Constant Change

ChangeIt’s well trodden ground that the only thing that is constant is change
(thanks Heraclitus), and we’ve had more than our full share of that here over the past year.

We’ve completely overhauled our computer system, we’ve added Kindles and iPads, expanded our band-width and improved our WiFi network. We added a new, updated AWE Early Literacy Learning Center workstation in Children’s Department (thanks to a grant from the Union County Freeholders). We’ve had some major staff turnover and added some wonderful, new faces here (say hi to Mandy and Meredith and Monica) that, along with those of us that remain (Dan, Susan, Nancy, Jill, Sheldon, Anita and all our fabulous pages), have strengthened the team and are helping to make a significant difference in the day to day services we can provide.

We embraced a new logo and upped our social media visibility with both Twitter and Instagram pages to go with our Facebook presence and, along with e-notifications for coming due materials and check-out receipts, we’ve started a monthly e-newsletter. We designed and launched a new website, and now, with an ongoing eye towards improved usability and being responsive to the variety of mobile platforms we’re being accessed on, as well as stability and security, we’ve recently re-worked and re-launched our recently re-designed website.

And at the very end of 2015 we had some holiday fun on a national level when the Library’s own Hook & Needle Club’s crocheted bowls were featured in the fantastic Chex Mix yarn bombing campaign video.

And there’s plenty to look forward to coming up in 2016 – we’ve kicked off a new Family Friendly First Sunday Series with great programs for everyone to enjoy together. We’ve started regular Monday afternoon Fanwood Maker Lab sessions, to go along with the weekly Tuesday afternoon Hook & Needle knitting and crochet group and Wednesday afternoon scrabble club.

So as the new year gets under way, we’ll resolve to continue to embrace change, strive to improve our services and broaden our outreach, and stay flexible and responsive to all members of our Fanwood community and the wonderful families and library users we serve. We are confident that 2016 will (inevitably) continue to bring more, exciting changes and improvements to the already amazing Fanwood Memorial Library… and we’re ready!

18 years and counting…

Today marks 18 years since I started at the Fanwood Memorial Library. Phew!! 03-04-2008 10;00;33AM

When I came here my predecessor had been on the job 17 years and I couldn’t imagine such a thing. I remember thinking, if I’m still here 17 years from now just shoot me… and yet, here I am (please don’t shoot me).08-28-2006 09;27;50AM

So many changes since I started. In looking back through some early annual reports, I’m struck by a number of things, one of which being that I clearly hit the ground running. One indicator is how much grant money I was able to get to help make this library what it has become:
$75,000 in 1998;
$24,000 in 1999;
$5,000 in 2003;
$40,000 in 2005;
another $84,638 in 2005;
$150,000 in 2007
in total, I secured close to $500,000 in grant money for the library in the 10 years between 1998 and 2008… Wow!

Some non-financial highlights include:
** automating the entire library operation,
** recovery from multiple floods, multiple renovations on both levels,
** countless programs and service improvements,
** creating and maintaining multiple websites,
06-12-2008 11;29;30AM ** a wonderful year-long centennial celebration in 2003,
** a wildly successful and ongoing shared-services partnership with the Scotch Plains Public Library that continues to yield great benefits of all sorts to residents and library users in both communities,
** development of the nationally recognized award-winning program Libraries and Autism: We’re Connected which focuses on customer service skills to help libraries and librarians serve those in the ASD community more effectively,
** an ongoing, strong and supportive Friends of the Library group,
** establishing the library’s value as an emergency community gathering place during the 10-day disaster that Hurricane Sandy left in its wake,
and SO MUCH MORE!

Fanwoodstock IIIWe’ve hosted 1,000s of programs, a successful local film festival, a number of Fanwoodstock festivals, concerts, book groups, lectures, children’s programming and crafts, KristiYamaguchi and even had our share of famous guests including Dan1 Arnie Duncan (Secretary of Education), Kristi Yamagucci (Gold Medal Olympic Skater), Pat DiNizio (Smithereens), David Magee (Finding Neverland screenwriter), and Ann Hood (author), to mention a few.

More recently we created a new logo, a new website, had a successful ‘Close the Gap’ fundraising campaign, conducted a community survey, implemented Sunday hours, email notifications, and a complete technology upgrade and overhaul, developed a 5-year Strategic Plan and a 3-year Capital Plan and, most significantly, engaged an architect to examine the feasibility of a long overdue building improvement and expansion project.

But, perhaps most significantly, some things have remained constant – a strong focus on personal and intimate customer service, managing to maintain traditional library services while providing and keeping apace with new and emerging technologies, a commitment serve the varied needs of community of Fanwood, being a champion for literacy for residents of all ages, maintaining free and equal access to information and technology for all users, and positioning ourselves as a vital community resource that all Fanwoodians can take pride in.

Needless to say, I’ve been through many significant personal changes and events over the years, but another constant for me is Fanwood. This Borough has been a fantastic community to work for, and I’ll now take the occasion of my 18th anniversary here to say Thank You for the support all these years and I look forward to more shared success in the future.

Hello, Old Friend…

 

I’m talking about you, Willa Cather. Willa Cather Aren’t you the one who said, “Where there is great love, there are always miracles?” And wasn’t it H. L. Mencken who said about you that, “no romantic novel ever written in America, by man or woman, is one half so beautiful as My Antonia.” She may be a bit old fashioned to read, not unlike Edna Ferber or Sinclair Lewis (have you read Dodsworth lately, or ever?); but reading these books are a real treat. They are a cool read for a Summer afternoon.

Such stories seem anachronistic in present-day America, but the monumental rigors of pioneer life are still a vivid memory for many on the Plains. Willa Cather’s My Antonia is about the hardy people who risked their lives and fortunes in a harsh new land; Cather had the great good fortune to have lived among the first generation of white settlers in 1880s Nebraska, and she gives witness to their time and place in such a way that American literature will never forget them.

My Antonia, following O Pioneers (1913) and The Song of the Lark (1915), completes the trilogy of Cather’s best-known Nebraska novels. Critic H. L. Mencken thought My Antonia to be the most accomplished and, reviewing it in 1919, shortly after it was published, he wrote, “her style has lost self-consciousness; her feeling for form has become instinctive. And she has got such a grip upon her materials… I know of no novel that makes the remote folk of the Western prairies more real… and I know of none that makes them seem better worth knowing.”

From GOODREADS: Wilella Sibert Cather was born in Back Creek Valley, Virgina (Gore) in December 7, 1873. Her novels on frontier life brought her to national recognition. In 1923 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her novel, One of Ours (1922), set during World War I. She grew up in Virginia and Nebraska. She then attended the University of Nebraska, initially planning to become a physician, but after writing an article for the Nebraska State Journal, she became a regular contributor to this journal.

Because of this, she changed her major and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English. After graduation in 1894, she worked in Pittsburgh as writer for various publications and as a school teacher for approximately 13 years, thereafter moving to New York City for the remainder of her life. She traveled widely and often spent summers in New Brunswick, Canada. In later life, she experienced much negative criticism for her conservative politics and became reclusive, burning some of her letters and personal papers, including her last manuscript. She was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1943. In 1944, Cather received the gold medal for fiction from the National Institute of Arts and Letters, an award given once a decade for an author’s total accomplishments. She died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 73 in New York City.

My favorite is O Pioneers, although I do enjoy reading, and rereading, My Antonia. Perhaps you would like to give my old friend a try. I hop you like it. And don’t foget, I have lots of old friends. Just ask me about them.