Sometimes you stumble across a book you didn't know you were looking for. For me, it was finding the library's copy of "The History of Torture and Execution," by Jean Kellaway.
Every time I come across the story of somebody stretched on the rack -- or wedged into the Spanish boot, or broken by thumbscrews, or victimized by any of a variety of infernal devices -- I feel an immediate sense both of horror and of recognition.
As anyone reading my last batch of columns knows, I'm thinking a lot about a deep redesign of some longstanding library practices. Why?
Because our own success has led us to a spot where I can see the end of our capacity to grow. Case in point: what we call "holds."
When my wife and I travel, we rate the towns we pass through. There are all kinds of criteria. How walkable is it? -- a complex calculation that considers the width of streets, the width of sidewalks and their distance from the thoroughfare, the quality and frequency of parks, the height of trees, the mix of commercial and residential properties, and much more.
How good is the public library? We can just stroll through the building once and have a good sense of how much care is given to the collection, and how customer-oriented the staff is.
It seems like just yesterday when all our kids were small. They were so cute then! There were puppets on the carpet, and just a sprinkle of new children's books on the shelves. The little ones are so wide-eyed and eager to please.
And they're grateful for their one computer -- not like the older kids with their BANKS of PC's, network printers, and wireless connections. Time flies!