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 435 columns since 2009.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Raise a Glass, and then What?

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 December 28 issue of the Norwood Transcript & Record.

It’s that time of year again. You’ve found yourself smack dab in the middle of the holidays. In the midst of all the hustle and bustle, there is a chance that you might be called upon to give a toast, especially if you are hosting a party. Perhaps this year you’ll blow the socks off of Great Uncle Lou when you raise your glass and offer a toast with great poise and finesse. In the words of de Cervantes, “Preparation is half the victory.”

Thursday, December 20, 2012

When Bad Things Happen

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the December 21, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

As a librarian, I have taken an unofficial oath. That oath is based on the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights. I promise to respect all freedoms of speech, expression, and access to information. As a public librarian, I vow to provide materials and information that present all points of view and I must be careful not appear political or to espouse doctrinal disapproval. As a library director I must challenge censorship “in the fulfillment of responsibility to provide information and enlightenment.”

Friday, December 14, 2012

Literacy at the Library

Read Bonnie Wyler's column in the December 14, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin. Bonnie is a Literacy/Outreach Librarian at the library.

Literacy has come a long way since the early 1900’s. The definition of literacy has been expanding because the world is constantly changing. A hundred years ago, being literate meant being able to sign one’s name. In the 1940’s, that definition had changed to being able to read at a 4th grade level. By the 1960’s, literacy was defined as having reading competency at an 8th grade level. In 1992, it was defined as “the ability to use printed and written information to function in society, to achieve one’s goals, and to develop one’s knowledge and potential.” Today, being literate requires one to have new proficiencies in the use of technology and in thinking critically to solve problems.

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Massachusetts Tragedy: Phoebe Prince

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the December 7, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

It was nearly three years ago when fifteen-year old Phoebe Prince took her life in her home in South Hadley, Massachusetts.

I first read about this sad story when Kevin Cullin, a Boston Globe columnist, brought it to light in a column published in the Globe on January 24, 2010. “The Untouchable Mean Girls” moved me so much that I wrote to Mr. Cullin praising him for his courage. It’s not always easy to be brave, to champion the underdog or to upset the status quo.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Visit from Saint Nicholas

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the November 30, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

One December in the late 50s my mother sat me down with piles of construction paper, scissors and stacks of old Christmas cards. She gave up these treasures from our family and friends so that I could create my own illustrated versions of The Night Before Christmas. The holiday cards, artfully trimmed with pinking shears, created delightful scenes - flocked reindeer and glittered snow-covered landscapes. Embossed and colorful santas rested next to crayoned fireplaces and doorways of my creation. I was occupied for days and hours and it seems my mother knew exactly what she was doing.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Reading

Read Brian Samek's column in the November 23, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.
Remember your high school foreign language class with its endless grammar exercises? In a study in 1998, Spanish professor Jeffrey Stokes and his colleagues tried to determine which factors best predicted a student’s ability to correctly use the Spanish subjunctive, a notoriously difficult form for Americans. They found a long list of things that were not significant predictors: time spent in the Spanish classroom, time spent on the subjunctive, and time spent in Spanish-speaking countries. The only factor that predicted competence in the subjunctive was the amount of free reading in Spanish done by the student.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Chicks with Sticks

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the November 16, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

My mother began to teach me to sew about the same time I learned to type – at age eight. I learned on a Singer Featherweight 221with its wonderful gold on black paint and fold-up extension platform. I still own that machine, made sometime in the early 1950s, and cherish to this day. It weighs a mere 11 pounds and fits into a wonderfully compact case with compartments for all the necessities.

I began my lesson in sewing on tiny clothes for my cherished Barbie doll. For Christmas and birthdays my mother would create the more elaborate wardrobe items like wedding dresses and swimsuits. I made simple sheaths and capes that closed with tiny snaps and buttons. In junior high and high school I sewed my complete wardrobe each year on that Singer Featherweight.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Food, Comforting Food

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the November 9, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

Last week when Hurricane Sandy pounded Norwood and the rest of the Eastern seaboard, I spent the day at home cooking comfort food. I was tempting fate but I also knew that I had a gas range and oven to fall back on. In any event, I started preparing early in the day: a braid of bread, macaroni and cheese, and a potato-leek soup.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Dogs That Know ... A Lot More Than Mine

April Cushing is the Adult Services Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read her column in the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin November 2, 2012.

While browsing through my bookshelves recently I came across “Dogs That Know When Their Masters are Coming Home, and Other Unexplained Powers of Animals” by Rupert Sheldrake. Seriously? It sounds like a canine version of “Ripley’s Believe it or Not.” I was, I admit, more than a little skeptical.

I love all my kids, of course, but if I relied on them for daily demonstrations of devotion I might be barking up the wrong tree. That’s where Duffy, my true and constant companion for the past 13 years, comes in. I own an embarrassingly large assortment of Dandie Dinmont Terrier collectibles: artwork, figurines, kitchenware, coasters, jewelry, pottery, return address labels. Can you say “obsessive?” Duffy, for his part, showers me with love--and way too much saliva. I’m pretty sure I’ll be more devastated when Duffy enters doggie heaven than when certain blood relations go to the great beyond.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The School for My Girl

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the October 26, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website.




                I’ll never forget the moment I decided to let my daughter drop out of school.  That sounds a bit shocking, I know, but the reality was that I needed to rescue her from failure in the traditional school setting and it was the only idea we had.

                It was 1994.  Ciara was ten years old and she was in the fourth grade.  It was the evening of her first day back in the classroom after the Christmas holiday vacation and the two of us were at dinner together in her favorite Chinese restaurant.  I can remember vividly where we sat and how helpless I felt when we discussed how uncomfortable she was in school, how hard math was, how much she felt like an utter failure.  My child’s self-esteem was suffering, she was miserable and she was not learning in that environment. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Agatha's Express

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the October 19, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website.

On the evening of Friday, December 3, 1926, Agatha Christie disappeared. At the time, she was the well-known author of “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd”, her seventh mystery. Her car was found abandoned several hours after she had announced that she “was going for a drive.” She left several notes; in one to local authorities, she declared that she feared for her life. In another, to a relative of her husband, she stated that she was going on a vacation. Her friends and fans were very confused and they speculated that she might have committed suicide. A local lake, one in which one of the characters in her novels had drowned, was dredged. 15,000 volunteers searched for Ms. Christie high and low.

Although Agatha’s mother had died months before, and admittedly Agatha was suffering from that loss, the story that emerged was that she was actually grief stricken over a very blatant affair that her husband was having. In the end, Agatha might have wanted to publicly embarrass her husband and at the same time escape the humiliation caused by his affair. In any event, husband Archie Christie was forced to travel eleven days after her disappearance to the Old Swan Hydropathic Hotel in Yorkshire, England. His mission? To identify Agatha, a resort guest and an identical match who was refusing to admit she was the one and only Ms. Christie. Or so the mystery goes.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Twenty Five Years of Discussing Books

Margot Sullivan is a part-time reader's advisory and reference librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read her column in the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin this week or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website.

When I came on board the Morrill Memorial Library as a fulltime staff member the first thing I wanted to do was to start a book discussion group! Little did I know that twenty five years later the “discussing” and pondering of books with much laughter thrown in would still be as rewarding and enjoyable as those first tentative years. I think we started off with 8-10 “regulars” and now we often have 20-25 people attending in the morning and 10-15 in the evening.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Defending the Art of Hoarding

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the October 5, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website.
From the Library October 5, 2012: In Defense of Hoarding read and written by Charlotte Canelli

Several months ago we moved to Norwood and in the process I came across a lone, small bag that contained a book. It was something that I had meant to go into a donation bin years ago but it never got there. Sadly and forlornly, the book sat in a corner of my basement for several years in a home I owned before I remarried. We sold that house and the book then founds its way, undiscovered, to our garage in Norfolk and remained there until a few months ago. It never made it to a donation bin, of course, but got stuck in my “stuff.”

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Revisiting The Hobbit

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the September 28, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website.

I’ve just found out that September 22 marks Hobbit Day each year. This date happens to be Bilbo and Frodo Baggins’ birthdays. Hobbit Day, in fact, is during the official Tolkien Week. This year, all of these celebrations precede December release of the Warner Bros. film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

This date happens to be Bilbo and Frodo Baggins’ birthdays. Hobbit Day, in fact, is during the official Tolkien Week. This year, all of these celebrations precede the release of the December release of the Warner Bros. film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Art of Journaling

Nancy Ling is an Outreach Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library. She is also an author and a poet and loves working with adults, children and teens and teaching poetry.

When I was ten years old, my family took a trip to Nova Scotia. I decided to bring along my new diary. It had blue and orange stripes and the all-important lock on the outside. The pages were gold-tipped, and soon the sparkles were flaking onto me and the backseat of the car. When we stopped at a local restaurant to eat, my Mom spent the first part of the meal wiping the endless sparkles from my nose.

The thing that I treasured the most about my new diary was all the empty pages waiting to be filled. Do you know that feeling? With the right pen, the sky was the limit. Pages were awaiting my brilliant thoughts and recorded memories. For three days, that dream was a reality. I wrote about the beauty of the Cabot Trail, the Bay of Fundy, a nice retired couple I’d befriended, and the cozy inn where we stayed.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Over the Rainbow

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the September 14, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website.

Some time ago, not long after I became a serious iPod user, I began collecting versions of what might be called my favorite song, Somewhere Over the Rainbow. I’m not sure when I fell in love with the classic song written for the movie The Wizard of Oz in 1938 – it certainly wasn’t when I was young. I’m ashamed to admit I actually never liked Judy Garland, the movie or the song, when I was a girl. It wasn’t until I was older that I appreciated Judy Garland’s movie or the song, Somewhere Over the Rainbow.

What I’m not ashamed to admit, however, is that I purchased all the versions through iTunes – unless, of course, I first owned the music on compact disk and simply transferred it to my iPod. I believe in digital rights and I spent well over $100 over several years downloading many versions of the song. I think knowing that I’ve purchased them honorably and ethically adds to my love of my collection.

Friday, September 7, 2012

How to Talk to a Widower

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the September 6, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website.

More often than not, I tend to read in themes. If I’ve liked a book and I haven’t quite been ready for it to end, I’ll often find another to fill the gap. This spring I found myself reading fictionalized accounts of the journey of widowers through their grief and retrospectively their past marriages. They are tender, and often comic, stories of the passage from shock and heartache to the possibilities of second chances.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Finding My Inner Runner

Diane Phillips is the Technical Services Library at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood. Read her column in the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin this week.

I became a runner about two years ago. I didn’t start out running but worked my way up to it. I didn’t realize how hard it would be for me to run. I see so many people, young and old, out on the streets running; and they make it look effortless. For me, it is not. It’s work – hard work. I didn’t just get off the couch and run. I started out by walking. I walked anywhere between eight to twelve miles a week. Doing that was no problem. I enjoyed it. I listened to music on my iPod, and the time seemed to go by really quickly. The satisfaction was short lived. I needed to do something more challenging. I started to run. I would walk for five minutes and then run for one minute, walk for another five minutes and run for another minute and so on.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Mice in the Piano

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the August 17, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website.

I knew all along that it was a very big mistake to store my piano in the garage. At the time I thought it would only be a few short months and it had, of course, the snow blower, leaf blower and lawn mower and other assorted tools to keep it company before we would be moving it inside where it belonged.

Of course, a few months became four seasons and four seasons became a bit more than a year. Finally moving day came and my piano and I exhaled a huge sigh of relief as it was carted up the front steps of our new home and snuggled against an interior wall, once again inside the house.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Ticked Off!

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the August 17, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website.

I can’t imagine that mosquitoes have ever been very popular. Yes, there are reasons for mosquitoes in nature. They are food to other creatures, like bats. They also eat other tiny creatures on ponds and lakes and therefore keep them clean. Mainly, though, they seem to be simply a nuisance and spreader of disease. Malaria, elephantiasis, West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis are all caused by the mosquito as it spreads the infection from carrier to victim.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Support for Stolen Days

Jean Todesca is a children's librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read her column in the August 10, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

An Oriental rug carpets the floor of the home's entry way. As I walk with steadfast purpose, my thoughts are drawn to earlier years when Frank and I would enjoy quick witted banter. We'd joke and solve the world's problems while playing a mean game of cribbage. Often in a fit of laughter, I tried not to inhale crumbs while snacking on our usual fair of crackers and sharp cheddar cheese.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Admiring the Cat Whisperer

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the August 3, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website.

I don’t get cats. I’m simply not a cat lover and I don’t know why. Our family had one, two or as many to three cats at any time when my children were growing up. I think I cuddled with them. I know I fed them but I guess I’ve repressed those memories. I do recall their names and I do remember that I was very, very fond of our first cat, Jonathan. But Jonathan thought he was a dog so perhaps I did, too.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fifty Shades of E.L. James

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the July 27, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website.

It’s a tough job but somebody has to do it. That’s what I told myself when I began to read the first book in the ever-so-popular, ever-so-controversial Fifty Shades trilogy written by E.L. James.

Well, I’ve just finished the third book in the trilogy and I’ve lived to tell about it. Like I said, it’s a tough job but somebody has to do it.

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Tribute to Teachers

Shelby Warner is a Reference Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read her column in the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

A few weeks ago children were let out of school for the summer vacation and across the land one could hear that old ditty, “No more homework, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks.”

As these words run through my mind, I remember all the teachers I have known - first grade, Mrs. Fleming; second grade, Mrs. Wilson; third grade, Mrs. Lunsford. I can name them all right up through the 12th grade and tell you what was special about each one. They had an impact on me that will always be a part of my life.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Girls Like Us

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the July 13, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website.

After graduation from high school in 1970, I was one of many kids in my class who lived at home and attended a local college. Luckily, I was accepted at a local university, within an easy commute. I didn’t end up staying at CAL, as the University of California in Berkeley is nicknamed, but left for the East Coast at the age of 20. I was born in Massachusetts and Boston seemed to be in my blood. I had also fallen in love with a Boston boy.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Holiday Week

There was no column the week of July 4, 2012.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Art in the Library

Written by Kelly Unsworth, the Head of Children's Services at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read her column in the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin.
This time of year, with all of the graduations, I always remember my first career interest, art. With an undergraduate degree in Art History I was often asked, even in strong economic times, what I was going to do with my degree. With youthful optimism, I put skepticism aside and set off to pursue my dreams. Hard work paid off, and for a number of years I supported myself working in a portrait photography studio in Harvard Square, and later, as a studio assistant to the artists then known as the Starn Twins. This was an exciting time as the artists were young and just beginning to be recognized in the art world. Using unique methods to manipulate photographs, they were cutting edge, and selling art in a Newbury Street gallery as well as being included in larger institutions such as the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Fine Arts. So that’s what I would do with my degree.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Taste of Honey

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the June 22, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website.

From the Library - A Taste of Honey by Charlotte Canelli

My husband, Gerry, has a bucket list just like the rest of us. It isn’t a formal bucket list, of course, because most of us keep the list in our heads, checking off and adding on as the years pass and add up.

He confessed several years ago that he had long had a desire to try beekeeping, I was, at first, skeptical. I wasn’t a honey lover, after all, and I most certainly didn’t have any affection for bees. The honeys my family had always purchased at the grocery store didn’t excite me much.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Moving Day!

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the June 15, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website.

From the Library - Moving Day

My husband, Gerry, is the epitome of stability. One of examples of this is that he has worked 40 years for the same company while the 'company' has changed names and entities several times. He often describes a colleague and begins with something like this: “When we worked together in Medfield in 1976.”

Another testament is that he lived in the same house in Framingham through all the years of his childhood – from birth until he left home on his wedding day. Gerry moved from his parents’ home into an apartment, into his first home and then a second more than 28 years ago. And there he lives today.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Wedding March in March

Marie Lydon is a Reference librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read her column in the June 8 issue of the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin.

From the Library - A Wedding March in March by written by Marie Lydon and read by Charlotte Canelli

When our daughter became engaged last June, she and Dan had already decided that they were getting married in March, based on the weather in Australia where they hoped to honeymoon. They chose the location for the ceremony and reception right away, after looking at three or four venues, and loved the friendliness and casualness of the people they spoke with at the place they chose. It was an easy decision and seemed like a great idea in June.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Destination: Wedding!

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the June 1, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website.

From the Library on June 1 Destination! Wedding by written and read by Charlotte Canelli

In this column, I have written about the marriages of our two eldest daughters in 2010 and 2011. They say that the third time is a charm. So, yes, we attended our third, and youngest, daughter’s wedding this past weekend amidst more joy, beauty and love.

We can agree that none of our three lovely girls are very traditional. They are, instead, incredibly independent and sassy. They are also sweet, bright and beautiful and masters of organization.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Looking for America

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the May 25 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website.

From the Library on May 25, 2012 - Looking for America by written and read by Charlotte Canelli

Anyone who has been near Death Valley knows that it sits in the dry and hot California desert. Death Valley lives up to its name. It is barren and it is also immense. It is the driest and hottest place in North America.

Death Valley National Park, the largest national park in this country, covers 200 square miles. A trip from the National Park Service central site at Furnace Creek is a 53 mile drive to Scotty’s Castle at the north entrance.

Badwater Basin, its lowest point, sits at 262 feet below sea level. Death Valley is also home to the site where a 20-mule team transported Borax out of the desert’s Harmony Borax Works.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Sexagenarians in the Library

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the May 18 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website.
From the Library on May 18, 2012 - Sextagenarians in the Library by written and read by Charlotte Canelli

There’s a sexagenarian in the library director’s office this week.

Ah, let me define. I was born in May, 1952 and I am now a person who is 60 years old. A sexagenarian, then, is between the ages of 60 and 70. Expanding on that definition, I am a person being in the 7th decade her life.

I celebrated with much fanfare last week and I am happy to have made it to 60. But seventh decade? Yikes, that sounds a bit too close to eight, eighty or four score. But then that would be an octogenarian, and that I am not. I’ve got a score to go, thank you.

The Baby Boomer generation has certainly grown up. Some are nearing fifty and some are nearly seventy. That puts me smack in the middle with the rest.

By definition, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, a Baby Boomer is one born between 1946 (the first year after the end of World War II) and 1965. Some Boomers watched their fathers leave for the Korean War. Others watched them leave for Vietnam. Many happily saw them return.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Geckos and the Future of Libraries

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 or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website.
From the Library on May 11, 2012 - Geckos and the Future of Libraries by written and read by Nancy Ling

A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life. — Henry Ward BEECHER Recently the Massachusetts Library Association asked the question: What is the future of libraries? This was my response: You may have forgotten his name—Martin. You may have a hard time deciding which one of his ads is your favorite: the one where he’s dancing in Texas, or his journey out of the parking lot. But there’s hardly a soul out there who wouldn’t recognize that tiny, British-accented gecko who is the mascot for Geico Auto Insurance. Not only is Martin a gecko, he IS Geico. Without a doubt, Geico has increased their sales and notoriety with consumers through Martin. The future of our libraries depends on the same—a clear, concise marketing style. In the past, libraries have made the mistake of thinking they are separate from this business of marketing. We’ve argued, people should value us for what we are. Or, we’ve always existed, therefore we should be forever appreciated. Unfortunately, this is a harmful assumption. As much as any business out there, the library needs to make its value to the community known—consistently and constantly. Marketing is the key to our future. So how do we do this? More than the number of books we provide on OverDrive, more than the variety of programs we offer children and seniors alike, it is the people behind the library’s name who serve as our best asset. As Rivkah Sass wrote in Library Journal (6/2002), “As highly touted, purely electronic tools like Questia fade into history, we should remember to market the value of what is the largest percentage of most library budgets—the staff.” Librarians bring in depth knowledge, experience, and a relationship to our patrons. We do this daily in the Outreach Department at the Morrill Memorial Library. We reach out to the community. We are in the business of touching people’s lives and making a lasting impression. This is what we do best, and this is something worthy of the patron’s attention. In my parents’ town of Wrentham, there is a hardware store called Cataldo’s. This family- run store is a beloved fixture on Main Street. However, the day that Loews moved in everyone was worried. How could this small business survive the big competition? Turns out, it wasn’t a problem. Why? The reason for its success relates to librarians as well. Not only does Cataldo’s provide the goods. Not only do they provide the know-how. They provide the personal touch. They are there for you when ice dams crash through you ceiling. They know your children and your children’s children as they grow up. Just as the famous jingle from Cheers goes, we all want to go where “everybody knows your name.” The library is that kind of place. We are essential to our communities—the great equalizers of society. We need to send out this message loud and clear. Librarians are valuable. You can bet your future on it.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Walking the Nation's Capital

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the May 4 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website.
From the Library - Walking the Nation's Capital by Charlotte Canelli
In 1965, my parents packed our family of six into our Oldsmobile sedan and spent one month touring the country from California to Boston and back again. We first navigated south, stopping at over a dozen national parks along the way. Our trip home was to the north and included Niagara Falls and Reno, Nevada.

On that family vacation, I had my first lessons in navigation using multiple road maps and AAA tour books. I often won the front seat between my parents and spent hours studying the highways, motel amenities, restaurant offerings and sightseeing highlights in those guidebooks.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Lost and Found

April Cushing is the Adult Services Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read her column in the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website.

 From the Library - Lost and Found by written by April Cushing and read by Charlotte Canelli
I know someone who claims to have never lost anything.  Is that even humanly possible?  If the name weren’t so fraught with pejorative connotations beyond the inability to keep track of stuff, I’d join Losers Anonymous in a heartbeat.  I’m thinking of two particular incidents. 

I picked up my daughter at the 128 train station recently to take her to the dentist while I waited in the parking lot. After dropping her back at the train en route to the Morrill Memorial Library, where, ironically, I help people find things, I reached for the shoes I’d tossed on the floor of the front seat.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Charmed by the Hike: The Appalachian Trail

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the April 20 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website.
From the Library on April 20, 2012 - Charmed by the Hike: The Appalachian Trail by written and ready by Charlotte Canelli
In the 1998 bestseller, “A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail”, Bill Bryson recounts his experiences, with and without his friend, Stephen, along the 2,184 mile challenge of the Appalachian Trail. Bryson hiked the trail from Georgia to parts of Maine. It doesn’t matter much that Bryson, never completed the hike. Only one-quarter of those who attempt the hike as a “thru-hike” in one season actually complete all of it. His obsession with the trail, his humorous exploits and his discoveries, among them how hard it is to team up with a friend under extenuating circumstances, made for a bestselling memoir.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Disaster of Titanic Proportions


Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the April 13 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin  or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud.  Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website. 

From the Library on April 13, 2012- A Disaster of Titanic Proportions by Charlotte Canelli
While both halves the 20th Century saw incredible growth and achievement, Americans endured terrific losses in the first half. It seemed like ancient history to me as I was growing up, but World War II ended less than ten years before my birth. The beginnings of the Holocaust and the meteoric rise of Adolph Hitler occurred only fifteen years before I was born in 1952. The black days of the stock market crash only twenty-three.

Put in that perspective, it isn’t hard to wonder why my parents and grandparents lived such a frugal and conservative lifestyle, always afraid of another world disaster that might strike.
In 1912 my grandparents’ first child was born, my mother’s eldest sister. It was also the year the Titanic sank.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Tonight - Clear and Cold; Tomorrow - Hot and Humid

Margot Sullivan is a reference librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read her column in the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin this week or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website.

From the Library on April 6, 2012 - Clear and Cold; - Hot and Humid by written by Margot Sullivan and read Charlotte Canelli
“What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance” Jane Austen in a letter.

“If you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes” Mark Twain

Everyone, and I mean everyone, is talking about the weather. Truthfully there is just nothing we can do about it! For those of you who missed the snow and cold and ice I have some suggestions for you here at the library. Come in and borrow the movie “The Shining” by Stephen King where a caretaker gets marooned in a snowy resort and slowly loses it! “The Day After Tomorrow” is a huge disaster movie with lots of ice bergs breaking up and global warming! How about “Doctor Zhivago” a great movie with winter in Russia! “March of the Penguins” is an entertaining DVD for all ages. Every March in the Antarctic penguins file one by one for hundreds of miles to look for a mate and start a family. For books I just finished a really taut mystery story “The Snowman” by Jo Nesbo. James Michener’s “Alaska” would be a good read if you want cold.

Attributed to Mark Twain was also the quote”the weather is always doing something”. Yes, it is always doing something and we have no control over what it is doing! The First Thursday Book Discussion Group just finished “Isaac’s Storm: a man, a time, and the deadliest hurricane in history” by Erik Larson. Even with some weather forecasting the September 1900 storm in Galveston, Texas was incorrectly analyzed for a variety of reasons – some ignorance, some political, and some ego –driven! We all can remember storms that have been predicted and not arrived or vice versa! The weather has a mind of its own. In keeping with the theme of missing snow and snow shoveling, how about checking out “Blizzard! the great storm of 88” by Judd Caplovich (974.7 Cap). This book has great photos of mostly New York and one can imagine what it might have been like without some of the specialized machinery we have to cope with this kind of a storm. How about the “Blizzard of 78 by Michael Tougias (551.5 Tougias) – those of us around here remember this famous storm in which the snowfall amount was not predicted!

The library has a nice array of weather books I particularly liked “Weather a Visual Guide” by Bruce Buckley et all (551.5 Buckley). This book covers the atmosphere and jet streams (they are always talking about the jet stream in the weather report), ocean currents, humidity (not my favorite), clouds, rain, lightning, dust storms, and history of weather forecasting, …. and so on. Lots of photographs make this a valuable weather resource. Chris Mooney’s book “Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle over Global Warming” (363.738 Mooney) looks intriguing. Finally for you “weather at its worst” fans “Extreme Weather A Guide and Record Book” by Christopher C. Burt (551.5 Burt) presents all kinds of records on blizzards, and floods, and hurricanes and ice storms, droughts, tornadoes, and any other kind of like catastrophe. The book has great photos and is very readable.

Spring has already sprung – in March! It’s April – can summer be far behind? Wonder what July will be like?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Immortal Love

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the March 30 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website. From the Library - Immortal Love by Charlotte Canelli

Reading reviews and choosing both fiction and non-fiction books for our library, I often place a book on hold months before it is published. And sometimes I am puzzled when the book arrives on my desk not quite remembering just why it had piqued my interest.

This past winter I placed a hold on the book “Immortal Bird” written by Doron Weber, a program director at the non-profit Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in New York City. Skimming the back cover, I realized why I had reserved Weber’s book which chronicles his “struggle to save his remarkable son”, Damon, who was born with a congenital heart defect.

This is a story that I knew personally and similar to one that I, too, had experienced. I knew I must read it, if only for cathartic reasons. “Immortal Bird” sat on my bedside table for nearly a week before I dared open its cover. I was avoiding it because I knew that I would revisit tender and painful memories.

My daughter, Coleen, was born in 1980 with a congenital heart defect. Her father and I were told several weeks before she was born that she might not survive her birth. She was four months old when on my twenty-eighth birthday we were told that this child, our firstborn, would not survive her first year.

Through what some might ascribe to effective intervention and medical care, or what still others might attribute to powerful prayer, precious Coleen miraculously blossomed. She passed her first birthday and her vivid blue eyes twinkled and her impish smile captured the hearts of everyone she met. I traveled to introduce her to relatives who we never thought she’d meet. We convened with doctors in Los Angeles, south of San Francisco where we lived, who were pioneers in pediatric cardiology. All were simply stunned by her progress with no answers as to why.

Yet, during her second year, it was apparent that she could not defy the odds against her. Her deficient heart could not keep up with a body that needed to thrive. Children grow at amazing rates. A normal one-year old triples his or her birth weight and by a second birthday that birth weight has quadrupled. A healthy heart is key to this remarkable growth.

We lost Coleen a few short months before her second birthday. She was, to us, a perfect child with a personality as big as the moon and a smile unforgettable as the stars. In those twenty and more months however, as parents of a terminally ill child, we were frustrated with interminable delays, the arrogance of specialists, a disorganized medical records system and the cover-ups of mistakes. Days after she was initially released from a renowned teaching hospital at the University of California at San Francisco, it was discovered that the head physician in charge of neonatology was a fraud who had never even graduated from medical school.

We were simply stunned and yet we continued to endure a flawed medical system fraught with inaccuracies and conceit. Doron Weber, the author of “Immortal Bird: A Family Memoir” and the father of Damon Weber has chronicled his similar experience in this unforgettable book.

Doron and Sheleagh’s firstborn son, Damon, was born in 1988 with a congenital heart defect that was mended with surgery when he was very young. However, in late 2001, when Damon was thirteen years old, he became increasingly weaker and ill from complications related to his initial heart condition.

While some of the story records the medical intervention and Damon’s disheartening decline, most of the book focuses on Damon’s incredible strength, his amazing spirit and his unwavering will to beat the odds. He rarely complained but managed to enter a very competitive high school in Brooklyn where he acted in and directed stage plays. He even managed a very small part in one episode of the HBO series, Deadwood. In the fall of 2004, just months before he died, he was the recipient of a transplanted heart. The unthinkable happened soon after when he contracted an infection from that new heart – the one that had promised him a longer life.

In the last year of Damon’s life, Doron Weber fought a maddening battle, advocating for his son in medical institutions that lacked a central record and with doctors who rarely listened to the people who knew Damon best, his parents. As things spiraled out of control, I couldn’t help but react to the unbelievable mistakes and ineptitude of the medical professionals assigned to Damon’s case. In the end, a grave misdiagnosis hastened Damon’s death and a family lost their eldest son.

In the epilogue of “Immortal Bird”, Doron Weber writes that “Damon died three days before my birthday. That’s a misleading statement since no one you love dies once. They die for you repeatedly, over and over.”

All parents who have lost a child know that while you can never change what happened, you do have the choice to move on from it, keeping lost ones in your heart and reconciling the painful memories when you feel the strongest. “Immortal Bird” is frustrating, poignant, and powerful. I anguished, and sometimes I relived, many of the moments that were told in this tender and vivid story by a father who loved his child more than he could have ever imagined. Yet, it is books like Weber’s that many of us turn to in times we when need to heal from memories while we rediscover the strength within us.

If you would like to reserve any books in the Minuteman Library System please call the Reference or Information desks of the library, 781-799-0200 or reserve them in the Minuteman Library catalog.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Hey, Hey, Find the Monkees at the Library

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the March 23 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website. From the Library - Hey, Hey Find the Monkees at the Library by Charlotte Canelli

I didn’t watch much television as a child. At least not in comparison to most of my friends, then and now. I can sing parts of the Gilligan’s Island theme song but I usually only belt out with confidence only these four words: “a three-hour tour.”

Don’t get me started on the episodes of Bewitched, Get Smart, Lost in Space and the Andy Griffith Show that I missed. Oh and Gomer Pyle, Hogan’s Heroes and The Fugitive I caught up with mainly at my best friend’s house which was conveniently next door. Her modern family had the television tuned in most of the time and they also watched old movies and rerun after rerun of Lassie and Bonanza. I loved hanging out there and found a way to sleep over as often as I could.

What my family never actually missed on television in the mid-60s was The Ed Sullivan Show, the Lawrence Welk Show, the Carol Burnett Show and Walt Disney’s World of Color. Ed had been on the tube since 1949 and Lawrence Welk nationally debuted in 1955. Both of those shows passed my parents’ test of suitable family entertainment. Singing, dancing and that little mouse, Topo Gigio, were all deemed fine family fare.

Until, of course, the fall of 1966 of my freshman year of high school when my parents divorced. At the same time I suppose I was growing up and naturally left to my devices and censorship. Whatever the reason for the huge shift, it coincided with the debut of the Monkees. I remember racing home from school clubs and babysitting gigs to catch the very start of the show each week. We were all a bit nuts about the Monkees. They were quirky, silly but cute. We all had our favorites (mine was Peter Tork.) Davy was just too cute, Mickey Dolenz a bit odd and Michael Nesmith way too moody.

When Davy Jones died on March 1 this month, there were many of us who wondered how he got to be so old so quickly. And of course, he wasn’t. He was barely 20 years old when he joined on to the phenomenon which was the Monkees. He was only 66 when he died.

The Internet went a bit crazy when Davy died. Sales of the songs increased and word of his death spread like wildfire. After all, MTV had begun to air old episodes of the Monkees to an entirely new generation in 1986 and that generation is now having children. Nostalgia multiples across the ages and the Monkees will be forever young. Think Daydream Believer. Check it out in your local elevator or on iTunes. Or Sugar, Sugar. You’ll see.

Nostalgia about the Monkees is here to stay and that’s why we are making sure that we have plenty of Monkees recordings in our library collection. Most of us growing up in high school in the 60s ended our love affair with the group after the first season on television. (They did record and broadcast a second season in 1967-1968.)

1966 brought us the album (now the CD) The Monkees with the singable songs Last Train to Clarksville, Take a Giant Step and I Wanna Be Free. Their second album, More of the Monkees, including Stepping Stone, Pleasant Valley Sunday, A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You and the album was actually the band’s top seller, racking up 70 weeks on Billboard’s album chart. It didn’t hurt that Neil Diamond and Carol King, among others, wrote some of their bestselling songs.

Other CDs of Monkees include the Best of Album and Essentials. Headquarters was their first album recorded after they left the studio and decided to strike it out on their own. Some people say that album is the best that the Monkees did with Forget that Girl and Shades of Gray.

The DVDs of the two seasons of the Monkees television show (1966-1967 and 1967-1968) feature 32 and 26 episodes, respectively. Those were the days. A season ran through at least half, and sometimes more than half a year.

The Monkees starred in the movie Head which hit the screens in 1968, just three years after the Beatles’ Help. Annette Funicello joined the cut-up guys and the movie was a quirky effort at social commentary (think 1968, after all) and their attempt to reach the adult audience that had outgrown the television show. They tried to leave their silly good-boy image behind in the movie and tackled some serious stuff like anti-war sentiment. Cameos included Frank Zappa, Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper and Terry Garr.

The story of the Monkees and their manufactured music and band can be watched online on the Smithsonian Channel. The 46-minute documentary is fascinating and includes footage of all the Monkees, including reclusive and moody Michael Nesmith.

I have such fond memories of the Monkees that just playing snippets of the songs through any search on Amazon or the web brings a smile to my face. Who hasn’t felt the sentiment of their songs at least once in their lives?

“Though you've played at love and lost and sorrow's turned your heart to frost, I will melt your heart again. Remember the feeling as a child when you woke up and morning smiled? It's time you felt like you did then.” Lyrics from Take a Giant Step.

If you would like to reserve any of these titles in DVD or CD version please call the Reference or Information desks of the library, 781-799-0200 or reserve them in the Minuteman Library catalog.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

My Life with Teddy

Read Bonnie Wyler's column in the March 17, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website. Bonnie Wyler is the Outreach/Literacy Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood.
From the Library - My Life With Teddy by Bonnie Wyler
Teddy came into my life as a 5 ½ pound bundle of fur in August 2008. My previous dog Wink had been gone for almost two years and I was ready for a new canine companion. Because I was approaching senior citizen status and had a full-time job, I told the Keeshond breeder that I wanted the most laid-back puppy in the litter. She assured me that with her 35 years of experience matching puppies with new owners, she would choose the right puppy for me. I knew I loved this breed. Keeshonds are sweet, playful, affectionate and intelligent. The “smiling Dutchman” as he is called, originated in Holland as a barge dog, bred as companion and watchdog for the captains of boats traveling the waterways in the countryside. I knew from previous experience with my Keeshond Wink that another puppy of this breed was what I wanted. Hoping to be well-prepared for the new arrival, I began reading about human-canine communication in a wonderful book by Patricia McConnell called The Other End of the Leash.

Driving home that day in August, I held Teddy on my lap while my friend Susan drove. He sat quietly for the two hour trip, looking up at me with his big brown eyes. We were off to a good start. For the first few days in his new home, he explored his surroundings, running in the yard, sniffing all the new smells, struggling to climb the two steps to my deck and tumbling down again. He was lively and curious, just what I expected from a new puppy. My sister Carol had told me how much I would love rocking him to sleep in the evenings when he was tired out. I looked forward to those peaceful moments.

My first clue that I was dealing with more than the usual puppy exuberance came that first week when my neighbor Sandy stopped by to see Teddy and show me the listing for a house she was looking at. As we sat on the grass studying the printout sheet, Teddy exploded out of nowhere like a bolt of lightning, grabbed the paper and made a mad dash around the yard. By the time we corralled him, the paper was in shreds. We laughed as Teddy jumped in and out of Sandy’s arms, impossible to contain. There was no question he was adorable, but laid-back? His activity level seemed to escalate by the day as he became more familiar and comfortable in his new home. And holding him in the evenings as he fell asleep in my arms? This was not to be. I began to realize I didn’t have the puppy I had bargained for.

That fall, as I struggled to provide the exercise and socialization all puppies need (and Teddy needed even more), my friend came to the rescue. She picked up Teddy one morning a week and brought him to her fenced-in backyard to play with her Jack Russell terrier, Jilly. For hours, the two dogs would run at breakneck speed from one end of the yard to the other. At some point, Jilly would grab Teddy’s collar in her teeth and pin him to the ground, his feet waving in the air. Teddy loved those playtimes. To this day, whenever I say “Jilly,” his ears go up and he races to the backdoor to look for his friend.

By then, I was reading in earnest, looking for any answers I could find to help me cope with my super active puppy. It was a two-pronged approach: knowledge for me and training for Teddy. I enrolled him in a puppy kindergarten class one evening a week. Of the five puppies in attendance, Teddy stood out as having the shortest attention span and greatest difficulty focusing. It was no wonder. He was on serious overload with four other dogs to smell, chase and jump on. After a beginning play period, the trainer worked on basic commands each week, with the canines and their humans practicing under her supervision. By the final session, while everyone watched, each pair attempted to walk in a figure eight, puppy healing on the left side. When it was our turn, the trainer came up to me and said quietly, “Why don’t you and Teddy just try a straight line?” Clearly we were at the bottom of the class.

As fall turned into winter and snow covered the ground, Teddy was ecstatic to be outside with me. As a northern breed, he was well-equipped for the cold weather and loved playing in the snow. He would race around the yard, tethered by a 30-foot lead attached to the deck. Each time he changed direction and hurled past me, I would jump to avoid being tripped by the lead. Unfortunately, my reaction time was no match for his speed. I found myself on the ground, stunned but unhurt, grateful for the soft landing in powdery snow.

I spent many of those winter evenings in the kitchen with Teddy. He was too crazy to keep me company in the living room, and too unhappy if I left him alone in the kitchen. We practiced his ball skills, bouncing and catching, over and over. And I read. A friend had told me about the books of Nicholas Dodman, an animal behaviorist and director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine. I read Dogs Behaving Badly: an A to Z Guide to Understanding and Curing Behavioral Problems in Dogs, looking for sections that might help with leash biting, jumping, and extreme excitability. Of course, I realized that I was still dealing with the exuberance of puppyhood, but I wanted to be well-informed at the least. I found helpful suggestions in another book as well: The Well-Adjusted Dog: Dr. Dodman’s seven steps to lifelong health and happiness for your best friend. Who knew that dogs on average need at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise a day, and walking doesn’t count? I was intrigued by the drawing of a dog treadmill, suggested as especially helpful in the winter months.

Fast forward two and a half years to last summer. Teddy was still a challenge for me, but there’s no question we had bonded. There were moments when I was completely exasperated by his excessive energy and excitability, but I loved him and couldn’t imagine my life without him. One beautiful day in August we traveled to Chatham to visit friends, and by chance, went on a boat ride in the bay. As we motored out and then sped through the waves, Teddy sat motionless, staring out at the horizon. I had never seen him so peaceful and content. And then the lightbulb went on. He was a boat dog by nature, his breed serving those many centuries ago as barge dogs in Holland. He was in his element. Back on land, I couldn’t stop thinking about the power of instinct and genetics on behavior, and how I had just seen a totally different side of my dog.

I have found reading about dog behavior and the human-canine relationship fascinating. There are many excellent books on dogs and dog training at the Morrill Memorial Library and in the Minuteman Library Network, including several others by Patricia McConnell and Nicholas Dodman. If you wonder how dogs experience the world, pick up Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz. You’ll find ideas for children in 101 Fun Things to do with Your Dog by Alison Smith. For those who knit for their dogs, try looking at Men Who Knit and the Dogs Who Love Them by Annie Modesitt. If you would like to see a photograph of Teddy, you will find him in a READ poster in the Cushing Reading Room.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Happy Birthday, Charlotte's Web

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the March 10, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website. Charlotte Canelli is the Library Director at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood. From the Library - Happy Birthday Charlotte's Web! by Charlotte Canelli
I share my sixtieth birthday this year with another Charlotte. Charlotte A. Cavatica, that is. You know her, of course, as the grey spider in what is undoubtedly one of the most famous children’s books written, Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White.

The Latin or scientific name for the barn spider is Araneus Cavaticus and while White never fully explains Charlotte’s second initial we can imagine what her full name must be.

Author E. B. White was 53 years old when Charlotte’s Web was published. He spent his childhood in Mount Vernon, New York and was always a shy and reserved boy and man. It is understandable that he spent hours reflecting and musing and observing the world around him at his family’s homes in New York and Maine.

Both Charlotte's Web and I were, of course, conceived before our birth year of 1952. Sometime in 1949, three years before the book was published, E. B. White spent hours watching a small spider spin a web and, eventually, an egg sac. The spider disappeared in the chilly fall air and White cut down the sac and placed it into a small box in which he had cut small air holes. It was weeks later when baby spiders escaped through the holes in the box to make dozens of webs of their own.

And the rest is history. Literary and otherwise.

After finishing the first draft in 1951, White actually put the book down for a year. He felt that it needed to rest, or incubate. He handed the book to his editor Ursula Nordstrom one day, “out of the blue” in 1952. Obviously impressed, Nordstrom recommended that the book be published and it was in print on October 15, 1952.

Charlotte’s Web was not only White’s most famous book but it has been translated into over 27 languages and has sold over 45 million copies. It is, hands down, a favorite among children, parents, teachers and librarians around the world. Before the Harry Potter books, Charlotte’s Web would have been considered the number one favorite children’s book. For some of us, it still is.

Charlotte was White’s most famous character but two of his other books were also lauded as enduring children’s books, Stuart Little (1945) and The Trumpet and the Swan (1973). Interestingly, one of the most influential critics of children’s literature, the retired but significant children’s librarian, Anne Carroll Moore, of the New York Public Library, had a less-than-enthusiastic response to both Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web. (Fern’s character was “underdeveloped.”) Moore was never afraid to use her stamp which stated “Not Recommended for Purchase by Expert” and was one of the most powerful book reviewers of children’s literature in the first half of the 20th century. White’s books were bestsellers anyway.

What I never knew before researching for this column is that E. B. White, or Elwyn Brooks White (or Andy, as he was called most of his adult life) was the editor of the revised edition of the “Elements of Style”, published by William Strunk in 1959. (The book is also known as "Strunk and White.") Any one of us growing up in the 60s and 70s and learning to write effectively remember this handbook of grammar and style of English writing with about as little fondness as we remember cafeteria lunches. But remember it, we do. And learn from it, we have.

The entire story of E. B. White and his books was just published last year in 2011 by Michael Sims. In “The Story of Charlotte’s Web: E.B.White’s Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic,” Sims spends more than half the book describing White’s life on the property of his childhood town in New York, in New York City working for The New Yorker Magazine and on the farms in Maine where he spent many years of his life, particularly the last thirty of them. (White died of Alzheimer’s in 1985 at the age of 86 in Brooklin, Maine.) Sims explains White’s courtship, partnership and marriage to Katherine Angell, writer and fiction editor of the New Yorker magazine, from 1925-1960. The New Yorker was a publication he richly influenced with his friend and fellow author and humorist, James Thurber.

It stands to reason, then, that one of my favorite children’s movies is Charlotte’s Web, released in 1973 several years after I had graduated from high school. I was busy becoming an adult at that time and didn’t discover the film for years until the mid 80s when my own children were young. Interestingly too, the film had an amazing resurgence of popularity 21 years after its release. In 1994 it was one of the best-selling titles of the year. It seems that White’s devoted following of adults were rediscovering the story along with their children.

White and his wife unfortunately did not appreciate the Hanna-Barbera version of Charlotte’s Web and would have preferred something more refined with the music of Mozart as the soundtrack. I, on the other hand, loved cuddling with my children on the couch as we sang along with Debbie Reynolds (Charlotte), Henry Gibson (Wilbur), Paul Lynde (Templeton), and Agnes Moorehead (the Goose.) “A Veritable Smorgasbord”, “I Can Talk” and “Zuckerman’s Famous Pig” will always be part of my repertoire.

“Fine swine, wish he was mine. What if he’s not so big! He’s some terrific, radiant, humble, thingamajig of a fine phenomenon … Zuckerman’s famous pig!”

If you would like to reserve any of the titles mentioned in this column, please call the Reference or Information desks of the library, 781-799-0200 or reserve them in the Minuteman Library catalog.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Books to Film - 2011 Award Winners

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the March 3, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website. Charlotte Canelli is the Library Director of the Morrill Memorial Library.   From the Library - Books to Film: 2011 Award Winners by Charlotte Canelli


            I am, at times, a bit compulsive. I like to begin new projects and if it weren’t for my compulsive need to see them through, I might never complete them.  What might look to some as expansive enthusiasm is sometimes simply born of an impulse to plan.

            This year I took on Oscar a few weeks before the awards would be televised.  What began as a simple desire to see more than just a few of the Oscar-nominated movies ended in a manic last-minute adventure. In the end, I watched over nine movies in as many days and saw at least fourteen of the 2011 nominated films.

            Two of my favorite films of 2011 and nominated for Best Picture, “The Artist” and “Midnight in Paris”, were written as original screenplays.  Six of the other nine nominated for the grand award were adapted from stories originally written as books.

            There was much buzz about the film, “The Descendants” based on the book by Kaui Hart Hemmins. It is the fictional account of descendants of Hawaiian royalty, the King family.  Matthew King, played by George Clooney, attempts to parent his children, say goodbye to his wife and examine his marriage and life.  The movie is somehow a poignant portrayal of life and death, and a journey of marriage and family, extended and otherwise.

            Another much-anticipated film, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”, is based on the book of fiction by Jonathan Safran Foer. Nine-year old Oskar Schell loses his father in the World Trade Center attacks on 9-11.  Oskar’s deceased father is played by Tom Hanks; his mother by Sandra Bullock. Although it is the story about Oskar’s healing journey, I found the movie’s images of September 11 disturbing. During that tragedy in 2001 I had moved and hadn’t purchased cable service for my cable-ready television and only had viewing access to videos or DVDs. This self-imposed bubble was somewhat shattered by the film’s repeated images of the falling man. The story however, is sprinkled with enough humor, punning and wordplay to connect the heartbreaking story with powerful images of restoration and healing.

            I saw the film “The Help”, based on the book by Kathryn Stockett, in theaters last year.  It was a much-anticipated film after response to the book in 2009.  Having grown up in the 60s in the very liberal and very racially-diverse city of Berkeley, California, my experience was very far away from Mississippi. I never witnessed the type of discrimination Skeeter did as her life intersected with the lives of family maids, Abeline and Minny.  Even though my head knew the facts, my heart had been sheltered from that storm. I found the powerful story far more emotional on the big screen than on the pages in the book and I suspect that the audience around me held back or shed similar tears.

            One of my favorite nominated films of 2011 was “Moneyball” based on the book of the same name by Michael Lewis (author of “The Blind Side” and “The Big Short”).  I actually thought Brad Pitt should have won the best-actor award for this film. I’ve never been a sportswoman but I can get caught up in a championship game or in the story of players struggling to beat the odds and I was entranced.  The New York Times writes that Lewis “could have made a fortune in business. Instead, he makes a fortune writing about it.”  “Moneyball” is about how games are won and teams are made – with players who are each a piece of that winning puzzle.

             “War Horse” is based on a 1982 children's novel by Michael Morpurgo.  It is the fictional account of an English boy, Albert, whose beloved horse, Joey, is sold to the British cavalry.  Joey is sent off to fight in France, Albert enlists and the movie chronicles the tragedies of the Great War.  We saw the film in the theater when we were looking for a family film.  I thought it was an amazing cinematic feat, much like “Saving Private Ryan”, a film about another war. Watching it, though, I was struck with the idiocy of war in a way that other films have not affected me. (15 million lives were lost in World War I.)   The book and movie are based upon real and tragic events and they end on a high note. While war and death are not exactly “family topics”, it is, after all, a Disney film.

             “Hugo” (based on the children’s book “The Invention of Hugo Cabret” by Brian Selznick) is another cinematic spectacle.  The film won five big academy awards, including Best Cinematography. I dragged two girlfriends to see this movie on the Sunday afternoon hours before the Academy Awards were televised and we were all a bit dismayed to realize that it was in 3D.  That said, it only took a few moments after the majestic opening scenes for my eyes and head to adjust. I was most disappointed when I realized that the character played by Jude Law was killed off moments into the film when he tragically dies in a fire. I found that the film dragged in parts but the happy ending and the compelling mystery and visual effects were winners in my book.

            Other films released in 2011 and based on fiction or non-fiction were “My Week with Marilyn” based on two books written by British director/producer Colin Clark; “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson; “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte; “Albert Nobbs” based on the Irish short story, “A Storyteller’s Holiday” by George Moore; “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” by JK Rowling; “Drive” by James Sallis; “We Need to Talk About Kevin” by Lionel Shriver; “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen; “The Big Year” by Mark Obmascik; “One Day” by David Nicholls; “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” by John LeCarre; and “The Lincoln Lawyer” by Michael Connelly.

            If you would like to reserve any of these titles in book or film version please call the Reference or Information desks of the library, 781-799-0200 or reserve them in the Minuteman Library catalog.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

eBooks In the Library

Read Brian Samek's column in the February 24, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website. Brian is the Technology Librarian of the Morrill Memorial Library. eBooks in the Library by Brian Samek


In 1996 the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) told the Girl Scouts that it would have to pay for using copyrighted music at its summer camps. The Wall Street Journal reported that the penalty for singing any of ASCAP's 4million songs could be $5000 and six days in jail. These songs include "Puff the Magic Dragon," "God Bless America," and “Happy Birthday.”
Yes, even "Happy Birthday" is copyrighted,and any public performance of the song--say,at a children's event at the Norwood Library--requires permission from the rights-holder and the payment of royalties.
The law here seems extreme. The composer, Mildred Hill, died nearly a hundred years ago. Singing her song at your house isn't stealing from her,and it seems obvious that singing it anywhere else isn't stealing either. Indeed, in an article about the song George Washington University Law professor Robert Brauneis argues that although it brings in $2 million dollars a year, "it is almost certainly no longer under copyright" because the rights-holder didn't follow proper procedures and the lyricist is unknown.
Yet the music industry has a case for copyright. In a 2010 review of the literature, PeterTschmuck analyzed 22 studies of the effects of file sharing. Although the results are "ambiguous and full of contradictions,"14 of the 22 studies found that file sharing led to a decline in music revenues. This isn't the whole picture though. One study found that although the record companies may lose, bands which play concerts may in fact benefit; although their album sales decline, the increase in ticket sales more than makes up for the loss in royalties because royalties are a small fraction of their income.
In his book Free Culture, available at theNorwood Library, Lawrence Lessig argues that copyright can impede innovation.He explains, for example, how "The film industry of Hollywood was built by fleeing pirates. Creators and directors migrated from the East Coast to California in the early twentieth century in part to escape controls that patents granted the inventor of filmmaking,Thomas Edison . .. California was remote enough from Edison's reach that filmmakers could pirate his inventions without fear of the law." Under the East Coast copyright regime, Lessig argues, Hollywood would have been impossible. Piracy created our filmi ndustry.
Then, like today, the problem is not that there is a conspiracy of consumers to steal content. Instead the challenge comes from new technology. Take Downton Abbey, for instance. The show airs in the U.K. months before it airs in theU.S. A Salon.com journalist admitted to watching a pirated British version because he didn't want to wait for PBS. "PBS is free anyway! Who loses?" With services like Netflix and Spotify--more important, with consumers willing to pay for services like Netflix and Spotify, there is little excuse for producers being behind the technology curve. If you have content and users willing to pay for that content, it's time to embrace new methods of distribution.
Unfortunately, eBook publishers aren't quite there yet. Libraries want eBooks but can't get them.
In my eReader class two weeks ago, I showed our patrons how to download library eBooks for their eReaders. Downloading an eBook for the Kindle is seamless. After checking the book out from our online catalog at overdrive.minlib.net, you are redirected to the Amazon website. Click "Get library book,"and if you have a newer version of the Kindle and an Internet connection, the Kindle will download the book automatically.
Unfortunately, of the big six publishers, only Random House offers unrestricted access to eBooks to libraries. HarperCollins only allows 26 checkouts. Hachette,Simon & Schuster, and Macmillan don't offer eBooks to libraries at all. Penguin recently rescinded its contract with OverDrive, the most popular library eBook vendor.
Concern about OverDrive's relationship with Amazon is driven by several factors. Penguin seems uncomfortable with patrons going through Amazon's website, giving Amazon the ability to advertise other products. And Alison Lazarus, President of Sales at Macmillan, told Library Journal that she was concerned that borrowing might become"frictionless," that is, too easy.
What this misses, however, is that borrowing eBooks from the library almost always entails more friction than buying them. Most books in our OverDrive catalog are checked out. The more popular have long waiting lists.The Girl with theDragon Tattoo, for example, has more than a hundred patrons on the waiting list. The main way libraries have for reducing friction for their users is to purchase more eBooks. The tremendous interest in eBooks in Norwood has proven to us that buying eBooks is worthwhile for our patrons. Publishers stand to profit from distributing eBooks to libraries.
It's clear that copyright gives media companies too much power. Rather than being spurred to innovate, they can instead dig in their heels and continue to use old business models. Relying on onerous copyright restrictions to make it more difficult for library patrons to access eBooks will hurt consumers, authors, and publishers. The big six publishers are understandably concerned about being remunerated in an era of rampant online piracy, but librarians are worried that a failure to innovate could permanently prevent libraries from participating in the eBook market.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Magically Healing Through Reading

Read Charlotte Canelli's column in the February 17, 2012 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin or listen to the podcast on SoundCloud. Podcasts are archived on the Voices from the Library page of the library website. Charlotte Canelli is the Library Director of the Morrill Memorial Library.


            In a column several years ago (October 23, 2009, “A Year of Living, Literally”), I wrote about Nina Sankovitch, the blogger/writer/reader who made a vow in 2008 to read one book every day for 365 days.

            I wrote that I found Sankovitch a wee bit crazy and I also confessed that I was extremely jealous of all the ‘time’ she apparently had on her hands to read all day long.

            I gave her credit, however, for true commitment when I discovered that her quest was born of an emotional need to work through the grief of a sister lost to cancer and to heal during a year of reading. I also learned that she had four children (all boys, ages 7 through 15) and during that “magical” year she still managed to be a mother, a wife, a blogger and a friend.

            When I wrote my column, Sankovitch’s journey was nearing its end.  A few days later and at the end of that year she had read 365 books - one every single day.

            I’ve been told many times over the past thirty years that the loss of a child is the cruelest loss. I know that loss and so does my husband.   I am convinced, however, that no death is crueler than another. Losing a child, losing a parent, a wife, a husband, a brother, a sister or a beloved member of any family when it seems unfair is still that. Unfair and profoundly difficult. Death leaves entire families hurting.

            This is the devastating loss and bewildering pain that Sankovitch experienced when her eldest sister, Anne-Marie, passed away from bile-duct cancer in May 2005. “Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading” (2011) is Nina Sankovitch’s account of her year of working through her grief by reading those 365 books.  It is a testament to sisterly love.  It is a proof of an amazing commitment that Sankovitch declared for herself. It is also a wonderfully woven narration of the books she read and how they healed her.

            Three years after her sister died, Sankovitch was still bewildered and angry about the death. Life seemed unfair.  When she and her husband left for a weekend of rest and relaxation in the summer of 2008,  Sankovitch spent one lovely day reading while her husband took a windsurfing workshop. He arrived back much later than they had expected.  Nina was amazed that in a relaxed, unhurried and uninterrupted state she finished all four-hundred pages of “Dracula” by Bram Stoker. It was that next day that she told her husband of her intent to read a book a day for a year.

            Understandably, her husband was skeptical and so were her parents and most of her friends. The rules were that each book must be one she had never read before and an author could not be represented more than once in the year. The project also included posting a review of one book each day online. 

            Nina visited her library often to read or choose more books.  Each time she took home an armload of books, most were less than 400 pages long. The list (it is included at the end of the book and online) is impressive. Most were written by well-known authors and many were lesser-known works.

            In “Tolstoy and the Purple Chair”, Nina describes the depth of her relationship with her sister and how much Anne Marie would have liked each book. Anne Marie was wise and loving, older and aggravating. Throughout the book, Sankovitch admits that as a child she at times disliked, feared, respected and revered Anne Marie. As an adult she mainly adored her.

            Some of the most intriguing elements of the book are of the Sankovitch family’s history.  Memories of family trips, recollections of her parents’ former lives as Polish and Belarus immigrants, and stories of sisterly squabbles and angst are sprinkled throughout.  So are poignant memories of sisterly-love, parental wisdom and incredible loss.

            Every chapter of “Tolstoy and the Purple Chair” was compelling and enlightening to me and I found myself sometimes chuckling, sometimes overwhelmed with understanding. Sankovitch, an attorney, was raising her children and not working when she made the decision to read for a year.  She readily admits that she could not have done both.  As it was, she cut corners at home, assigning chores to her sons for the first time. Family time, however, was sacrosanct and Sankovitch spent her time once school was out through the bedtime hour attending to her family. It was often only after 9 pm that she sunk into her purple chair in a corner of her study to read under a good light.

            An understanding and supportive husband was, of course, a huge piece of the success of the year of reading.  Nina would carve out time to drop her husband, Jack, off at the train station near their Connecticut home for his trip to the city each day and she would sometimes race to the station to pick him up before dinner.  Yet, night after night he helped out with homework and smiled in disbelief that his wife was working her way through her goal.

            On the cover of the book, author Thrity Umrigar praises “Tolstoy and the Purple Chair” and declares that the memoir “reminds us of the most primal function of literature – to heal, to nurture, and to connect us to our truest selves.”  Sankovitch healed and her book and her work of literature nurtured me.  I have no doubt that in sharing her journey, many of its readers will connect to their truest selves.

            If you would like to reserve this book, or its large print version, please call the Reference or Information desks of the library, 781-799-0200.

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.