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Library News

By: Sheila Hoffmeyer, President
For: Red Rock News
Date: January 1, 2010

Sharing Resolutions for the New Year

The tradition of the New Year’s resolution is not new – it spans more than two millennia.
According to historians, the mythical Roman King Janus, from whom we get the name of our first calendar month, was a two faced symbol with the uncanny ability to look back on the past and look forward to the future. Janus also became known as the guardian of entrances and doors.

The celebration of the New Year was begun by the Romans, who sought forgiveness from their enemies and gave one another gifts. During this period the vague line between Christmas and New Year's traditions became blurred. Christians changed New Year's Day to Dec. 25 in the Middle Ages and gift-giving became a Christian tradition.

According to information posted on, gift-giving is only one of the ancient traditions that marked the beginning of the New Year. Traditions ranged from eating black-eyed peas in America, dining on lasagna in Sicily, eating 12 grapes at midnight in Spain and giving the front door a fresh coat of red paint in China.

The start of the New Year moved around a bit as various cultures changed the calendar to mark different events: the winter solstice, phases of the moon, the beginning of spring or a time of planting and sowing. Whatever the date, the New Year became known as a time of new beginnings for people around the world.

In ancient Babylon over 4,000 years ago, the Babylonian New Year was celebrated on the night of the first new moon after the vernal equinox, the first day of spring. Babylonians also made New Year's resolutions, though their most popular resolution usually had something to do with returning borrowed farm equipment.

Making a resolution on New Year's Day is a time-honored tradition. Earlier celebrants of the holiday held elaborate rituals to chase away the ghosts of the past. The Chinese used cymbals and fireworks, and others used rites such as exorcisms and purifications. Ceremonies, involving bonfires, processions or parades, often had masks that symbolized the dead.

The celebrants of these traditions believed that the demons of the past were exorcized by denouncing past sins, bad habits and frailties. The end result was starting the New Year with a clean slate.

As the Board of Trustees, Friends of the Library, staff and volunteers close out 2009 this week; we share our thoughts, goals and resolutions for 2010. 

The Sedona Public Library Board and Friends of the Library Board are jointly committed to developing strategies to assure the future sustainability of the Library.  The Boards are coming together for a day long retreat in January to collaboratively define action steps for ensuring a solid future for our Library.

Joyce Murphy, volunteer troubleshooter, is looking forward to an improved economy with a hope that funding to the Library can be restored.

Virginia Volkman, Library Director, and Mia Fliers, Circulation Librarian, are dedicating their energies to making the migration to a new software platform as smooth as possible for staff, volunteers and patrons.  Ginny’s column next week will give more details on the conversion of the Yavapai Library Network to Symphony, which will bring changes to how our local libraries check in, check out and order materials.  March is the target date for the transition.

Liza Vernet, volunteer troubleshooter, is resolved to help as much as possible with the migration project and has offered to help train our circulation volunteers to make sure the changeover goes well for all involved.

Pam Comello and Daryl Lusher, Youth Services Librarians, want to improve the signage in the Children's room to enable children to better locate audio books, playaways, videos and DVDs. They also hope to find new ways to connect children and teens with good stories and literature through improvements to the Library website, which will allow better access to current information.

Marcela Saldivia-Berglund, Lationo Services Librarian, has three goals: 1) Effective Outreach.  Identify the Latinos in Sedona and determine their library and information needs in order to create specific programs that will encourage them to come to the library. 2) Continuing Education: Attend specialized seminars and conferences and keep updated on the different types of library materials available to Hispanics in the United States to enhance my professional performance and effectiveness in attracting Spanish-speaking patrons to the Library. 3) Bridging Cultures: Continue to develop the Spanish collection and to create new programs and events that will bring together people from different cultural backgrounds.

Patricia Lowell, Adult Services Librarian, expressed the goal that the Library upholds its tradition of providing excellent customer service, especially through the upcoming migration. She believes the library is noted for its friendly, approachable service and feels that is critically important to maintain throughout the coming year.

We wish all our patrons and readers of this column a healthy and prosperous New Year!

Sheila Hoffmeyer
Sheila Hoffmeyer, author of this week's article,
is President of the Board of Trustees of the Sedona Public Library.

Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News
and is also presented on: Gateway to Sedona and Sedona Biz.