Monday, April 30, 2007

Exploring new territory

As we know, libraries are not the same places most of us grew up with, as technology has advanced and changed, so have libraries. With this, many libraries realize that our users are online to find information and to communicate. I thought I would highlight some of the interesting ways in which libraries are marketing themselves online by using video. The following are a number of great YouTube videos from a variety of different libraries:
Williams College Libraries : L-Team (Think A Team), March of the Librarians(an ALA conference spin off on March of the Penguins), Harry Potter Book Club at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library, and the video that continues to be my favorite, Ray of Light by the St. Joseph’s Country Public Library.
As I was leaving the library this afternoon, there were some students on the sloped driveway of the library, skateboards and video cameras in hand putting together some sort of video, (time will tell what it will end up being and unfortunatly I didn't have my camera with me to take a picture!) This is were our audience is and wants to be, creating visual projects and sharing them with others. It is a whole new exciting world we continue to discover!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

The boys and books of summer

It doesn’t take much for us to feel the effects of a few warm Spring days. After a stretch of miserable weather, the grass has turned green at the Academy. A few students could not resist lazing on the lawn, some even with a book in hand. Along with the weather, baseball season is upon us. When the Red Sox swept the Yankees this past weekend, the euphoria could be felt inside the library and out. Ah, Spring…….. For readers keen on reading about the Red Sox, we have 34 books in the library collection. For fans of other teams or baseball in general, we have a total of 205 titles.

Houses Tell Stories

My book group went on a field trip last night to the Parson Capen House in Topsfield. We had read Where We Lived: Discovering the Places We Once Called Home (973.5 LAR) by Jack Larkin, chief historian at Old Sturbridge Village. And although the home was from 1683 and outside the books parameters of 1775 to 1840, it was an interesting introduction to our discussion. Parson Capen was a Harvard graduate who agreed to take the call to Topsfield. He married Priscilla Appleton of Ipswich who promptly took one look at the parsonage and decided a new home was in order. The house they built is considered “one of the finest standing examples of post-medieval domestic architecture in America.” Touring through, we had several questions: Why was there a second summer beam in the parlor? Why were the ceiling heights on the second floor higher than the first? Did this mean there was a public use to the second floor?
Larkin’s book travels through the America of that time period and traces the development of the houses people called home – not only the styles of the outside but also how they used the spaces inside. Although we are fortunate to have many historical homes preserved to a specific time period, I find more interesting homes like the Coffin House owned by Historic New England that shows how the family lived in it over the centuries, adding and adapting given the family’s needs and the changing domestic technologies (plumbing, wiring, heating.)
Renovating our first home made me very conscious of how those before me had lived within the space. A 2-over-2 post-and-beam house with balloon construction, it had a half-shed dormer on the second floor meaning that I could stand up in that room. When we went to tighten up a living room draft, the wall fell in and we found that the chestnut supports for the walls had been cut for new windows back in the forties. The walls had been reinforced with wood from old crates. I think the layers were holding the home up: clapboards, crates, asphalt, shingles… And when C. Adams added the dormer in 1853, he chalked his name into the beam. Over the past two hundred years, people made the house livable for their wants. We did the same and I am sure that time hence, new owners will leave their story as part of the house.
So, before too much more green explodes around us, take a good look at the homes you go by and try to see their stories. What’s been added to them? How did families leave their stories and their histories on their homes?

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

And Hailing from Tacoma.....

Each year I am amazed by the generosity of libraries willing to send hard-to-find materials over far distances for our students to use. The Art of Goaltending by Vladislav Tretiak was proving very hard to locate. The student had found it on eBay but was taken aback by the price. He turned to his librarians. Unable to find it locally, we soon turned to our support group at Memorial Hall Library in Andover. We put in the request but, given the scarcity of the copies, we weren't overly confident that the book would make its way here. But thanks to the Pierce County Library System in Tacoma, Washington, our student was able to exercise his right to read, a right supported by our tax dollars. Tacoma Librarians, thank you, both for the loan of your book but also the nice civics lesson for our reader! You created a life-long library supporter.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Explore the World

If you have not yet checked out Google Earth, it is well worth the look and you will find more there than simply a tour of the planet. (Google Earth needs to be downloaded to use, but is quick and easy.) Much has been added to Google Earth since it was first created, including an Atlas of the changing environment, Global awareness: crisis in Dafur, views of 3D buildings, and Jane Goodall's Chimpanzee blog. There are numerous ways in which Google Earth can be used in schools, from the basics of geography, to tracking the global economy, population and growth of countries.
Microsoft also has its own version of our Earth online called Microsoft Virtual Earth. The strength of Virtual Earth is that the view can be changed from the front page to provide a map view, aerial or a hybrid of the two. Virtual Earth has also just launched a city 3D version that is interesting and a perfect tool to use before your travels.
Both tools show how our world is getting smaller and how we can literally go anywhere with a click of the mouse. Enjoy exploring!

Monday, April 23, 2007

A perfect Earth Day

As the campus celebrates Earth Day and a Day Without Walls, the Pesky Blog is happy to highlight a local literary and environmental persona from the past, Henry David Thoreau. He was a man who was captivated by the natural world around him and his reflections on nature continue to endure and inspire. The library’s collection has much to offer the interested reader, including, Thoreau: on Land (818.3 THO), The Journal of Henry D. Thoreau (828 THO), and “In Wilderness Is the Preservation of the World” (779 POR). In Wilderness…depicts photographs by Eliot Porter along with selections from Thoreau’s writing providing a glimpse into the natural beauty of Thoreau’s Concord.

As students find their way outdoors and we move along campus with our daily routines, take a moment to capture Thoreau’s spirit and the simple, natural wonders around us.

Enjoy the day!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

McNaugthon Collection

Everyone knows that the Pescosolido Library purchases books, but did you know that we rent books as well? While our purchased titles support the Academy curriculum, the research topics our students choose and our faculty assignments, we also want to meet the need for popular and leisure reading. To that end we subscribe to, or rent a rotating group of book titles that keep our collection very current. The head librarian, Ms. Chase, chooses titles from the 500 or so offered, that she deems will interest our students and faculty. This collection is called the McNaughton book collection. We also have the option of purchasing these titles after we rent them. I highly recommend that you look at this popular collection. It is located across from the New Book collection on the right as you enter the library. New titles arrive each month. This month Mrs. Healey has made a display using the popular McNaughton books.

Island Reading

Ever get the feeling that your setting is too perfect? That any moment a fictional character will hail you or a conversation starts that you know how will end? I had that being trapped in a novel feeling this past weekend. We visited a friend on Sheep’s Island in Cundy’s Harbor, Maine. Although I needed to wear a ski parka in April, the day was glorious. There was the obligatory black lab, the murmuring pines, the loons fishing out front, and the trio of gulls hovering as they rode the breeze. The men all left by boat to inspect the camp that Monty’s building on a nearby island. I was alone and at peace. I could hear a lobster boat around the bend of the island as I sat on the porch, the disembodied voices mixing with the gulls’ cries. (And I knew what the gulls wanted as I had to climb across that very boat to get to the dock and nearly stepped into the box of very aromatic bait!) Suddenly, I knew I had the wrong book in my hand. I was wandering the Lakes District with Beatrix in Miss Potter (921 POT) when I should have been lost among Sarah Orne Jewett’s unforgettable characters in The Country of the Pointed Firs (SC JEW.)
Or perhaps I should have been re-reading Stern Men (FIC GIL) by Elizabeth Gilbert about the feud between two neighboring Maine Islands over fishing rights by the local lobstermen. Ruth returns from boarding school to work as a stern man, caught in the escalating feud until the day she catches sight of Owney Wishnell, lobsterman extraordinaire. She is an unforgettable heroine in a very funny novel of love and class.
My book group recently read a mystery set on an island far off the Maine coast, The Body in the Ivy (FIC PAG) by Katherine Hall Page loosely based on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. It was a good read but probably better saved for a rain lashed day on the island, like the four following our departure. Sitting on a table in the cabin was Dorothea Benton Frank’s Isle of Palms (FIC BEN.) The book was intriguing but I can’t start something I may not be able to put my fingers on to finish. Fortunately, I found a copy in our library, the perfect choice to take when we return in May.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

An April Alum

This month is Earth month in the library. We have looked at comments by a former commencement speaker, Bill McKibben, and his recent Step It Up Day, a national day united around a common call to action: "Step It Up Congress: Cut Carbon 80% by 2050." We have a display on Earth Day which centers on what we all can do with recycling. And, it came to our attention that we had an alum who was active in The Wilderness Society. Ben Beach is senior editor at The Wilderness Society whose mission is “Deliver to future generations an unspoiled legacy of wild places, with all the precious values they hold: Biological diversity; clean air and water; towering forests, rushing rivers, and sage-sweet, silent deserts.” We asked Ben to share with us his path from the Academy to his current position, why he is passionate about what he does, and a list of his favorite books. He did more and sent us a beautiful Wilderness Society poster for the library and a stack of magazines for our users to take.
Stop by and meet Ben in our display. Discover that he’s run The Boston Marathon since his freshman year of college and ran his 40th this year! Grab a magazine or check out one of his favorite reads which include: This House of Sky by Ivan Doig: A wonderfully written memoir about growing up on Montana sheep farms in the 1940s and 1950s, John Adams by David McCullough: A long, but superb, biography of our second president. (One minor, but striking, fact in this book: Adams did not learn that his son had been elected president until five days later,) or The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan: An account of the horrible conditions that faced those who lived through the Dust Bowl in the 1930s.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Celebrating Longfellow

The library is highlighting Henry Wadsworth Longfellow this April to celebrate Poetry Month. A local historic figure, Longfellow is a poet who captures the heart of readers young and old. If you feel inspired to go back to the days of Longfellow poetry, browse through some of the books on display, including, Longfellow Poems (821 LON), The Cheif American Poets (821 LON), and Poems of Longfellow(821 LON). For more information and links to other resources on Longfellow, visit the Maine Historical Society webpage (state in which he was born.)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Inspiration from a Tree

We are in the midst of poetry month, usually inspired by the anticipated Spring weather and a time to celebrate the breadth of our poetic history and celebrate those poets who continue to inspire. Not long ago, while walking the campus, this photograph of the contrasting deep blue sky and stark tree was captured. A moment inspired by the beauty nature can inspire on its own. There have been many poets who have captured the beauty of nature, in particular trees, to help further inspire. Some of these poems include; Robert Frost and the Sound of the Trees and Tree at my Window (811.52 FRO), Robert Bly wrote A Hollow Tree (811.54 BLY), and Yeats wrote The Two Trees (821 YEA).
I stumbled upon a poem by Rochelle Mass, a poet living in Israel, called Waiting for a Message. One line captures a bit of what this photograph depicts:
“Trees help you see slices of sky between branches,point to things you could never reach.” To read the complete poem visit the Tree Poems website. Take a look around, you never know what may inspire the poet in you.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Book Lists

What is it about TOP TEN lists that seduce readers? When the New York Times or The Boston Globe print their top ten books of the year, or such library tools as Library Journal or Booklist print their lists, I am always checking to see if I have read these titles and if I agree with their ratings. I look forward to these lists and often choose my own readings based on them. So when I came upon the review of a new book titled The Top Ten: Writers Pick Their Favorite Books edited by J. Peder Lane, I immediately went to the web site ( to see who the 125 writers who responded chose as their favorites. It is beyond interesting to see what titles writers such as Jonathan Franzen, Alice Hoffman, John Irving, Ha Jin, Claire Messud, Annie Proulx or Anita Shreve pick as their 10 favorites. This list should keep me busy for years until the next Top Ten list appears somewhere else and I am side-tracked again. The adage, “So many books, so little time” is oh, so true!

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Treat it well, it's the only one we've got

Newspapers, magazines, news reports, community organizations, individuals are all a-buzz with what is happening to our environment. The month of April highlights the planet in which we live with the celebration of Earth Day on the 22nd. The library has a number of displays throughout the building featuring the difference we can make to the environment. The recycling display featured here points out the many items that can be recycled, more than we may be aware of. Our students are in the “think green” environmental mode as bottles and cans are recycled around campus, and cell phone drives and prom dress collections give a second life to the items we may have otherwise simply thrown away. As always, the library looks for books to highlight the displays and to inspire, some include; The Weather Makers (363.738 FLA), High Tide: the truth about our climate crisis (363.73 LYN) and Silent Spring (363.73 CAR). As mentioned, looking at any news related magazine this month will highlight articles on the environment as shown in the display photo, great for browsing and getting a taste of what is being said on the many sides of this issue. Finally, a new find for me is the Discovery Channel’s Planet Earth, makes one appreciate this planet in which we live and sparks a desire to treat it well.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Bloom where you are planted

For the Academy Seniors this could be the best of times or the worst of times. As they receive their college notification letters their level of anxiety runs high. The April 1, 2007 Boston Globe magazine had a timely article by Tom Keane about the disappointment students feel when they are not accepted at the Ivy or elite schools that are often their first choice. His words of wisdom include, “Your success isn’t a function of which college you attend. Rather, it’s all about what you do when you’re there.” He gives numerous examples of very successful men and women who graduated from UMASS and notes that, “It’s pretty widely known that the selectivity of the college one attends doesn’t relate to success in life.” Many of the Academy Seniors have been accepted by their first choice colleges of course, but for the rest of the students, remember the old adage “Bloom where you are planted.”
A new poetry assignment for students in Elaine White’s and Karen Gold’s English classes included visualization. In addition to poetic analysis, students needed to take five pictures and caption them with specific quotes from the poem they had chosen. The work was then uploaded to the library’s Flickr space.
To prepare for this, your Pesky librarians also did the assignment. Selecting “Aimless Love” by Billy Collins, we printed out the poem and sat together with stickies and highlighters. We generated idea after idea and then went out for a campus walk with our camera. After downloading our work, we kept one picture, dumped the rest, and went back to the poem. We continued this process until we had a set we thought worked well. The next day both classes came to the library and we introduced this part of the assignment, modeling the process we had undertaken and showing our work. In the next week we worked with the students, uploading their pictures and talking about how Flickr is a social networking tool and lets us connect with other people who share our interests. We were thinking about how we connect with other librarians but a young woman in London has a Flickr pool for pictures of soap (who knew?) and she invited us to put one of our pictures in it. The students did some nice work. Take a look.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

We Were Censored!

How do you know when it’s spring in the library? Answer: when you start getting bombarded with questions about the location of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition. Each year it presents a mystery. While its arrival date is not on my personal horizon, it is for many patrons. So I start asking questions myself. Does anyone remember seeing it in our box in the mailroom? (Some years it gets borrowed before coming across campus and appears a week or two later.) Has it been checked in as arriving? Did anyone put it out on the shelf? Is this a year when we will never see it? And, for all of you who accuse us of “censoring by losing,” we do put it out on the shelf even though its existence there is always short-lived.
As the annual mystery began this year, the new edition of Library Journal provided us an answer. The headline reads “Swimsuit Issue Denied to Libraries” (April 1, 2007 edition.) Apparently, Sports Illustrated decided not to ship the edition to 21,000 classrooms and libraries. They arbitrarily made the decision without giving the subscribers an option to receive or not to receive. After much criticism from librarians who thought that they should decide whether to display it, hold it behind the desk, or throw it in a drawer, the magazine decided that those who did not receive a copy could request one. Here at the Pesky Library, Meredith called the magazine and the edition is on its way. Of course, for us the perennial mystery will once again play out – Has anyone seen it yet in our box in the mailroom?

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Annual Peep Post

It would be a shame to let the month of April pass us by without sharing our annual Peep post. Spring is here, Peeps are lining the shelves and many, including librarians, seem to find unique ways to showcase these sweet little creatures. Enjoy the adventures and travels of Peeps ! Happy Spring!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Everyday....learning something new

On Friday, the blogging Pesky librarians attend the NEEMA (New England Educational Media Association) conference in Boston featuring speakers, Dr. Ross Todd and Dr. Carol Gordon from Rutgers University. This conference is always a way for us to stretch our brains, look at our own library program and consider ways in which we can improve our services to the community. This year’s title was, “Re-Designing Knowledge Spaces: From Information Literacy to Knowledge Outcomes.” One of the key ideas from Ross Todd’s presentation was how we help our students transform the information they find into a deep knowledge and to connect with what they find. Rather than simply transporting information, we need our students to transform the information they find, and as educators we need to ask what will be the outcomes of their research. I could go on about all of the information and ideas we gathered from a day such as this, but I will end my post today with a quote Ross Todd shared with the group. It is one which struck a cord with me as a librarian in an ever changing profession, working with young adults who are immersed in all of the new technologies we are rushing learn; "Standing still is the fastest way of moving backwards in a rapidly changing world. Imagination is the highest kite one can fly" -- Lauren Becall. As I assist students with their poetry Flickr projects today, (more on this to come in a later post!), I realize it is all part of the learning process, for me and the students…keep on moving and keep on learning.