We are proud to report that on May 4, 2015 the Morrill Memorial Library's submission to the Massachusetts Library Association 2013-2014 Public Relations Awards won first place in the News category. A representative 24 columns from 2013 and 2014 were submitted. They were written by Marg Corjay, Shelby Warner, Nancy Ling, Diane Phillips, Brian Samek, Bonnie Wyler, Marie Lydon, Norma Logan, Allison Palmgren, April Cushing, Liz Reed, Kate Tigue, Jillian Goss, and Charlotte Canelli. Library staff have written over 335 columns since 2009.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Empty Nests: Rediscovering Your Own Wings

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Charlotte's column in the August 27, 2015 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

    I will re-experience the empty nest when our grandson, Colin, leaves home for college next fall. When my nest first emptied, after my youngest daughter left for college, I was caught up in a whirlwind of  my own leavings. I had just sold our family home, was finishing graduate school, and had just begun my first full-time job in over twenty-five years. I remember swallowing my tears whole as I brought the last carload of freshmen gear into my daughter’s dorm. I successfully ignored a wrenching as the loss of everyday motherhood tore me in two. It had been biting at my heels for three years as our life as a family tore itself apart in a divorce.

    I can best describe my empty nest experience, then, as a decade of highs and lows and losses and triumphs.  I learned to reinvent myself and I watched my daughters do the same. There were queasy, blinding moments of missing them terribly; after all, up to that point, motherhood had been my primary identity. Most of my energy had been spent on organizing them, praising them, teaching them, and cleaning up after them. Just when I thought I was finally moving on, waves of nostalgia reminded me that my daughters, my shining achievements, were beginning to live very own lives.

    And yet, I happily fell into another nest when I remarried a decade later. My husband, Gerry was raising his then eight-year-old grandson. I found myself once more organizing summer camp schedules, arranging clothes in laundry baskets, writing constant reminders, and planning school break vacations to Disneyland. It all came back – like riding a bike – and I realized just how life-altering it can be, complete with the bumps, exhilaration, and bruises of the joyride.

    I’d like to think that an empty next this second time around will be liberating. It should be especially so as a senior citizen with retirement on the horizon in the coming decade. I wonder, however, how Gerry will adjust because he has had at least one child, and up to four, living in his home for over forty years.

    There are, of course, books written for empty nesters. Several of them focus positively on life for couples after parenthood such as Fun without Dick and Jane by Christie Mellor (2012). Mellor encourages parents to enjoy their newfound freedom while still urging their offspring to stay in touch (and even come home for the holidays.) Laughter and rediscovery are the two key messages here.

   A more sobering book of advice by David and Claudia Arp is Fighting for Your Empty Nest  Marriage (2000).  The Arps believe that the second stage of your marriage begins when your children move on to adulthood. At that point there are new issues of handling conflict and dealing with an empty household but still having new kinds of fun keeping your relationship strong.

    Not everyone is up for selling their home to “hit the highway”, but that is what David and Veronica James did when they abandoned the empty nest for an entirely new life. In Going Gypsy (2015), they recount their story of a new beginning of buying a used RV on eBay, and putting over 10,000 back road miles on it traveling across America.  They rediscovered their marriage along the way and still managed to nurture their relationships with relatives, especially with their three children.

   Parents are guided by books early – at the beginning of pregnancy through infancy through toddlerhood, and high school. There are books that help get your kids ready for college and others that help launch their successful lives such as Emptying the Nest by Brad Sachs, 2010.  Therapist Wendy Aronsson’s book, Refeathering the Empty Nest (2014) explores the empty nest syndrome for both mothers and fathers. It connects the dots – those between children leaving home and becoming adults.

   Most books on the subject are written for women. As mothers, we are the natural sufferers of the empty nest syndrome, particularly single mothers who find their lives suddenly silent. Holidays, especially, are either eerily quiet or confusingly chaotic.

   In The Empty Nest, edited by Karen Stabiner (2007), thirty-one parents “tell the truth about relationships, love, and freedom after children fly the coop.”  I remember a particularly harried day in my home with teenagers, backpacks, sleeping bags, Bagel Bites, and IGA root beer taking up every inch of space. It was a “Calgon, take me away” moment when I looked to the heavens and wished for the day when I would live alone. One essay in Stabiner’s book is titled “Careful what you wish for” and that message came back to haunt me time and time again.

   Compiling the stories of over 101 empty nesters, Chicken Soup for the Soul: Empty Nesters (2008) includes stories about both poignant tales of yearning for grown children and humorous accounts of enduring their visits.  Another book for single moms is Winging It by Catherine Goldhammer (2008). Rediscovering yourself at a time your children are discovering themselves is a unique experience.


   There are many great blog writers on sites (such as those on Divorced Moms dot com and Grown and Flown dot com) who are sharing their stories of the empty nest, including those of single mothers. If you need help compiling a list of resources whether they are websites, blogs, journal articles, or books, please call the library and speak with an Adult Services or Reference librarian. We’ll be more than happy to help you navigate this changing moment in your life.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Do You Believe In Magic?

Librarian April Cushing is head of Adult and Information Services at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read her column published in the March 5, 2015 issue of the Norwood Transcript & Bulletin.

It all started when my 29-year-old called in a panic asking if I had her college diploma. Having accepted a job in London, she had quit her current job, sublet her Brooklyn apartment, and applied for a visa to work abroad. Now she needed to provide proof that she had actually graduated.

I was pretty sure the document was stashed in one of the boxes of Abby’s stuff I had saved, along with multiple containers of memorabilia from my other three girls. While not exactly a hoarder, I seem to be incapable of discarding anything that might turn out to have some sentimental value during my children’s lifetimes, or possibly their descendants'. You just never know.

I hauled three dusty plastic bins upstairs and began excavating. Ambling down Memory Lane, I lost track of time fondly reliving my daughter’s youth. In addition to her first amusing attempts at writing and countless pieces of pre-school artwork, which all started looking surprisingly similar, I culled through photos, journals, school assignments, music programs, athletic awards, wallets, greeting cards, even a bartending course manual. Okay, maybe that could go. There was no diploma.

After much anguish on Abby’s part, the background checkers finally got confirmation of her B.A. from the college itself. They should have done this in the first place, rather than rely on the applicant to produce a piece of paper that could easily be falsified, but I didn’t mind. Having organized the bins more or less chronologically, I looked forward to doing the same for her sisters. How much of the contents, I wondered, would be of interest to anyone but me?

Soon afterwards I noticed a new book on the New York Times Bestseller list, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. Even the subtitle, “the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing,” was intriguing. Could I really change my life simply by becoming less of a packrat? Thats precisely what the author promises. By following the “KonMari Method”—a combination of her first and last names—you can successfully put your house in order, literally and figuratively.
Ive read a lot of self-help books, none of which Id call life-changing. This one sounded different. Kondo, who began tidying at age three, admitted to a less than auspicious start to her career. After downsizing her own possessions she proceeded to discard, at her discretion, those of her siblings, then denied doing so. You probably shouldn’t try this at home. Today she runs a very successful business in Japan with a three-month waiting list teaching her clients to de-clutter. There is evidently no shortage of untidy folks in Asia willing to pay big yen to have someone encourage them to just say no. Ms. Kondo, it appears, is cleaning up nicely.

Sort by category, not location, she suggests. Start with clothing, then progress to books, papers, miscellany, and finally objects of sentimental value, the hardest to part with. Pick up and examine each item you own, decide whether to keep or discard it by asking yourself if it brings you joy, then choose where to put what you’ve saved. Assessing how you feel about your belongings, expressing gratitude for those that have fulfilled their purpose and bidding them farewell, is really about examining your inner self and achieving a more fulfilling life.

Make tidying a special event, Kondo says, not a daily chore. She also believes in greeting your house each time you enter and storing your socks to give them a much-deserved rest from their labors. There is a cultural component to her advice that many Westerners may not identify with, but I found the way she approaches her belongings quite charming.

I embraced the spirit of the KonMari Method if not strictly the strategy, and began with the bottom dresser drawer in my bedroom. The results were so satisfying that I immediately moved on to one of the kitchen junk drawers that practically cried “clean me!” I even managed to toss a couple of things in the trash.

If you too have difficulty with discarding, check out “Dont Throw it Out” by Lori Baird and the editors of Yankee Magazine. It contains hundreds of clever, practical ways to make your possessions “live a long, hard-working life, saving you time, money, and frustration.” They left out guilt, but you get the gist.

Most other books on the subject don’t include tidying in the title. I paged through Susan West’s “Organize for a Fresh Start,” “Secrets of an Organized Mom” by Barbara Reich, “Organizing Hints & Tips” by Cassandra Kent, and “How to Organize Just About Everything” by the lone male, Peter Walsh. All offer a myriad of helpful hints but only Kondo claims that tidying transforms lives. Decluttering, she declares, will help you discover your true passions, gain confidence in making decisions, and experience greater happiness and good fortune. Besides a lot of detritus, what was there to lose by trying?

After my first legit bout of tidying I felt a profound sense of peace followed by a burst of energy. I even considered attacking the dreaded to-do list. It was crazy: I wanted to grab a brush and paint over the scuff marks on the stair risers, make that long-overdue appointment with the attorney, organize the photos gathering dust for decades, and call the friend I hadn’t seen in far too long. Did I actually do any of these things? Well no, but one of these days I might.

My oldest daughter will never pick up this book. Her apartment is already perpetually tidy. For her, cleaning is cathartic and living without clutter lets her relax, release stress, feel refreshed, and free herself to focus on other activities. Even I can relate, theoretically. Creating order out of chaos in your own little corner of the world can be wonderfully comforting and liberating.

So what do I really think of the KonMari method? Honestly? It’s pretty neat.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Up North or Down East in Maine

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Charlotte's column in the August 13, 2015 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.


    I moved away from Massachusetts as a young child and returned for a long visit at the age of 19. Here in New England as a young adult, the Boston Bruins and fried clams had me at hello. I also fell in love with a Boston boy, which I don’t entirely regret because he was the reason I returned to live in Massachusetts a year later.

    I quickly picked up New England slang and colloquiums like “packy” and “wicked” and “the Gahden.”  However, I never quite got the hang of “down Purity” or “down Zayre’s”.  It seemed a disgusting grammatical habit of my group of Bostonian relatives and friends to leave out the prepositions "to" or “at.” No one cared about my annoying complaints, though. Purity Supreme and Zayre’s eventually disappeared as they were swallowed up by competitors and the habit seemed to disappear with the 20th Century.

    Interestingly, another similar New England expression, “Downeast”, has a very valid explanation. According to Down East Magazine, ships sailing to ports in Maine from Boston were actually traveling downwind and to the east. (When they returned, they were sailing upwind to Boston and sailors might still say “up to Boston”.)

    Downeast, of course, technically refers to those destinations such as Calais, Bar Harbor, and Blue Hill, which are all very north of Portland. Today, however, Down East has been adopted by the entire coast and eastern portion of the state of Maine.

    I love Maine and have vacationed there for over 40 years.  We summer camped in the tiny, inland town of Waterford (near the exotic towns of Paris, Sweden, Norway, and Poland), and winter skied in resorts in Bethel and Stowe. While the entire coastal region, from Freeport to Kittery has become a favorite year-round destination, it’s the coastal city of Portland that’s won my heart over in the past decade. Did you know that another great city, Portland, Oregon, is named for Portland, Maine? One Francis W. Pettygrove bought half the town in Oregon and named it after his hometown, Portland, Maine.

    Maine’s largest city, Portland (with over 230 restaurants) is a delicious and delightful place to visit. Its cobblestoned streets on the waterfront, with restaurants galore, has a nightlife unrivaled in any season.  Portland just might be New England’s city-that-never-sleeps (although there’s hardly a comparison to the Big Apple.)

    My favorite restaurant in Portland is the tiny, 32-seat Duckfat. There is lots of hype, but Duckfat is worth the inevitable wait and the long line. Much of its menu, from the Belgian fries to the Poutine with a sunny side egg, is made with delicious duck fat. Everything is made in-house, and practically all of the ingredients are from local farms and vendors. If you get to Duckfat before their 11:30 am opening, you will find a spot to squeeze into or sit outside in good weather. They have a killer beer list at their teeny bar, and their blueberry milkshake is to die for.

    I have other haunts in Portland but driving north to Freeport is another adventure.  My favorites include the Maine Beer Company (a yummy Pale Ale called A Tiny Beautiful Something) and the Mother of Purl Yarn Shop just on the southern outskirts.

    A book written by bloggers Jillian and Malcolm Bedell, Eating in Maine (2014) is written for those wanting recipes from New England, for those looking for reviews of Maine’s best restaurants, and also for those seeking a travel guide for foodies winding their way up and down Maine’s roads. Their blog, (From Away dot com), lists their top places to each pizza, breakfast sandwiches, and lobster rolls in Portland.

    Another food lovers’ guide is Portland Food by Kate McCarty (2014). Another food writer (she blogs on MaineEater dot com), McCarty claims Portland as the culinary capital of Maine. With half a million people living in this metro area, there are many of them to wine and dine using the local bounty from fisheries and sustainable farming and agriculture.

    So, there’s more to do in Portland and Maine than eat, of course. There are breweries, distilleries and wineries galore, many of them along the coast, but still others inland. There are also many other adventures in 100 Things to Do in Portland Before You Die (2015). Author Bob Witkowski started with over 265 things and whittled it down to 100.  He claims the Holy Donut’s dark chocolate sea salt dunker is authentically Maine. But there is more than donuts and lobster rolls on this list. Celebrations and events are listed, as are wine bars and concert venues.

    If you want to get out of the city of Portland, AMC’s Best Day Hikes along the Maine Coast was published just months ago in April 2015. Carey Kish includes advice in the four-season guide and narrows it down to “50 of the best trails from Maine beaches to Downeast.” Trail maps are included and lots of details for safe hiking in the state where the Appalachian Trail terminates at Mt. Katahdin.

    Of course, if you’d rather travel in an easy chair, you can choose to read the fully-annotated of Henry David Thoreau’s The Maine Woods.  It was edited by my fellow librarian and friend, Jeffrey Cramer, director of the Thoreau Institute Library in Lincoln, MA.  “On the 3rd of August 1846, I left Concord in Massachusetts for Bangor and the backwoods of Maine,” wrote Thoreau. The wilderness of Maine enchanted Thoreau probably more than the coastal towns of Downeast.


   So, it’s agreed.  Both the woods and the towns and cities of Maine are treasures of New England.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Wait! I Need to Finish Procrastinating

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Charlotte's column in the August 6, 2015 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.


I don’t remember exactly when I recognized one of my most annoying behavioral traits, procrastination. In all likelihood, I picked the horrid habit up as a child or teenager. It wasn’t until I was in college, however, that I truly realized it was plaguing my life.

In college, most of us seemed to fall into two camps.  There were those who had their papers stacked up in advance all semester, ready to hand in on the due date.  And, there were those of us who wait until the last day, hour, or minute. I genuinely admired the first type and identified with the second.

I’m the one who burned (and continues to burn) the midnight oil. Or to be more exact, I’m the one who rises to get my work done before the birds are awake. Luckily, I hit the ground running when I wake up in the wee hours, and I do my best work very early. However, I am constantly berating myself for leaving my professional or academic work until the last minute.

While I have been writing this column, I’ve taken breaks to empty dishwasher, write a few lists, check on a multitude of emails, and straighten the linen closet. All worthy tasks, but certainly not with the same deadline or importance.

“I work best under pressure.”  “I’m maximizing my creativity.”  “I always get it done in the end.” “I excel at multi-tasking.”

Those are the delusionary excuses most procrastinators come up with to justify the underlying problem of what can often is self-sabotage. There are few benefits of procrastination. Is my sharpest writing done under pressure? Probably not. Am I choosing between the task that’s most important or least important? Not really. Am I managing my time most efficiently and effectively? Certainly not.

I have no idea when procrastination was officially defined as a behavior. Perhaps writers Shakespeare and artists Rembrandt put off their least favorite projects for those they enjoyed more. Procrastination involves more than professional and creative tasks like writing and creating, however. Many of us put off personal tasks like paying the bills or beginning meaningful conversations. We avoid health issues and delay decisions. It can be an annoyance, or it can be a dangerous practice that keeps us from success and self-actualization.

There is a plethora of books written to help the chronic procrastinator and Minuteman libraries, and ours in Norwood, have them on the shelves. They are in a variety of formats, both in print and audio.

A title that pokes a bit of fun at the serious problem of procrastination is John Perry’s The Art of Procrastination (2012).  Perry claims his book is an effective guide to dawdling, lollygagging and postponing as a means “to get things done.” Perry tells us that we should recognize that there are some power people out there who have no problem creating and producing – such as Hillary Clinton and Bill Gates.  But, Perry argues, the majority of the rest of us can use avoidance and get the creative juices flowing to get some innovative work done. In fact, Perry, claims that as a “structured procrastinator” he wrote his book while avoiding other deadlines. His book is available in both print and audio format for the must-productive multi-tasker.

A recent audiobook is available in the Morrill Memorial Library Hoopla! catalog is Lee Pulos’ Stop Procrastination (April 2015). Dr. Pulos uses the visualization technique and promises to help you prioritize your projects, stay focused, and finally complete the most important tasks through self-hypnosis.

A book previously titled The Procrastinator’s Digest by Dr. Timothy Pychyl has been republished as Solving the Procrastination Puzzle (2013). It’s a short book of just over 100 pages that explain and describe why we procrastinate and why we are self-saboteurs even while we have the best intentions. Of course, a self-help book would not be particularly useful without suggestions for changing our thinking and our behavior. Pychyl has all of those, of course.

Anxiety and a feeling of being overwhelmed can be a cause of procrastination for even those less inclined to habitual procrastination. We all know that worry does absolutely no good in any circumstance.  The longest-living incumbent Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso or the fourteenth) advises “There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”

Now, procrastinators may beg to differ. After all, we exclaim, it is fear of failure and fear of missing a deadline that fires us up! Yet, in The Worriers Guide to Overcoming Procrastination, authors Kevin Gyoerkoe and Pamela Wiegartz claim that it is that anxiety that holds us back and causes us to feel guilty all the time – even when we are attempting to do other things, like have fun and relax. Negative energy, Gyoerkoe and Wiegartz say, are fueling the anxiety, and we will all be better off without it. The problem is that many of us know only the positive results of getting something done immediately before a deadline.

In The Thief of Time (edited by Chrisoula Andreou and Mark White), many essayists consider such philosophical questions as whether procrastination is the result of a lack of willpower or lack of planning. Identifying a problem is often the beginning of change and perhaps understanding your personal behavior can help.

Other helpful books are The Seven Secrets of the Prolific by Hillary Rettig and Get it Done (in 15 minutes a day) by Sam Bennett. Helping the problem before it gets started in childhood is the subject The Everything Parent’s Gide to Children with Executive Functioning Disorder (2014) by Rebecca Branstetter. Time management skills, effective organization, good memorization, and clear concentration are all helpful components of success throughout the school year and life.

Of course, I’ve meant to do something about my bad habit of procrastination.  But, I’ve been putting it off.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Hearing the Call

Nancy Ling is an Outreach Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read the published version of Nancy Ling's column in the July 30, 2015 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

When my oldest daughter was four year’s old she informed us that she wanted to be an ornithologist when she grew up. I’m not sure where she learned that word, probably from her favorite television show at the time, Blue’s Clues, but I do know that she loved birds from early on. Soon her little sister caught the passion too. Rather than collecting American Girl or Barbie dolls, it was the Audubon toy birds that filled our house.
You’ve probably seen these stuffed birds in a variety of stores. My girls loved to squeeze each bird’s belly to hear its individual song. As parents, we never minded the girls saving their funds in order to add the next bird to add to their collection. At least they were learning about nature while playing. More than this, the reward came when walking outdoors together. When we heard a sound like birdie birdie birdie, our girls would turn their heads, invariably one of them saying “Mama, there’s the Cardinal.”
Thinking about it, this love of birds runs deep in our family. In my own childhood, I remember regular walks with my Auntie Babe on a farm in Connecticut. With our mucks on and binoculars in hand, we’d stop in the middle of the field, and wait. Often Auntie Babe would place her hand on my shoulder, and place her finger on her lips for quiet. I have a distinct memory of catching sight of a Gray Jay, instead of the run of the mill Blue Jay. The date of that sighting is marked in my aunt’s Bird Guide by Chester A. Reed that I still own.  One of my saddest memories is the day that we moved my aunt into a nursing home. Her dementia had been progressing and yet, when I peeked inside her field guide, I saw a question mark above the Summer Tanager. She had marked it several months before this transition in her life. When I visited her at the home, I’d always find her in the parlor, looking out at the bird feeder. Once a birder, always a birder.
And that brings the question to mind. . .Who is a birder? Certainly, my aunt fit the definition but, as it turns out, you might be considered a birder too? According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 2006 survey, there were 48 million birdwatchers or birders, 16 years of age and older, in the United States—about 21 percent of the population. Holy crow! That’s a lot of birders. As the survey states: “To be counted as a birder, an individual must have either taken a trip one mile or more from home for the primary purpose of observing birds and/or closely observed or tried to identify birds around the home. Thus, people who happened to notice birds while they were mowing the lawn or picnicking at the beach were not counted as birders. Trips to zoos and observing captive birds also did not count.” Turns out there’s a whole lot of birding going on.
What is it about our fine feathered friends that can make our heart beat faster, or the movement of wings that stops us in our tracks? For some it’s the sheer fascination with creation, for others it’s the love of the “hunt” or the search for the next bird on the list. Recently I was at my in-law’s home in San Francisco. I’ve always been fascinated by the backyard which abuts the guest room window where I stay. Previously this was a well-loved yard. While the property is no bigger than a postage stamp, the older man who lived there was meticulous at pruning his fruit trees, and tending his rose bushes. Even now, if the wind blows just right, I can catch the intoxicating aroma of his white roses and yet, the man is long gone. Instead the yard is unkempt and the grass is as dry as straw. Still, when I looked into his yard this summer, I caught sight of a chartreuse-colored hummingbird with a grayish underpining. Upon returning home, I took out our library’s handy book Hummingbirds: a Life-size Guide to Every Species by Michael Fogden, Marianne Taylor and Sheri L. Williamson (foreward by Pete Dunne). After flipping through the pages, I discovered the more common Anna’s Hummingbird was the very creature I’d caught sight of in that rundown yard.
I also discovered some helpful websites regarding hummingbirds and birds in general. http://www.hummingbirds.net is a good resource, but if you want to join a group of like-minded observers, the bird forum (http://www.birdforum.net) provides blogs and gallery and a forum. It’s the net’s largest birding community, dedicated to wild birds and birding, and it’s free. To view more fantastic photographs online, check out 10,000 Birds (http://10000birds.com). On this site, you can view other people’s lists of bird sightings, plus there’s a fabulous category called “Trips” where you can browse to see vacation plans for bird lovers. Likewise, don’t forget www.birds.cornell.edu for photos and detailed descriptions of birds and their habitats.
When I checked out the section in our library for birding (598), I was pleasantly surprised as well. There isn’t any shortage on books regarding this subject. Of course we have the classics like Birds of North American by Kenn Kaufman and David Allen Sibley’s resource called Sibley’s Birding Basics. However, there are some different takes on the topic as well. For example, if you don’t think that you will be traveling much but you still want to observe bird life, a great resource is a book called the Audubon North American Birdfeeder Guide. As the book flap says this is “the perfect companion for all enthusiastic home birdwatchers.” While profiles of many birds are included, there are also practical tips for having backyard success, like which type of food and plant works best for attracting the type of bird that you’re hoping to spy in your area.
Then again, if this whole birding thing seems a bit overwhelming, How to Be a (Bad) Birdwatcher by Simon Barnes may be your cup of tea. Told in a funny and irreverent way, Barnes details his early failings as a novice birdwatcher. He says “That’s the trouble with birds: they very rarely stand still while you count their feathers and thumb through your field guide.” Isn’t that the truth! And, as he points out, “You get resentful. What business have these birds in being so ludicrously numerous? Why are there so many different species? What’s the point, other than to confuse people who want to become bad birdwatchers?” On the positive side, Barnes reassures the reader, if you can tell the difference between a swan and a duck, you are off to a good start.

Really, that’s the beauty of birding. One can begin at any point, even while having a lunch outside on a park bench. Like my now-teenaged daughters, you, too, may have heard the call, and caught the bug. After all it’s next to impossible to remain indifferent to a bird song. Wouldn’t you agree?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Monkey Bars and Rope Swings Just Got Real

Liz Reed is the Adult and Information Services Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Liz's column in the July 23, 2015 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.


“Ah-roo!” “Ah-roo!” This is the call-and-response chant of modern day Spartans, as heard by yours truly several weeks ago in Barre, MA.  I accompanied my boyfriend to his first-ever Spartan race on a farm in Barre where he scaled greased walls, carried boulders, crawled under barbed wire, and ran about 8 miles with over 2,100 other racers. About 5,000 Spartans raced in Barre over the course of the weekend.
            Spartan Race is one form of Obstacle Course Race (OCR). Other popular OCR events include: Tough Mudder, and other mud runs; BattleFrog; CrossFit Games; Ironman; Ultraman; Peak Races; Death Race; and weekend warriors. The sport is growing in popularity so quickly that by the end of this summer, I wouldn’t be surprised to see new forms of OCR springing up. According to journalist Erin Beresini in her book about her immersion in the world of endurance racing, “Off Course: Inside the Mad, Muddy World of Obstacle Course Racing”: “Obstacle course racing is the fastest-growing sport in U.S. history. Every week, thousands of marathoners, CrossFitters, and casual weekend warriors shell out money to run through mud and fire, crawl under barbed wire, scramble over ten-foot walls, and dodge baton-wielding gladiators. They are a new wave of athlete for whom running thirteen or twenty-six miles just isn’t enough. They crave a primal challenge…”  The USA Obstacle Racing Association (www.obstacleusa.com) estimates that over 400 obstacle racing events are produced in the United States, and almost half that number are produced in other countries.
            OCR appeals to many different people on many different levels. For one thing, not all OCR events are technically races. Many mud runs, for instance, are not timed events, so there is no competitive pressure to finish as fast as you can. You can instead take the course at your own pace, meaning that more people of varying abilities can take part, and you don’t necessarily need to train for months and months to make it through. Spartan Race, although it’s a timed race, offers different levels of racing depending on your preference. The Spartan Sprint is 3+ miles with 20+ obstacles, the Spartan Super is 8+ miles with 25+ obstacles, the Spartan Beast is 13+ miles with 30+ miles, and the Spartan Ultra Beast is 26+ miles and 60+ obstacles. Joe De Sena, co-founder of Spartan Race, includes a disclaimer in the front of his book, “Spartan Up! A Take-No-Prisoners Guide to Overcoming Obstacles and Achieving Peak Performance in Life,” that “living a Spartan lifestyle, although rewarding, can be dangerous and should be considered carefully.” As someone who lived with a Spartan-in-training for months, I can attest that those training for a Spartan race work and train extremely hard. In the end, the Spartan experience is worth all the pain, but the work to get there can be grueling.
            As Beresi points out, OCR also has great appeal as a way to reject organized sports as we know them. While OCR courses do have some rules, there is not a large governing body in place to regulate everything about the sport in the same way as in professional basketball or soccer, for instance. Psychologists also theorize that OCR attracts thrill-seekers and risk-takers, people who crave novelty and variety.
            In addition, OCR tends to attract military types, and not without good reason. Sponsorship of OCR has become big business, with the US armed forces spending millions of dollars on sponsorships annually, according to Beresi. OCR satisfies racers’ curiosity about military life, providing an environment of camaraderie and extreme athleticism similar to that of the military, but without the dangers of the battlefield; BattleFrog courses are even designed by current and former Navy SEALs. Meanwhile, sponsorship gives armed forces recruiters direct connections with potential recruits.
Camaraderie may be one of the strongest draws for some participants in OCR. Unlike traditional racing, you’re not in it alone. People can and often do compete as a team, helping each other through and over obstacles. Strangers stop to help each other and shout encouragement. One the day my boyfriend raced in Barre, a team of coworkers and friends were racing with a man in a wheelchair. This team carried their friend on their shoulders through mud pits, over walls, and across water obstacles. As De Sena writes, “Spartans help each other, and no Spartan gets left behind.”

Beresini’s and De Sena’s books are great places to start to learn more about Spartan Race and OCR in general. “Learning to Breath Fire: The Rise of CrossFit and the Primal Future of Fitness” by J.C. Herz is a good overview of the history and current state of CrossFit. On our website, type “obstacle course racing” or “Spartan race” into the Search the Catalog box. Click on the Articles and Reviews tab to find articles and even videos related to OCR. According to my very own Spartan, http://www.spartan.com/ and http://obstacleracingmedia.com/ are very useful websites. Ah-roo!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Tackling the Appalachian Trail

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Charlotte's column in the July 16, 2015 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

 This past weekend, an ultra-marathoner (41-year old Scott Jurek of Boulder, Colorado) finished “hiking” all 2,189 miles of the Appalachian Trail. His journey ended at Mount Katahdin in Baxter, State Park, Maine. Katahdin.

What makes his hike unusual is the fact that he finished in the fastest time ever – 46 days, 8 hours, and 8 minutes. He averaged 50 miles per day, beginning on Springer Mountain in Georgia on a day in mid-spring, May 27. Katahdin means “the greatest mountain” and the hike ends in Maine in what is called the One Hundred Mile Wilderness.

 I once fancied hiking the Appalachian Trail – an entirely unrealistic journey for me. It was fun dreaming, though, and I took books out of the library and briefly charted a course until I remembered that I didn’t really like to hike.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Hot and Steamy Reader's Advisory

Read Kate Tigue's column in the July 9, 2015 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin. Kate is a Children's Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library.

After a long and dreary winter, the hot weather we thought would never arrive is here!  It’s July and that means the dog days of summer are right around the corner.  And whether (get it?!?) or not we realize it, many of us change our reading habits with the change in weather (ha, I can’t stop!).  Some of us eschew heavier tomes and gravitate towards light beach reads.  Others (like myself) use the summer to catch up on books we’ve wanted to read, the ones we never seem to get to during the rest of the year.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

First Place Ribbon!

We are proud to report that on May 4, 2015 the Morrill Memorial Library's submission to the Massachusetts Library Association 2013-2014 Public Relations Awards won first place in the "News" categories. A representative 24 columns from 2013 and 2014 were submitted. They were written by Marg Corjay, Shelby Warner, Nancy Ling, Diane Phillips, Brian Samek, Bonnie Wyler, Marie Lydon, Norma Logan, Allison Palmgren, April Cushing, Liz Reed, Kate Tigue, Jillian Goss, and Charlotte Canelli.

Little Golden Books Old and New Again

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Charlotte's column in the July 2, 2015 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

As a former children’s librarian, a mother to three daughters, and a grandmother to a brood of grandchildren, I can’t imagine life without shelves of books for children. Hundreds of picture books are published every year, and libraries have the challenge of fitting them on the shelves of their children’s rooms. In libraries like ours in Norwood, we often have to defer to a one-in, one-out policy which means “weeding out” the worn and unread books to fit the new. It sometimes breaks our hearts to withdraw a lovely book that hasn’t acquired the following that some of the newest books have.

As a very young child, my family treasured reading and books. I don’t remember my own experiences reading many picture books, though. Besides our well-worn copy of Make Way for Ducklings (published in 1941), and my mother’s own copies of Raggedy Ann and Raggedy Andy, not many children’s books made our family’s cross-country move with in the late 1950s.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Don't Use Your Face as a Brake Pad

Read Alli Palmgren's column in the June 25, 2015 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin. Alli is the Technology Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library.

Bicycles are my thing. For years, I raced almost every weekend from April to January in whatever discipline that season offered: road, cyclocross, XC mountain biking, and track. Racing has given me my friends, my health, my identity, and my husband (we met at a bike industry Christmas party, but that is a story for another day).

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Sun Tzu and the Art of War

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Charlotte's column in the June 18, 2015 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

I love lists. I’m always drawn to lists like “The Ten Best Movies for a Rainy Afternoon” or “A Hundred Things to Organize Before You Retire.” I especially like lists of books because, well, mainly because I’m a librarian, and that’s my job. I’ve always been curious about a title that appears on most lists of “books you must not miss.” I read many classics as a child and college student, but I was never required to read, or never was introduced to, the military classic of all time. The Art of War, by military general and philosopher, Sun Tzu was written sometime around 522-496 B.C. I must confess, I managed to avoid reading The Art of War until this past year until it was assigned reading for a master’s of public administration course in strategic leadership.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Little House in the Woods

Diane Phillips is the Technical Services Librarian at the Morrill Memorial Library.  Read Diane's  column in the June 11, 2015 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

 A few months ago, on a chilly spring night, my family and I were looking for something interesting to watch on TV. We stumbled across Treehouse Masters with Pete Nelson and his crew. We’d never seen an episode before but were intrigued by the premise of a professional treehouse builder and curious to see what he’d build. After watching a few episodes, we were all having the same idea: we need a treehouse in our backyard!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

50 Years Plus of Beatlemania

Charlotte Canelli is the library director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, Massachusetts. Read Charlotte's column in the June 4, 2015 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

One day, a few years ago, I found my diary from 1965 and I chuckled at the entry from a day in late summer. “Went to the movies and saw Help!  I LOVE Paul” it read. That Paul, of course, was Paul McCartney, the cutest Beatle, in my opinion.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Volunteers Make a Difference

Norma Logan is the Literacy Coordinator at the Morrill Memorial Library. Read Norma Logan's column in the May 28, 2015 edition of the Norwood Transcript and Bulletin.

Most people think of volunteerism in conjunction with hospitals, the Red Cross, animal shelters, or overseas agencies.  There are many more volunteer opportunities than these and varied reasons for people who seek them out.  I am interested in volunteerism because I train and work with literacy volunteers in the Literacy Volunteer Program at the Norwood Library, and I, myself, was once a volunteer tutor.

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, Vicki Andrilenas 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.