Happy Birthday, Mozart

Today is the 253rd anniversary of the birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He lived only 35 years and 11 months and he wrote over 600 works — astounding for me to think about. I’ve written a few things, the manuscripts of which are stuffed in file boxes in my garage, and none of which approach the genius of Mozart.  Studies have postulated that listening to Mozart makes you smarter, or at least increases concentration abilities for a time. I don’t know about smarter, but listening to Mozart takes me to my happy place, where there’s peace, harmony, and no stress.

Take a Mozart break today and listen online to his complete works on the Mozart Tower Experience. My favorites? The wind concertos.

Distance education not always online

The ability to accomplish educational goals even when you are not able to attend classes at a school has changed the world.  It doesn’t seem so long ago when I was working for the Air Force Library System that we hosted a conference on providing library services to military troops in the Gulf — that was after the 1st Gulf War. We gained Command attention for partnering through the BEPAC (that’s the Base Education and Planning Committee – the military loves those acronyms) to deliver the library component to college classes offered to deployed troops. As the AF was building tent cities in the deserts of Saudi Arabia, the Comm Squadron was installing lines and computers and we were sending library service right along with them.

I am personally thankful for online education. While an MLS was my goal, it was totally unavailable where I was living, until the UIUC LEEP program became available. MLS programs are much more available now — in the last week I’ve written 2 recommendation letters for candidates for library school, who have a multitude of choices available to them.

Finding candidates that meet educational requirements has become easier. Where previously finding a candidate with a college degree in rural communities was not always easy, many job postings now attract local applicants with academic accomplishments that exceed minimum requirements, often gained through distance learning programs.

And not all distance learning is academic. In my previous location, a small  rural school district has gained statewide notice for attracting elementary and high school students who for various reasons want to pursue education online. Another young person I know does not attend her local high school for health reasons and is going to school online.

You’d think that all the distance learning was the product of the Internet. But not so! My mother, now an octogenarian retired teacher with a school media licensure, got her teaching credential through a 2-year Normal school. Some years later, when the state required a Bachelors Degree, she earned some of her credits watching college lectures that were broadcast on television very early in the morning.

Digging through a box of books at my mother’s house last weekend, I ran across the text for my first distance class – a brown-covered song book. It is way longer ago than I want to admit that I attended a 2-room country school in Wisconsin. Each classroom had a teacher that taught all subjects. We had no subject specialists, but once a week on Wednesday afternoons was the high point of my week. That was the day that we turned the classroom radio to the local AM station that relayed the WHA Wisconsin School of the Air transmission of “Let’s Sing” with Warren Wooldridge and Don Voegeli at the piano. We sat at our desks and learned music over the radio, singing along with the crackly AM radio transmission (well some of us sang, but some just mumbled). Some lucky kids got to go to regional “Let’s Sing” events. I wasn’t one of them. Years later, through a music scholarship, I received my Bachelors Degreee in Music Education. Thanks, WHA and Warren Wooldridge.

A place on wheels

I’m reading the book  The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less by Barry Schwartz. The book is about the wealth of choices we have, and how their abundance leads to stress, dissatisfaction, and paralysis. I was acutely aware of the truth in Schwartz’s premise last weekend when I stood totally flummoxed in front of the array of kidney beans at my Cub supermarket. Where on earth were the plain-ol’-kidney-beans-for-chili?

Reading a survey response this afternoon, I muttered to myself, “uh huh, Schwartz got it right.” We’re preparing to shut down the behemoth library on wheels/bookmobile that is draining our budget with repair and fuel bills. It should have been replaced a while ago, but lacking the $100,000 for a replacement, we’ve kept it running. The Board has taken action that this is the last year of its existence in these parts, so we’re surveying its existing customers to find the best service alternative for each.

One response gave me serious pause. She didn’t say she couldn’t get to a library. She said she preferred the bookmobile. She said “It’s easier to find books there as the choices are limited.” Then she went on to say “Also, one does get to know the driver/librarian and it is chummier.”  Wow, I hear her loud and clear . . . the comfort of a limited collection, pre-selected to suit the clientele is preferable to a library with endless shelves. Furthermore, she likes chummy. And I thought our library staff was pretty darned friendly — guess we’ll continue to work on that.

So, where I see an expensive, diesel and aged-carpet-smelling truck, she sees the bookmobile as a place where she feels welcome and befriended. Wow! And I’m going to replace that with dropoffs of bags of books?

I miss the TV show Cheers (1982-1993). I still sing the song — maybe we could make it the theme song for our library.

Making your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.
Wouldn’t you like to get away?
Sometimes you want to go
Where everybody knows your name,
and they’re always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same
You wanna be where everybody knows your name.
You wanna go where people know,
people are all the same,
You wanna go where everybody knows  your name.