Thursday, April 26, 2018

Being Mom Versus Being a Librarian

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

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

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Little Green Mountain Men

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

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

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Shooting for the Moon: Part II

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

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

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

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Shooting for the Moon: Part 1

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

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