Embracing Change

President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump shake hands following their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)


You have to embrace change if you work in a public library.  We see change every day – new books on the shelves through weekly deliveries, daily updates to the magazine and newspaper shelves and wonderful new faces coming in to sign up for library cards.  It’s one of the best parts of working here.  I also like that we rely on routine and I do gravitate towards that.  I enjoy the observance of tradition as much as the next gal.  I so look forward to the reappearance of holidays like Canada Day, Oktoberfest and our neighbour’s festive Fourth of July – parades, I just love parades.   Somehow though, I just can’t seem to muster much enthusiasm for the upcoming U.S. inauguration day.  I am regretting this because they put on a great show with opera singers, fabulous musicians, that nice walk down Pennsylvania Avenue with cheering crowds and many waving flags.  So, to make up for what I will be missing this year I have put the Waterloo Public Library’s catalogue to work for me on a list of books and music.

So, first I thought of some inspiring tunes I would want to listen to.  I started with the classics.  I went with the original “JT” and found James Taylor’s 1970 album Sweet Baby James so that I could enjoy a little bit of “Carolina on my mind”, “Country road” and “Fire and rain”.  Nothing better really.  Knowing that I would be feeling a little low after those soulful tunes I decided to play myself something uplifting like Stevie Wonder or Aretha Franklin.  We have a fantastic CD called The essential Aretha Franklin which is a double disc with all of the most beautiful tracks, just clicking from one to the next is a treat, and it can really get you up out of your chair and dancing.

I also felt like I needed a bit of pomp and circumstance in planning my own inaugural music list and decided to step away from R&B and folk singers.  I went with Copland’s “Appalachian spring” and I hit search and found that we have so many lovely versions of this on our shelves.  In fact, we have a great recording by the Lincoln Centre’s own Chamber Music Society that they recorded in a historic site in Kentucky.  According to their web site they trek out to this barn every year at Memorial Day and play a few concerts there.  I don’t have a ‘bucket list’ exactly but this just might go on my list of things to attend someday.  How cool must that be to catch?  Seeing all of those world-class musicians in a Shaker barn?  Count me in.

All of the best celebrations in the U.S. capitol involve some military melodies and I was aching to hear a bit of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” or something like that so with a quick search on our faithful catalogue I found my best hit so far.  A CD called God bless America which has the Boston Pops with Arthur Fiedler conducting, Leontyne Price, Kate Smith, Harry Belafonte and Perry Como!  It’s just like diving into my mother’s record collection all at once and if you take a glance at the list of songs on this CD it is jam-packed with U.S. patriotic tunes perfect for my home-based inaugural celebration or any other day I just feel like singing along.


I didn’t want to just listen to music with my personal inauguration celebration so I did a little poking around for something to read.  An easy pick for me was to re-read Barack Obama’s book Dreams from my father: a story of race and inheritance.  Following his farewell speech I felt like I wanted to remember the early years when he worked so hard as a community organizer.  When he asked people to “show up, dive in, stay at it” it made me think I should read those pages again for inspiration.  President Obama was a big fan of reading himself and was called the “Reader-in-Chief” for all that he did to support literacy during his eight years; he published his own reading lists, visited local bookstores, read to thousands of kids and quoted To kill a mockingbird in his farewell speech.  How cool is that?  I’ll definitely return to some favourite chapters while I listen to my music.

For one more reading choice it seemed like it might be worth it to return to the beginning of U.S. presidential history and check out Ron Chernow’s excellent biography of George Washington to get a feel for how the first president approached his time in office.  Surely in 904 pages there has to be more to learn than what I absorbed in my high school American history classes.  In Washington : a life he presents a portrait of a man who is a “celebrated horseman, elegant dancer and tireless hunter”.  I wonder if those words are on a plaque somewhere in Mount Veronn?   If nothing else reading this book will allow me to listen to some of my favourite songs from the Broadway musical Hamilton where they reference George Washington.  It might be hard to listen to a few of those songs right now, especially “One last time”.  If you haven’t heard Chris Jackson’s voice as he sings about his last moments as America’s first president it is so worth a listen.

I’m not sure what I will choose for the last song of my little inaugural party but I will definitely lift my teacup and wish our neighbours well.  After that I will click on the WPL catalogue and plan my next book celebration – maybe Valentine’s Day?  Groundhog day?  I know that the WPL catalogue will provide me with great options.  Maybe I will expand my search this time and include recipes.  Delicious.

– Penny M.