CWW: BJ’s Wholesale Club

On Sunday morning, before we headed out for church, my husband asked me if we could pick up a few things from BJ’s that afternoon.

“Of course!”  I said.  “That’s an easy blog post!  Let’s bring the camera.”

So, of course, we forgot the camera, and he complained that he didn’t think BJ’s was worthy of a blog post because it isn’t actually that “cheap.”

Which begs the question: if my husband, the cheapest Yankee I know, doesn’t consider BJ’s cheap, why do we have a membership?

He has been able to get a $20 BJ’s membership through his former employer for years.  He goes to BJ’s once a month and buys the things that are great to buy in bulk and are a pretty good balance of price and quality (toilet paper, paper towels, dog food, cat food) and other things that are cheaper than buying in stores (diapers, contact lens solution).  It would not be worth it for us if we were paying the standard $45 membership fee.  (As a complete aside, I recall reading in the Wall Street Journal a few years back that the vast majority of warehouse/wholesale club profits are in the membership fees, because there’s very little markup on the actual products.)

We’re not the kind of people who buy 10-pound blocks of cheese or monster boxes of Twix, but every once in a while we find something really good.  We bought nearly all the laminate flooring for our house at BJ’s, at a pretty good price; we found a really great set of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer toys that our son loves; they usually have pretty good veggie burgers in bulk.  But, on the whole, we tend to have pretty targeted buying and stick to our relatively narrow shopping path.

If we didn’t have dogs, cats, and a child in diapers, I’m not even sure the $20 membership fee would be worth it.  (We use cloth diapers at home and disposable diapers when we go out, so we tend not to use as many disposables as the average family.  I was thinking of writing about cloth diapering, but then my husband gave me that “if Nicholson Baker knocks on our door, he can have you” look, so unless I get a big request to talk about modern-day cloth diapering, I will restrain myself.)

Does anyone else have a BJ’s membership?  Do you find that it’s worth it?

Interview with Joy Hennig, Worcester Collection Librarian

I had the great pleasure to speak with Joy Hennig, the Worcester Collection librarian, a couple of weeks ago, and here are some of the highlights of our conversation.  I wasn’t able to speak with her as much as I would have liked (because I had other people to talk to and because I had to return to the job that pays the bills) but I hope to speak to her again another time.

Joy Hennig was a history major and focused on archives for her MLS. She moved into mainstream libraries, and was a Young Adult librarian for many years before coming back to archives, when this position opened.

Her job involves two major components:

  1. Local History: government documents, town histories; the primary focus is the City of Worcester, followed by Worcester County, Massachusetts, etc.
  2. Genealogy: databases, collections of historic birth records, census records back to 1790 on microfilm

Joy offers a lot of classes about researching genealogy, like Genealogy and the Internet and It’s All Relative (an introduction to the library’s resources).  When I spoke with her, she’d offered a class called Crossing the Pond, which was specifically about immigration and naturalization research, and which drew over twenty people.

In October 2009, the library hosted SWEGDEN 2009 Research Day, which was devoted to research into Swedish ancestors.  This was in addition to the many classes she teaches on resources specific to other ethnicities (Finding Your French-Canadian Ancestors, Finding Your New England Yankee Ancestors).  This year, she’ll be offering a program specifically about Irish ancestors, as some of those materials can present a lot of challenges for researchers.

She especially enjoys preparing for new classes, because (as those of us who have taught know all too well) the best way to learn material is to have to prepare to teach it to someone else.

Digitization of Worcester Historical Data
One of my special interests was what plans, if any, they had for digitizing any of the records in the Worcester Room. Joy said that many of the print materials have been digitized (though not necessarily by the Worcester Public Library).

If she had her choice, the top two collections she would like digitized would be:

  1. A publication called Worcester Magazine, published by the Board of Trade from 1902-1913. (See here for an example of the publication.)  Joy also noted that some of the pictures in Digital Treasures come from that Worcester Magazine, like this picture of Union Station, this of students at the Worcester Art Museum, and this of the original WPL.
  2. Their one-of-a-kind clipping file.

(So, if anyone’s got a friend at the Google Libraries project, or has a burning yen to digitize magazines, let Joy know!)