Monday, December 27, 2010

Thank You Mark Linde

The Brockton Enterprise published a brief article about my forthcoming position at the Thomas Crane Library in Quincy. Mark Linde, who served as Chair of the Board of Library Trustees during my of my tenure in Brockton said some very kind words that I really appreciate.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Harry Roger Williams III submits resignation

On December 22, 2010, Harry Roger Williams III, the Library Director for the Brockton Public Library System, notified Margaret E. Mone, Chair of the Board of Library Trustees, of his decision to resign effective February 4, 2011. He was offered, and accepted, appointment by Mayor Thomas P. Koch to the position of Library Director for the Thomas Crane Public Library, in the City of Quincy, Massachusetts.

Williams said, “This was a difficult decision. I will miss working with the Trustees and Mayor Balzotti and the City leadership, as well as the Library Staff, Brockton Library Foundation, our community partners and all the wonderful people who support and use the Brockton Public Library. However, the opportunity to direct a library system in a community with a long record of generous support for the library is very exciting. The only thing that could tempt me to change my current, and very satisfying, work and life situation is such an opportunity, which will allow me to spend more time and energy promoting and advocating for the library that employs me, and for libraries in general.”

Williams is proud of many accomplishments, including renovating the East Branch Library at no cost to City taxpayers; updating dozens of public internet access computers with funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates and Brockton Library Foundations; an NEA-funded Big Read program with FullerCraft and GBSPA; two City Lights fundraisers and a successful poetry series, also with the GBSPA; a grant from the State and Federal LSTA program for “Conversation Circles;” hundreds of programs, most especially many outstanding children’s programs; and tens of thousands of satisfied customers.

Williams told the Trustees, the Mayor and the Library Staff, “You have been tremendously supportive and wonderful advocates for the Library. I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked with you for over six years. Please be assured that I will do my utmost to leave the Brockton Public Library well organized for an orderly transition.”

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Empathy, not enabling

If this appears twice it's because I tried twice to "publish" it directly from Goodreads and it didn't seem to get posted. Friends know I don't mind repeating myself anyway...
Louder Than WordsLouder Than Words by Joe Navarro

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

On page 200 in a section that begins on page 199, “Address Emotions, But Don’t Indulge Them,” Navarro writes “Misery really does love company: excessive emoters distract others, focusing attention on themselves, as coworkers feel they must demonstrate empathy and solidarity. Work is disrupted, and others may even act on the beleaguered employee’s behalf to try to fix things. Not surprisingly, this further entrenches the behavior.” This kind of insight and wise counsel elevates this book far above a mere guide to body language. I enjoyed this book a lot.

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Friday, December 10, 2010

Congratulations Ernest Webby

Former Brockton library director Ernest Webby wins national award - Brockton, MA - The Enterprise

This article by Vicki-Ann Downing was in The Enterprise on December 9th. I tried to share it to Facebook but a "floating" advertisement covered the link so I used the barely-visible Blogger link, which only sends the link above, then copied and pasted the text of the article, and the photo, below.

BROCKTON — Ernest J. Webby Jr., former city library director, was one of three recipients of a prestigious national award given to people who volunteer at presidential libraries.

Webby, accompanied by his wife, Roberta, received the Weidman Outstanding Volunteer Service Award last week during ceremonies at the National Archives in College Park, Md.

Webby, 71, was nominated because of his volunteer work at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Dorchester. The award said he showed “ingenuity and achievement in establishing a program to enhance Web resources.”

A volunteer in the research room, Webby has overseen an effort to publish on the museum’s website all of Kennedy’s speeches, especially those given during the 1960 presidential election campaign.

“Ernest Webby has created and managed a program of mass cooperation for the production of electronic resources to be published on the John F. Kennedy Library’s website,” according to the awards program.

“Using both old and new methods of communication, Ernest has overseen the work of a large, far-flung and constantly changing group of ‘virtual volunteers.’ His project has developed electronic documents that have been used to support other library programs, but he has also produced a new community of individuals directly invested in the library’s goal of providing access to historical materials.”

In addition to volunteering one day a week at the Kennedy library, Webby works part-time at the Newton Free Library, his wife said.

He received a clock as part of the Weidman Award. The Webbys, accompanied by their daughter, Robyn, and her husband, David Bew, were also able to tour the national archives.

Webby worked as director of the Brockton Public Library from 1969 to 1994. He also worked in the Brockton public school libraries before and after that, his wife said.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Lobbying for Federal Support

I'm kind of proud of the string of words I put together in a message I just sent to Congressman Stephen F. Lynch. The boilerplate was urging him to support S. 3984, the Senate passed Museum and Library Services Act (MLSA) Reauthorization. This is the source for LSTA (formerly LSCA) funding.
My unique construction of some not-so-unique ideas was this:
Bill Gates popularized the term "The Digital Divide," and we certainly have that in Brockton along with the Literacy Divide, the English-as-a-Second-Language Divide, and the can't-afford-to-buy-books divide. The Brockton Public Library, with its limited municipal funding supplemented by MLSA dollars via our state agency, The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, is a lifeboat, a safe haven, a resource center and a beacon of hope for our citizens. Please urge your House colleagues and leadership to pass this worthy
legislation. Thank you!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Manhattan College News - Brother Justin's Legacy

My father urged me to attend Manhattan College in the sixties partly because he was so impressed with the insightful and effective abritration and guidance he witnessed (as Business agent for a "rogue" Teamsters local that resisted the influence of organized crime) from Brother Justin, who was on Manhattan's faculty. It looks like history has endorsed Dad's opinion of that great man. The
Manhattan Monthly - December 2010 | News Article
Manhattan College Offering New Labor Studies Major
Starting in January 2011, Manhattan College will be offering a new undergraduate labor studies major and minor in the school of arts. The labor studies program will teach critical intellectual skills enabling students to analyze social policy questions and prepare for graduate studies and/or careers in government, labor law, union organization, human resources, teaching and much more.

“I am honored to serve as the first director of the B.A. in labor studies at Manhattan College and that the new program will pay tribute to Brother Justin Brennan, F.S.C., who was the first pioneer of labor education at the College,” said Joseph J. Fahey, Ph.D., professor of religious studies. “As part of our Lasallian tradition, we are committed to social justice for all and this will be further exemplified through the future work of Manhattan’s labor studies graduates.”

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Different Kind of "Guardian Angel" in Brockton!

One DegreeOne Degree by Paul Wittwer

During a delightful visit by Jody's Mom, "Big Jody," and our dear friend Rhonda, the latter wanted to show us something online. Via we were able to see the first 30 pages of this soon-to-be-published (in papgerback, available now for Kindle) life-affirming work, including the Dedications Page. There in the middle we read, "To Rhonda Lamothe, for becoming my guardian angel in some of my darkest hours." Rhonda was in tears describing a "crisis intervention" telephone conversation that began a nourishing friendship with the then-desperate author. Every couple of months Rhonda picks up Big Jody and they drive 75 miles for a sleepover. After a breakfast of bacon, eggs and cinammon raison toast they beat it back down the highway, but I swear I can still hear the flutter of wings.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

PSA for October 23rd events at Brockton Library

You can click on the player here:

OR you can click on this link and see my podbean page with a brief description of what you can hear - here or "there."

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Join Emily Dickinson at Brockton Public Library!

COME READ! If you’re in the City of Champions today come read a favorite poem at or after 2:30 at the Main Library at 304 Main Street. Join celebrity leaders beginning with Mayor Balzotti, new young poets who’ve been inspired by four writing workshops, and poetry lovers who are regulars at the Brockton Library Poetry Series. We received great publicity in the Enterprise and the Globe South.

Federal grant brings Emily Dickinson to Brockton Teens - Brockton, MA - The Enterprise

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Walking For A Good Cause

Brockton Rotary at Steppin Up Walkathon on Twitpic
Sunday morning Jody (blue sweats) and Harry (front and center) joined a bunch of Brockton Rotarians in the Steppin' Up Walkathon to support the Rotary Community Corp Adult Day Health Program. We walked about 5k (3.2 miles) from and back to the Striar Health Center in Stoughton, Mass.
Later in the afternoon I met Renaissance man Arnie Danielson at the Library and we began scraping and spackling (OK, Arnie worked and I held the ladder and talked) the Driscoll Gallery to prepare for the exciting photo exhibit to come. More about that soon.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

ONLY IN YOUR ENTERPRISE: Stoughton library shows its age - Brockton, MA - The Enterprise

ONLY IN YOUR ENTERPRISE: Stoughton library shows its age - Brockton, MA - The Enterprise I was pleased to see this story on the front page of this morning's [Brockton] Enterprise. Unfortunately I cannot post the article itself, as it is an exclusively hard-copy story. But here is the gist as summarized on the link above: Forum planned on library expansion "The 41-year-old Stoughton Public Library is showing its age. The elevator does not meet codes for handicapped accessibility. The roof is 10 years beyond warranty. With no attic or basement, the building has no storage space. There aren’t even enough electrical outlets for laptop computers. At 6 p.m. Monday in the library’s Wales French Room, patrons will have a chance to diacuss expanding the library." I tip my hat to Library Director Pat Basler who has inspired colleagues with a host of imaginative library services.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Governor Patrick at Brockton Public Library

Governor swears in Angel Kelly-Brown as Brockton court judge - Brockton, MA - The Enterprise (Photo by Marc Vasconcellos/The Enterprise.)
This was an opportunity to show off our beautiful library to Brockton court officials and workers who didn't realize what a gem was around the corner, and to many from across the state who were stunned by its grandeur. Thanks to the hard working staff we were able to create open seating for 100 in the lobby, so the event could take place among our sweeping staircase and beautiful balconies. Special thanks to Brenda R. and Steve L. who joined me Saturday morning to reassemble our six-station computer catalog station in the middle of the lobby. A special treat for me was to get a personal introduction to Governor Deval Patrick. I told him how much I had enjoyed his speech at the Jean Sullivan breakfast in Brockton last Sunday, and showed him my library tie, like the one often worn by Lieutenant Governor (and former Worcester Public Library Trustee) Tim Murray.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Maxine Kumin at the Brockton Public Library

Three years ago today I had the great honor of interviewing Pulitzer Prize winning poet Maxine Kumin before she read at the Brockton Library Poetry series.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Leading By Example (Or just sounding pompous?)

After taking the time to answer an emailed question, I posted this message (names of patron and libraries rendered generic for privacy) on the Library Staff Home Page: CUSTOMER CARE: At the risk of sounding like I'm "Tooting my own horn," I will share the reply I sent to a "Contact Us" question sent via OCLN [our network.] (They come to me and I forward to appropriate departments - often Circulation. However, just as I will leave to the office to check on a hold if Circ is busy, or take a message when the office staff are away from their desks, I sometimes use these questions as a chance to provide good customer care. I want to "walk my talk" and not just tell everyone else they should be providing good customer service. Question: Once I pressed on the Place Hold box, the next page stated: Hold Not Allowed. Would you please inform me as to why my request was denied? HW's Reply: Hello Ms. Patron, If you go back to the online catalog and check the list of libraries that own the recording, you will see that each one has the indication, in capitals, "Local Holds Only." That means the the copy owned by the Acme Public Library can only be reserved by borrowers who live in Acme, and the same is true for the other five. Of the six libraries that own it, as of right now four of them are either checked out or on hold. In most cases if you are a walk-in customer from out of town with an OCLN card, and find a "Local Holds Only" item on the shelf, you are allowed to check it out in person, but the system is programmed to reject holds for out-of-towners. Of the six, it looks like two of the copies are on the shelf right now. Because of the holiday weekend you may want to call and see if either of the owning libraries are open, should you wish to drive there and try your luck. (Obviously this is popular and could be checked out by the time you get there. Also, since both are on the coast Hurricane Earl could make this a less desirable option.) The libraries and their phone numbers are: Acme (555) 555-5555 and Anytown (555) 666-5555. I hope this is helpful. Please feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions. Thank you. Harry R. Williams III, Library Director September 3, 2010.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Even decades later, it’s still hip to be square - The Boston Globe

Even decades later, it’s still hip to be square - The Boston Globe
I commented on the Boston Globe website (with an abbreviated version on Facebook - I could never make it on Twitter!)
I am surprised to be the first to point out that Huey Lewis gives a wonderful description of Ken Kesey’s Sometimes A Great Notion, while attributing it to One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Throughout the 1970s I told anyone who would listen that I considered the story of the Stamper family versus the union (and the river) as THE Great American Novel. I compared his style to Faulkner, with the point of view and narrator constantly shifting. Kesey takes you into the head of each wonderfully conflicted character, as they confound and frustrate one another, the townspeople and the would-be author sent by the union to sort things out.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Wisdom, repetition and jargon, oh my!

Actualizations: You Don't Have to Rehearse to Be YourselfActualizations: You Don't Have to Rehearse to Be Yourself by Stewart Emery

While reading: Page 32-33: “Before we got born we were living in a super little apartment…everything was taken care of for us. It was warm, it was comfortable, the climate was perfectly even; the room service was terrific; all the food and everything else we needed were piped in; there were no loud noises and very few intrusions. Then…we get evicted…an unpleasant shock.” Believe it or not these words are in service of a joyous vision of what life can and should be.
Upon completion: I wish I had noted what author referred to this title, so I could credit him or her. I read a different book by Emery long ago. This one has some incredible insights if you can get past the repetition (think Knots by R. D. Laing) and the jargon of the 70s. “A true friend is someone who supports you the way you really are and kicks you in the ass when the way you’re being represents a lie about the way you really are.” (p. 150) “We actually have to take the time to sit down and have a conversation with ourselves and let ourselves know what we appreciate about ourselves. And also we need to forgive ourselves…Acknowledge what worked in an appreciative way, and acknowledge what did not work in a compassionate way. Ultimately, you are the best friend you have. Get to know and appreciate the person you have slept with all your life. (p.150)
He has some wonderful things to say about child rearing, as well as how goals are wonderful in the context of “the game of life,” and a trap if we forget it’s a game. He concludes the book delightfully on page 222, “We must grow beyond dependence and preoccupation with the avoidance of loss. We will then arrive at independence. Which is a trap unless we see it as a prelude to the master game: the art of creative interdependence, the art of playing together in reality, creating results of joyful service, and being mirrors to each other’s enlightenment.”

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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Thanks to Seth Godin and N. M. Kelby

I read The Constant Art of Being a Writer: The Life, Art and Business of Fiction by N. M. Kelby because Seth Godin writes on the back cover, “Don’t wait, don’t stall, don’t browse. Buy a copy right now.” Being a librarian who can get most books free – as well as being thrifty to the extreme - but who has purchased both books and CDs by Godin, I had to devour it. The reader is rewarded with a lot of insights including how to use social networking. I applaud her efforts to help you sell what you write while never letting you forget that the writing is an act unto itself and worthy of your dedication, whatever the number of your readers.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Let Trustees Do Their Job!

As I was about to leave for today’s SEMLS meeting (where we voted to merge with the other Regions to morph into the Massachusetts Library System while bemoaning our colleagues’ job losses) Ruth Kowal of Boston Public Library called to ask me to help fight the Senate amendments to the State Budget that would deny State Aid and Library of Last Recourse funding if Boston closed or reduced staffing at any Branch.

Ruth said a further amendment would make this proposal more “fair” by including any library with Branches. I told her I would spread the word to my SEMLS colleagues at the meeting, and Cindy Roach announced it from the podium. (We’ll miss you, Cindy!)

I then wrote to Brockton’s State Senator Thomas Kennedy thanking him for proposing an amendment to increase the amount of State Aid, and asking him to help fight the Branch related amendments. Decisions on how to best utilize the limited resources are best made by local Boards of Library Trustees who are entrusted to serve the needs of local constituents!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

A Prescription For Serenity

There's a Customer Born Every Minute: P.T. Barnum's Secrets to Business Success There's a Customer Born Every Minute: P.T. Barnum's Secrets to Business Success by Joe Vitale

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
On March 18, 2010, I posted on FaceBook, and on this blog, “Harry’s Invocation For Brockton Rotary.” The key sentence was, “The most powerful four words, the shortest prayer and most challenging statement of faith, the crux of the Lord’s Prayer, for me, is ‘Thy Will Be Done.’” Imagine my delight, reading Vitale’s inspirational paean to Barnum, with his description on page 146 of finding Barnum’s “tiny, unadorned headstone… And on the front of it, still legible after over 100 years, was the phrase Barnum loved: “Not my will, but thine, be done.” This is another book that I put aside, not posting because it contained so many quotes I wanted to share. This one suffices. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Congrats to Betsy Wolfe: Dennis Lehane in Braintree

Congratulations to Elizabeth "Betsy" Wolfe, Library Director at the Thayer Public Library, for bringing this charming author to Braintree and introducing him on the stage at Thayer Academy. See if you think he looks like Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lector. Throughout the talk I couldn't make the connection, because the resemblance was physical only. Lehane was witty and entertaining and very real and down to earth. Wife Jody and I both enjoyed this tremendously and the hour and a half flew by. Thank you, Betsy!
'Shutter Island' author Dennis Lehane speaks to Braintree audience - Quincy, MA - The Patriot Ledger

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Library Journal - April Fool?

I just posted the following comment on Library Journal's web site in response to their article, "Congress Creates Super Federal Library Agency":

I received the April 1st issue today. Looking at the cover article I assumed that “Congress Creates Super Federal Library Agency” was an April Fools joke. Then I saw that the date on LJ on the e-reader was April 1, 2015, and thought perhaps this was a true essay in futurism. I hurried to read the article.
My first clue to the aptness of my initial impulse was “A cabal of politically savvy library administrators and congressional staffers did the impossible…” Further along I tripped over the name of “the Congressional Research Service’s Winston Smith.”
The sidebar quote from “Sen. Dewey Cutter” topped the rest. As a proud graduate of Columbia University’s SLS (yes, youngsters, there really once was an ALA accredited library school at CU) that name was guaranteed to tickle the funny bone.
If I have misread, and Paul J. Steere’s contribution is the result of scholarship, research and sincere prognostication, I offer my profound apology.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

My First review on Goodreads

RelationShift: Revolutionary Fundraising RelationShift: Revolutionary Fundraising by Michael Bassoff

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
During the 1990s I was Library Director at the Jacob Edwards Library in Southbridge, Massachusetts. The Board of Trustees and I needed to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars locally to match a potential grant to renovate and expand the library building. We recruited a consultant, not to “get the money for us,” but to coach us in how to approach local business leaders and private donors. We all felt, “I don’t know how to ask people for money, and I am not comfortable asking.” We learned that the secret is to view our quest not as begging but as sharing “an opportunity to be part of something big and important and worthy.” The expanded and renovated library was all we could have hoped for. In this book one of my favorite authors, Steve Chandler, and Michael Bassoff, go beyond that simple insight and show how to create a legion of supporters for the worthy mission you wish to promote. Short, to the point, and powerful. (Posted today but read long ago.)

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Harry’s Invocation for Brockton Rotary

I have come to believe that the most powerful four words, the shortest prayer and most challenging statement of faith, the crux of the Lord’s Prayer, for me, is “Thy Will Be Done.”

As Rotarians and Americans we struggle to fathom the difference between abandoning our effort to respond to life with action and dedication, and accepting realities that make life feel hard and merciless. Another short prayer is, for me, the instruction manual for living on Earth: The Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Brockton Library Poetry Series

We had an excellent Poetry Reading today, along with our monthly Poetry Workshop and Fiction Writing Workshop. Our Feature Poets were Meg Kearney and Gary Margolis. One of the joys each of them spoke of in various ways is synchronicity or coincidence. Ms. Kearney spoke of places up and down the Hudson River that were once my stomping grounds as well as hers. One of the joys of being Library Director was that during the break between the Open Mic and the Features, I showed some of our art collection to Gary Margolis. When I told him we have a Childe Hassam he was eager to see it, and told me he planned to read a work based on Hassam's famous Boston Common At Twilight.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Brockton Symphony 2010 Chamber Concert

Chamber music, intimate and emotional, is the essence of civilized entertainment. On Sunday afternoon the Brockton Symphony Orchestra’s Concert Players delivered a perfect concert to a hundred music lovers at the Christ Congregational Church on Pleasant Street.
Here in cyberspace I’ll tell you all about it. I’m going to have to pare this down to less than 300 words to qualify for publication as a Letter to the Editor in The Enterprise. I hope they’ll allow me to share these thoughts with their readers. Given our City’s image in recent newscasts, we need to be reminded that the sublime takes place here as well.
Fifteen musicians performed, but there were never more than six players on stage for any piece, unless you count the pianists’ page-turners. We heard three pianists, and Dr. Mark Finkelstein played different instruments in two of the five pieces.
Flautist Susan Caplan, like many of today’s performers a Symphony Board member as well as a player, introduced Charles Gounod’s “Petite Symphony” in four movements, written for 9 wind instruments. Today’s Jane Whaley arrangement featured Ms. Caplan on flute, Dr. Finklestein, oboe; Symphony President Torben Hansen, clarinet; Susan Winterbottom-Shadday, French Horn; and Stefan Sherwood, bassoon. The French Horn works overtime in the first movement, Adagio, Allegretto. The second, Andante Cantabile, features a beautiful flute melody, too complex to call pastoral but definitely idyllic. The third, Scherzo, was stirring as Rossini, and the fourth, Finale, was as symphonic as five wind instruments could be. It reminded me of Mozart, showing us what is possible.
After the players left the stage, Symphony President Torben Hansen returned to introduce the next piece and its two extraordinary players. Antonin Dvorak based his “Sonatina for Violin & Piano” on American melodies. Mr. Hansen called it “a New World Symphony for violin and piano,” then introduced 12-year-old violinist Christine Hong and 9-year-old pianist Anna Larsen, who won honorable mention in the Brockton Symphony’s Feinberg Competition. There was nothing childish about the playing; each made her instrument sing for another four movements. The first, Allegro risoluto, was rousing with recognizable strains of familiar melodies. The second, Larghetto, moved from melancholy to playful interplay to the blues. The third, Molto vivace, was short, starting with a perky jig followed by stately dance images. The fourth, Allegro, began as an explosive celebration, then slow sweet textures, evolving into fast, then blazing fingers on strings and keyboard. They were thanked with a chorus of “Wow” and an enthusiastic standing ovation.
Pianist Terri Ronan introduced Carl Reinecke’s “Trio in A major for Clarinet, Viola & Piano” explaining that they would omit the third movement, Legend. She was joined by Dr. Finklestein, this time on clarinet (he played oboe in the first piece) and Kathleen Kalogeras on viola. The Moderato, Allegro was all about tonality, with unusual chords and the melody passed back and forth among all three instruments. The beginning of the Intermezzo was focused on the piano, then the clarinet. Finally, as it began to seem it would be neglected, the viola came to the fore. The Finale featured more complex tonalities, not quite dissonant but attention-getting, then turned cheerful. At times the piano reminded me of Rachmaninoff, then turned soft to join the plucked viola to push the clarinet to prominence in a sweet conclusion.
The last two pieces featured the "Blue Hills Chamber Players" piano quintet: Carol Chaffee on piano, Christine Nicholas and Carol Rankin on violin; Deyne Meadow, viola; and Susan Kenney, cello. Trumpeter Wayne King introduced Pietro Baldassare’s “Sonata No. 1 in F for Trumpet, Strings and Basso Continuo.” He described counterpoint, an important feature of this Italian Baroque form. The first movement, Allegro, was stirring with Mr. King’s brilliant “piccolo trumpet.” The second, Grave, was in D minor. Although minor chords usually evoke sadness, this was really very sweet. The third, another Allegro, presented incredible challenges to the soloist, and was impressively delivered.
President/performer Hansen returned to the stage to introduce, and solo on clarinet in, Serge Prokofieff’s “Overture on Hebrew Themes for Clarinet, String Quartet and Piano.” We learned that Prokofieff composed it while visiting America in 1919. It was never performed in Russia until the 1970s and even then “Hebrew” was dropped from the title. Although, as an Overture, there were no movements per se, this wonderful piece was a wealth of sounds, moods and melodies. At times the six sounded like a small Klezmer band, at others a Hollywood soundtrack. I thought of the Electric Light Orchestra when they produced a most lovely effect from the vibrato of warbling strings. This piece, too, won a standing ovation.
I was grateful to the Symphony organizers and the musicians, and also to be part of an excellent audience. Not only did they know that applause awaits the conclusion of a piece, not of each movement, but also to remain quiet and attentive throughout. And not a single cell phone was heard! This was a most satisfying afternoon.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Raving Fans: Brockton Public Library

I just posted this message on the home page for our library staff:
I came across two wonderful "reviews" of the library at Yelp. You can see them at: Brockton Public Library
Jim M wrote: "I live in Quincy, but use the downtown Brockton library a lot. To me, the staff is friendlier in Brockton, and the architecture of the new library is much more to my liking. The one thing I'm not crazy about is the stairway to the 2nd floor. It's not really designed for the comfort of someone walking up and down simultaneously."
Daniel M. wrote: "Full disclosure, first. I worked here six years ago. Have been back a couple of times since. Notwithstanding that, this has to be the ultimate overachieving library. Located in one of the toughest towns in Massachusetts, with a budget that should be at least doubled, and seriously understaffed this library delivers an incredible range of services. The collections are the best found in any local library of its size in the state and the historical collections are a treasure trove of Southeastern Massachusetts heritage matched only by larger facilities in Boston. Most outstanding is the quality of reference service delivered to the ever-changing needs of city residents. With a large transient population that has few other outlets for meaningful information the reference department has put together a collection and commitment to service that meets a huge level of need at minimal cost. How they do business could serve as a case study in a library school. A decade ago city residents led by the former director persevered and raised enough to renovate the early 20th century Carnegie building and give its collections a proper home. One would hope the city's residents value this gem in their midst.
I don't know Jim or Daniel but I do know that hearing compliments like this makes me very proud of our staff. Congratulations, everybody!
Harry R. Williams III, Library Director, January 6, 2010