Wednesday, February 28, 2007

LLHS dedicating new library in Griffin's honor

A ribbon cutting that takes place on Thursday, March 1, will dedicate the Winkie Griffin Library Media Center on the Lower Lake High School campus.

Marjorie "Winkie" Griffin served for 26 years as the LLHS librarian. She worked for 18 months as a reading specialist at Burns Valley Elementary School before transferring in June 1967 to be the high school librarian.

Griffin brought a belief that the job of librarian is to be an "information broker" who connects students with information by teaching them to find it for themselves and to love doing research. "I think we have the most complete reference section of any school library in the county," she said with pride during a recent interview.

The LLHS library was also the first library in the county to use a computer. "We were probably ahead of everybody by about 15 years," Griffin said.

In the early 1980s, Apple gave a free computer to every public school; Griffin found the high school's computer in a box at the high school office and was told it was going in the library. A student with muscular dystrophy who died a few years later pushed Griffin to learn how to use the computer and to connect via the Internet.

Griffin said she retired "for the first time" in 1993 but was frequently called back into service to teach various classes. These days, Griffin said, she subs primarily in the library .

The new high school library occupies 4,480 square feet, representing a four-fold increase over its prior location, a 1,600-square-foot double classroom. "I'm thrilled to have this place named after me," Griffin said. "I said to my husband the other day, it's the cherry on the icing on the cake."

Library technician Lacey Frey cited Griffin's dedication when recommending the new library 's name. Her letter to the school board highlights various contributions including a scholarship established in Griffin's honor by members of her family. "She has been an inspiration and mentor to all the library technicians at Konocti," said Frey.

At its Wednesday, Feb. 21, meeting, the Konocti school board approved dedicating the Winkie Griffin Library Media Center. A ribbon-cutting ceremony takes place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at 9430 Lake St. in Lower Lake. A small reception will follow.

Funding for the high school library comes through Measure G bond proceeds. Konocti recently issued its second set of bonds, for $4.8 million. "The district received the funds on Dec. 28," said Superintendent Dr. Louise Nan.

Measure G, approved by district voters, is financing various projects including five campus libraries. Dedications were held last year for East Lake and Burns Valley school libraries. The LLHS library is the third to be completed.

"Lower Lake Elementary will be next, possibly by April 1," said Maintenance Director Dana Moore. "And at Pomo Elementary, we're building an addition onto the existing library ."

Moore said the LLHS library came in "under budget." Out of $1.7 million allocated, it cost $1.45 million to complete.

Of this, $730,000 in joint use funding came from the State of California. The district's joint-use partner for the high school library is the County of Lake. Nan noted that an agreement between the two entities allows Lake County use of the library facility outside of school hours.

Nan cited an inscription at the Penn State library , "This is the Repository of Knowledge." She added, "I think libraries are a gift to the future."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Billy Collins reads in Santa Rosa

Poetry aficionados, the Lake County Poet Laureate among them, gave a warm welcome to Billy Collins, two-term poet laureate of the United States of America.

Collins was a featured guest in the Copperfield's Books Readers Series, Tuesday, Feb. 13, at the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts. His opening poem, "Monday," portrayed the relationship of the working poet with the tool of his trade. "By now, it should go without saying/ that what the oven is to the baker/ and the berry-stained blouse to the dry cleaner,/ so the window is to the poet." His reading included selections from several of his collected works including "Picnic, Lighting" and "The Trouble With Poetry and Other Poems."

Collins's work is known for its wry humor and what I found particularly inventive was his ability to apply his chosen subjects in an unexpected direction. In "Litany," for example, Billy Collins took the first lines of a poem by Jacques Crickillon and essentially "re-wrote the poem for him."

"You are the bread and the knife,/ The crystal goblet and the wine./ ... / However, you are not the wind in the orchard,/ the plums on the counter,/ or the house of cards./ And you are certainly not the pine-scented air./ There is just no way that you are the pine-scented air."

Collins was appointed in 2001 and again in 2002 to the position of U.S. Poet Laureate. An ongoing effort by Collins, to encourage poetry for high school students, is the Poetry 180 project, Operated through the U.S. Library of Congress, Poetry 180 is designed to make it easy for students to hear and read poems that were selected by Collins -- with high school students in mind -- on each one of the school year's 180 days.

A question and answer session after Collins's reading revealed some of his thoughts on the creation of poetry. "There are two sides to poetry," he said in response to a question about public readings. "I couldn't be more alone when I write poetry. I picture one person alone in a room. The public presentation, or the commodification of poetry, is different from the composition."

Collins's advice to aspiring poets? Find a poet whose work "makes you jealous" because that will stimulate your creativity.

Among those attending Collins's reading was Lake County Poet Laureate Sandra Wade. Our discussion after the performance concerned a decision earlier that day by the Lake County Board of Supervisors to support non-profit community radio station KPFZ. Public radio has traditionally been a supportive place for the poetic arts as witness the role of NPR in publicizing Collins's poetry.

Pre-event publicity for Collins's reading credited his appearances on NPR with having tremendously enlarged his audience.

The next presenter to be featured in the Copperfield's Books Readers Series will be Terry Gross, host of NPR's "Fresh Air." Gross will play recorded excerpts from interviews that went especially well and especially badly to illustrate her discussion and will also talk about her life and career. Gross appears Friday, April 13, at the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts. Call 546-3600 for tickets or visit

Published circa Feb. 22, 2007 in the Lake County Record-Bee

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Back in Record-Bee newsroom

This week I built my first edition of the Clear Lake Observer American out of the Lake County Record-Bee newsroom. Yesterday, of course, was spent building an Arts & Entertainment section for the Record-Bee.