Head Librarian’s Report for October 2011

Youth Services Division Report: October 2011

Fall programming for both teens and children is well launched.  Our first two gaming sessions for children were modestly attended.  The kids were great about taking turns and working with Children’s Room staff as we work out logistics for running several gaming sessions simultaneously.  Many thanks to the Friends for game equipment and to Joel for patiently teaching staff to change the AV settings in the program room!

The generosity of the Friends of Worcester Public Library allowed the Children’s Room to host a balloon artist on Sundae Sunday, October 16th.  Nathan Murphy, a UMass student from Granby, wowed children and parents alike as he created an original balloon sculpture for each child, on demand.  Nathan, aka Mr. Balloon, overstayed his contracted time so as to leave no child without a balloon sculpture.

Terry Popek has started booktalking visits to Worcester schools interested in participating in the 2011-2012 Massachusetts Children’s Book Award.  Terry presents a book talk for each of the 25 titles nominated this year at each school visit.  In addition, Terry started the monthly discussions of MCBA books on October 26th with a student selected title, The Prince of Fenway Park by J. Baggott.  Pat Avis, Venerini school librarian, brought a student to the discussion and wrote, “Thank you for the fabulous Prince of Fenway Park book discussion.  You planned such a terrific event.  Your baseball game was really fun and of course the snacks were a huge home run!  Simon just beamed telling his classmates about all the fun he had at the library!” Continue reading

Library Board Openings

From the City Hall Notebook:

The City Council is looking for candidates to fill two upcoming vacancies on the Worcester Public Library’s board of directors.

The council will be electing the two new members at its next meeting Tuesday night.

So far, only two residents have applied for the positions. Interested residents have until noon on Friday to file a letter of interest and resume with the city clerk so they can be considered for the openings.

The city clerk will accept letters of interest and resumes via e-mail at: clerk@worcesterma.gov; via fax at: (508) 799-1194; or through the mail at: City Clerk, Room 206, City Hall, 455 Main St., Worcester, 01608-1889.

Letters of interest and resumes can also be hand-delivered to the city clerk’s office in City Hall during regular business hours from 8:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.

All applicants must be residents of Worcester.

The library board has 12 members who serve six-year terms. Two openings come up on the board every year.

There are also lots of openings on city boards and commissions.  Next hearing is December 7.

Recap for the liveblog-phobic

(Jeremy’s liveblog; Lee Hammel’s article)

There was a gentleman who sat in front of me in the gallery last night.  He, like me, lives in the neighborhood near 1398 Main Street.  He, unlike me, was opposed to the proposed triage center there. 

He overheard me talking with Jo Hart and proclaimed that I was “his kind of girl” because I sounded like I didn’t take crap from anyone.

When those who opposed the 1398 Main Street site tried to shout down Barbara Haller, he told the folks nearest him that that was inappropriate behavior for the Council chamber.  That took guts, even for someone on their side.  He was my kind of guy.

So much of the debate surrounding the proposed triage center has involved folks shouting others down (and worse).  I’d like to thank that gentleman for reminding me that folks can disagree without being disagreeable, and that people like us can shake hands at the end of a hearing.

Yes, the triage center will be moving to 701 Main Street.

But the real news is that we have rewarded folks for their anger, fear, and bad behavior.

Folks have a right to be angry.  I think the lack of communication is cause enough to be angry.

But anger does not give you the right to shout down people who are trying to speak at a meeting.

Folks have a right to be afraid.

But fear does not give you the right to spread misinformation and to stereotype others.

I have rarely been so disappointed in my fellow citizens as when I heard them shout down Barbara Haller last night, when she pointed out that the 1398 Main Street location had multiple community hearings (as a contrast to 701 Main Street, which will have had none).

Folks said that those weren’t community meetings because they weren’t allowed to speak.

But who didn’t allow them to speak — elected officials, or their own neighbors who acted in an absolutely uncivil manner?

I said this last week: “when things get ugly, it’s very easy for the Manager to ignore everyone, or to shut down a meeting.  And then the voices of the more reasonable or more quiet among us are silenced.”  And, as I predicted, plenty of us have been silenced by the shouts of our own neighbors.

The losers in this are not just the neighbors of 701 Main Street, but any of us who long for a real dialogue about homelessness, and for those of us who believe that civil discourse is an essential part of our democracy. 

An infrequent reader let me know that it wasn’t clear whether I was for or against the triage center in my neighborhood.  I apologize for my lack of clarity — I was not opposed to the triage center, for a variety of reasons.  I tried very hard to show how the lack of communication fanned the flames, and I tried (perhaps too well) to see things from the point of view of those with whom I disagree.

There have been so many little topics swirling in my head: whether neighborhood councils would have helped or hurt in this situation; why folks seem to (over-)emphasize the negative aspects of city living when there are so many positives; why more people showed up at these meetings than actually turned out to vote

…but it’s past my bedtime.

More to come, I’m sure.  And hopefully in a lucid manner.

For further reading: Mending Fences, as discussed a long time ago on P&C, and Opening Doors to Group Homes in Worcester