19 07 2013

This is a human disaster in the making. Pray, write, protest, holler, jump up and down, boycott and do whatever you can, please.


Miami-Dade County Public Library – “County may shutter 42 libraries, lay off 260 employees”

15 07 2013

In solidarity with the working families and citizens in need, as well as with library staff, in Miami-Dade County, I offer this link to a newspaper article that “mysteriously disappeared” from the paper’s web site before too many people saw it…

Praying the leaders of Miami-Dade County come to their senses, practice some human compassion for those who need the services of the library on a daily basis, and find a way to avoid this potential tragedy and horrible nightmare.

Undergraduate sunset

5 07 2013

More precisely, the sun is setting on my son’s undergraduate career. But he’s dragging it out as long as possible. And I don’t blame him.

Nolan E. Bensen graduated this past May from New College of Florida here in Sarasota. It’s a very special place with a unique culture that I believe approaches the ideal in undergraduate education. But more on that another time.

Nolan took some time off from college and had to earn his way back to his current position of achievement. He returned in a much better place to appreciate the possibilities at New College and he’s leaving there with goals that’ll probably contribute to a career path and a vocation. He’s bonded with many friends and contributed to the learning community in which he earned his undergraduate degree.

The sun setting on a major chapter from somebody's life.

The sun setting on a major chapter from somebody’s life.

Although he graduated in May, he’s still on campus working for the summer. In August, he’ll relocate to New York City to attend graduate school at Columbia University.

I took the sunset photo as his student colleagues were crossing the stage to shake the hand of the New College president and receive their diplomas. I hoped he’d like to see some time how the sunset looked while he was graduating. And I look forward to seeing what new chapters dawn for Nolan in the months and years ahead. But it’s a poignant end to a happy time during which my son was enthusiastically excelling in the same town where I’m living. It may never be so easy to enjoy seeing him again. His accessibility will certainly be more limited. And the energies will continue to eddy and swirl in the wake of his departure…

Telling the library story – afterthoughts from Denver

20 06 2013

It was a great honor to be a part of the team representing Sarasota County at the All-America City competition in Denver this past weekend.

The 3 stories we highlighted in our application included: the new Patriot Plaza at the Sarasota National Cemetery; the Institute for the Ages (Sarasota County has the highest proportion of people over 85 years old of any large county in the United States; and the resurgence of the library where I work – the North Sarasota Library.

We had a highly committed, enthusiastic team of people representing a cross section of the County’s population. We were extremely well-prepared. And we were NOT 1 of the 10 All-America cities this year.

I’m betting every member of our team will continue to replay choices we might’ve made and things we wish we’d done better. For example, if we’d known the Talent portion of the Cultural Fair would take place in a street fair atmosphere with a thousand people loudly milling about we’d have chosen different offerings.

Sarasota County's talent performers at the AAC Cultural & Entertainment Fair

Sarasota County’s talent performers at the AAC Cultural & Entertainment Fair

But for library advocates (if you’re not interested, you can tune out here… :-)),
there are important lessons regarding “telling the library story.” In a break-out session on Community and Early Childhood Education, if our delegation hadn’t been in attendance, it’s possible no one would’ve mentioned libraries’ active involvement in this area during the whole session! It turned out to be important for us to be there and tell the library story; to remind people the library is a resource and is working on this issue.

At the same time, it was a pleasure to have an opportunity to tell our library’s story in a situation where we weren’t angling for funding, or a grant, or a donation, or political support. We were there because we love our library and that authenticity contributed to the honor of participating. Sure, I could’ve suggested different ways to tell it, along with different data, that might’ve helped push us over the top for the award jurors. But that wasn’t up to me, and nobody asked… 🙂

Overall, the message for me (and from me) is related to the question, “Where & When is it appropriate to tell your library’s story?” And I think the answer is: “Everywhere – all the time.” At least that’s what the lesson of Denver feels like to me.

The race starts tomorrow @ 11

14 05 2013

If any of you want to see how the whole fleet of the Bone Island Regatta to Key West is progressing, just tap the link at the page with the following URL.

We’re all broadcasting our positions every 10 minutes via satellite (GPS)
and a map should show where each of us is.

For the 3 of us aboard arcaPeli, the race should take between 24 and 35 hours to complete, depending, of course, on the wind.

Did you all know thar, for sailors, there are only 3 kinds of wind?
Too much, too little, and in the wrong direction… 🙂

Fair winds to all.

Proclaiming the library & community story

7 05 2013

The All America City Award is organized by the National Civic League.

The story of the resurgence here at North Sarasota Library will be one of the leading stories told by Sarasota County as they strive to earn the award of being designated an “All America City.”

My colleague Dr. Lonnetta M. Gaines (see “A Raisin in the Sun” post) and I have been invited to travel to Denver and help tell the library’s, and community’s, story on behalf of Sarasota County. It’s a both a great honor and a serious responsibility.

20 finalist cities and counties converge on a conference where they offer a 10 minute presentation and answer questions fielded by those present.

Activity in the county regarding serving U.S. veterans also coincides with stories sought by the organizers of the award, too.

But I’m particularly hopeful that continuing to proclaim our story might help us achieve improved funding and adequate staffing – both of which are sorely needed.

S.T.E.A.M. Trivia afterthoughts

4 05 2013

My son Nolan did a bang-up job leading our first High School S.T.E.A.M. Trivia Competition. Maybe the organizer (his dad) didn’t do as well at promoting it.
But that’s okay for this first pilot attempt.

Nolan put all the questions on a powerpoint slide and the next slide included the answer. So, for visual learners and sound-oriented learners, they could either hear or see the question.


We were prepared for teams up to 5 people. We ended up with a total of 5 competitors on 2 teams. Since both teams had some adult coaching during the competition, I gave out all 5 first place prizes to all of the young people.

But the interaction between the teens and adult coaches was instructive.
There were great “teaching moment” possibilities.

And I learned just what awesome quantities of pizza teens are capable of consuming! 🙂

One team (all young ladies) chose the name “The Vixens” for their team. The other team name was inspired by a local mascot (see image below)


We’ll shoot for another High School event in the fall and, hopefully, use better promotional options (including some video footage from last Thursday’s gathering). And we hope to expand to a separate event for middle school teams, too.

Special thanks to members of the North Sarasota Library Teen Advisory Board, too, for help in “leveling” the questions, along with their help getting the word out.

Lots going on at present, so more here soon!

%d bloggers like this: