This morning I traveled to Georgia, where I will spend the next few days visiting my elderly mother and also seeing as many of my other relatives as time permits. The trip was somewhat tedious because of a storm front up an down the east coast, which delayed my flight out of Logan by an hour and then made for a very bumpy ride. And then the inevitable transition–sky train to the rental car facility, rental car through Atlanta traffic, the ride up to Gainesville. My Mom is living in a very nice assisted retirement community called Smokey Springs, and I drove straight there. They were having an afternoon snack of root beer floats, I hadn’t had lunch, and so it worked out well.
After checking in to the Hilton Garden Inn, we went to my sister Jeanne’s house and chatted awhile before leaving for dinner at Folks. My brother Paul and his family joined us there.
It is one of their favorite restaurants.
Talking about the food meant that we didn’t talk about politics, religion, or contemporary culture. It was a successful reentry.
Today was the last weekday of summer session. And also the last day of work for two women who have long been friends of the OWHL. The PACC ladies, Mary Ellen and Diane, are leaving the Academy because of a reorganization in their department. Celeste organized a little party for them in the back office.
The party was still going when I had to excuse myself to meet with my colleague Damany to work on a new course on the history and context of the Civil Rights movement in the US. He brought the newest member of the PA community with him to the meeting, but Asa didn’t have any opinions that he was willing to share.
I drew the short straw and got to work the “evening” shift. All evening, students attempted to cram their next destination onto a white board that was already overflowing with the plans of their peers.
Many students had completed their work, and were in the library primarily to spend one last evening with the friends that they had made this summer. It took some active engagement to assure that the kids that did have an exam on Saturday were able to work without distraction. The highlight of my night was a spontaneous visit by Justice, a rising PA ninth grader who I met at the reception we held for ACE 9’s earlier in the week. Seeing her made me realize that even though I am really looking forward to some time off, I am also excited for the new school year to arrive.
Andover is one of eight large boarding schools that have affiliated for purposes of collaboration. Two of the other members that are geographically closest to us are St. Paul’s and Exeter. Fortunately, I consider the library directors at those schools friends as well as colleagues, and it would be a treat to get together even if we didn’t “have” to. Today our meeting was held at the beautiful Ordstrom Library at SPS. I parked a long way from the library, having been conditioned that when you see a parking spot anywhere on campus, you take it. As it happened, the summer session had just ended, and the campus was practically empty.
Gail, Kevin, and I met in Kevin’s office, and considered a full agenda that ranged from assessment to weeding. But eventually, we needed to break for lunch. We went into Concord to Angelina’s, which is likely the best Italian restaurant outside of the North end for hundreds of miles.
Now we will all head off on vacation to enjoy the calm before the inevitable chaos of the opening of school, but I look forward to seeing my friends again in September.
There are actually many “best” parts of my job, but one of them is definitely meeting with colleagues to plan new courses. Today I spent time with my friend Allen Grimm, who teaches in the Theater Department and who is planning a new course on August Wilson that will carry both theater and English credit. Allen and i have been talking about this course since May, and I have been assembling materials for use in the creation of a dedicated OWHLGuide.
Our collection is surprisingly rich in resources that are aligned with the course themes. A simple search in our new Discovery system yielded 901,637 hits on the search term “August Wilson.” Of those, the source types break down as follows:
There are some quirks in this system. For instance, streaming videos, which appear in our “book” catalog, are classified by Discovery as “books.” Allen has given me his working syllabus. He’ll be adding more detail after a reconnaissance trip to Pittsburgh that he is making in August. Working with his syllabus, and the world of information resources, I now have the (really fun) task of selecting and assembling those resources in a way that will help Allen’s students engage in inquiry-powered learning. I love my job!
There are twelve very special students on campus during summer session. They study Geometry, English, and Art together, and participate in all of the summer session activities. But they are different from the rest of the summer session students in that they are all rising ninth graders who will matriculate at Andover next month. Having now been here for more than a month, they are clearly “bonded” as a group. They know their way around the campus, and have made friends that they may well keep for a lifetime.
They are important to the OWHL. In September, when everyone arrives, it is easy to become overwhelmed. We stopped offering “library orientation” several years ago because we realized that it was overkill. But we want to get to know the new students, and so we took advantage of this unique opportunity to meet with a group of kids before the chaos of the start of the year.
So we invited the ACE 9 group to a special “reception” in the OWHL. We offered treats and small gifts. All twelve arrived together, several minutes early.
Each librarian “adopted” two students, and committed to be their “concierge librarian” for the next four years. We first took our students on a private tour of the building, highlighting different study venues and talking about available resources. Then we all convened in the China Room, where we shared snacks and got to know them a little better.
Every one was brave enough to accept a cricket bar from Stephanie. We did not require that they be consumed on the spot, and several kids indicated that they planned to take them home as presents for a younger sibling.
The event was very successful, and will be repeated next year. (In my absence!)
Today was a really rainy day. The periodic thunderstorms that came throughout the day were short, intense, and very dramatic. There was even a tornado in Revere. It was a very good day to read, and our Children’s area was busy throughout the morning with young families enjoying the books, toys, and a respite from the weather.
The Freeman Room was transformed today into a stage for a puppet show. The show was the final event in the OWHL’s series of literary and associated activities for summer session. It was organized by our Children’s Librarian, Emily Goss, who brought a talented team of puppeteers from CactusHead Puppets.
The stage was an engineering marvel. Especially considering that it was transported in a regular car from the Berkshires to Andover.
The audience was rapt.
The story, adapted from a Puerto Rican folk talk, featured a hapless hero named Juan Bobo. “He always tries to do the right thing, but often makes mistakes. For Juan even the smallest task can lead to the silliest of results. But can Juan Bobo’s seemingly foolish actions end up saving the day?” An understanding mother, a grumpy neighbor, and a spritely pig named Puerco round out the case.
At the end of the show, the puppeteers spoke with the audience how puppets are made, and allowed them to come and explore the puppets for themselves.
Thanks to CatcusHead puppets! We look forward to hosting you again soon.