Harriet Strauss, Frona DeCovnick and Joan Vos with Shelly Cohen.

A Tuneful Time with Shelly Cohen

Gershwin, Bernstein, Berlin, Williams: The music of these prolific composers and more reverberated through the Multipurpose Room after our October General Meeting…and everyone had a great time identifying the film or Broadway musical for which each selection was composed. This was a cinch for the many musical film and theater buffs in attendance. And thus—with a witty, humorous flair—did Sheldon Cohen, long-time Assistant Musical Director for Johnny Carson's Tonight Show, truly entertain his audience while educating them.

A knowledgeable composer/conductor, he also presented an overview of how music was incorporated into the movies. He explained how musical scores changed with the various mediums and reflected what was happening in the world at that time. Many of his anecdotes were in the first person, as he knew most of the composers during America's musical heyday. When he concluded his presentation, the audience just sat for a moment, hoping he'd defy the clock and go on.

Mr. Cohen seriously became involved with music at the age of 16 when he took up the clarinet and later the violin. One of his early jobs was in NBC's music library. He's since written and produced shows for stage and television. He composes, arranges, and produces albums. He conducts community groups such as the St. Mel's Adult Choir, the New Horizon Singers, and the San Fernando Valley Male Chorus. After the Johnny Carson Show, he founded the Pacific Pops Orchestra and continues to accept guest-conducting spots from major Pops orchestras. With expertise ranging from American Jewish musical icons to the history of music through the ages, Shelly Cohen also is fast becoming one of the most sought after speakers on music and musical history.

We were indeed fortunate to have experienced this engaging speaker.

Frona DeCovnick, President, & Carol Roseman, Publicity Chair

VickiChildren's Librarian Vicki Magaw Promoted to Senior Librarian of Sylmar Branch

Why does good fortune so often entail a trade-off? The Friends and other patrons who came to love Vicki Magaw over the last 5 years were delighted when she passed the senior level exams with flying colors. We all congratulated her when, late last August, an early morning phone call offered her the top spot at Sylmar Branch Library, effective immediately. But when September 3rd—her last day at Platt—was upon us, it was very hard to see her go.

Vicki joined Platt's staff as Children's Librarian in October of 1999. Fortunately she came in with 5 years previous experience as a librarian and a work history with LAPL dating back to 1985—because the position she filled had been vacant for a year. Her infectious enthusiasm, her love of promoting literacy, and her spirited Storytimes quickly filled the needs of Platt's youngest patrons.

Vicki with GAB Project Director Maureen Wade at the training brunch hosted by Platt Branch in 2002.

She had a good working relationship with LAPL Children's Services and worked tirelessly to tailor general programs to Platt's community and resources. During her tenure, our Grandparents and Books program expanded from the original eight readers (not shabby—especially for a new branch) to a whopping twenty-two; Platt sent volunteer readers to branches with less support. She experimented with kids’ book club formats, and some of her innovations were incorporated into citywide programs. As a Class III Children's Librarian, she found the time to interact with all the grade schools in our area, initiating joint programs and coordinating others. She also made good use of the Friends fundraising efforts—never missing an extra opportunity to bring the latest titles and best children's programs to Platt Branch. And with the help of other staff members, Friends volunteers like Millie Berger, and our premier GAB reader, Judie Mount, she elevated Platt's Family and PreSchool story hours to standing-room-only, eagerly anticipated events.

For most of us, especially the kids, the fondest memories will be of Vicki's puppet shows. She had a sure instinct for stories kids would love, and she was always as excited about “putting on the play” as any preschooler could possibly be…roping us all in to help puppy or turtle, leprechaun or Abe Lincoln solve their latest crisis.

“Vicki deserved the promotion,” we tell one another. “Besides, she'll be so much closer to home. She'll have more time to spend with her daughter, Syndel, and husband Mike (at least in theory).” But that only partially allays the regret that shadows such great memories.

“Oh, but you'll have new things to remember,” Vicki told us as she left. “There'll be another Children's Librarian to take my place—most likely someone who will enjoy working with the community and Platt's wonderful volunteers as much as I have.”

She's probably right. One very promising sign is that, this time, LAPL Personnel hopped right on finding a qualified replacement. By the time you receive this newsletter, Barbara Mattison (also a career Children's Librarian) will have had a chance to settle in. Watch for a full introduction in the January Newsletter. And in the meantime, do stop by the Reference Desk and extend an individual Friend's welcome to our newest staff librarian. It really helps to know one's efforts will be appreciated and will have support.

Friends Board Takes Member Concerns to Library Board of Commissioners

On the theory that questions of policy are sometimes best addressed directly to policy makers, Friends Membership VP Millie Berger, Book Sales Manager Shel Schuster, and Volunteer Co-coordinator Harriet Strauss attended the Library Board of Commissioners meeting at Westwood Branch Library on October 6. There, they posed concerns that neither the Friends Board nor two Senior Librarians have been able to resolve at the branch level.

One was very simple: The escalation of book and periodical theft is depleting Platt's resources. Why have requests for a working book theft gate been ignored? The answer was equally simple: They shouldn't have been, and Platt will get a replacement post haste.

One entailed clarification of existing policy: Patrons who have made donations for the purchase of books sometimes don't get to see what they've donated before it's been circulated to other branches to fulfill holds. General LAPL policy is clear; all circulation copies are available to all branches, and all holds must be fulfilled before new books are shelved. Is there any way to keep donated books for at least six months before they go into general circulation? Maybe. Branches can have special collections that circulate only from that branch. Whether donated books in general can fall into that category will have to be researched, and then an overall determination made.

Then there were the complicated issues being raised by branches throughout the LAPL system: Why don't branches have a full Caldecott/Newbery collection? Why can't branches acquire a broader selection of audio books? Why aren't books on local high school reading lists also on LAPL purchasing lists? Why does a Friends group with the resources to fund the addition of such demonstrably desirable titles have to petition the Library Board of Commissioners for special dispensation to do so?

In this, FOPL representatives simply reiterated an oft-heard request for expanded purchasing lists and a better job of tailoring LAPL purchases to community needs. The short answer was that funds are short. But that didn't answer Platt Branch's core complaint. The long answer pits LAPL's social philosophy against practical utilization of resources and defies interpretation.

So the trip certainly wasn't a waste of time, but your Board and Senior Librarian will have to keep squeaking, “Yes, but what the Friends fund for Platt will benefit the entire LAPL system.” Eventually, the reality of this will sink in.

Keep telling us what's bothering you. We'll keep you posted.

Millie Berger and Harriet Strauss
 contributed to this article, but the editorializing is solely the editor's.

Entertainment 2006 Books
are now available in the Platt Library Bookstore. Save $$$ on entertainment and groceries! Details are in Fundraising News.

The Friends of the Platt Library Newsletter is produced and maintained by Hearn/Perrell Art Associates. Editor: Therese Hearn
Artwork, photos and information are copyrighted by their respective Authors, the Friends of the Platt Library, and/or Hearn/Perrell Art Associates and may not be reprinted without permission.
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