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Fall book report

I hate when people say that libraries are becoming obsolete because the library where I work is certainly being used, mostly by others, but also by me. Here are some of the library books I’ve enjoyed over the last few months:

Noah’s Compass by Anne Tyler. Deceptively minor Anne Tyler, the story surprised me with a revelation and a small but distinct transformation in the main character by the story’s end.

The Ice Queen by Alice Hoffman (caution: the website plays music – ugh). I’ve been an Alice Hoffman fan for years, and this seemed like a book I should love: it’s about a librarian experiencing Hoffman’s trademark magic realism, but I must admit I’m sick of Hoffman’s angst and darkness. I kept wanting to shout at the main character, “Get it together and see a therapist! Deal with your past!” Fortunately she does get it together by the end of the book, but by then I was just relieved to be done and resolved not to read another Alice Hoffman book for a while.

The Fourth Apprentice by Erin Hunter. This is part of a children’s series about anthropomorphic cats called The Warriors. I’m generally not a fan of fantasy books, but I do love cats and was intrigued by these books so I decided to check this one out. Now that I’ve read this one, I may need to check out more of this series to get the back story that was frequently referenced in this book.

Confessions of a Prairie Bitch by Alison Arngrim. I love memoirs, and this was no exception. Arngrim manages to convey her personal tragedy while still maintaining an upbeat attitude that is both admirable and believable.

Arcadia Falls by Carol Goodman. Faced with the cliche of the suddenly single mother who doubts herself, but of course is hugely talented, I had my doubts at first, but I got drawn in to the story. The book takes place at a private school with a mystery in its past, a setting I always enjoy. Some of the plot strains credulity, especially the last couple of twists, but it still was a good story that kept me turning the pages.

Last night, I finished The Beginner’s Goodbye by Anne Tyler. As with Noah’s Compass, I consider this minor Anne Tyler: it’s short and it doesn’t have the depth and richness of some of her earlier efforts. I found the main character’s late wife to be rather unlikable but as the story progressed, I saw there was more to her than the main character ever understood until it was too late. However, he makes a transformation and the ending, while a little too “sweetie-sweet,” was satisfying.

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I got a part-time circulation assistant position at a small city library in Massachusetts. I’ve been working there about a month now, and I love it. I’m still looking to get more hours or get a second part-time job to have some more income, but I’m thrilled to be working in a public library.

In other news, I left the house this weekend and went to see Moonrise Kingdom at Cinestudio at Trinity College.

Just visiting the Trinity College campus is nice, but I also love Cinestudio’s big screen with a curtain. No stupid advertisements; just a few previews and then we’re off into the picture show.

Look towards Hartford and you will see the Trinity chapel tower looming up. And you’ll like it.

*Title reference to the following Mystery Science Theater gem:

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Librarian for hire

Well, well, it’s been some time since I last updated, and there has been some career advancement on my part. After the career fair in April 2011, I procured a contract cataloging position at EBSCO Publishing from June through December. I liked working there, and I think it’s a good company, but I’m glad the job was a contract position because I don’t think I would like doing that sort of work long-term. I’m a social person, and there was far too little social interaction for me. Thank god for podcasts on my iPhone so I could hear human voices during the day.

I live in Hartford, CT and EBSCO is in Ipswich, MA so daily commuting was not possible. Since my mother and sister live in Rockport, MA, my dog and I lived with them during the week, and then went home to Connecticut on weekends. The drives got to be a bit of drag, and I missed living in my own home, although I am very grateful to my family for allowing me and my dog to stay with them in their small condo for six months. It was fun too. For the most part, we got along well. And I enjoyed my sister’s cats.

This is Tommy.

And this is Daisy.

The project at EBSCO ended December 30th, and since then I’ve been unemployed. The bad thing about this job’s contract status is that I am not eligible for unemployment benefits. I’ve been applying for library jobs and even some non-library jobs, but nothing has panned out yet.

I have jury duty tomorrow, and I’m hoping I get chosen so I’ll have at least a temporary sort-of job. Don’t jurors get some form of compensation? I hope so.

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Trip to Boston

I went to the main campus of Simmons for a career fair in April. I stayed in Rockport with my family and took the train to Boston from there.

Then I rode the green line once I was in the city. I love riding subways and trains, but I don’t get any chance to do that here in Hartford so I was totally psyched to be there.

Then I had to walk a short distance to campus. See the green cupola? That’s Simmons College.

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Hillyer Art Library at Smith College

On Saturday my class took a trip to Smith College to meet with the librarian at the Hillyer Art Library. I was certainly in for a surprise. My memory from when I took Art History classes back in the 80s was that there was a slide library which was really just a room filled with shelves of slides. At Smith College, there is an actual library devoted to the study of art with access to numerous print and electronic resources. The art library is located inside the Smith College Museum of Art, and I found it to be quite impressive looking. It felt great to have an appointment there.

Inside there was this guy, not to mention a cafe. (I love the way cafes are such an integral part of academic life these days.)

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The Card Catalog

School has begun again. This semester I am taking LIS 413, Literature of the Humanities.

Libraries do not use card catalogs anymore; they use online catalogs. However that change doesn’t mean the shelves need to go to waste. I was pleased to see this set-up in the Mt. Holyoke Library recently. Just to be sure, I opened a couple of the drawers (they were empty).

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Robert Frost Statue

Amherst College

Amherst College

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Wistariahurst Lion in the Sun

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Thoughts on my Internship

Today is the last class day of the semester, and my last day as an intern at Wistariahurst.  My assignment for the semester was to check the finding aid for the Skinner Family Collection by going through the collection and making sure the boxes contain what the finding aid says they do.  I have not had enough time to complete the project, but as far as I’ve gone the finding aid is accurate.

The collection is organized by the creator of the documents and then further divided by the receiver and date. That is the letters from Sarah to Katharine from 1895 – 1898 might comprise the contents of one folder in the Sarah Elizabeth Skinner collection.  If there are other documents that cannot be grouped from creator to receiver, the finding aid will label them as [Creator's Name] Miscellaneous Correspondence and then the dates.  If no date is available, the the folder will show “n.d.”

Although I have enjoyed my internship, the project I was given has its limitations.  For one, it’s impossible to finish the project in 60 hours. There are over 200 boxes (each containing numerous folders), and 60 hours is not nearly long enough to go through everything.  Secondly, the project hasn’t given me a chance to really use the archival skills I’ve learned about in class because the collection is already formed and documented and my work is just looking at the dates and names on the paper within it.

However, I am very glad to have had the opportunity of this internship. For the past two years I’ve been attending Simmons at Mt. Holyoke, and every time I’ve drive up there, I go past  Wistariahurst. I used to wonder what it was all about, and I thought it was beautiful so you can imagine my delight when I saw that there was an Archives class internship there.

Here are two photographs from an autumn afternoon Wistariahurst’s dinosaur tracks.

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Christmastime at Wistariahurst

Here is the Christmas tree at Wistariahurst, next to a portrait of Sarah Allen Skinner, the matriarch of the family.


Here is the “music room” set for a holiday party last Saturday night. The room also hosts numerous weddings throughout the year.


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