli Palmgren is the Technology Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Alli’s column in the March 8, 2018 issue of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

There’s something about jumping into cold pool water early in the morning. I love the sensation of pushing off the wall as I make my turn. I enjoy the soreness in muscles the day after a hard workout. I am even beginning to like the smell of chlorine on my skin. It reminds me that I earned my breakfast. All that said, there are days when I can’t stop counting down the minutes until I can hit the showers. Invariably, those are days when I run out of battery.
I began swimming again when injury prevented me from cycling over a year ago. I saw it as a last-resort activity; something to hold me over until I could get back on the bike. So I signed up for a pool membership over at Westwood High School and forced myself into the water every morning before work. While my body slowly remembered proper freestyle form and how to make a decent flip turn between lengths of backstroke, I couldn’t shake the boredom.
My complaints must have been more vociferous than I realized, because I found a very tiny box under the Christmas tree that year with explicit instructions to use while swimming. My sister and brother-in-law (both swimmers) had given me a waterproof iPod shuffle that clips to a swimmer’s goggle straps.
My brother-in-law explained that bad pop music was the only thing that got him through hours of Ironman training and that my time in the water was about to improve dramatically. After an afternoon of selecting the perfect playlist and downloading an audiobook from Overdrive, I excitedly put in my earbuds and began my swim. I started with my audiobook…and quickly became very confused. Unbeknownst to me, I had selected “shuffle” mode, so my book was jumping all over the place. One moment, the protagonist was a small child and then two minutes later she was a grandmother, and then there would be a musical interlude featuring Lady Gaga. This was not working.
Once I figured out my mistake, I re-evaluated the content on this miniature MP3 player, determining that music and single track spoken audio is best. Podcasts and upbeat music became the order of the day. I am always excited to load new content and can’t wait to get into the pool to explore a new album or episode. Here are some of my recent favorites:
Ogogo by Mike Gordon is the newest offering from the Phish bassist. My husband has loved Phish for longer than he has loved me, but I’m barely a casual fan. The jams are too long and the music, though skillful, is too weird at times. This album is not that. It is synth-heavy pop that just makes you want to get moving.
Speaking of beats that keep you going long after others might have let you quit, I just can’t get enough of William Onyeabor. This master of Nigerian funk was a big deal in Nigeria in the late 1970’s but has only recently come onto my radar. I just ordered the album World Psychedelic Classics 5: Who is William Onyeabor for the library, so make sure to get yourself on the list. Start with the songs Atomic Bomb and Fantastic Man and you won’t be disappointed.
If I just need a few songs to get me through the last 1000 yards, I go straight to my “That’s My Jam” playlist. It starts with Redbone by Childish Gambino, Dirt off Your Shoulder by Jay-Z, and Power by Kanye West. Then I go full on pop-goddess with just about anything from Halsey, Sia, and Lady Gaga. I finish up with some old rock staples like Everlong and The Pretender by the Foo Fighters and my longtime favorite, Eminence Front by The Who.
Sometimes I want something that isn’t music. This is where podcasts fit in. I pick podcasts with episodes that are roughly the same length as a typical workout, so while I love longer podcasts like Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, I am definitely not staying in the pool for 5 hours learning all about the demise of the Celts or Alexander the Great. Those are for cleaning the basement.
My ultimate favorite is Radiolab. This podcast explores a variety of topics related to science and culture. At about 40 minutes long, Radiolab is the perfect length for a before work swim. It lets my brain warm up for the day, while I do the same with my body.
If I need something funnier, Two Dope Queens is my go-to. I am in love with the hosts, Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams. These comedians leave no topic untouched, sharing stories about relationships, city living, pop culture, current events, fashion, and just about everything in between.
As people who know me well will tell you, I live for sports. If it involves a ball, a racquet, throwing myself down a mountain, or any other fun way to use my body, I will be first in line to give it a shot, so I couldn’t write about podcasts without including one of my favorite sports themed series. EPSN’s 30for30 podcasts are amazing. They delve in depth into a variety of sports stories. Some are inspirational, others explore the dirty underbelly of sport. There aren’t many of them, but they are worth waiting for.

Very long story short, my brother-in-law was right, what’s playing in my ears totally changed how I feel about my workout. As I learned, it can be tricky to get digital content onto your device to fuel your workout. Even if you think my music taste is rubbish, I would be happy to help you load your favorite tunes and podcasts onto your device. If you can’t find me at the library, check the Westwood pool. I’ll be the one dancing at the wall between sets.

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, Vicki Andrilenas and Liz Reed, Adult and Information Services Librarians; Jean Todesca, Kate Tigue, Nicole Guerra-Coon, Children's Librarians; Allison Palmgren, Technology Librarian; Sam Simas, Web Designer; 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; Jeff Hartman, Sr. 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 Kirstie David, Meredith Ruhl, Samantha Sherburne, Melissa Theroux and Khara Whitney-Marsh.