Thursday, October 16, 2014

Building and Living Small

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Charlotte's column in the October 16, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

The small-house phenomenon is a social and architectural movement that is sweeping the United States. It is a helpful trend for those who yearn to make their lifestyle sustainable … or for those who wish to deliberately downsize, or for those who want a little of both. The revelation about the small house movement is that small houses are actually nothing new. Most of the world’s inhabitants have lived in small homes like dug-outs, pit-houses and igloos throughout history. Only a small percentage of civilization have lived in palaces, mansions and castles. In fact, some might say that the American Tiny House movement has its roots in our very own Henry David Thoreau and his little, idyllic home on Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts.

Small houses such as Quonset huts were designed for World War II soldiers the George Fuller Company. The company was founded by George A. Fuller, who was born in Templeton, MA in 1851. He took an architecture course after graduating from college, and then went to work in Worcester, helping to design Newport mansions. The famous Newport mansions were, of course, slightly bigger than the 720 square feet of the Navy Quonset hut that his company created years later in 1941. After the war, Quonset huts were bought by returning veterans and others who could afford only small living space. Other small homes have been mobile homes and houseboats, popularized in the United States in the 20th century. Those house trailers have their origins in the Irish caravan, or itinerant traveler’s homes, which originated in the 16th century. They are, in fact, still in use today.

Sarah Susanka popularized the recent small house crusade with her book “The Not So Big House: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live” (1998). She stressed the concept that a house, a Not-So-Big- House, “favors the quality of its space over the quantity.” In the late decades of the 20th century, Americans began to think in terms of bigger homes; those homes boasted vaulted space and many more rooms (dedicated to laundry, fitness equipment, wine, breakfast eating, and crafting.) Homes like these, Susanka claims, are designed to “impress rather than nurture.” She believes that we need to design our homes to express the way “we actually live” – not the way we want others to think we do. Susanka followed up her 1998 bestseller with “Creating the Not So Big House” in 2000 and “Inside the Not So Big House” in 2005. The beauty of her books is in the hundreds of photographs or examples of smaller living spaces that work for the people that live in them.

In “Little House on a Small Planet” (2006), Shay Solomon tells homeowners to “Go outside. I mean it. Right now.” The small house movement actually emphasizes homes built with outside-living in mind – turning to patios, sleeping areas, gardens, and outdoor kitchens to let the outside in. Too many of us spend our lives within the walls that burden us.

I can’t profess that I a follower of the small-house movement. While I live and work in Norwood, I have a second home on the south coast where our family of four adult children, their spouses, our grandchildren, and friends come to visit. However, I must confess that downsizing and shaping a life less encumbered by stuff and space is a sometimes-romantic fantasy. In fact, this past spring, I was anxious to read “The Big Tiny: A Built-It Myself Memoir” by Dee Williams (2014) as soon as it was published in April.

A resident of the Pacific Northwest, Ms. Williams chose to take on the small-house project after she discovered she suffered from heart disease. She had restored a lovely antique home with more rooms than she knew what to do with and, after this brush with death, she decided to build a tiny house - an 84 square-foot home on wheels. Her memoir is one of courage, mistakes, honesty and freedom. Williams is one of the many small-home owners who are portrayed in the documentary “Tiny: A Story About Living Small” (2013) by Christopher Smith. Smith bought a 5-acre plot in Colorado and decided to spend a summer building a home on wheels (similar to Williams.) Three months in, Smith and his girlfriend Merete Mueller discovered that the tiny house was far more challenging to build than they had anticipated and Mueller had doubts whether she could actually live within the confines of such small space. Smith and Mueller succeeded in completing the house in 2012– and the documentary in 2013. They made the move to the sweeping Colorado vista that Smith so loved. Following Smith and Mueller several years later, however, finds them only visiting, not living in, the less-than 200 hundred square-foot house where it now sits in Boulder, Colorado.

If you are interested is learning more about building and designing a small house, there are several books about creating small houses that are new on our library’s shelves: “Tiny House Design and Construction Guide” by Dan Louche (2012) and “Small Home, Tiny House: Budget, Design, Estimate, and Secure Your Best Price” by Jobe David Leonard (2014). Perhaps a tiny home is your idea for an escape. If so, then “How to Build Your Dream Cabin in the Woods” by J. Wayne Fears in its latest 2014 edition. Costs, photographs, blueprints and diagrams are included. Perhaps, somewhere on your property, you have space for a fort or shack. In that case, you might find Derek Deidricksen's self-published book helpful. It has a title crazier than his ideas: “Humble Homes, Simple Shacks, Cozy Cottages, Ramshackle Retreats, Funky Forts, and Whatever the Heck Else We Could Squeeze in Here” (2012).

If you search the Minuteman Library catalog, you’ll find dozens of books on small and tiny houses. Some, like “500 Small Houses of the Twenties” by Henry Atterbury Smith (1990) prove that this is not a new idea. Others, like “Tiny Homes on the Move” (2014) describe some people’s need to be able to pick up and head out on the road or on water. Author Lloyd Kahn also wrote “Tiny Homes, Simple Shelter” (2012) and focused on the creative owners who live in them.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Parenting in the Digital Age

Diane Phillips is the Technical Services Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library.  Read Diane Phillips' column in the October 9, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

While classifying a stack of non-fiction books, I came across one title that caught my attention, iRules: What Every Tech-Healthy Family Needs to Know about Selfies, Sexting, Gaming, and Growing Up, by Janell Burley Hofmann. This book intrigued me because my husband and I just recently gave our son an iPad mini for his birthday. He unwrapped the gift and actually said, "Is this real or is something else in the box?" We told him that yes, indeed it was real but before he could have it, he had to listen to some rules regarding its use and care. I could tell that he was only absorbing about half (if that much) of what we were telling him. He just kept looking at the box and nodding his head and saying, "uh huh" every once in a while as we were listing the do's and don'ts. He already knew how to do most everything already having used my iPad or his friends' devices. I wanted to make sure that he fully grasped the restrictions and guidelines that we were trying to communicate. This is where Hofmann's book, iRules, comes in handy.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

A Young Librarian

Jillian Goss is a circulation assistant at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts.  Read Jillian's column in the October 2, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.


In 2007, about a week after my fifteenth birthday, I began working at the Morrill Memorial Library.  I never could have known at the beginning what an adventure I would be in for.
When I was a child I would come to Miss Hope’s story times. I would talk to Michele when checking out.  I would pick up stacks of books that would tower over my short frame and I started reading books from the Young Adult room by the age of eight.  I am thankful everyday that my mother made it a priority to get her children involved in the library early in life. It has definitely had a grand and inspiring effect on me.
One of the biggest things that the library has done for me is help me grow up. I’ve spent the last few years growing up and growing into myself. I’ve weeded my friend garden many times over and I carry the library’s quiet confidence in me.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Season for Stitching

Liz Reed is an Adult and Information Services Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts.  Read Liz's column in the September 25, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.


You can feel it in the air, you can smell it on the crisp morning breeze – Autumn has arrived.  The Fall season means different things to different people: to parents and their children, it means the back-to-school hustle and bustle.  To gardeners, the season means harvest and preparing the ground for a winter respite.  For others, this is the time to enjoy changing leaves, picking apples to bake apple pies, and hot beverages on chilly mornings.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Vermeer - Master of Light

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Charlotte's column in the September 18, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.


Johannes Vermeer died at the age of 43 in 1675. He left his wife and family of ten children in debt and certainly could not have been considered a financial success.  Although it is believed that Vermeer may have produced as many as 60 works of art, only 35 known paintings remain known to the world.  21 are housed around the globe and the majority are housed by museums in Europe.  Another 14 of them are owned by institutions or private collections in the United States. One of those is, of course, missing.  The Concert was stolen from the Isabella Gardner Museum in a notorious theft on March 18, 1990.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Boys Will Be Boys

Norma Logan is the Literacy Coordinator at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read Norma's column in the September 11, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

The day my grandson was born, 6 years ago in September, I knew that the pink frilly clothes, dolls and tea sets from my three daughters would have to continue to stay retired in the closet.

I would have to start all over with collecting cars, trucks, and boy things since I had not had any sons. The first toy/book that my husband and I bought for our new grandson was a board book in the shape of a tractor, wheels and all. More books and toys followed. That was the easy part. As time went on, and I watched his development, it became clear he did not respond or act in any way that resembled my three girls. As he is now approaching his 6th year, it is more apparent.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

California's Trembling Hills

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts.  Read Charlotte's column in the September 4, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.


In 1984, an earthquake hit Northern California on April 24. The Morgan Hill quake was situated on a less famous fault than the San Andreas, the Calaveras Fault, which runs along the San Jose area (south of San Francisco and a bit to the west).  It registered 6.2 on the Richter scale and  resulted in damages in several communities, San Jose among them.

At that time, my daughters and I lived further north in the East Bay area of San Francisco, near the American Canyon. We might have felt a jolt, but it wasn’t particularly memorable.

In the fall of 1984, we moved south to the foothills of Mt. Hamilton, near the epicenter of that very Morgan Hill quake. Later, in the spring of 1985, I distinctly remember an earthquake that rocked my house with enough force that I ran for the doorway of my sleeping daughters’ bedroom. That quake is not even mentioned on any significant earthquake list except the United States Geological Survey, which lists hundreds of quakes between 2.0 and 6.0 in both 1984 and 1985.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Step Into Reading Literacy Program

Read Kate Tigue's column in the August 28, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin. Kate is a Children's Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library.

The weather is getting cooler and less humid. The back-to-school sales are on. The summer reading program is winding down. It’s almost fall! Hurray! Autumn is New England’s season to shine with breathtaking foliage, crisp high weather, and amazing food. Librarians are usually happy to see September every year as summer is often the busiest season on the library calendar, especially in for the Children’s Department. Most libraries in Massachusetts provide an intensive summer reading program for school aged children during the summer months. This year, over 500 children participated in the Morrill Memorial Library’s Fizz Boom Read! Summer Reading Program by reading nearly 5,000 books! The library hosted a total of 36 programs that brought in a combined total of 800 people in a 10 week period. The Children’s Room staff has answered nearly 1,100 questions in July and August alone. That means we’ve had the best summer possible: every day was packed with helping patrons, running programs, marshalling volunteers, and generally keeping everyone busy.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Quest for Longitude

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts.  Read Charlotte's column in the August 21, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

Most of my life, I was continually confused over the definitions of longitude and latitude. As an elementary school student, I thought of the earth as simply being measured by a ruler or yardstick, or straight up and down.  Therefore, longitude seemed logically (or illogically in this instance) as measuring the earth’s length, which is, of course, the north-south measurement or latitude, instead.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

My Future Library Will Look Like . . .

Nancy Ling is an Outreach Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read the published version of Nancy Ling's column in the August 15, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.


There are lots of books about the future. From classics like Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World and Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 to modern books like Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games and Lois Lowry’s The Giver, authors have spent years imagining the world that awaits us. Needless to say, most of these portrayals are downright dystopic.

 So it was with some trepidation that we announced the topic for this year’s essay contest—“My Future Library Will Look Like. . ..” Sponsored by the Andrew and Ernest J. Boch Memorial Fund, our essay contest had become quite the hit around town. Still we wondered if we were opening up a can of worms with this year’s prompt.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Big Ditch - The Cape Cod Canal

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts.  Read Charlotte's column in the August 7, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.


The Panama Canal and the Cape Cod Canal both opened the same year – 1914.  The Cape Cod Canal, 7 miles long, opened to some traffic on July 29 just one day after the start of World War One (or the Great War) on July 28.  The Panama Canal, 48 miles long, opened two weeks later on August 15. These amazing feats of engineering may have started years before by entrepreneurial investors, but both were completed as American ventures.

The centennial of these two principal waterways were celebrated this summer.
  The Panama Canal has, of course, world significance as it provides a water route between the two oceans, or more accurately from the Caribbean Sea through the Isthmus of Panama to the Gulf of Panama at the Atlantic Ocean. Noted author David McCullough wrote “The Path Between the Seas” (2001), the story of the 400 years of blood, sweat and tears and the eventual successful building of the Panama Canal. The canal’s rich history includes its ownership by several countries and partnerships, its triumphant completion by the United States government, and its final control by the Panamanian government in 1999.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

To App or Not to App - What's Best for My Baby's Brain

Read Jean Todesca's column in the July 31, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin. Jean is the Head of Children's Services at the Morrill Memorial Library.


As children’s librarians, we are often faced with the screen time question.  What is too much?  Should babies and young children be allowed screen time?  We are often challenged over the use of iPad and computers.  We are currently developing a storytime that incorporates the use of iPad and apps.  As we move forward, we understand some parents will have concerns.

Dr. Dimtri Christakis, Director of Child Health Behavior & Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute states “Screens are purely a delivery mechanism.  What parents should be focused on is content”.  He feels former statements by the American Academy of Pediatrics are out of date.  I agree.

Apps and games need to be interactive not passive to stimulate and develop the child’s brain.  Recently, I participated in a class where app reviews were a requirement.  I compared the “Pop-Up Peter Rabbit” storytime app to “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” app.  The pop-up version promoted exploration within the app while the other version was flat with no interaction.  Often when a parent has a young child who does not want to sit and be read to, I suggest interactive books.  Interactive books will draw the child into the story through the use of flaps, pop-up, touch & feel or repetitive verse.  They are all vehicles to involve the child in the reading process.  Apps are the same approach, but a different mode of delivery.  The child will explore and grow with activities that call for their response or touch/swipe to control the activity.  Young children can improve eye/hand coordination, speech & language and conceptual thinking.  The library has recently added iPads for young children’s use.  One of the apps that was loaded on to the iPads is Color Zen Kids.  It’s a great example of design to develop conceptual thinking. 

Parents as well as teachers and librarians must make thoughtful app choices.  Some of the best sites for app reviews are Common Sense Media, Graphite and Google Play for Education.

Like any other technology or activity, moderation is the key.  Screen time can be fun, entertaining and educational, but only screen time is too much for anyone whether an adult or child.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Do You Scream for Ice Cream?

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts.  Read Charlotte's column in the July 24, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.
According to the International Dairy Foods Association's website, President Ronald Reagan selected the third Sunday of the month of July as National Ice Cream Day.  At the same time, he chose July as National Ice Cream Month.
Now, that’s a celebration I can get behind. Of course, most New Englanders understand the importance of summer in our lives and in what way ice cream plays into it.  Some of us even know the exact date our local ice cream stand will open.  We also mourn the day that it closes for the season.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Home Remedies: Turning A House into a Home

Read Alli Palmgren's column in the July 17, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin. Alli is the Technology Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library.


For the past few years, my husband and I lived in a rented house located in his hometown.  The location was great and the rent was beyond cheap, but it would be kind to call the house a fixer-upper. The roof leaked, the ceiling in the master bedroom was so low that my husband once put his head through it while putting on a pair of pants, we used one of the bathrooms as a closet because the plumbing was not functional, and so many critters found their way in that we could have started a wildlife sanctuary. In short, the house was a dump.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Rock On, James Dean

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts.  Read Charlotte's column in the July 10, 2014 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.


While James Dean acted in both television and commercials from the beginning of his career starting in the early 1950s, he made three movies and three movies only. Of course, the iconic star’s films were released when I was only 3 and 4 years old and I didn’t catch them on reruns as a teenager and never quite bothered to watch them on television or DVD. I watched two of them for the first time this past weekend.

Contributors to the Morrill Memorial Library "From the Library" Column

Library Director, Charlotte Canelli began writing columns for the Peterborough Transcript in 2001 when she was the Youth Services Librarian at the Peterborough Town Library, 2001-2005. Soon after becoming the director of the Morrill Memorial Library, she began to write weekly columns for the Norwood Bulletin and Transcript. Since February 2009 other Morrill Memorial librarians have written many other columns. They include: April Cushing and Liz Reed, Adult and Information Services Librarians; Jean Todesca and Kate Tigue, Children's Librarians; Allison Palmgren, Technology Librarian; Bonnie Warner, Literacy and Outreach Librarian; Diane Phillips, Technical Services Librarian; Norma Logan, Literacy Coordinator; Nancy Ling, Outreach Librarian; Cynthia Rudolph, Graphic Artist and Circulation Assistant; Margaret Corjay, Circulation and Outreach Assistant; Patricia Bailey, Circulation Assistant; retired librarians Hope Anderson, Marie Lydon, Shelby Warner, Margot Sullivan and Tina Blood; previous MML librarians, Beth Goldman, Kelly Unsworth, Brian Samek and Jenna Hecker; and library interns, Samantha Sherburne, Melissa Theroux and Khara Whitney-Marsh.