Monday, September 21, 2009

Craft Fair Racket vs Quieter Library

On the flip side of the last post, sometimes the craft shows are really noisy. StART on the Street takes place on Park Ave. in Worcester. They block off a large section of the street next to Elm Park and over 200 vendors set up on the street and sidewalks. There are also 2 stages for music and dance performances and there's a strolling bag pipes player. While categories are limited, it's not a juried show. Therefore there is an incredibly eclectic mix of art and artisans. Someone who creates a few ceramic caricatures can be set up on a blanket across from an established high end painter. While there is the usual large group of jewelry designers in every genre, jewelry can also be found in the booths of ceramic and glass artists, knitters and sketch artists. It's just everywhere. And over 20,000 people attend and have a great time.

We were set up this year across from the large and noisy food court and near one of the stages. While louder than I would have liked, in general the music was pleasant and changed regularly from current pop to oldies to Latin. But at mid afternoon a performance art group arrived in white jumpsuits and face masks to create scenes from an alien abduction or alien scientific experiments. Truthfully, I didn't see the entire performance. But it was the high decible screeching guitars that truly gave the performance its eerie, unearthly feel. It also made it difficult to talk to customers and brought on a dull head ache.

So this morning I came back to work at the library and I have a whole new appreciation of the drilling going on next door. It's not nearly as loud nor as irritating as yesterday's alien invasion. And with my ear buds plugged into Maroon Five and Jason Mraz, it's almost peaceful here.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Library Racket vs Tranquil Craft Show

The days of libraries being quiet places are over. Libraries are becoming destinations offering computer workstations and group study spaces. People meet in our library to work on group projects and discuss assignments. We have a coffee and snack station on the entrance floor. Patrons have pizza delivered. We daily experience the pleasant noise of busy students.

But this library is also a construction zone as we add more Learning Commons space for the students. They moved everyone away from the North and East sides of the main floor EXCEPT the Acquisitions Dept. Here we sit trying to conduct business between the drilling of the bathroom renovation behind us and the concrete saws and hammering of the new student space. We're walled off, sometimes frozen, and often unable to hear each other speak. And we worked for 2 days by emergency lights only.

In contrast, I showed at an arts festival this past weekend in Springfield. The Mattoon Street Festival is a wonderful little show of 80 artisans. Tents are set up on the brick sidewalks of an historical, tree lined street of old brownstones. The neighborhood association has been sponsoring this show for over 30 years and it's efficiently organized by an accommodating group of people. The artisans are top quality and the jewelry category, though the largest, is limited.

The weekend was warm and pleasant and the rain that threatened all day Saturday never appeared. Each hour a musician or musical group of a different genre strolled the street. People were pleasant and friendly, many dressed nicely as they came from religious services. The women who attended were ones who loved and wore unique pieces of jewelry. A lot of the people were already buying holiday gifts. It was the nicest little arts and crafts show I have ever attended. And the environment was much more pleasant than my office is this morning.

Irritatingly noisy library or enjoyable craft show? Trying to talk to people and concentrate on my work with what sounds like airplanes taking off and landing or peacefully making jewelry with light classical music playing in the background? Nine and a half months and counting.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Caught Between 2 Worlds

So here I am now with one foot still in the library and one foot out the
door trying to make my jewelry business a successful enterprise. The
library is changing AGAIN. In my 37 years here it has evolved several
times. But this has to be the biggest change requiring not only departmental reorganization but major building renovations. We are now a destination. Our lower level, once home of technical services and reference is now The Learning Commons. Not only is there a reference presence but also a desk manned by Learning Commons staff who help with computer related issues. We're quickly canceling paper subscriptions and spending a larger and larger portion of our shrinking budget on electronic resources. And more floor space is being utilized for computer tables and wired group study rooms.

The plan is to eventually move us to a section of the floor where we'll have a view of the courtyard gardens. I've worked in windowless space my entire career here. My new space will provide me with actual sunlight. They've promised to move us in January. I'll be retiring in June.

Until then, my office is caught between areas of construction. They're
putting up a wall about 15 feet from my desk and the drilling is
intermittent all day long. I have my ear buds plugged into Pandora and
today I listened to Josh Groban. On the plus side he keeps my blood
pressure from getting too high. Unfortunately, I can't hear the phone if it rings.

I occasionally doodle little pictures and write down notes as ideas come to me for jewelry designs or displays. Ideas seem to come from odd places--the colors of the binding on a new encyclopedia or a group of spines sitting together on the gift shelves. Right now I'm creating very few things. It's craft fair season and my focus is always on the next show. Should I feature the high end pieces or the lower priced items, or both. Should I bring the valances to make the tent look more homey. Do I have enough boxes? Most days I can't wait to get home and away from the noise to the silence of my jewelry workbench.