Recycling of a different sort

Readers of this blog are undoubtedly aware that there are bookcases at Union Station where commuters can find some reading material for their trip to/from Boston.  We call it the “Give and Take“, though more folks take than give.

Usually it’s books that are on the shelves, since that’s most of what is donated to the Friends of Worcester Public Library.  Many places don’t accept donations of magazines or other media, but these are often perfect for the Union Station bookcase, as a magazine is lightweight and one or two would be ideal to kill some time en route to points east.

Rather than put your magazines in a curbside recycling bin each week, why not save them and donate them to the “Give and Take” at Union Station?  That way, others can enjoy them as well before they’re finally ground up for reuse.  You can bring them there yourself, or if you’re in the greater Worcester area, contact this blog to make arrangements to have them picked up.

A big batch of magazines was donated lat week!

A big batch of magazines was donated last week!

And although not terribly useful on the commute, we’ve had donations of audio cassettes, audio books, CDs, DVDs & VHS videos that, when left on the shelves, are quickly scooped up by travelers, presumably for enjoyment at home.  If you’ve got these sorts of things collecting dust in some corner, gather them up and let us find them a new home!

(And many thanks to Cathy Walsh’s husband Paul for the generous donations to these shelves a few weeks ago!)

Worcester Public Library Board Opening

There is an opening on the Worcester Public Library board for Dante Comparetto’s old seat (term expires in December 2015).

If you’d like to serve on the WPL board but do not want to make a commitment for the full six years, this is your chance!

If you’re interested in applying, the city clerk will need to receive your letter of intent and resume to by Friday, June 13 at noon.

For more information about the process, please read this flyer.

If you have any questions about the process, send Jim an email.

(I will not be applying as I would need to step down from my position on the WPL Friends Board, and I would also like to serve out my term on the Hope Cemetery Commission.)

CWW: Friends of Worcester Public Library book sale

On Friday, May 16, and Saturday, May 17, from 10am-4pm in the Saxe Room at the main branch of Worcester Public Library, the Friends of WPL will hold our Spring book sale.

Just as George Russell is your city councilor (no matter where you live), the Friends of Worcester Public Library are your friends whether or not you live in Worcester.

When you pay (incredibly low) yearly dues to the Friends, or make book donations, or purchase from the Food for Thought Cafe and Bookstore, or buy bags full of books at our book sales, you support the Friends’ many programs, including museum passes and the Give and Take bookcase at Union Station.

So come on down and buy a lot of books.  If you come on Saturday between 2-4pm, I’ll be working the sale and will talk to you about anything you want (as long as “anything you want” involves street signs or the finer plot points of Knots Landing.)


New Head Librarian

I haven’t been paying as much attention to the search for a new head librarian as I would have liked.

I will put a disclaimer on this post that I will likely repeat again: while I serve on the board of the Friends of Worcester Public Library, the opinions below are mine and mine alone, and do not reflect those of my beloved Friends:

Worcester Magazine and the Telegram [$] both report that the Worcester Public Library board has appointed a new head librarian, Christopher Korenowsky.  (Here’s an interview with him when he became head of the New Haven Free Public Library, a position he resigned from last month.)

Korenowsky will be the fourth head librarian WPL has had in as many years.  I do not want to be writing a blog post next year that says, once again, that it would be great to have a head librarian who lasts more than a year and a half.

The Worcester Public Library is at a stable spot at present, but the head librarian faces numerous challenges in the coming years.

While we will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Frances Perkins (Greendale) Branch Library on Friday, we should not forget that of the three branch libraries Andrew Carnegie laid the cornerstone for in Worcester in 1913, only one — FPBL — is still actively used as a library.  Main South branch is now condos; Quinsigamond is now part of the school.

While we do have three other branches — Great Brook Valley, Roosevelt, and Tatnuck — and another (Goddard) scheduled to open in April, Roosevelt, Tatnuck, and Goddard (as well as Burncoat, whenever that happens) are sponsored by private entities for a period of three years.  Whether those private entities will continue to sponsor those branches after that period is something that should concern the head librarian, as well as an increased emphasis on outside organizations (through PILOT and donations through the Worcester Public Library Foundation) on funding what should be operational expenses (Sunday openings, branch libraries, etc.).

While all this is going on, there are also the larger questions of the relevance of the public library in our world, what services the library should provide to patrons, and how the library can continue to be a resource for all of us.

All of this gets interrupted when we don’t have steady, committed leadership — on the city side and on the library side.  Let’s hope we get a new city manager who’s committed to library services, and a new head librarian who can stick around long enough to see some of this stuff happen.

The giving and the taking

Thanks to a donor from Natick, the “Give and Take” bookcases at Union Station are full this week:

G and T bookcases

As some of you may recall, the Friends of the Worcester Public Library started this service for commuters two years ago, providing books that they could borrow or keep, so that their train commute might be spent reading.

Lately there’s been much more taking than giving.  Ideally, we’d love to keep these bookcases full all the time with an interesting selection of books, but when fewer people are returning or donating books, the shelves start to look a bit bare.  The volunteers of the Friends of WPL send a few boxes over every week, but sometimes it’s hard to keep those shelves full.

If you have any unwanted books, please consider dropping them off at the Give and Take bookcases on the 2nd floor of Union Station.  (And you can read this post for more ideas for how to help.)

Carolann MacMaster, Library Superstar

In case you missed it, the Telegram reported that Carolann MacMaster, the new library director at the Uxbridge Free Public Library had to justify the need for a fire escape (to make the third floor more accessible) and, indeed, the existence of fiction.

The primary opponent seems to have been selectman Peter Baghdasarian, who said, “If you think about it, why do people go to libraries? They want to get a bestseller and they don’t want to pay for it.”

The Telegram reported that “Mr. Baghdasarian said libraries were intended for education but now, he claimed, they were primarily for entertainment; he said 75 percent of the circulation was fiction. He also said there used to be a rule that one had to check out two nonfiction books for every fictional work.”

Despite what Mr. Baghdasarian thinks, people go to the library to do genealogical research, to assist with job searches, to learn English or another language, to read periodicals and become better-informed citizens, and — gasp! — to be entertained.

Library directors should not be in the position to defend fiction, which has been acknowledged by most humans as something worth reading for at least four thousand years.  But I’m very glad Ms. MacMaster defended not only the right of people to read fiction (!) but the concept of the public library.  Thank you!  People of Uxbridge, you have got yourselves a gem!

MassLive has many gift-that-keeps-on-giving quotes, including:

Personally, Baghdasarian said his home library has more than 4,000 books, many of which were purchased from libraries clearing their shelves of little-used titles. He doesn’t have much use for fiction, though.

“Napoleon is always Napoleon, but in a fiction book the names are all different, so I can’t retain them,” he said.

Imagine: a library of thousands of books, all about Napoleon.  A girl can dream!

T&G commenter TFW put it best:

“I remember when libraries only carried nonfiction books,” said Peter Baghdasarian who is 4000 years old and originally hails from Sumeria. “Ever since Gilgamesh was chiseled, education has gone downhill.” 

He then continued, “And don’t get me started on this ‘paper’ business.”

Tickets for Tanglewood Marionettes available on Monday at the library

The Worcester Public Library is going to host Tanglewood Marionettes’ production of Sleeping Beauty on Monday, December 30 at 1pm and 3pm.

Tickets for the show are required and available FREE at the Children’s Room Desk, starting tomorrow, Monday, December 16 until they are gone.

I cannot recommend Tanglewood Marionettes enough. If there is a child in your life between the ages of 4 and 10, and you’re looking for something to do during Christmas vacation week — get over to the main branch and pick up tickets, because they go fast!

The program is sponsored by the Friends of WPL.  Among other things, the Friends provide museum passes to the public and sponsor many children’s programs.  If you attend the marionette show, or if you use the museum passes, consider joining the Friends so that they can continue to offer these kinds of programs in the future.