Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Frightening Tale Well Told

Survivors: A Novel of the Coming CollapseSurvivors: A Novel of the Coming Collapse by James Wesley Rawles

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I emailed the following fan letter to the author:

Hello, James, Thank you for taking time to read this. A quick review of SurvivalBlog shows how busy you are. Just finished Survivors and loved it. The ending makes me think there may be a sequel. Call me an emotional pushover (for a 64 year old straight and married guy) – I shed a tear when ["Spoiler" edited out]. Call me Pollyanna – my wife and I live near Boston and I continue to work as administrator of an urban library. Call me a poor prognosticator – halfway through Survivors I wondered if [another Spoiler edited out.] If there is a sequel I’ll be interested in the political future you create. I know this is presumptuous, but I would love for you to visit my blog and read my short essay on “The Library as Barn-Raising” at
It is my clumsy attempt to formulate an intelligent perspective on the need to know when to share – including sharing work – and when to be self-sufficient. The current public discussion that offers an either-or choice of collectivism versus private property and personal responsibility seems to miss the wisdom and common sense of our forefathers. Whether you do that or not, I thank you for a great read.

I realize you don’t “do” social media networking, but I am going to praise Survivors on Goodreads, and to my personal network. Happy New Year! Harry The Librarian

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Pretty Self-Helpful

The Other 8 Hours: Maximize Your Free Time to Create New Wealth & PurposeThe Other 8 Hours: Maximize Your Free Time to Create New Wealth & Purpose by Robert Pagliarini

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There was some familiar material here. I loved the title of Chapter 11, "Stop Talking and Start Getting," but could pretty much recite verbatim the "pot roast story" he opens it with. He makes good use of it though, to contrast habits that drain us with the power of creating new habits that can take us to another level. Mark Joyner and Steve Chandler are not listed in the Endnotes or the Index, but I can hear them speaking in the background. Seth Godin and David Allen too. All are favorites of this self-help non-fiction junkie. If those aren't familiar names, you might do well with any of them, or go ahead and enjoy this one. It is very practical and down-to-earth. Pagliarini gets extra credit for admitting, on page 237, "'s harder than we think... It might not be popular to admit this, but our natural response is to decay." Ouch! But then he goes on to show how and why it does not have to be that way. There may be a bit of a generation gap between this self-help reader and this author: Earlier today I wanted to be more energized while working, so I played some Vivaldi and Bach. Pagliarini says "If I crank up... anything by Nirvana... I can't help but get a boost of energy." Then again, I can get cranked up playing "Live at Leeds" by The Who, but I wouldn't be able to channel the energy into writing or planning projects the way I can while listening to baroque compositions. Sorry, this is supposed to be a book review, not a music blog.

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Brockton Symphony Holiday Pops 2012 promo

Hear about this Sunday's Holiday Pops by the Brockton Symphony Orchestra.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Mystic River - the book AND the film

Mystic RiverMystic River by Dennis Lehane

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

On May 13, 2010 I congratulated Betsy Wolfe, then Library Director at the Thayer Public Library in Braintree, Mass., for snagging Dennis Lehane to speak at a fundraiser for their Friends of the Library group. I called him charming and asked if the picture didn't make him look like Hannibal Lecter. I had not yet read anything by him, and I thought I might enjoy one book he kept mentioning, I thought he was calling it Mister Grivers. After nearly forty years in Massachusetts, I still sometimes have New York ears. So while we were down in Arkansas for the Jones Family Reunion, I finally read Mystic River. Awesome. Too many of my reviews have mentioned finishing a book with tears in my eyes, but this one really got me. What wonderful, evocative writing, and what skill at conveying the tangled webs we weave for ourselves and one another. Over the Thanksgiving weekend I watched Clint Eastwood's film based on the book. It was funny to notice the little differences - carving 'nitials versus fighting in the street translated just fine - amidst the great care in conveying the guts of the story. I just talked myself into adding that fifth star to my original rating. This was super.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

A new psa by Harry

Here is the copy for my 60-second ad for this Sunday's "Nature" concert by the Brockton Symphony Orchestra. You can click on the player below to hear it, with music from two of the pieces they'll be playing.
This Sunday only, the Brockton Symphony Orchestra performs at the Oliver Ames High School in Easton. Visualize the landscape painted by the evocative power of Beethoven, as this world class orchestra performs his Pastoral Symphony Number 6, led by Maestro James Orent. Thrill to Brahms’ turbulent and tormented Tragic Overture. Marvel at the virtuosity of Winston Huang, winner of the 2010 Feinberg Youth Competition, performing Saint-Saens’ Piano Concerto Number 2. Adult tickets are Twenty dollars, seniors and students fifteen, children 12 and under 5 dollars. Order at Brockton Symphony dot org, or call the Symphony at 508-588-3841. That’s 3:00 PM, Sunday, October 30th, at the Oliver Ames High School, 100 Lothrop Street in North Easton. The Brockton Symphony Orchestra – Beautiful Music from the City of Champions! Sponsored by Harbor One Credit Union.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Going for the Gold

Life's Golden Ticket: An Inspirational NovelLife's Golden Ticket: An Inspirational Novel by Brendon Burchard

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was running hot and cold with this one. Brendon Burchard is a charming young man with a moving story that motivated him to change his life and to write this book. The "device" of the magical circus seems at times apt and at times a bit much, but there are some wonderful insights. I found myself thinking of Steve Chandler's books and talks, when he puts our life stance on the continuum from "Victim" to "Owner." In case you don't want to read either one of them, I'll give you a hint. If you think you are a victim (a claim and complaint I have called outrageous and ridiculous in the USA in the 21st Century) consider the words spoken by the Wise Man On The Mountain to Ziggy: "No, Ziggy, the whole world isn't out to get you. Fully 99.99% don't care one way or the other!"

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Fun at the Thomas Crane Public Library

Ever see someone do the Macarena while hula hooping? Me either, until I checked out the video at this link. The Children's Room staff at Thomas Crane Public Library put together yet another outstanding program last night and I couldn't be prouder. I also appreciate the coverage by the Patriot Ledger and reporter/videographer/narrator Dan McCready. Thanks to all. The kids obviously had a great time. I think you'll smile if you click on the video.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bruins bring Reading Rink to Thomas Crane Library

You can click on Video: Bruins bring Reading Rink to Thomas Crane Library to see a colorful video, along with a wonderful article with some still pictures as well from our fun event yesterday. Thanks to Dan McCready of the Patriot Ledger for capturing the spirit of the day, and to the paper for spreading the word! There's always something exciting happening at the Thomas Crane Public Library!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Boston Globe Promotes Libraries

Today's "Globe South" section's
Community bulletin board - The Boston Globe lists Thomas Crane Public Library's "Quincy Unplugged" open mike (mic?) night that takes place tomorrow, Monday, July 25th. It's everyone's chance to share their talent in front of a friendly, encouraging audience. In the "Community Briefing" on page 3 are news items of on- or ahead-of-schedule Public Library Construction Projects in Walpole and Westwood. Congratulations to Directors Sal Benovese and Tom Viti!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Positive News in the Enterprise!

Today The Enterprise of Brockton ran a wonderful photo essay about the Brockton Symphony Orchestra's upcoming performance at the Mashpee Night at the Pops. Here is The Enterprise says:
Brockton Symphony Orchestra gets prime time gig
Jul 23, 2011 @ 06:01 AM
The Brockton Symphony Orchestra, founded in 1947, performs with between 60 and 70 musicians during their concert season from the beginning of September to the beginning of May each year. This year, the group was chosen to be featured in the Mashpee Night at the Pops concert on July 30, where the symphony will perform for an expected crowd of 10,000 people. The orchestra will play 21 pieces over three acts, plus three pieces during the fireworks, and will collaborate with Brockton’s Jubilate Chorale. “We are extremely excited,” says chairman and clarinet player Torben Hansen, “It is a great opportunity for the symphony. It’s a real boost for us.” Flutist Susan Caplan says, “It is fun to collaborate and support local groups,” and she adds, “We’re definitely a family.” Directions for donating to the orchestra and for purchasing tickets to the Mashpee Night at the Pops and the symphony’s other six concerts scheduled this season are at the group’s website

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

A Library Trustee - and So Much More!

This morning The Today Show presented an interview with Mary Reed. Mary is a Library Trustee for the Thomas Crane Public Library in Quincy, Massachusetts. As I learned from the TV interview, she is an inspiring woman who contributes in a major way to the future prospects for youngsters in Boston. I knew that Mary is President of the Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children, but learned from the video that taking on that role involved a major life change for Mary, taking on her mother's mission as her personal calling. Mary says, "the road to high school graduation and successful futures begins in the crib… and high-quality early education and care are the critical first steps to getting there." I have so often written and spoken of the role of the Public Library in making real the American Dream by providing the "tools to pull yourself up by your bootstraps." Mary makes sure that Boston's children will be ready to take up those tools. Bravo!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Under the Gargoyles - Black Sea Quartet

I counted 113 people (plus 3 canines) at one point during the second in the Concerts On The Lawn series at the Thomas Crane Public Library last night. Feet were tapping and hands were clapping to the Black Sea Quarter, a downsized version of trumpeter/singer/songwriter Dan Teager's 15-member Black Sea Salsa Band. In honor of Bastille Day Dan sang several songs in French. He described his fusion of traditional Armenian music with pop and Caribbean rhythms. This program was made possible by the support of the Friends of the Thomas Crane Public Library. Just as last week, the audience was rich with families and many of the children played nicely on the lawn, adding to the "picnic" ambiance of the event. A pleasant time was had by all.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Lasting Contribution to Researchers

Thank you Robert "Bob" Bosworth for a full-page article honoring Linda Beeler and the Reference Staff at the Thomas Crane Public Library in Quincy, Massachusetts for a project that will serve the Quincy Sun newspaper, the Library, and genealogists and other researchers studying Quincy, for years to come.
As the article explains, my predecessor Ann McLaughlin gave wholehearted support, garnered community support, and gave moral support to Ms. Beeler who had to prepare a 50-page grant application (no tax dollars were spent on this $7,000 project.)
This is a wonderful example of how rapid advances in information technology put public libraries right in the middle of the action. The announcement of our obsolescence was decades, if not centuries, premature.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Rainforest Reptiles at Wollaston Branch

Michael Ralbovsky of Rainforest Reptiles Shows thrilled an audience of fascinated children with some amazing - including some amazingly large - animals. Michael is a scientist and an ecological activist who shares his information in a winning way that warrants the title "Entertainer" as well. The show was as the Wollaston Branch Library. At the end of the show children and a few parents crowded around for a chance to pet a critter, or watched taratulas and hairy spiders having a snack. While all this was going on Miss Amanda held back (afraid of snakes, she said) while Miss Barbara checked out books to a steady stream of "regular customers." A typical wonderful busy summer day at the Branch Library.

Monday, July 4, 2011

In Congress, July 4, 1776 - The Boston Globe

In Congress, July 4, 1776 - The Boston Globe
Today's Boston Globe published the Declaration of Independence as its lead and only editorial. They also had another item in the same section of the same issue that inspired me to write:
The juxtaposition can't be ignored: Your July 4th lead editorial, the Declaration of Independence, “Governments...deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…” Your large ad on page A4, “Spotlight on Whitey Bulger” hawks 3 e-books including “The Bulger Mystique.” As I lament the fawning attention to the worst among us, while detesting the label “elitist,” I am forced to conclude the decline of our society could not continue without “the consent of the audience.” I hold this truth to be self-evident, that the state of our discourse is insufficient to enable us as citizens to fulfill the promises of the Declaration.v

Monday, May 30, 2011

We need Bucky Fuller!

Grunch of GiantsGrunch of Giants by Richard Buckminster Fuller

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Buckminster Fuller has been gone for nearly 30 years and the planet and human survival cry out for minds like his. A poet and genius and inventor who makes me blush that I have claimed I became a Librarian so I could be a Renaissance Man. This book is such a challenge to politics and politicians because it advocates looking at life and humanity from an entirely different perspective than any of their ilk. I won't try to paraphrase the book. He is so succinct - in spite of "repetition" that I think of more as refrains in a song - that any attempt to summarize would be long than the book itself, which is a mere 98 pages including the index. I will only say that I get goose bumps reading some of the observations he made in this 1983 book about economic and political trends that are so much more apparent now. He invented a lot of words, including "livingry" to mean the opposite of weaponry, and he made it clear that if what we spent on weaponty were diverted to livingry then not only would no one starve, but every person on Spaceship Earth could live at a higher standard of living than ever conceived even by the rich. Wow!

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Incredible Power-Per-Page!

The War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative BattleThe War of Art: Winning the Inner Creative Battle by Steven Pressfield

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another short book that is so good I am tempted to quote the whole thing. I recommend that you get hold of this and read every word. I will indulge in four quotes from just the first section to give you a sense of what Pressfield offers. P 6: "...any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long-term growth, health or integrity...that derives from our higher nature instead of our lower...will elicit Resistance." P 26: "When we drug ourselves to blot out our soul's call, we are being good Americans and exemplary consumers...what TV commercials and pop materialist culture have been brainwashing us to do...Instead of applying self-knowledge, self-discipline, delayed gratification and hard work, we simply consume a product." P. 33: "We're wired tribally, to act as part of a group. our psyches are programmed by millions of years of hunter-gatherer evolution. We khnow what the clan is; we know how to fit into the band and the tribe. What we don't know is how to be alone. We don't know how to be free individuals." P. 36-7: "The humanist believes that humankind, as individuals, is called upon to co-create the world with God. That is why he values human life so highly...the truly free individual is free only to the extent of his own self-mastery. While those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them."

So go forth, govern thyself and create something!

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Monday, May 16, 2011


Sixkill (Spenser #40)Sixkill by Robert B. Parker

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I might have given it another star except thinking about it makes me sad because Parker won't be writing any more Spenser novels. The prose was as spare as ever but effective and it was a fun read. RIP Robert Parker. I hope no one comes along to make posthumous updates to the series. Invent your own Heroes!

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Friday, May 13, 2011

A Kids Book Makes a Big Guy Cry!

I Got a D in Salami #2 (Hank Zipzer)I Got a D in Salami #2 by Henry Winkler

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Henry Winkler made me cry! I won't give a spoiler and tell you why, instead I'll give a teaser and say "Read this book to find out why the title is literally true!" Call me a sap, but I really did shed a tear before the end - let me know if you do too if you read this. It's a kids' book that is not just for kids.

I had a strong motivation to read it, as spelled out in the following email I sent "From one HW to another" via the film company that brought him to Quincy for Kevin Jame's comedy "Here Comes the Boom."

I wrote: "At the 2005 Annual Conference of the American Library Association in Chicago I was part of a large and enthusiastic gathering - literally thousands of librarians - stirred to a standing ovation by Henry Winkler's Keynote Speech at the Closing Session of the conference. Mr. Winkler was a stunning and inspiring speaker about the value of public libraries and particularly the value of reaching out to, and "hooking" young readers who may not at first glance seem promising students. This tied in nicely with his series of novels for young people about Hank Zipzer: The World's Best Underachiever. This was the same convention where Barack Obama signed a copy of Dreams Of My Father 'To Harry The Librarian - Thanks for all you do.' Yet even that memory is less compelling than the sight and sounds of Henry Winkler advocating for causes that are dear to my heart. I would love to extend to Mr. Winkler an invitation for a personal tour of the Thomas Crane Public Library, considered a national architectural treasure even among non-librarians. We are right across the street! For selfish reasons of promoting the library I would love to have Mr. Winkler visit, and have it documented by the local media. However, should he not wish that to be part of his time here in Quincy, I would be equally happy to arrange for a discreet tour at his convenience that would avoid publicity and protect his peace and serenity."

So, while "sitting by the phone" (I'm still waiting) I decided to read some the first Hank Zipzer book. It was wonderful. Then this one, the one that I found so touching. I'll probably read more, even if the author never visists our library.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A "Thriller" That Didn't

The InformationistThe Informationist by Taylor Stevens

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Disappointing! The premise sounded great. After all, as a Librarian I'm eager to see people who can find and make use of information portrayed as exciting and worth reading about. There were so many comparisons to Steig Larsson's heroine that I thought I should read The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo first, but it and the others about Lisbeth Salander were on reserve, so I grabbed this one. I had to renew it to have time to finish it - it was not compelling enough to keep me reading fast or voraciously. I eventulally finished it and already am beginning to forget much of it. Too bad because it was so promising. In the meantime I found a copy of ...Dragon Tattoo... but am so turned off by the derivative work that I don't feel motivated to try the Larsson. Sigh.

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Quincy Access Television celebrates 15 years

Quincy Access Television celebrates 15 years
Congratulations to our "next door neighbor." QATV's studios are attached to the Thomas Crane Public Library. Their staff are always eager to promote the library's events and all the other exciting things that make The City of Presidents a great place to live and work.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Quincy Library Hosts Great Events

Quincy Library Hosts Great Events
I found a wonderful plug for the Thomas Crane Library, including my upcoming poetry program this Saturday, on the blog for the Faxon Park Apartments. Thank you neighbors!

Meanwhile a special treat for me was that someone, a Friend I have yet to meet, sent a generous donation to the Friends of the Thomas Crane Public Library on their form "to acknowledge a special occasion." On the form they quoted from my profile and greeting in the new issue of the Friends' "Happenings" newsletter, where I had said, "Libraries...they're about people committed to working together to bring to fruition the promise and opportunities of life in the twenty-first century." This is one of the most flattering tributes I have ever received. I will do my best to live up to this donor's wonderful words: "I believe this about you Harry - you're one of us and we're glad to have you aboard." Wow!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Lisa Lamme Tells All

It's only a five minute walk from the Thomas Crane Public Library to 1241 Hancock Street in downtown Quincy. That's where Lisa Lamme operates The Gypsy Kitchen, a gourmet wine, food and cheese shop. But on Wednesday night you didn't even have to take that walk. Lisa came to the Library as the keynote speaker for the Friends of the Thomas Crane Public Library Social. My headline exaggerates; Lisa didn't tell "all," but she shared her years of struggle and dues-paying as a business woman, author, small business operator and culinary chemist. You cannot get venture capitalists to part with their capital without talking to a lot of them. You cannot concoct, perfect and manufacture a food product, not even a delectable hot sauce like "Gypsy Juice," without permission from a host of government bureaucrats. And don't try to publish a book, not even one as cool as The Gypsy Kitchen: Transform Almost Nothing Into Something Delicious With Not-So-Secret Ingredients, without mastering the computer. But the good news is, if you never, ever give up, and do "whatever it takes" for as long as it takes, you can make your dreams come true. The keys are in your hand. Lisa Lamme had a large audience eating out of her hand on Wednesday night. This was a great program. And of course Friends President Betty Molloy, Lisa herself, and I each made a pitch for renewing or initiating your membership in the Friends of the Thomas Crane Public Library.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ten Thousand Readers! Poetry Event April 23rd

Ten Thousand Readers: Will you be one of them? April is National Poetry Month., producer of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival, has an ambitious program to celebrate the fact that our state “has produced more poets than any other in the nation.” They are working with libraries, schools, colleges, book clubs and more to have 10,000 Massachusetts residents read seven poems by seven poets from Massachusetts. Many of those readers will be at the Thomas Crane Public Library in Quincy. Will you be one of them? The program, “Common Threads: Seven Poets and a Wealth of Readers,” starts at 2:00 PM on Saturday, April 23, 2011 in the Main Library Community Meeting Room on the ground floor at 40 Washington Street, Quincy, Massachusetts, 02169. S. D. Mullaney, author of Follow the Wolf Moon and a candidate for an MFA in Poetry at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, is putting the program together. He says, “Each poem in its way tells a story of how something huge and momentous — death of a loved one, inheritance from a war-torn country, divorce or separation, marriage and love — comes to be lodged in our hearts and to shape our lives. These huge things express themselves in the smallest, most mundane details – everyday sights, sounds, touches, and smells many of us have experienced and can relate to.” The poems were selected to appeal to a diverse audience by connecting our unique experiences with the universal issues of love, loss, home, war and transcendence. The poems are * “In the Waiting Room” by Elizabeth Bishop * “The Lost Pilot” by James Tate * “Occupation” by Suji Kwock Kim * “Vita Nova” by Louise Gl├╝ck * “New England Ode” by Kevin Young * “Samurai Song” by Robert Pinsky * “Love Song: I and Thou” by Alan Dugan The program in Quincy is not just for poetry lovers, but for everyone who loves life and the power of the written and spoken word to illuminate our common and our extraordinary experiences. All are welcome. Please come! For further information contact Harry R. Williams III, Library Director at (617) 376-1317 or email

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Quincy Sun Promotes Thomas Crane Library

The March 10 issue of the Quincy Sun featured three articles about programs at the Thomas Crane Public Library in Quincy, Massachusetts. These two are clipped from Page 8. I posted this after the paper was published, and after attending the Rum-Soaked Crooks concert. It was a blast to hear sea shantey music reverberate in the rotunda and throughout the magnificant library. Luckily the library is large enough, with sufficient discreet and remote places, that anyone bothered by the sound had a number of options to find a quiet place to read or study.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Children's Reading but Not For Children

The headline doesn't tell the whole story, but the story does... Thomas Crane Public Library in Quincy kicked off a reading and discussion program for adults to revisit books written for children, but "not for children only." Returning to the grammar school of one's childhood, with the fixtures and furniture so much closer to the floor than we remember, makes very real the passage of time and the strangers we have become to the children we once were. So too, reading with adult experience that which once was taken from a child's perspective can be eerie and delightful. Come, read, discuss! Thanks to the Quincy Sun for helping promote our program.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Thank you Laura Griffin!

Last week, during my last couple of days at Brockton Public Library, I agreed to a telephone interview byLaura Griffin of the Quincy Sun. I was in the middle of organizing nearly seven years worth of work and documents in a way that would be easy to find for those who follow, so I was quite distracted. We spoke for at least twenty minutes, maybe more. Imagine my pleasure when I read this article and saw myself portrayed as a thoughtful, serious professional who might just have "the right stuff" to build on the legacy of Ann McLaughlin as the leader of the magnificent Thomas Crane Public Library. Thank you Laura Griffin!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Brockton to host exhibit by Haitian artists - Brockton, MA - The Enterprise

Of course the Brockton Public Library is one of the "other city locales" referred to in the article. Arnie Danielson, Bruce Hammond and others from the GBSPA have been working in our Joseph Driscoll gallery to hang many of these incredibly powerful paintings.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Thank you Anne Beauregard

This was the only Letter to the Editor on the January 1, 2011 [Brockton] Enterprise editorial page. What a lovely gift to start my new year. Anne is one of those volunteers who gives to the community in so many ways, for so many causes, and goes on local radio station WXBR 1460-AM weekly to promote everything that's positive about our City. To earn her respect and praise is very rewarding. As I indicated to many of our City Councilors at last night's meeting, Jody and I will continue to live in Brockton and be active in the Brockton Library Foundation, the Brockton Symphony Orchestra and other endeavors to make this a civil and liveable community.