Thursday, September 29, 2011

eBooks eLectrified!

Charlotte Canelli is library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood.

Over two years ago the Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, MA made headlines for a bold and controversial move to eliminate most traditional reading matter from its new school library. “Cushing Academy Library Goes Bookless!” the newspapers exclaimed.

Librarians across the country led the outcry of disbelief. Liz Gray of the Dana Hall School in Wellesley debated Cushing’s decision. “Focused, engaged reading is more likely to occur with printed books than with online material,” Gray wrote.

James Tracy, headmaster of the school, defended the school’s resolve. “Cushing Academy decided to … transform our library into a digital learning center. We wanted to create a … library that goes beyond stacks and stacks of underutilized books.” Tracy and his staff filled the school with eReaders and built a collection of electronic books which could be accessed by every student at the school.

In reality, there are still some “real” books in the Cushing Academy Library and much of the resulting chorus of disapproval was, I believe, emotionally-driven by the love of ‘the book.’

Who can blame them for this emotional response?

An online library can never, and will never, replace the browsing experience of scanning the shelves in a library, a bookstore or your own home. It is certain that the physical book will remain a part of our homes and libraries. Surely, a handwritten heartfelt inscription would be lost in the digital void of an eBook library. Where is the joy in a toddler turning the pages in an actual picture book? Many people will never cozy up to a hard plastic shell that masquerades as reading matter. Others will never accept an eReader, its phantom pages and strange e-Ink.

Author Anna Quindlen wrote: “I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.” How pure and true her sentiments are. Especially to me.
In our home much of our furniture would be bare, many of our walls would lack character, and most of our rooms would seem empty without our collections of books. Our children were raised with hundreds of books in the homes that we lived in. When our son-in-law moved into his new office he immediately sent a photo … of his newly-arranged bookshelves. Our daughter-in-law in Atlanta often has stacks of books on every surface of their home. A love of the physical books is central to our family’s lives.
And so, you might be surprised to learn that I have promoted eReaders at the Morrill Memorial Library, deciding this past year to invest in six of them for our patrons to check out. These are the Barnes and Noble Nooks and we have presented training sessions and encouraged their use. (Each Nook is preloaded with library titles.)
Like many of my friends, and several of my children, I own an Amazon Kindle. Until now my only option has been to purchase books for my Kindle and I’ve done so with great discretion. Kindle owners and Kindle app users have not had the option of borrowing library eBooks.
That all changed last week and we are very excited about it. Finally, Kindle owners can borrow library books.
Free Kindle eBook loans are now offered on the Minuteman OverDrive Digital Media catalog. Thousands of titles can be requested, borrowed and downloaded to a variety of devices. (There is no need to own a Kindle although the reading experience on the actual device is the best to be had. E-Ink displays are easier to read than any backlit displays and it is easier on the eyes than some paper.)
Free Kindle apps are available for a variety of electronic devices – personal computers, iPhones, SmartPhones and iPads among others. The only requirement for downloading aKindle app is an username and password.
Kindle eBooks can be borrowed for 7, 14 or 21 days. If a copy is out, the title can be requested and will be ready for download as soon as it is available. The download process is relatively easy compared to the other options available using the OverDrive Media Console. If the device is WiFi-enabled the transfer is immediate and basically effortless.
The library has scheduled two Kindle eBook information sessions on Wednesday, October 12 at 10 am and 7 pm. The drop-in sessions will run for two hours and patrons can bring their own devices to the library but registration is required. Staff and their families have a variety of devices and they will demonstrate the process. They will lead those interested through the process on assorted devices, especially on their own equipment. Patrons should have an account in advance of the training sessions and should be willing to download the Kindle app to their device or download to an actual Kindle.
Nook sessions were offered some months ago and we will schedule another special Nook Download training night in the future. This special Kindle eBook information session pertains only to downloading the Amazon Kindle eBooks in the Minuteman catalog.
We are very excited to be a member of the Minuteman Library Network and the new offerings on OverDrive. Be sure to register for a session.
If you have a Kindle or Kindle app you’ll find training modules and online help on our website. To sign up for the information sessions or get help in advance, call the Reference librarians (781-769-0200) or visit the library.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


Nancy Ling is an Outreach Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library. She is also an author and a poet and loves working with children and teens and teaching poetry. Read her column in the Norwood Transcript & Record.

It’s official. Fall is here as of today. This is when we ask each other questions such as where did the time go? Or what was your favorite summer memory? Surprisingly one of my best memories took place at the library. I know. It’s hard to believe. After all I did venture off to see black bears and whales in Alaska. What could beat that?

Well, the Teen Poetry Club came close. I had the privilege of introducing teens to a variety of poetic forms and several award-winning poets for five weeks. True, I was wondering who would sign up for this club. I mean, there are trips to the beach, visits to grandparents. I found the answer to that question on the first day—teens who are passionate about writing, and who are really, really good at it, too.

That said, I thought it was only appropriate that I share some of their work (with their permission, of course). I do this for two reasons: first, so you can be thoroughly impressed with the caliber of young writers here in Norwood, and second, so you may think about signing up for this workshop next summer.

Each time we covered a different topic in our workshop. Here’s a poem that one student, Lauren Swank, wrote during our first meeting. We were discussing the use of dreams and special places to jump start our writing when Lauren penned the following:


Loud voices come from the excited crowd,
all of these sounds seem so loud.
Will he cooperate throughout the course?
Will he be a good little horse?
I look ahead at the obstacles before me.
All I am thinking about is he
who needs support because his head is down.
I tell him softly “a smile is better than a frown.”
A big horse trots on by.
My little horse seems so shy.
My horse looks up for he is towered
by the horse who has over-powered
my poor shire who is all alone
when the whistle blows he stands like stone.
I softly say “Just take your time”
and after that he seemed just fine.
He did the course in two minutes flat.
We walked past the rest and said “Beat That!”
The judges gave us a First Place prize and
I then could not believe my eyes.
Loud noises came from the excited crowd
and those noises made my shire seem so proud.

Here’s another dream-inspired poem by Dina Delic. She brings her reader right into the strange and stirring place of a dream, or nightmare as the case may be.


Light flickers through,
blue-white like an old film,
and I see her,
silently staring at a wall
And I can see her closed lids,
see her struggling to breathe,
because her bone corset is laced too tight.
Her wings are tied up, and she wants to fly,
to feel the air on her skin,
She is laced too tight.
Her corset won’t let her breathe.
Society won’t let her breathe.
The heavy damask curtains won’t let her breathe.
She wants out,
but she can’t get out,
can’t loosen the ribbons restraining her freedom.
The light flickers out,
and I can still see her,
struggling to be free.
To breathe.
Just breathe.

This one is a pantoum by Sara Harder. The poet J. Lorraine Brown came to our club to discuss this particular form. In case you want to try writing one, a pantoum as defined by Merriam Webster is “a series of quatrains rhyming abab in which the second rhyme of a quatrain recurs as the first in the succeeding quatrain, each quatrain introduces a new second rhyme (as bcbc, cdcd).”


Sweet and tasty
Crunchy and round
Chocolate chip and peanut butter
Sugar cookies and almond rounds

Crunchy and round
Sticky dough on a baking tray
Sugar cookies and almond rounds
With sugar and flour and butter

Sticky dough on a baking tray
Cooling on a wire rack
With sugar and flour and butter
Mixing in a mixing bowl

Cooling on a wire rack
Chocolate chip and peanut butter
Mixing in a mixing bowl
Cookies, sweet and tasty

Another local poet, Jean Tupper, inspired the teens to write a list poem. After all, everyone has some kind of list. I’ve made my To-Do lists into poems now and then.
Often Haiku can appear deceptively easy. Short and sweet, right? But the students learned from poet, Fran Witham, that there are several key elements to haiku, including a reference to nature. This example is by Lauren Swank.

Frolicking in dandelions
Her head held high
She is free

Our final class was on ekphrastic poetry. JoAnne Preiser showed us famous works of art as inspiration for our own poems. Meenu Ravi write this poem:

Those Who Are

Our sorrows are of worlds whose patina shed
The laughter and beauty of all long lifeless
The saber of new old battles, the coronal of new queens
And jolly and simple and downhearted sorrows of me

With melody in our hands ever- shall we dance
All are our family, the world is our home
Where the voice of the wind sings my wandering feet
Through the echoing woods and the echoing street

What love shall we sow, what peace shall we gather
The voice of the breeze is the voice of our future fate
No love wishes us dawdle, no peace wishes us wait
Where the wind sings our wandering footsteps we go

So yes, when someone asks me what my best summer memory is, I tell them about my teenage poetry club. What started as the seed of an idea, grew into a spectacular experience. As a matter of fact, I think the teens had a pretty good time, too. After all, I received the ultimate compliment from them. Not only did they ask if we could do this again next summer (yah!), but they told me it was “epic.” In teen lingo, that’s not too shabby. Then again, that’s something a few of us knew all along…poetry is definitely “epic!”

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Browsing the Library Shelves

Charlotte Canelli is the library director at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read her column in the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin.

I’ve mentioned before that being a librarian is a little too much like being a kid in a candy shop. The cliché “too many books, not enough time” is the story of my life these days. Imagine spending your day surrounded by so much temptation and not enough time to do it. Add to that the fact that librarians often spend our time off reading about books so that we can make the best decisions for your reading pleasures.

There are many librarians here in Norwood who can recommend the very latest and the very best of books. Every first Friday of the month, many on the library staff meet on the uppermost floor of the library in the Trustees Meeting Room before the library has opened for the day. More than a dozen of us spend the hour before the library opens discussing the books that we have been reading. Those suggestions get passed down to you at the desks of the library. It’s simply what we do and what you should expect of your librarians.

I have the privilege of ordering many of the non-fiction books for the library. This is especially rewarding because most of my favorite books are non-fiction. Sports and crafts, cooking and music are subjects of book that I enjoy reading about. I love seeing them hit the shelves where that you can find them.

What can be more fun, however, is seeing the books in the categories I don’t order. It’s often like peeking under the Christmas wrap. Ah, I didn’t know about this book!

I was surprised when I came across“365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life” (2010). I was going to write this book! How had someone else jumped the gun? John Kralik, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, had much the same idea that I had had only he had the foresight and good sense to begin writing it several years earlier, to beat me to the punch and get it published. Kralik made it a practice to write one thank you note per day for a year to all of the people who had made a difference to his life. John Kralik includes a brief note about each thank you in his book along with an explanation of the motivation to write it.

Many of us have heard Tavis Smiley, a radio and television talk show host on public radio and television for over 20 years. In his latest book, “Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure” (2011), Smiley packages his best advice in twenty chapters. In Chapter 4, “You’re Always On” , Smiley relates the trouble with live mikes in which he relates his own weak moment of pomposity. The end of every chapter in his book ends with Tavis’s Takeway or some words to the wise. That particular chapter ends with this advice: “Even when you think you are off – you’re on. In the Internet Age, what’s private can instantly become public.” Other smart chapters are “Cheaters Never Win” and “Remain Dignified Even When You’re Justified.”

In “Just My Type: A Book About Fonts” (2010) Simon Garfield explains why fonts (which have been in existent since Gutenberg invented the printing press) have become so popular in recent years. Everyone has come across references to the typeface near the very ending of expensive books but they’ve more than often been ignored. Recently, however, fonts have become vogue. Who would have thought that Comic Sans could be so happily casual, or that Helvetica could ensure the success of corporate giants like The Gap, Verizon and American Airlines.

Next to fonts and typefaces, I love books on words and grammar. However, I can always use a good editor and I have several of them right in the library with me. Here we have copies of all of the dictionaries and the all-important “Elements of Style”. Some of us sometimes bow down to both Strunk and White. However, in a book by the Bureau Chiefs you might as well forget all about clear, concise writing techniques and learning to correct typographical errors. “Write More Good” (2011) is, to quote the source, “an absolutely phony guide” but it is always humorous, sometimes irreverent, and gives one something to think about writing in this Twitter, Facebook and texting age.

“The Pun Also Rises” (2011) or “How the Humble Pun Revolutionized Language, Changed History, and Made Wordplay More Than Some Antics” is written by a former presidential speechwriter ,John Pollack. Pollack argues that the pun should rise to a higher level of linguistic honor. Puns have often been thought of as apologetic jokes and as a lowest form of humor. Pollack argues that puns are crucial to learning the relationship of language as a child. His book begins with a particularly laughable account of his winning the 18th Annual World Pun Championships in Austin, Texas.

On a more serious note, Peter Meyers and Shann Nix have written “As We Speak: How to Make Your Point and Have It Stick” (2011) to overcome your fears of public speaking and to win over an audience. No one really loves public speaking; some have become so good at it that they have mastered the fear and the obstacles. Meyers and Nix explain the three building blocks of learning to be self-confident and effective as a speaker: organize, deliver and perform.

All of the books mentioned above are available from our library and other Minuteman libraries. For help searching in the Minuteman catalog for these titles or for placing requests for all library materials please visit the Morrill Memorial Library, call the Reference librarians (781-769-0200) or visit the Minuteman Library Catalog on our website,

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Family Feud: Enlist Your Local Library

April Cushing is the Adult Services Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read her column in the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin.

I recently wrapped up a nasty fight with my new neighbors, the Formicidae family. While I had the undisputable size advantage, I was badly outnumbered. Grudgingly, I came to respect them for their dogged refusal to budge despite my best efforts to send them packing. I’m talking about the little black ants that took up residence in my backyard and systemically destroyed my grass.

I suffer from lawn envy. Walking the dog around the block I find myself battling the green-eyed monster while ogling thick carpets of turf. But I’m not the only one coveting my neighbor’s blades. Duffy delights in stopping for a roll in the lushest patch of grass we pass. Sometimes it’s all I can do not to join him.
I have a place on the Cape that once boasted a beautiful lawn. Over the years it’s suffered some benign neglect. Drawn to poor, sandy soil, the ants came marching in one day and decided to set up camp.

I headed to the local Agway for some insecticide but was overwhelmed by all the choices. It came down to the advertising. Who could resist the lure of “Season-Long Ant Control” or “Once & Done!” (hah). When I read the promise, “Kills on Contact,” I was sold.

Rather than broadcast the granules with a spreader as recommended, I decided to attack the tiny Tent Cities like the Navy SEALS who brought down Bin Laden--by going for the direct hit. By the way, if you want a riveting read about Operation Redwing, SEAL Team Ten’s ill-fated attempt to take out a prominent Taliban leader in Afghanistan in 2005, check out Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell. But back to the battle in my own backyard.

The morning after the blitzkrieg I sprang out of bed to count the casualties and declare victory. To my dismay I discovered my nomadic nemeses had simply packed up and moved, mere inches from their earlier campsites, multiplying in the process. I dumped more poison on the offending mounds and watched the little critters scurry around sounding the alarm.

The following weekend I returned to the scene of the crime only to find them rebuilding with renewed energy. It was clearly going to take more than a little Gamma-Cyhalothrin to bring them to their knees.

This was getting expensive—and exasperating. I tried another chemical combination from Ocean State Job Lot and actually followed the directions, more or less, even buying an insurance bag for spot treatments. This scenario continued until I’d experimented with virtually every insecticide on the market. The guilt over my egregiously ungreen behavior was taking its toll. There was so much poison on the premises I was surprised the dog was still alive, although it certainly didn’t seem to be bothering the ants. It was time to bring out the big guns.

There are several books at the Morrill Memorial Library on the subject, but I struck pay dirt with Natural Pest Control : Alternatives to Chemicals for the Home and Garden by Andrew Lopez. The first chapter spoke to me—“Dances With Ants: How to Control Ants Organically.” Organically? What a concept. Another eye-opener was Common-Sense Pest Control: Least Toxic Solutions for Your Home, Garden, Pets and Community by Olkowski and Daar. Did you know that ants are numerically the most abundant social insects around, with an estimated 1,000,000,000,000,000, or one quadrillion of them on earth at any given time? I wondered what percentage of that population lived on my property.

To crash their party, Paul Tukey suggests, in his Organic Lawn Care Manual, simply raking the “unsightly anthills that develop from time to time.” He also recommends pouring boiling water over the hills to “discourage the ants,” or, if you feel you need to eradicate them completely (I’m definitely feeling it) you can treat the area with a solution of boric acid and sugar which acts as a stomach poison in the ants. In The Truth About Garden Remedies: What Works, What Doesn’t and Why, Jeff Gillman says hot pepper sprays containing the compound capsaicin have been successful.

Continuing my quest for other eco-friendly ant killers, I consulted the American Horticultural Society’s Garden Problem Solver by Pippa Greenwood. Since it may be difficult to get adequate chemical into the nest to completely eliminate the ants, she advises opening up the nest first with a fork. She goes on to explain that anthills may loosen soil so much that the grass dies, (I noticed) “and are certainly not the best place to sit.” Thank you, Pippa.

I’m pleased to report that most of my six-legged neighbors have since relocated. The other day I noticed that three peach-colored coneflowers I’d just planted had been nibbled down to the nub. Horrified, I saw a cute little cottontail emerge from the garden and stare me down. The battle of the bunnies was officially on, and I knew just where to turn for help.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Hurricane Force

Charlotte Canelli is library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood. Read her column in the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin.

It wasn’t until 1953 that the National Hurricane Service began officially naming hurricanes in the scheme similar to today. In that year, they simply began with women’s names in alphabetical order. In 1979 the NHS included male names in the list.

And so, the New England Hurricane of 1938 had several names, among them the Great New England Hurricane and the Yankee Clipper. Amazingly, this hurricane was the first major hurricane to roar through New England in over half a century. (The last was the Saxby Gale in 1869.) The Great New England Hurricane was powerful, costly and deadly due to the intensity of its landfall (Category 3) and it reached far inland with its damage.

In Peterborough, NH there is a granite column marking the high water caused by the storm in 1938. It is outside of the Aquarius #1 Fire Museum on Summer Street, one block off Main Street and the downtown shops. The merging of the Contoocook River and the Nubansit Brook is only two blocks away. The marker is impressive because it is hard to imagine standing in that much water even if it was only waist high for a tall man.

However, it wasn’t the flooding that devastated Peterborough in September of 1938 even though ten bridges were also destroyed. It was the subsequent fire and the fact that the floodwaters prevented firefighters from getting to the blaze and putting it out. Much of the downtown burned, including the local newspaper offices due to the fire and the memories are forever etched in Peterborough’s history.

All of the states of New England were affected by that 1938 storm that spanned 1000 miles and reached from New Jersey to Quebec. Damage in Massachusetts reached far into the west in towns like Amherst and Pittsfield.

Our library owns a copy of “The 1938 Hurricane: An Historical and Pictorial Summary” published by the Blue Hill Meteorological Observatory in 1988. This book is part of the library’s reference collection and you are welcome to read it while you are in the library – it is only 128 pages long and is filled with black and white photographs taken in the aftermath of the storm. The Blue Hill Observatory is located in East Milton, MA where the “second highest recorded wind gust in the world occurred” during the 1938 Hurricane.

In “Sudden Sea: The Great Hurricane of 1938” (2003), R.A. Scotti describes a hurricane with winds as high as 186 miles an hour and an intensity that registered on seismographs in Alaska. In “The Great Hurricane – 1938” (2005) Cherie Burns tells a story of a storm that involved minimal forecasting or warning from the weather experts. There was, in fact, very little talk of weather on the late summer night of September 21. Unlike the preparation (and the media hype) of Hurricane Irene, the fast-moving hurricane struck with little warning, destroying fishing fleets and families and killing 700 people.

In 2005, the Images of America series published “The 1938 Hurricane along New England’s Coast” by Joseph P. Soares. If you are familiar with the pictorial accounts in the Images of America series you’ll know that there are hundreds of historic images included in the 127-page book.

“New England Hurricane: A Factual, Pictorial Record, 1938” is available in the library or it can be viewed online at the Internet Archive ( It was written and compiled in 1938 by members of the Federal writers’ project of the WPA in the New England States. The writers describe the hurricane this way: “3:50 at New Haven. 5:06 at Hadley, Massachusetts. Up through the heart of Vermont. Burlington at 8:00 pm.”

“Oliver’s Surprise” by Carol Newman Cronin is a fictionalized account of the 1938 written for middleschoolers but it includes facts about the storm and a glossary of nautical terms. Cronin wrote a second book about Oliver and hurricanes, this one about Hurricane Carol which hit the East Coast in 1954. That storm, described in “Cape Cod Surprise: Oliver Matches Wits with Hurricane Carol” blew down the spire of the Old North Church.

Once again, the Blue Hill Observatory and Science Center, compiled another hurricane history in the 2005 publication of “Carol at 50: Remembering Her Fury – A Historical and Pictorial Summary of Hurricane Carol” by Charles Orloff. The Great Blue Hill in Milton is home to the oldest continuous weather record in North America and includes the 12-year old Science Center. (Family membership includes free admission and tours of the observatory, science lectures and access to the weather records.)

Sebastian Junger’s “Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men Against the Sea” describes a storm that emerged from the remnants of Hurricane Grace and ended full force as the Halloween Nor’easter off the coast of the Massachusetts and Maine.

Other books record the history of notable hurricanes outside of New England. In “Category Five: the 1935 Labor Day Hurricane”, Thomas Neil Knowles documents “the first Category 5 hurricane to make landfall in the United States” off the coast of Florida. Erik Larson wrote ”Isaac’s Storm: A Man, A Time and the Deadliest Hurricane in History” (1999) about the Galveston Hurricane of 1900. Also in our library’s collection is “Galveston and the 1900 Storm: Catastrophe and Catalyst” by Patricia Bellis Bixel.

There are well over 100 books in the Minuteman Library Network written about the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and an entire column could be devoted to those. One of the most recent is a book that focuses on the Coast Guard’s heroic efforts throughout Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in “In Katrina’s Wake: The U.S. Coast Guard and the Gulf Coast Hurricanes of 2005” by Donald L. Canney.

Several of the books mentioned above are available from other Minuteman libraries. For help searching in the Minuteman catalog for these titles or for placing requests for all library materials please visit the Morrill Memorial Library, call the Reference librarians (781-769-0200) or visit the Minuteman Library Catalog on our website,