A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that I was learning to play the banjo. I took lessons for six weeks from Swallow Hill (www.swallowhill.com). I continue to practice.
Along the way, I did a little reading up on the instrument.
The banjo (also called banjar, banjil, banza, bangoe, bangie, and banshaw) came from the west coast of Africa. Originally an instrument made from gourds, a neck, and four strings, it was recreated in the New World by slaves.
I used to live across the street from an old architect, trained in the 1950s. Back then, he said, architects believed buildings needed to "breathe." Public buildings used to have windows that opened.
Then came the energy crunch of the 1970s. To deal with wildly rising costs, owners scrambled to tighten up, even hermetically seal their buildings.
At the beginning of my career, the buzz was all about "automation."
Most libraries in the late 70's and early 80's used one of two methods to handle the checkouts. Most common was a paper-based checkout card system. You slid the library card, with its metal plate, into a device, then inserted the book cards, one by one, to be ka-chunked and stamped with a due date. That night, all of the cards had to be manually filed -- by author for fiction, and by Dewey Decimal number for non-fiction.
I've been reading up on the relatively new scientific discipline of brain development.
Much of the focus has been on early childhood development. If you have small children, you've probably heard about the importance of mental stimulation.
The library can and, for many families, does play a big role in precisely this. In fact, we're reworking our storytimes to take better advantage of the research to make sure that when children reach school age, they are truly ready to read.