Friday, October 13, 2006
Showing respect at the library
Tuesday afternoon is not a time I usually spend at the Gleason Public Library, for this is an especially busy time of the week for those of us putting out the Mosquito. Until I read Gleason Library Trustee Dale Ryder's letter to the editor in the September 29 Mosquito, I had forgotten about the Tuesday Early Release Day at the Carlisle School. It has been some years since my own children have been students at the Carlisle Public School. What specifically drew my eye to her letter, "Come to the library - but quietly, please," was her assertion that an unusually large number of children, inside and outside of the library, were behaving in an unruly and inappropriate way. "Several children inside were disrespectful to the staff and did not listen when asked to stop disruptive behavior," wrote Ryder.
Disruptive and disrespectful behavior in our public library? That is not the sort of conduct I have come to associate with the library. Having recently read of the school's anti-bullying program and the ongoing desire for building a culture of respect, I made a phone call to Middle School Principal Paul Graseck. He had read Dale Ryder's letter in the Mosquito, and he too was concerned with what had happened at the library. In fact, he told me of an article he had written for the Buzz, a weekly newsletter that is sent to the parents of Carlisle students each Thursday. He sent me his article, which appeared in the October 5 Buzz, and here is some of what he had to say.
"Having spent a large portion of my life in libraries, once even being locked inside a library at night by mistake after it had closed, I was dismayed when I learned that on a recent Early Release Day from the school a large number of students went to the library and were unusually disruptive. I urge parents to play a role in curtailing such behavior. As a good neighbor to the school, the Gleason Library opens its doors to serve the entire community, including its young people, but if its younger patrons are noisy, blocking aisles, and littering its grounds, then it behooves us all to do what we can to remedy such a problem.
"I am assuming Carlisle students will hear this message from parents and peers and that the next time an Early Release Day occurs, the news from the Gleason will be greatly improved."
Principal Graseck pretty much says it all. However, I would like to add one thought. Parents who are working should not consider the library as a place for their children to hang out on Tuesday Early Release Day and be picked up at the end of the day.
The library is a quiet place to read books, do research, write papers, and go online. Students using the library must learn to be respectful and considerate of librarians and fellow patrons.
A week that was
Because of production schedules at the Mosquito, Forum essays are due the week before they appear in the paper. Forum writers labor a week ahead of their readers, but reach them a week behind any local or national events. Seven days before you read this, I was living through another splendid week of early fall weather in Carlisle. Swamp maples in the marshes had turned, the spatter of their red and yellow leaves a vivid contrast with the thick green of pine and oak. Golden pine needles littered the dry woodland paths behind our house. Morning sunlight pierced the gray fogs of marsh and pond. Deepening shadows marked the five o'clock commute on Lowell Road. Our town's beauty and serenity once more stood in ornate relief.
Yet a week's worth of news has rarely underscored our insulated lives more:
• Thursday, September 28: the Senate voted to suspend habeas corpus for certain enemy combatants, stepping away from constitutionally guaranteed liberties that had been suspended only in the Civil War and in certain counties in South Carolina in the 1870s by President Grant.
• Friday, September 29: Representative Mark Foley resigned after being confronted with damaging e-mails by ABC News, and we were off to the Foleys. Prominent members of the majority party in the House pointed fingers, and everyone asked who knew what when, and what had they done about it.
• Monday, October 2: unbelievably, ten Amish schoolgirls in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania, were shot, five fatally (one of three fatal school shootings within a week; the other two were in Colorado and Wisconsin). This was followed by dignified and private burial ceremonies on Thursday and Friday, amid Amish expressions of forgiveness for the shooter.
• Thursday, October 5: gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick apologized for not disclosing two letters written on behalf of a convicted rapist and a contribution to a DNA test that ultimately confirmed the convict's guilt. His opponent in the governor's race, Kerry Healey, ran television ads portraying Patrick as soft on crime. Patrick had come into the week with a more than twenty percentage point lead over Healey.
• Friday, October 6: the worst week for bombings in Iraq since the U.S. invasion of 2003 came to a close; 14 U.S. soldiers died this week; Senator John Warner, Republican of Virginia, suggested the war was "drifting sideways." The Dow Jones stock average closed at a record high of 11,867, leaving the NASDAQ at 2,306, nowhere near its March 2000 record of 5,048.
During the same week, no doubt, glaciers and ice packs around the world continued to melt, and electric utility plants spewed out more fatal particulates into the air.
The previous week I watched a PBS documentary, Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution. The film portrayed the early, irresponsible reign of the French queen, notorious for her lavish hairstyles and the Petit Trianon, her own private apartments on the grounds of Versailles where she constructed the Petit Hameau (Little Hamlet), a mock farming village staffed with sheep and fanciful shepherd lads and lasses.
On October 5, 1789, 7,000 poor and hungry Parisians marched through the rain to the palace to demand bread. They invaded the royal residence and that night nearly killed the queen. The next day they forced the royal couple to accompany them to Paris, never to return.
There are many variations on the following aphorism. The actual source, Santayana's The Life of Reason, reads: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
© 2006 The