Friday, November 30, 2012

A Wonderful Author, A Great River

Ann Hood gave a wonderful author's talk at the Thomas Crane Public Library on Wednessday night, November 28th. I just checked out her blog and found the entry below.  It touched off such memories for me as she described riding a train along the Hudson. From 1962-1965 I lived in Garrison, NY, directly across the Hudson from West Point, and went to Highland Falls High School, adjacent to West Point, on the other side of the river. The Bear Mountain Bridge was 7 miles south of Garrison, so twice a day we had bus rides along both shores of (actually on roads high above) the Hudson River Valley, truly "God's Country" as portrayed by scores of the world finest landscape painters. This was such a treat (although I may have been the only one on the bus noticing it...) Then for my first year at Manhattan College in NYC I commuted 50 miles by train. Sometimes the engineer let me ride in the cab with him. The New York Central follows the shoreline of the Hudson almost the entire way. Thanks Ann, for the memories, and for your wonderful presentation in Quincy, and for signing my copy of The Knitting Circle to: Harry The Librarian. The Hudson: What a breathtaking train ride I just took from Albany to Manhattan! We hugged the glorious Hudson the entire way, and I had to stop what I ...

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Brendon Burchard is "Charged!"

I just discovered that when "reviewing" a book for your "To Read" shelf on Goodreads, you don't get the automatic html to paste into your blog. So I have manually copied the book cover as well as my "review": I have to return this to the Library today - "renewal limit reached" - but will get back to it and finish it. I really like Brendon Burchard and his excitement for us to get really "Charged" about our own lives. I read a bunch of it while waiting to testify in court this morning, and the juxtaposition was jarring, to see so many whose lives are in utter chaos while reading about lives of quiet desperation, or bored comfort, and a great-to-be-alive alternative.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Wait: The Art and Science of Delay by Frank Partnoy

For some reason I have been unable to get the image and the links to my Goodreads review into this entry, but here's what I wrote: My first professional job as a Librarian was in 1972 at the Worcester Public Library, with long hair and a beard and fire in my belly to save the world with equal access to information. Library Director Joseph S. Hopkins described an administrative strategy of never making any decision until forced to do so. I was not the only one who thought this showed a lack of courage, rather than good judgement. As the years have gone by I have been forced to reconsider many of my youthful value judgements. Partnoy really vindicates Joe Hopkins on page 174, "The best professionals understand how long they have available to make a decision, and then, given that time frame, they wait as long as they possibly can." Wow! Partnoy also adds a twist to an attractive description of the skilled ball player. I had heard descriptions - written when computers were a bit more primitive - that "If you filled the Empire State Building with computers, it would still take them a week to do all the calculations required to catch a high fly ball." The implication was that it is only by letting go of any conscious control, through practice and then reflex, that humans are able to make the catch. Partnoy shares experiments that show that more is going on, that the good hitter actually spends much more of the ball's (admittedly extremely short) travel time taking in data, and then at the very last millisecond reacts with a swing. I described this to an old timer (even older than I) who immediately gave an example of a baseball great who would swing "just about when the ball was in the catcher's glove." This was a fun read and I'm glad I took the time to enjoy it.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Thanks to Will Manley & American Libraries Magazine

Trust in Your Trustees | American Libraries Magazine

On receiving the November/December issue of American Libraries I immediately turned to the last page, as always, to see what Will Manley had to say.  This excellent reminder of our most dedicated allies is quite timely for me.  Last week I was asked to give a professional reference for a colleague who is ready, in my not so humble opinion, for leadership in our profession.  The caller was a Trustee/Search Committee member.  While pointing out that his younger (than me) professional had proven himself in the ranks and leading at the departmental level, I am confident that his readiness to take the helm is enhanced by his years of service as a Trustee in the community where he lives.  During the conversation I remarked how I have been saddened by the comments of some Library Directors who seem to see their Trustees as some enemy force, gathered to undercut them.  For all the reasons Will Manley states, Trustees have a different kind of credibility in the eyes of municipal and other leaders than we purveyors of "mumbo jumbo jargon."  I have a similar respect for those from whom we must seek our funding, and this makes it easier for them to be a receptive audience to my pitch, but there is no denying that I have a vested interest in "my turf."  When I say "the community needs the Library," they may see me as self-serving.  When dedicated volunteer advocates say the same thing, it adds to my credibility and our success.  Thank you Will Manley!  Thank you Trustees!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A wonderful little book.

Why Read Moby-Dick?Why Read Moby-Dick? by Nathaniel Philbrick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I listened to the audiobook edition first, nicely read by author Philbrick. Then I checked out the print version to read the following quote from page 111 at the Library's "Booked For Lunch" program.
"As Melville has already shown in chapter 99, 'The Doubloon,' in which just about every member of the Pequod's crew provides his own interpretation of what is stamped on the gold coin nailed to the mast, in the end a doubloon is just a doubloon. So don't fall into the Ahab trap of seeing Moby Dick as a stand-in for some paltry human complaint. In the end he is just a huge, battle-scarred albino sperm whale, and that is more than enough."
If you find that sentiment, and the kind of language and thinking to fashion and share it, to be attractive, you will love this book. It is not just about a literary masterpiece, it is about loving literature as a life stance, or perhaps I should say an aesthetic.

View all my reviews