After 45 years at the Bermuda National Library Ms. Joan Vidale has a few things to say in her last contribution to the BNL Insider. She is retiring from the library this August.
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Summer 2012 A production of the Adult Services Department Par-La-Ville • #13 Queen Street • Hamilton HM 11 Newsletter Committee Nikki Bowers Keith Caesar
Contributors Julie Bean Fredrina James Daurene Aubrey Ruth-Ella Smith Randy York Joan Vidale
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contents READING IS SOO DELICIOUS 2 SUMMER SIZZLERS 3 BERMUDA CORNER 3,4,10 SUMMER MOVIES 9
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for the road ”
e all know that every story has a beginning , a middle and an end, right? Well let me start at the beginning. I began my tenure here at the Bermuda National Library on September 4th, 1967 when it was “loyally” referred to as just The Bermuda Library. I had just turned nineteen years old , was married with a year-old baby son and I was green, this was all very new to me. The Head Librarian was Ms Mary Gray, and back then the staff was primarily all UK ex-patriots, a couple of white locals and one or two black Bermudians. The Bermuda Archives was also situated in this building where the “meeting room” and “ repository “ are presently housed. The reference area was on the ground floor together with the Bermuda Section, which was fiercely guarded by the then “keeper of the books” Ms Terry Tucker, a well- known author and Bermudiana Historian. You had to literally go through Ms Tucker to get to information well secured and guarded. One could easily become terrified of her, that is until you realized there was more bark to her than bite! (or maybe I just didn’t know my own danger!). Anyway that being said, the old adage “there’s more than one way to skin a cat” came into play and I quickly adapted to her ministrations, albeit with some caution and tact. When I came to work here is when I discovered that I was nearsighted. I was asked by a fellow – worker who was Welsh, her name was Anne somebody , if I had ever worn glasses? Of course I had not, thereupon she kindly advised me to have my sight tested and voila! I had automatic astigmatism in both eyes, probably had been born with it since the majority of my siblings and half of my own family are stricken with the same malady. Well…… testing proved I would definitely require some
Bermuda Corner with Joan Vidale
help from spectacles! A whole new world opened up for me, I COULD SEE!!!! Mind you I didn’t know that I couldn’t see before ! Thank-you Anne what’s-her-name! (long-time ago folks) . Now let me give you a little more to chew on! Do you know that we didn’t have air-conditioning back then? We did have HUGE fans positioned throughout the entire building that whirred and roared with gusto trying to circulate “good air” and keep us cool though. The windows were all thrown wide open and we didn’t have humpback flies or mosquitoes biting us either!!! There was no such problems as mould or mildew that I can recall. There was little or no carpet on the floors so everyone downstairs knew when we were walking (sometimes running) upstairs. I might also add that these halls of learning proved to be a place of fun and frivolous effervescence also. Back then the staff worked in shifts and the library closed on Thursday afternoons to the public. Even though we had loads of “duties” to catch up on we still managed to resort to such juvenile activities as racing the book trucks to the back of the first room, whoooooeeee!!! We could be as silly as we needed to be because we had the joint to ourselves and it was an opportunity to let off a little steam ! “We lot had de fun bye”. The entrance to the building was through the cedar /glass doors where the Bda. Historical Museum entrance is now located. We traversed the cedar stairwell every day to access the “desk “ and the “work area” which was a very small space behind the Circulating desk that was just in front of the Admin Assistant’s work area which used to be the reading room and the “dock” was out there where the Information
See FOR THE ROAD, page 8 SUMMER
ONE FOR THE ROAD, from page 3
desk is now. The dock was a wooden /screened-in /plexi-glass enclosure where the person who did the cataloguing worked. The staff room was where the CMD Dept is now, and the kitchen was a nook in the corner of that room, with the ladies’ room bringing up the rear closest to the tank. In retrospect, imagine my surprise when I first arrived here to learn that, “the newest member of staff always had to make tea!” Tea I’m telling you, in a proper tea-pot and then to add insult to injury having to summon the rest of the staff “that tea was ready! “Yeah right! That didn’t go down too well with “moi” at all! I towed the line for a little while, then one day it just didn’t happen, THERE WAS MUTINY! How dare I, well I did dare and that was a major contribution to the demise of that hallowed tradition. Needless to say I could write of so many incidents that I experienced, some very negative and some were rather positive and enlightening. For instance my first novel read here was “A tree grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith, boy what a wonderful l and moving story, “Neely” remains my young heroine till this day ! Of course there was an abundance of others, I had discovered an endless supply to feed my reading addiction to say the least. Later on we had our “library people” too ! Although they were basically harmless they still posed a bit of a problem on the odd occasion when too much “spirits” had been imbibed, then they would amble into the building looking for “that pretty little brown skinned girl” or somebody they imagined was hiding out here. I don’t recall us having to summon the police or even having any violence demonstrated by them, they just allowed us to usher them out into the fresh air again. It was also the era of LSD a hallucinogen which added a bit too much excitement on occasion when some young people “dropped” it and then thought that they could fly off the back wall of the park!
We had our share of clients of varying personalities, oh yeah! Some were extremely difficult to deal with and some were very eccentric and single-minded to say the least ! Some were openly prejudiced and some very diplomatic. Some sneaked their pets into the building in their pocket-books no less and others brought their dogs in outright not caring what “policies” were in place! We were here to offer a service and offer it we did ( most times with a smile). We really had to be tactful, clever and open-minded and tried not to take things too personal, remember this was the late sixties early seventies and change was in the air (ready or not) . People all the world over were demanding their rights and standing up for what they truly believed in, some even became martyrs for their cause. There was no question about “growing”, it just became a part of everyday life, it was necessary. My early library experience included so many personalities and influences I do not dare begin to list them, “hats off to them “ because there is an old saying that every person or soul you encounter leaves an imprint on you somehow and I believe it totally. In the latter years, I have made many life-friends and associates. In my position as Outreach Assistant my eyes have truly been opened to the rich and abundant source of seniors in the community. To be able to add a little bit more joy and fulfillment to their lives and mine has been to say the least an enrichment and a privilege. As a child I always gravitated toward “ chronologically mature “ individuals and kept company with them regularly, thereby developing a natural kinship with them. I would like to say thank-you to them for trusting me and allowing me entrance into their homes and space, I will miss them but never will I forget them. Here at the library I have seen many people come and go, some on to higher ground academically and some completing their stay for
See ONE FOR THE ROAD, page 10
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READING IS SOOO DELICIOUS:
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ONE FOR THE ROAD, from page 4
other reasons. The one thing I do know is that each one has a place in the tapestry that has been my work experience. My tenure here of nearly 45 years has allowed me to embrace and grow to love my co-workers and care for them as though they were my kin. I have claimed surrogate mothers, aunts, adopted sons and daughters and sisters and brothers. I have opened my heart to many and they to me in genuine caring and camaraderie. There were times I felt like spanking and times I offered hugs, it’s all good. There have been times I have had to speak my piece and suffer the consequences, and other times when I have had to hold my tongue while my eyebrows raised involuntarily in surprise, protest and annoyance. There have been outrageous times filled with laughter and fun then again there have been disagreements and strained times just like in any family, with personality clashes and opinions not always appreciated . Today as my retirement date awaits on the horizon, I have many memories to draw upon. I will keep them close to my heart and they will cause me to smile on many a day I’m certain. There will be times when I will miss my Library friends I’m sure, but I know that because we have become “family” we will continue to keep tabs on one another and keep abreast of what’s happening in this great adventure of life, that’s an order you lot !!!! I have personally learned so much and am grateful for the professional experience gained at the BNL (but I’m technology impaired by choice you know) sometimes in resistance, sometimes willingly (yeah right) but I plodded on regardless. It would be remiss of me not to mention one of the greatest highlights in my experience and that is, THE FLOAT,
yes the first BNL entry in the Bermuda Day Parade celebrating our local heritage. We offered a beautiful entry depicting the then “Par-LaVille” park, complete with a garden featuring a four-foot banana doll posing as an artist capturing the BNL and the park scene, a bird bath, a majestic pergola, brilliant flowers , diverse plants, park bench , the library logo and lettering featuring artiste extraordinaire Ms Ronnie Chameau . With the help of willing staff and a few volunteers we somehow managed to pull it off ! For our many hours of hard work and diligence ( very short space of time too) the BNL was awarded blue ribbons and plaques to forever remind us of our collective success in that venture. Congratulations to the BNL, Yeah! There have been many other times I can recall worth mentioning but maybe I’ll write a book about them who knows? What with all the time I’ll soon have in the near future! God willing! However I am certain that my life lessons will continue as long as my faculties allow (please Jesus!) so to all my fellow members of staff and my lovely clients, I bid you adieu for now, but like a bad penny I think I’ll just keep turning up ! Hmmmmmmm……. I wonder what kind of patron I will be? What with all this absorbing……that’s a lot of years to take in stuff…….… My love to you all, from ME ! P.S. 45 years is not such a long time when you are having so much fun! “HOOT!”
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