Oliver Wolcott Library - Programs

Oliver Wolcott Library
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Events are updated regularly. Please check back!


Wednesday, September 9th
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Litchfield’s Experience in the Civil War
with Historian Peter Vermilyea
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150 years ago, in the summer of 1865, Litchfield hosted a massive celebration marking the return of her soldiers from the Civil War. Amidst the festive atmosphere, townspeople also acknowledged the nearly seventy men of the town who were killed in battle, or died as a prisoner or of disease. This talk will examine Litchfield’s experience in the war, including the raising of men to serve the Union cause, opposition to the war, the experiences of the town’s soldiers in some of the most famous battles of the war - including Antietam and Cold Harbor, the war on the home front, and how the town commemorated the war in the decades following. 

Peter Vermilyea teaches history at Western Connecticut State University and at Housatonic Valley Regional High School in Falls Village. He earned his B.A. in history from Gettysburg College and is the scholarship director of its Civil War Institute. He earned his M.A. in history from Western Connecticut State University and his Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Educational Leadership from Southern Connecticut State University. He is the author of four books including The Hidden History of Litchfield County published in 2014, and Of the People, By the People, For the People and Other Quotations from Abraham Lincoln published by Columbia University Press in 1996. Peter also maintains the blog Hidden in Plain Sight about history of Litchfield at www.hiddeninplainsightblog.com. He lives in Litchfield with his wife and two sons. Space is limited. Registration is required.


Thursday, September 17th
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

How Did I Get Here?
A Conversation with Author Jesse Browner
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How Did I Get Here? is a literary exploration that seeks to answer the question: Have I lived the life I intended? Based on an essay he wrote for Poets & Writers magazine, author Jesse Browner asks hard questions about the choices life imposes on us, and our tendency to believe in a parallel, alternative existence where we might have felt more fulfilled, more free, more true to ourselves. He wonders: Is the true artist made by single-minded devotion to his craft? Do we compromise our dreams in service to our responsibilities to families and jobs?

Join author and OWL board trustee Todd Johnson as he facilitates this conversation with Jesse Browner.

Jesse Browner is an American novelist, essayist and translator at the United Nations. He was born in New York City and grew up in Europe. He graduated from Bard College with a B.A. in English. His work has appeared in NestFood & Wine, GastronomicaNew York, The New York Times Book Review and Poets & Writers.

Todd Johnson is the author of The Sweet By and By which won the 2010 Connecticut Book Award for Fiction and has been adapted for the stage. He is currently co-writing the screenplay adaptation of the novel with Academy Award-winning screenwriter Ron Bass.

A wine & cheese reception will follow the event. The Hickory Stick Bookshop will provide books for sale & signing. Space is limited. Registration is required.

Wednesday, September 23rd
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

The Cookbook Club
Appetizers Anyone?
with OWL Staff
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Are you looking for fun, fresh ideas for appetizers and hors d’oeuvres to serve this upcoming holiday season? Or do you have a tried and true family recipe that is a hit at every special occasion? Join Adult Services Librarian Audra MacLaren and Librarian Patricia Moore as they host the OWL Cookbook Club. We’ll meet to chat about (and eat!) appetizers we have never tried before, as well as those time-tested family favorites. 

Beginning a month before the discussion date we will have an assortment of cookbooks available for check out - select the one that most interests you. 

Over the course of the month we encourage you to make recipes from your book and come ready to chat about what worked, what didn’t, and what you cannot wait to make again.

Audra and Patricia will be bringing their favorite starters and encourage you to do the same. Do not be intimidated - we are all just amateur cooks who love books! Be sure to bring the recipe that accompanies your dish, as well as any others you think may be of interest to the group. A collection of everyone’s recipes will be posted to our blog: www.owlcookbookclub.wordpress.com for easy access after the meeting.


Sundays, September 27th & October 25th
1:00 - 2:00 p.m.

Two of Shakespeare’s Comedies
A Discussion with Dr. Mark Schenker
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Join Dr. Mark Schenker as he explores two great comedies by William Shakespeare. In our discussion, Dr. Schenker will consider the comic view of life, the transformative power of love and art, and the ways in which Shakespeare employs theater as symbol and metaphor. Copies of the plays will be available in advance of each discussion.

Mark J. Schenker is the Senior Associate Dean of Yale College, Dean of Academic Affairs and a lecturer in English at Yale. He earned his Ph.D. from Columbia University in English and Comparative Literature. He lectures frequently on literary topics, and enjoys making literature accessible and enjoyable. Space is limited. Registration is required.

September 27th - A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Taking place in a mythical Athens and an enchanted forest, this comedy portrays the adventures of four young lovers, a group of amateur actors, their interactions with woodland fairies, a duke and duchess, a misguided parent, star-crossed lovers, and more. Falling in love can make fools of us all.

October 25th - Twelfth Night
Set in a topsy-turvy world like a holiday revel, this comedy devises a romantic plot around separated twins, misplaced passions, and mistaken identity. Juxtaposed to it is the satirical story of a self-deluded steward who dreams of becoming “Count Malvolio” only to receive his comeuppance at the hands of the merrymakers he wishes to suppress.



Wednesday, September 30th
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Tales from the Desert:
An Evening with Guitarist Peter Biedermann
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For this performance, Peter Biedermann will be focusing on pieces from his new recording Tales From The Desert on a variety of 6 and 12 string guitars in unique tunings utilizing subtle ambient electronics and looping in real time. The program encourages questions from the audience and will also include some of the history and evolution of steel string guitar playing over the last 50 plus years. Fans of fellow guitarists such as Leo Kottke, the British school (Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Davy Graham), Ralph Towner, Michael Hedges and Pierre Bensusan will enjoy this music.

Peter is a solo instrumental guitarist based in Green Valley, Arizona who has been composing and performing for over 35 years. His background also includes stints in various group settings; most notably the bands PING, White Light, Serious Fun, Magic Spot and Amalgamation. The common thread throughout his musical background is crossing the boundaries of various genres including jazz, world, folk and rock and utilizing acoustic and electronic instrumentation in unique ways. Peter began focusing on performing original solo instrumentals in 2000 in intimate settings such as libraries, art galleries, house concerts, and churches. CDs will be for sale after the performance. Visit Peter’s website www.peterbiedermann.com for music samples and more information. Space is limited. Registration is required.



Thursday, October 1st
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

More Cool Justice
with Author Andy Thibault
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More Cool Justice is a collection of hard-hitting essays that unmask despicable players in our justice system while also hailing the service of good cops and an occasional prosecutor or judge. NYT best-selling novelist Wally Lamb calls Thibault “a junkyard dog for justice who bares his teeth at pomposity and institutional unfairness and only bites the truly deserving. Need proof? Read More Cool Justice.” 

This volume of essays is credited with helping to free a woman unjustly convicted of premeditated murder. That woman, Bonnie Foreshaw, will join Thibault in this program.

Thibault’s reporting has tackled police brutality in Hartford in the early 1990s, the Young & Rubicam “Come Back to Jamaica” kickback scandal, the financial irregularities of the late Commerce Secretary Ron Brown, and the 1996 bombing at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta. He is the author of several books, including, History of the Connecticut State Police and Law & Justice in Everyday Life

More recently, Thibault was one of the few reporters to cover the Boston Marathon bombing trial gavel to gavel. His reports can be found at www.nbcnews.com by entering Andy Thibault in the search box. He is also chairman emeritus of the Connecticut Young Writers Trust and was an adjunct professor at WCSU and the University of Hartford. Last year he was honored by the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information with the Stephen Collins Award for his “many contributions to the cause of open and accountable government and a free and vigorous press.” His websites include morecooljustice.com and cooljustice.blogspot.com. A wine & beer reception will follow the event. The author will provide books for sale & signing. Space is limited. Registration is required.


Tuesday, October 13th
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

From Galileo to the New Horizons Mission:
An Introduction to Astronomy
with Denis Williamson
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What We’ve Learned since 1610 and How We Learned It? We will discuss how our understanding of the world has shifted since the invention of the telescope in the early 17th century. In 1600 Europeans believed that the heavens were perfect and unchanging.  Now we know that stars have life cycles. We’ll discuss how we’ve learned so much and also what’s visible with the unaided eye, with binoculars and with a small telescope. 

Denis Williamson is the Secretary of the Litchfield Hills Amateur Astronomy Club where he has been an active member since 2009 and organizes the star parties hosted by the club at White Memorial. He gives talks on various astronomy topics and enjoys engaging new and advanced amateur enthusiasts. Retired from a career in the computer industry, Denis spends clear days sailing on Bantam Lake and clear evenings stargazing. In his opinion, there aren’t as many clear nights in Connecticut as there should be.

The Litchfield Hills Amateur Astronomy Club, founded in 1957, promotes the enjoyment and pursuit of astronomy with regular meetings and public events. The club hosts regular Friday evening star parties at White Memorial in Litchfield, and with the Mattatuck Astronomical Society operate the observatory at there. For more information about the Litchfield Hills Amateur Astronomy Club, visit their website at lhastro.org. Space is limited. Registration is required.


Thursday, October 15th
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

When Two Spines Align: Dressage Dynamics
with Author & Horse Expert Beth Baumert
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Within riding there exists a basic conflict of interest: the rider needs to have control of her own body as well as that of her very powerful horse. In When Two Spines Align, author Beth Baumert, writer and editor at the equestrian magazine Dressage Today, resolves the control enigma by taking a close look at the individual components that make up riding and dressage and providing practical ways riders can learn to harness the balance, energies, and forces at play. Readers will discover how to use “positive tension” and their body’s “power lines” to become balanced and effective in the saddle. When the center of gravity of a balanced rider is over the center of gravity of a balanced horse, that place where two spines align becomes the hub for rider and horse harmony.

Author Beth Baumert is the owner of Cloverlea Farm in Columbia, Connecticut. The farm is dedicated to the training of dressage horses and riders from Training Level to Grand Prix. She is a USDF Certified Instructor through Fourth Level and an “L” graduate of the USDF judging program. As editor at Dressage Today, she is in constant contact with the best dressage riders in the world as they write about the technical aspects of dressage. Light refreshments will be served. The author will provide books for sale & signing. Space is limited. Registration is required.


Thursday, October 22nd
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

New England Farmgirl: Recipes & Stories from a Farmer’s Daughter
with Author Jessica Robinson
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New England Farmgirl invites readers to learn about growing a garden, buying local, and choosing organic foods. It is filled with family heritage recipes - from grandfather’s fudge to great grandmother’s molasses cookies, along with recipes created by the author to use the great products harvested in New England. Maple Peach Barbecue Sauce, Strawberry-Raspberry Popsicles, Farmhouse Pumpkin Pound Cake and so many more delicious recipes bring New England farm products to your table.

New England is known for culinary delights, such as blueberries, cranberries and maple syrup. Reading this will be like driving through rural Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont. Step back in time and remember the joys of childhood with wonderful farm stands, orchards, and wineries throughout New England.

Jessica Robinson was raised on a small Connecticut farm where her family raised livestock and grew crops, as well as operated a maple sugar house. Through her floral company, Jessica became one of the most sought-after wedding and event designers in New England. You can readher blog at carolinafarmhousekitchen.com. She divides her time between Canton, Connecticut, and Graham, North Carolina. Apple cider & Jessica’s treats will follow the event. The author will provide books for sale & signing. Space is limited. Registration is required.

  Generously sponsored by Union Savings Bank


Halloween Radio Plays
with Peter Tavino & Friends

Tuesday, October 27th
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Click Here to Register


Wednesday, October 28th
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.
Click Here to Register

Get into the Halloween spirit with Peter Tavino and Friends as they perform two radio plays! From 1931 to 1938 WOR in New York aired a horror-fantasy radio series that included Frankenstein and Dracula. The mastermind behind this program was writer-director Alonzo Deen Cole who had convinced WOR to air his horror series devoted entirely to the supernatural to compete against musical programs in the same time slot. The series became the premier radio program of its day and is fondly remembered by fans. Nearly all radio, television, and even comic book horror series that followed borrowed liberally, and often shamelessly, from the conventions that he developed.

Join Peter Tavino and Friends as they recreate Cole’s scripts of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

In these productions, seasoned actor Judge Charlie Gill will star as the Monster and Count Dracula. Supporting actors include: Andrew Flint, Jackie Zdanis, Laura Lasker, Tom Curran and Peter Tavino, with music by Piano Lessons and More owner Justyn Zitnay. Space is limited. Registration is required.





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