Saturday, December 12, 2009

The [Brockton] Enterprise did publish my Letter to the Editor, posted Sunday night right after I emailed it to them. Their version omitted 70 of my 296 words. It was not a bad job of editing, and fully caught the flavor of my missive and of the concert. I was not surprised at their unwillingness to give any free "advertising" to our lead season sponsor, HarborOne Credit Union, but I express my gratitude for all supporters of the Brockton Symphony Orchestra at every opportunity.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Another Love Letter to Brockton Symphony

[The message below was written and posted the night of the concert, Sunday, December 6th. On Saturday, December 12th, it was published, as noted - and scanned - above. I returned to this post and highlighted with bold type the sections that were omitted in the published version. My reaction to the editing is noted in my entry from the 12th.]

Another Letter to the Editor at the [Brockton] Enterprise. I hope they will print it, it is truly heartfelt.
To the Enterprise Editor:
Sunday’s snow was perfect for Brockton Symphony Orchestra’s Holiday Pops Concert. The West Middle School auditorium was packed, the audience as diverse as the music. Dr. Emilian Badea led the Orchestra, soloists and even the audience in 19 pieces - 32 counting the sing-alongs, “Festive Sounds of Hanukah” and “A Christmas Festival.” Dr. Badea is a born teacher. We learned music can portray snow, wind and chattering teeth in Vivaldi’s “Winter, from the Four Seasons,” and a bassoon can become a grumpy old bear in Fucik’s “The Old Sore-head.” “Winter” featured accordion soloist Christopher Gorton, whose virtuosity inspired Dr. Badea to call him back for two encores. Fucik’s bear was portrayed by bassoon soloist Stephanie Busby. She commanded the instrument, nearly as large as a bear. A special treat was the return to Brockton of Miss Rhode Island, soprano Francesca Simone, in incredible gown and heavenly voice. She sang “O Holy Night” and “Ave Maria,” and in a duet with flautist Carolyn Baughman, “O Belle Nuit,” made even lovelier by Emilia Pepen’s harp. Leo MacNeil of Harbor One Credit Union, the Symphony’s principle sponsor, introduced Dennis Carmen of United Way of Plymouth County, guest conductor for “Jingle Bells Forever,” a combination of the Christmas carol with Sousa. There isn’t room to describe every song, but the afternoon was made even more enchanting when 118 children, the West Middle School Chorus, came on stage. They sang “White Christmas” a cappella, “Ose Shalom” accompanied by clarinet, accordion and string quartet, and “Jamaican Noel” with Dr. Badea on piano. The children were conducted by Rebecca Desmond, whose pride in them was a joy to behold. Later in the show they returned, along with Ms. Simone, to lead the audience in Leroy Anderson’s “Christmas Festival.” This was a wonderful concert.
Harry R. Williams III

Monday, October 26, 2009

Rotary Reviews Harry

On Thursday, October 22nd I was invited to serve as guest speaker at the Rotary Club of Brockton, on the subject of libraries in general and the Brockton Public Library in particular. I later commented to a fellow Rotarian, "This is a tough audience, sometimes so rowdy that I'm embarrassed on behalf of our speakers." Imagine my pleasure as I wrapped up, after 25 minutes of speaking about the value and the future of the Public Library, to realize that there had not been a peep throughout the room and everyone's eyes were still open! A number of listeners complimented me on my presentation. This was a treat. Today my "performance" was reviewed in our weekly bulletin.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Love Note to the Brockton Symphony

I just wrote the following Letter to the Editor to our local newspaper:
To the Enterprise Editor:
There were many ways to enjoy this beautiful Sunday afternoon. I joined 300 music lovers for the Brockton Symphony Orchestra’s Fall Concert, “Ice,” at the West Junior High School. Music Director James Orent conducted a Scandinavian celebration of fiery music inspired by cool climates, starting with Sibelius’ Finlandia. It’s powerful opening, melodic strings and robust energy kept the audience enchanted and attentive. Then Venezuelan pianist Kristhyan Benitez came to the grand piano, soloist for Grieg’s Piano Concerto in A minor. Sometimes you compliment a musician by saying, “He made it look easy.” The first movement, with its loud, powerful opening could only be described as hard work, covering the keyboard with strength and exuberance. The second was a shocking departure, smooth velvet strings and melancholy horns, the piano a music box. The third returned to the power and energy of the first, the horns now gutsy, the strings nearly growling. The melody evolves, sweet as a love song, then melancholy, then a driving march, a momentary minuet, then a dervishly whirling transition to the explosive finale. That was just the first half! The piano disappeared during intermission and we were treated to Sibelius’ Symphony No. 2 in D Major, a work of dignity and power. After the other works, this seemed more like the general conception of classical music, almost a tone poem, until it became vigorous enough to require Concertmistress Sonja Larson to lead a re-tuning between movements. The abrupt, almost disjointed transitions from melodic to dramatic marked the modernity of the piece. Just as I thought the complexity might challenge listeners my cheeks flushed with the passion and erotic lushness of a fiery melody leading to a powerful climax. I couldn’t have been more satisfied. This was a great day for music lovers in Brockton.
Harry R. Williams III

Sunday, October 11, 2009

My first embedded audio

I've just set up a new "Podbean" account to allow me to post audio. Here is an advertisement for the Brockton Symphony Orchestra's concert last spring.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Off and running - a bumpy kickoff

Today I was as close as ever to a coronary or a stroke. Yesterday I met with the Assistant to the State College Department Head in charge of the new tutoring program, and a bunch of the tutors. We toured the library and discussed the project. By the end of the meeting we agreed that the Homework Assistance would begin at both Branches today. I and a colleague would unlock the doors to the lower level at 3pm and come lock up again at 7 - no library staff on hand in between. That was OK with the Assistant. Today at a meeting at our OCLN Network Headquarters, the Department Head called my cell and said "No library staff - no tutors. I'll tell the Mayor we are putting it off." I drove directly to City Hall and told the Mayor and his staff that we would have to postpone the tutoring. The Mayor explained to me why I was mistaken and how I would resolve this roadblock - "Just get it done - pay overtime if you have to - it begins today!" I called the College from the Mayor's office and told the Department Head to send the tutors, and she agreed. I staffed our East Branch from 3-7 and sent a custodian to West. We had tutors and students (with parents and grandparents) at both Branches. We are off and running after a bumpy kickoff!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Backpeddling from premature promises

After a radio announcement Thursday morning that "the Branch Libraries open today," and news stories that they would open Monday, October 5th, I felt compelled to post the following text on our home page. I also made it into a flyer, putting copies at the Circulation, Reference and Childrens desks. I put the same information in our voice mail messages, and posted it on all three doors at each Branch:

Patience, Please!
Although there have been announcements that the After-School Homework Assistance Program would begin on Monday, October 5, 2009, the Bridgewater State College students, who will be tutoring Brockton students from Grades K – 8, are finishing up special training to prepare them to help our pupils. They will begin meeting our young people on WEDNESDAY, October 7th. The program will take place in the basement of the East Branch Library, 54 Kingman Street, and the West Branch Library, 540 Forest Avenue, on Mondays (beginning October 19th, because October 12th is Columbus Day) Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3:00 PM to 7:00 PM
There have also been announcements that limited library services would begin at the Branch Libraries October 5th. This was premature, and we regret any inconvenience or confusion caused by such announcements. The City of Brockton and the Library Union have been Impact Bargaining to put in place funding for library staff to re-open the Branch Libraries. If an agreement is ratified, we will need a little time to recruit and/or assign personnel. It is anticipated that service at the Branches would take place at the same time as the Homework Assistance. We will announce updates as soon as possible.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Lieutenant Governor at the Library

Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, a former Trustee of the Worcester, Mass., Public Library, spoke at the Brockton Public Library, along with members of the State Administration who explained services available to City officials to help with efficiency and cost savings. I believe you can click on the image to see a larger, hopefully legible version of the article.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Positive but Premature

This article was very positive, but premature...

The rest of the story

I didn't want to leave out the part of page two with a quote from our Trustee Chair.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Message from the President

As outgoing President of OCLN, the Old Colony Library Network, one of my final duties was to write a message for the Annual Report. Here's what I said:

The most shocking thing I learned, when I joined the Old Colony Library Network, was the size of the staff. I thought supporting millions of transactions per year and 28 members would require dozens. Not so. A dedicated and extremely competent team of six keeps everything humming along, day in and day out, year after year. Meanwhile, decisions about policies, and the direction of the network’s growth, are hammered out by an invisible army of volunteers - staffers from member libraries - who serve on committees and roundtables to keep OCLN current and responsive to our needs.

At a public hearing with the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, I described how we rely on state funding to the network to offset equipment and telecommunication costs. Since they reduced this funding, we have to spend more local funds to pay increased network membership fees. The loss of this money leads to layoffs and reduces our ability provide materials, services and programs. Yet as president of the network, I know there is no way to make up for revenue shortfalls but to increase the fees to member libraries.

I described how we handled cataloging and patron records when I began my career, and everything was done on little cards maintained in-house by each member library. Having all these records on databases maintained by, and residing at, our Networks avoids a huge amount of in-house labor that would have to be performed manually, as it was 30 years ago. From the sexy, jazzy idea of getting books from across the state in days, to the most mundane behind-the-scenes tasks, we are able to function and serve our public thanks to our membership in the Old Colony Library Network.

Harry Roger Williams, III
OCLN President, July 2008 - June 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

An Untimely Update

This evening I checked my personal email account, and got a Google Alert for my name. Thinking to see what new exploit of mine got some media attention, I clicked on the article link. It was a release I sent out via the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners offering free steel shelving from our temporary location to other libraries or nonprofits – in 2004! ! The persistence of memory? Or just evidence that Google’s busy “bots” crawl through postings old and new, blending the timeless with the timely. Perhaps a gentle message from the cyber universe to not be so self centered.

Donors Love the Library

“Everyone is giving things to the library!” Artist and Rocky Marciano admirer Joe Gemellaro drove a couple of hours from his home to Brockton with his original sketch and the first in a series of prints of it, of Rocky, the Brockton Bomber. I thought we were going to discuss the possibility of his donating it to the library. Instead he signed the Certificate of Authenticity and gave it to me on the spot. I promised to have it matted and framed professionally, and to invite him down for a photo shoot and press release when we officially unveil it.

As Joe and I were completing a tour of the library’s many art treasures, Custodian Ed said someone at the Circulation Desk wanted to speak with me. Was it a patron with a complaint? NO! It was author Fred George from the nearby town of Pembroke wanting to donate a copy of his recently published book for our collection. Well, not donate really, but I was happy to pay the very reasonable cover price from my pocket in order to make it happen and get a copy inscribed “To the People of Brockton.” The book, Switched at Birth: My Life in Someone Else’s World, tells how he discovered his true identity at age 57, via DNA testing. The Patriot Ledger wrote about it, with his picture, and comments on his story at SWITCHED AT BIRTH

All of this before lunch. How interesting it is to be the face of the public library!

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Google Alert and the Ellipsis...

I got a Google Alert for "Brockton Public Library," with the following text in the alert message, "The library is open Monday from 10 am to 5 pm, Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 am to 8 ... in the Joseph A. Driscoll Gallery of the Brockton Public Library. ..." This was from the Hanson Town Crier - Raynham, MA, USA, "Art scene listings for the week beginning July 30." I was concerned because hours in the alert are not our hours at Brockton. Would I need to contact the newspaper for a correction? When I clicked on the article, it turned out that the hours are for a photo display described in the section before the ellipsis, at the Rockland Memorial library. In the section that includes our Driscoll Gallery art exhibit, BPL's hours are listed correctly. This was a proper use of ellipsis, good indexing, and an overreaction by yours truly.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

PBS comes to BPL

On Monday, July 13th we hosted Boston PBS Public Television Station WGBH, Channel 2, who were filming an episode of "Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman." This is a children's show that combines live action with animation. This episode focuses on how the public library is used by Private Investigators. Child actors and a production crew, spent all day Monday, and half of Tuesday, working mostly in the Reference, microfilm and History Room areas. Because of the extensive animation to accompany the live action, the episode is projected to air next summer.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

City Lights

After months of preparation, the main check-out desk served as a bar. Computer kiosks were replaced by cafe tables. Jazz echoed among the murals and book stacks. The Brockton Public Library was transformed into a jazz cafe and hundreds of partygoers supported the Brockton Library Foundation, the Brockton Historical Society and the Greater Brockton Society for Poetry and the Arts.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Paul Harris Fellows

Bob Tufts asked me if I would serve as Master of Ceremonies at his Installation as the new President of the Brockton Rotary Club, and I was honored to agree. Part of the ceremony was for outgoing President Lew Victor to give a farewell address and wrap-up of our successes during his Presidential Year. Lew announced that among his final duties would be naming two new Paul Harris Fellows. This is one of the highest honors a Rotary Club can bestow upon its members. I was thrilled when Brockton Emergency Management Administration Director Morton "Mort" Schleffer was presented his medallion and certificate. I was humbled, honored and thrilled some more when Lew announced that I was the other recipient. Mort is the handsome guy shaking my hand. Lew is the handsome guy at the lecturn. I am the funny looking guy, wearing my ever-present City of Brockton lanyard, holding the award.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Salute a flag or join a gang?

Today we had an early celebration of Haitian Flag Day (it is May 18th but too many officials have conflicts that day) at City Hall Plaza, with beautiful grade school children singing and dancing. But when "we" sang our National Anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner," I was the only one singing. Many of the children did sing the Haitian anthem. Meanwhile in the upper levels of the sunny ampitheater, gang members mounted a recruiting drive, right under the noses of the Mayor, school teachers and administrators, local cable and yours truly. As a handsome junior high student read his essay about doing your homework and respecting teachers and parents, dudes in bandanas were jiving and high fiving. As the little ones sang, they yakked away, impressing girls and inspiring young boys to be too cool for homework and respect. How sad.

Friday, February 13, 2009

State Rep & City Council President Praise Library

State Representative Michael Brady spoke today at the Government Affairs Meeting of the Metro South Chamber of Commerce. As he described the fiscal challenges facing the City of Champions, the Commonwealth and the Nation, he spoke at length about the importance of the Brockton Public Library to the community and to the economic recovery. He told of his predecessor, then-Representative and now Senator Thomas P. Kennedy, leading several busloads of library supporters on a trip to Beacon Hill to protest, and ultimately overturn, a veto of promised library funds, followed by a community-wide effort to keep the library open, and then to renovate it and expand it to its current glory. Representative Brady spoke of the huge number of city residents who do not have computers of their own at home, and depend on the library to access the information highway, prepare resumes and improve their lives. He told of the many meetings of community organizations hosted by the library, including the October Gateway Cities Caucus tour of Brockton which was followed by a roundtable discussion - at the library - organized by fellow Representative Christine Canavan.

City Council President Timothy Cruise then spoke of the initiatives proposed by Mayor Harrington to deal with mid-year cuts to this year's State Aid to the City and prepare for additional cuts in Fiscal Year 2010. The City leadership is meeting with municipal unions to see if concessions such as increasing employees' share of health insurance costs can save enough money to avoid layoffs. While emphasizing the dire need to avoid the loss of public safety personnel, the City Council President joined Representative Brady in recognizing the Brockton Public Library as an important component of the City of Brockton.