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Second reveal coming September 26, 2009 – 6:30 – Library Auditorium
Tickets free – first come first serve – distribution begins September 14th

Where we left off

When last our interpret ghost hunting group, NESPI, was here they were not ready to say one way or other if the library was haunted and the library was given a “building of interest” status.  NESPI, being a group dedicated to disproving as much as proving, and wanting to be thorough, suggested another night of ghost hunting be conducted.    There was never any question in our minds if the team deemed another visit was needed they would be invited back.

So on July 11th I once again found myself on the way to the library after hours with a platter of sandwiches, and a bucketful of excitement and anticipation.    At least in my book the library did not let me down that night, however, I’m not sure what NESPI will have to say when they come for the next reveal.  With that reveal coming up September 26th I won’t say much at the moment but I can set the stage.

It was arranged that NESPI would arrive at the same time they did for the first hunt and went through the same drill of running cable, and setting up cameras.  Half the team was the same; Colleen, Brian (an on looker last time now a card carrying team member), and myself.  Making up the remainder of the rank and file this time there were three different people; two Mikes, Mike Astin and Mike Medeiros, and one of our custodians Tim Reed. Mike Astin, the founder of NESPI, was the lead investigator for this night and had a different vision of seek and find.  Last time the lead investigator, Bill Martin, concentrated on just the old section of the building.  This time Mike decided to cast his net wider and have the teams canvas all the build old and new.  To anyone unfamiliar with this building let me just say that was an ambitious plan, people got their exercise that night, it’s a big building!

My first assignment had no exercise what so ever involved, I was cameras monitor.  For the first couple of hours I was to keep an eye on the monitors and look for anything out of the ordinary the cameras might pick up.  If I saw anything suspicious I was to note the camera number and time so when the night’s recordings were reviewed special attention could be given to those parts.  Watching these cameras I was able to follow the teams; Colleen and Mike Medeiros prowling the basement level, Mike Astin, Brian and Tim maneuvering around the upper levels.   However, since these are just video cameras, no audio, I couldn’t hear what was being said and had no idea what, if anything, was being discovered.

To pick up audio the team uses hand held recorders.  Since some of NESPI’s greatest successes are in the realm of electronic voice phenomena aka EVPs, the capturing of voices of the unseen, these recorders never leave their possession, and extra batteries are always at hand.  At the last reveal several snatches of voices were played that had been captured here.

With all this recording equipment it’s not surprising it takes a long time to analyze findings.  Physically a team is only at a site for X amount of hours, however, with each member having an audio recorder, and multi cameras running the whole time you end up having to multiply that time by a factor of say between 6 or 8 to get how long it  takes to watch and listen to all that was recorded.  Think about it, 5 hours of hunting could easily balloon into 40+ hours of analyzing.  Definitely on the plus side because lest us not forget there are also still photos being taken with digital cameras during the whole night that also have to be scrutinized and pondered over.  Oh, and don’t forget, these people all have full time jobs and families they have to work around.  I’ve had the easy and fun part in all this as a tag-a-longer, the reality is ghost hunting is a lot of time consuming, detailed work

The teams hunted for about two hours then, as before, took a break for some sustenance and ghostly story telling.  Ya know… I have a suspicion they almost forgot me sitting all by my lonesome up at the main desk watching those monitors but thankfully someone remembered me and sent Tim up to retrieve me.

The second part of the night I got to hunt with the pack and that’s when I had my WOW moment of the evening.   I’m not going to say what it was….yet…. that would spoil all the fun for the night of the reveal. But… here’s my hook to get you to come on September 26th.  Rather than being just an observer of flashing lights this time I had a personal experience that was pretty amazingly strange.  If I thought my WOW moment from last time was something, watching those lights flash in response to questions, trust me it had nothing on this one!

So come join us on the 26th if you can.  If you are a lover of things that go bump in the night I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Yes, the library is a mystery, a big fat question mark!  Can it get any better than this for a person who has a blog called “The Games A Foot”, and whose avatar all over the internet is a silhouette of the great detective himself?  No, this is about as perfect as it gets!

Our ghost hunting friends from NESPI, (New England Society of Paranormal Investigators), came to the library Saturday night for a program and to do their reveal about our building.  It was a fun night for three reasons.  One being this is a fun group of people to spend time with.  As I said in my post about the night I spent hunting ghosts with them they take their work very seriously but they are also entertaining, with wonderful personalities, and stories both spooky, and funny.  Secondly we got to find out what they had discovered after reviewing the hours of film and audio they recorded that night.  Some I knew, some I suspected, some I had no idea. And thirdly, we had a full house.  A nice, attentive, receptive audience, with a balance of believers, non believers, and I don’t knows.

For the first part of the program Saturday night the NESPI team, Michael Astin, Bill Martin, and Colleen Beltramini, demonstrated how some of the equipment they brought along with them worked.    As they demonstrated this equipment we learned that ghost hunting groups use an extensive array of equipment in their research, and they capture a variety of happenings in various mediums.   Groups also seem to have specialties too.  Some groups get lots of visual activity on film, others have more luck with still photography, and some, like NESPI, have super success with EVPs  (electronic voice phenomena), the capturing of voices of the unseen on audio devices.  One piece of equipment they showed off was an EMF (Electromagnetic Field) meter.  I mention it in particular because it plays a prominent part in a story I’ll tell in a minute.

Then they played some of their best EVPs from other hauntings.  These are fascinating  to listen to.   Some are as clear as a bell, others less,  but the longer you listen the more your ear becomes attuned to picking up the subtleties.   Once we had honed our skills they played a game, complete with prizes, and had the audience guess what was being said.  The audience really got into this, and since all the prizes were given out there was a great success rate in decrypting what was being said.  If you’re interested go over to NESPI’s site and click on the EVP link, they have many of the ones they played uploaded there and you can give a listen for yourself.

Then came the report on the library.   The first thing they talked about was something they were able to debunk that night.   In Holmesian style I’ll call it,  The Case of the Snoring Book.  I can do a first hand blow by blow for this one as I watched this process from beginning to end.

One of the areas where they set up equipment was the old children’s room, now the Friends book sale room which is loaded with racks and displays of books of all kinds for sale.  I was standing in that room taking pictures of one of the team up on a ladder setting up equipment when suddenly we heard a weird noise.  This was before any serious hunting had started, we were still in setup mode, and I’m thinking “OK, this is wayyyyyyyy too easy!”  Upon investigation the sound (snoring) was coming from a children’s board book title “Listen! Peter Rabbit”.  On the cover are also the words “surprise sound inside”.  If you have had any experience with children’s books, and trust me having been a children’s librarian for 27 years I have, you know these books can have all kinds of sights, sounds, and smells built into them.  However you have to do something to the book to make it do its thing.  Open it, shake it, pull a tab, push a button.  This one just started to snore with no one near it or touching it.  This book became a focal point for the next three or four hours whenever a team was in that room because the darn thing kept snoring for no apparent reason.  We jumped on the floor, no snoring.  We pounded on the table it was on, no snoring.  We moved it around every which way, no snoring.   Then we’d walk away and bam, snoring!

One of the things we were consistently doing was taking pictures.  One of the basic tools used in hunts is a digital camera.  A lot, and I do mean a lot, of pictures are snapped randomly as you never know what “unseen to the eye” thing they might capture.  After hours of concentration on this book it was discovered that if the book was open just right, and the flash from a camera hit the open page just right, the book would…… snore.  How disappointing, after three hours I was convinced it was haunted but the pros don’t take things at face value that easily and as I said they are as serious about disproving as proving the unexplained.  I’m looking at that book as I type this, I have it in my office as a keepsake.  By the way, it hasn’t snored since that night.bear

This debunking might have been disappointing, however, one of the many pictures taken of that book in that room is interesting.  I’m told the spike of the light off that EMF is not normal.  There is no explanation, it’s one of the question marks.

The other big question mark, and the WOW moment I indicated in my post back in March took place in a stairway area just off and above the old children’s room.  I should explain here that our library has been remolded a number of times over the history of its 105 years.  Some of the remodels have been minor, some have been major, but this area hasn’t been touched much other than some repainting.  From the middle landing to the top of the stairs became a hot EMF meter spot.  The lights on these meters went crazy in this area all night.

Now when you are ghost hunting you ask questions into the air as if someone or something is there hoping for some results.   At first it feels a little odd but after awhile it kind of becomes natural.  We had all gathered at the top of the stairs because all the EMF meters were going so crazy and questions started to be asked.  Something like, “If there is someone here make all the lights on the meter go off.”  And didn’t the lights on the meter go……. OFF!  Questions continued with instructions to make two green lights come on, or make the red light flash, and dang didn’t those things happen.  For about six or seven questions in a row the meters responded to what the questioner had requested.  If was bizarre!  It was spooky!  It was WOW!stair

These meters, when not responding to questions, were also acting differently than they normally do, flashing on and off instead of staying constantly on or off.   This also happened in an area in a corner of a reading area just to the left of those stairs on the first floor.  All of the team were scratching their heads over the way this equipment was acting up.  Billy Martin, who was team leader the night of the hunt, went up to those areas again twice on Saturday with an EMF meter and got the same weird results.

To add another strange, and questioning twist to that night.   On the opposite side of the main lobby from the reading area that had all the EMF meter meaction this picture of me was taken.  Behind me is a window partly covered by what looks like a black mass.  Just a shadow?  Maybe.   But in a picture taken just seconds before this one there was no black mass.

These three pictures, by the way, were taken by Brian Belanger, my fellow non team member paranormal aficionado that night.  Non team member no longer however, Brain has now joined NESPI and a hunting hauntings he will soon be going.

Lastly, what about EVPs you ask.  Those things NESPI has the most success with.  Were there any?  Yes there were, three as a matter of fact.  The voice, or voices, sound male, and to me old and the three things heard being said are:

“You found me.”

“Are you going to be here all night?”

“They called NESPI”

So what does all this mean?  NESPI is not ready to say one way or other if we are haunted, we are what is known in the trade as a “building of interest”.  There were some things caught by the cameras that the team doesn’t feel comfortable making public because there are still too many questions.  As I said they are thorough, determined to disprove as much as prove.   So guess what?  Our intrepid team wants to come back to do more hunting.  And what do I say to that?  What else can I say, the games a foot!

Ghost Hunting

I am not a ghost hunter but I did play one at the library last night.  Oh yes, you read correctly, real, live, ghost hunting, and it was a blast!

I am getting ahead of my story here so let’s start at the beginning.   Well, actually, let’s start before the beginning.  Over the last couple of months I attended two programs at Taunton High School that featured prominent paranormal investigators.  The first, last October, a fund raiser for the THS junior class, featured psychic Lorraine Warren and investigator Tony Spera.  If you are unfamiliar with Warren she and her late husband Ed became nationally known when they investigated the Amityville horror house.  The second program, in January, featured Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson ghost hunting plumbers, founders of TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society), and stars of their own show, Ghost Hunters, on the SciFi channel.

Both events were amazingly well attended and drew a crowd of faces unfamiliar to me.  Now all libraries have their regular, faithful patrons, and every library is always looking for ways to draw in new people to visit and become regular, faithful patrons.  On both occasions after attending these programs I came back to the library and made the suggestion that a program such as this would be a great idea for our Friends group to sponsor.  Believe or disbelieve in the subject there is no question it holds a serious fascination for the public.

Fast forward a month or so and out of the blue comes an e-mail to our director from Colleen from NESPI (New England Society of Paranormal Investigators) stating she had been doing some research into old buildings in our area and was wondering if we might be receptive to their group coming down and doing a once over of the library.  Well dang, call it kismet, call it serendipitous, or perhaps staying with the theme, call it the intervention of a spectral hand  this could be the portal for the Friends’ program.  After some back a forth question filled e-mails, and the approval of our Board of Trustees, a date was set up for NESPI to come for an evening and do what ghost hunters do.

Knowing the BOT would want a staff member on site during this investigation, and being the resident staff creature of the night (never going to bed before 4 AM) it was a no brainer for me to volunteer for ghost hunting duty.  Of course the fact I love this kind of stuff didn’t hurt!

So now that we are all caught up here comes last night.  First I should say personally I doubted anything would be found.  Yes the building is old.  Yes many, many people have passed over its threshold with all kinds of life stories.   Yes an old house was moved to make room for the library to be built.  But frankly, as far as anyone knows nothing tragic, dramatic, or untold has happened on the property soooooooooo…….

The team of five arrived at 6:30.  Also attending was Brian, a fellow paranormal aficionado, and husband of one of our staff who had volunteered to give me a hand.  Thank goodness too as he became my photographer for the slide show I will be putting together. First we all toured the building and I pointed out where the old Carnegie parts of the building ran in conjunction with the newer (late seventies) addition.  After walking the building the group decided, as I’d suspected, to set up their equipment in the oldest parts of the building.  Cameras and microphones were set up in the basement level Friends book sale room (once a children’s room), the main lobby, and the two parts of reference on the second floor.  All this done the team likes to let the dust settle for around an hour.  When I say “dust settle” I mean that both figuratively (as in let whatever might be around and about get use to the intrusion), and literally (note to self: get custodians to dust tops of shelves!).

We all retreated to the break room for something to eat and the group regaled Brian and I with some interesting and fascinating stories of some of their past investigations.  A little about this group; they are very nice people, serious and professional about their work but not without a sense of humor.  As a matter of fact they say that joking around; teasing one another, laughs and chuckles can often attract things.  Their mission is to debunk as much as discover and they spoke of their disregard for those who are out for the spectacular, accepting anything and everything as paranormal, and of course those who blatantly falsify findings.

Time for the hunt or how could I not say it in this blog,,,,the games afoot!  After some food and interesting conversation we got to work and the team graciously put Brian and me to work.  We broke into groups a number of times swapping off and traveling to different areas of the library over the evening.  We used EMF detectors that gag electromagnetic fields, audio recorders, flash cameras, and our own natural senses.  We sat in the dark; we asked questions of unknown entities, we took turns watching the monitor recording what the four inferred cameras were seeing always keenly listening to and watching our surroundings.

Did we find anything? Well, the group now has to go back and watch, listen to, and analyze all they recorded last night and that is going to take them longer than the two to three weeks they originally anticipated (I’ll tell you why in a minute).  And let’s face it even if do know something for certain I’m not going to give away what could be the high point of our Friends program here, you’ll have to come to that to find out for yourself. We are hoping for a Saturday afternoon in June so stay tuned to this spot for time and date.

I will however tease a few things.  The group left scratching theirs heads over their equipment doing some things they had never seen it do before.   Also when this was set up, and also when they arrived, they gave the estimated time they would start breaking down their equipment as 11 PM.  We were still standing outside the library discussing the weird equipment stuff at 1 AM. Because they stayed hours longer than they planned it’s going to take longer for the analysis as they have tons more recordings than anticipated.  And lastly, I can honestly say there was one moment that was a real WOW! moment for me.  It may turn out to be nothing but………

Whatever turns up or doesn’t turn up it was a fun evening that I’d do again in a heart beat. After all, how often do you get to walk around in a dark building listening for things to go bump in the night and getting a multitude of fodder for not only a program but a blog post? Like I said stay tuned as I’ll be posting some pictures soon and as the Friend’s program draws closer the above mentioned slid show.   Who knows I may even post a few more teases.

For Immediate Release

In 1999 Middleborough residents Yolanda and Edward Lodi started Rock Village Publishing with the motto, “Preserving Our New England Heritage.” Since then they have published more that fifty books by local authors: memoirs, cookbooks, history, folklore, poetry, novels, and short story collections, all with a firm connection to New England, and many with an emphasis on southeastern Massachusetts.

To celebrate their tenth anniversary, Rock Village Publishing is seeking memoirs, anecdotes, and stories about people and their connection to cranberries for a special anthology to be called Cranberry Memories.  Anyone many submit a special recollection having to do with an aspect of cranberries or cranberry bogs: growing or harvesting cranberries, skating on the bogs, cooking with cranberries, favorite recipes, living near a bog, interacting with the wildlife near bogs, working at Ocean Spray or for a local grower, lamenting the loss of an abandoned bog, knowing an interesting person connected with the bogs, experiencing the bogs as a tourist.

Manuscripts of no more than two thousand words (fewer preferred) should be mailed to Rock Village Publishing, 41 Walnut Street, Middleborough, MA 02346.  Please include phone number and e-mail if applicable.  Don not send original; send copy only.  No manuscripts will be returned.  Please state whether photographs are available.  Payment for accepted manuscripts will be one contributor’s copy.

I am the webmaster for our Library’s web page.

I am not happy with it.

I inherited a page that had been designed back in the dark ages of web pages and had been maintained only by updating dated information (and sometimes not even than) so it was a limping dinosaur when I got it.  I had no web design background and barely knew what I was doing (I’m still a limited novice at best but I’m learning).   I’ve attended the SEMLS Dreamweaver and CSS workshops, taken an online Dreamweaver course from BCC, researched online, and I experiment………a lot.  Mine you most of the experiments don’t make it to cyberspace but stay confined to Dreamweaver on my computer but you know the old saying we learn from our mistakes.

OK, I did get it updated, and functioning, but it’s primitive.  Parts of it are looking better. I’m pretty (emphasize pretty) pleased with the new reference page. But parts of it I want to hang my head in shame over.  I’m not giving up though, I’m in the process of redesigning the main page, and developing a page for the circulation department so it’s a page in flux at the moment waiting for a magical metamorphosis.

When this press release for “Seeking Cranberry Memories” came to me I wanted to get the word out and place it somewhere where it could be accessed on the web page but couldn’t decide how or where.   Then I thought well how about using my blog, I want to start using this blog more! After all a major idea behind all of these online tools is to utilize them in the greatest and most efficient ways to discuss, inform, and disseminate information. So here’s comes the press release in the next post.

A Holiday Slideshow

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Here’s the Holiday edition of the Children’s Room slideshow.  I think it came out rather nice if I must say so myself.

Stacks Walking

Lordy it’s been awhile since I last posted.  I wonder if it’s too early to make a New Year’s resolution to sit down at least once a week and post something.  Maybe if I start making that resolution now when New Years actually rolls around the resolution will stick.  Let’s see how many posts I can make between now and Jan 1, 2009.

So stacks walking.  This summer I had a little health hiccup that parlayed into some minor surgery. Nothing serious but it was a wake-up call in the health column so I put myself on a regime of eating healthy and exercise.  I’ve started walking daily, as recommended by my doctor, and have found I enjoy it.  We have a lovely cemetery here in Taunton called Mayflower Hill and it has become the place to walk for many people at all times of the day.  One loop around the outer perimeter is 1.4 miles but there are many zig zaggy roadways so you don’t get bored.  It’s a beautiful, peaceful place, and on top of the waking benefit it had a spectacular fall.

Now that the fall colors are gone I get to concentrate on the tech podcasts I listen to on my Zune as I walk.  Now there is a school of thought about the dangers of plugging oneself in while walking or jogging and I agree with it so when I started walking I didn’t.   However, after walking there for a few weeks, and seeing the same friendly faces, and it being an enclosed area away from street traffic, I felt safe enough to give it a chance.  My only slightly scary moment so far had nothing to do with being plugged in, it was an encounter with a flock of wild turkeys.  Have you ever seen those things up close and personal, they are huge!  It wasn’t a serious encounter, it was easy enough to back away and take another roadway leaving that area of the cemetery in the possession of those giant birds for the day.

What does any of this have to do with libraries you ask?  Well, at my last doctor’s visit we got to talking about what I was going to do when the bad weather started.  Join the Y?  Get a treadmill?  Walk the mall?  I hadn’t really decided, I really don’t want to give up on outdoor walking, but then this cold snap hit.  Well, it’s not so much the cold as the wind.  I hate wind!  Don’t like walking in it on balmy days, walking on frigid days is a double whammy.  So I got to thinking about utilizing the library stacks.  What got me thinking this way was an article in the Shifted Librarian awhile back about how the Dartmouth library turned itself in to a miniature golf course for a fundraiser.  Hey, if a library could utilize its space as a miniature golf course why couldn’t the aisles of stacks be used for a little exercise?  After all people mall walk, it’s kind of the same principle but without the window shopping.

The last Saturday I walked it rained, actually It poured, I’ve walked in regular old rain.  So I undertook an experiment, I walked the stacks.  I discovered that our three floors of stacks equal out to .6 miles and about 1,327 steps.  I know this because I wear two pedometers at all times.  There are three flights of stairs, aka extra exercise points, and it’s dry and warm back there.  People ask about running into patrons.  Well, if they mean literally I’ve developed a whole formula of row shifting in my head to avoid a collisions and still keep my momentum and mileage.  On the other hand if they mean “what the heck is that crazy librarian doing walking up and down the aisles?” If any patrons are thinking that they haven’t verbalized it, and I have had a couple of nice little chats with people perusing the shelves.   I keep walking, they keep talking.  OK, so I’m in the early days of this and I suppose the honeymoon could go south soon but so far so good.

I’ve walked 35 minutes, just about 2 miles, every day for the last week and I’m please I haven’t let the rain or cold weather separate me from my exercise routine. My ultimate goal is 5 miles or 10,000 steps, and of course I’m not giving up the cemetery.   However, I must say it’s convenient to be able to walk out of my office and into a 2 mile walk on my lunch hour without leaving the shelter of this building when the weather is rough out.  The only drawback is I can’t listen to my podcasts but I think I might just use those 35 minutes to think up more blog posts.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  And yes, I do plan to walk on Thanksgiving but not in the stacks.