Oliver Wolcott Library - Programs

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Events are updated regularly. Please check back!


Wednesday, February 17th
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Of Mum Bett
A Live Theatrical Performance
Featuring Tammy Denease
Click Here to Register

Join the Oliver Wolcott Library and the Litchfield Historical Society as we present Of Mum Bett, a special theatrical performance by Tammy Denease.

Mum Bett was born a slave circa 1742, spending her young adult years in the household of John Ashley in Massachusetts. When Ashley’s wife attacked her, Bett appealed to a local abolitionist, who brought her case to the courts. She was granted her freedom and 30 shillings in damages in 1781, with the case Brom and Bett v. Ashley. Bett went on to become a paid servant and raised a family on her wages. 

Tammy Denease was born in Columbus, Mississippi where she spent countless hours with her great-grandmother, a former slave, and grandmother who were both gifted storytellers. Tammy loves history and being able to tell others about the past. An accomplished Performing Artist/Storyteller, she specializes in bringing to life the lives of very important, yet “obscured” women in history. Among her favorites are Bessie Coleman (first internationally licensed pilot in the world) and Elizabeth Keckly (former enslaved woman who worked at Lincoln’s White House), Margru (Amistad captive) and Elizabeth “Mum Bett” Freeman. She performs in several different forums including inter-district school assemblies. Visit her website at historicalfirsts.org. Registration is required.

Thursday, February 18th
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year of Looking at the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life

with Author Janice Kaplan
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In this inspiring memoir backed by pioneering research, Janice Kaplan spends a year living gratefully and gains a fresh outlook that transforms her life. 

On New Year’s Eve, Kaplan makes a promise to be grateful and look on the bright side of whatever happens. Relying on both amusing personal experiences and extensive research, she explores how gratitude can transform every aspect of life including marriage and friendship, money and ambition, and health and fitness. Through extensive interviews with experts and lively conversations with real people including celebrities like Matt Damon, Daniel Craig, and Jerry Seinfeld, Kaplan discovers the role of gratitude in everything from our sense of fulfillment to our children’s happiness.

Janice Kaplan graduated magna cum laude from Yale University and won Yale’s Murray Fellowship for writing. She went on to be the Editor-in-Chief of Parade, the most widely read publication in America, the deputy editor of TV Guide magazine, and executive producer of the TV Guide Television Group, where she created and produced more than 30 network television shows. She began her career as an on-air sports reporter for CBS Radio and went on to be an award-winning producer at ABC-TV’s Good Morning America. Janice is the author and co-author of twelve books and has written hundreds of articles for national magazines. Visit her website at www.janicekaplan.com. A wine & cheese reception will follow the event. The Hickory Stick Bookshop will provide books for sale & signing. Registration is required.

Tuesday, February 23rd
1:00 - 2:30 p.m.

What to Read Next?
A Book Talk with OWL Staff
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What do I read next? We love helping you find just the right book. Join us for a book talk where we’ll feature some of our favorites so you can settle into cozy winter reading by letting us guide the way.

Library Director Ann Marie White, Librarian Patricia Moore and Library Book Club Liaison Cameron Bove will share their reading recommendations to get your winter reading off to a great start. Eighteen books will be shared including our recently published favorites as well as some gems you may have missed. For each book, we’ll give a brief story line and then share our thoughts on why this book made it to our favorite list. 

After the book talk, join us for some light refreshments. A full book list will be available to take home, as well as copies of the books (and when possible, audio books) to borrow. Registration is required.


OWL Monday Scholars
The Meaning of Life: Perspectives from the World's Greatest Intellectual Traditions

Mondays, February 29 - July 18
12:30 - 2:00 p.m.
Click Here to Register

Taught by: Dr. Jay L. Garfield 
Facilitated by: Cameron Bove


Facilitated by Cameron Bove, Monday Scholars is a weekly series that meets in the library’s Jamie Gagarin Community Room. The series combines the best of online learning with the best of classroom discussion. Each week, a new lecture topic will be watched and discussed. All participants need to do is come ready to engage their minds and participate in the discussion. Light refreshments will be served. Registration is required. 

About the Course:
What is the meaning of life? It’s a question every thoughtful person has pondered at one time or another. It is at once a profound and abstract question, and a deeply personal one. 

We want to understand the world in which we live, but we also want to understand how to make our own lives as meaningful as possible; to know not only why we’re living, but that we’re doing it with intention, purpose, and ethical commitment.

How do we find that meaning, and develop that commitment? How can we grasp why we are here? Or how we should proceed? And to whom, exactly, are we supposed to listen as we shape the path we will walk?

The Meaning of Life: Perspectives from the World’s Great Intellectual Traditions is an invigorating way to begin or to continue your pursuit of these questions. The Meaning of Life is a course rich in wisdom, including the realization that although a single answer to the question may forever elude you, that elusiveness is no great tragedy. 

About the Professor:
Dr. Jay L. Garfield is Doris Silbert Professor in the Humanities, Professor of Philosophy, and director of both the Logic Program and of the Five College Tibetan Studies in India Program at Smith College.

Tuesday, March 8th
2:00 -3:00 p.m.

One Book, One School, One Community:
An Adult Book Discussion of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
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Join us for a book discussion for adults of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and participate in the community conversation of this classic book! Lisa Shaia, Children’s Librarian, and Sarah McHugh, Center School Language Arts Coordinator, will lead the discussion. 

OWL has partnered with the Litchfield Center School to expand their Book Club Program to the community. Regardless of whether you have a child in school, we hope you will join us because as cliché as it may sound, we think there is truth in the African proverb that, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Many older adults and young people find it difficult or intimidating to talk to one another, especially if they are not in their immediate family. Reading a common book opens the door to conversation.

This marks the third year of the Litchfield Center School Book Club. The program invites all K through Grade 3 students to read (or listen) to the same book. All students receive a free copy of the book. OWL has joined with the school to encourage the community to share in this reading experience!

Copies of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory for adults to borrow are now available at the library. Registration is required.

Wednesday, March 9th
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Space Rocks: Exploring Meteorites
with with Peter Kandefer
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Space Rocks! Was Chicken Little right? Is the sky really falling? Well, rocks do fall from the sky. After hurtling through space for eons, meteorites survive a fiery passage through the atmosphere and crash land on Earth. We have all seen the sudden and fiery trails left by these rocks from space in the night skies, but there was a time not long ago when our understanding of their nature was lacking.

Join us for an illustrated program about these “thunderstones” and learn some of the folklore and science of meteorites. This is a nontechnical introduction into the fascinating world of meteorites, asteroids, comets, and impact craters. Samples of actual meteorites will be available to hold in your hand. We’ll also see videos of a comet slamming into Jupiter and the spectacular end of a meteor over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013.

Pete Kandefer, a long-time member and past officer of the Litchfield Hills Amateur Astronomy Club (LHAAC), is a deep sky observer and electrical engineer. He has given numerous astronomical-themed talks around southern New England to a variety of audiences, both indoors, and outdoors under the starlight skies.

The Litchfield Hills Amateur Astronomy Club, founded in 1957, promotes the enjoyment and pursuit of astronomy with regular meetings and public events. For more information about the LHAAC, visit their website at lhastro.org. Registration is required. Click here to read about OWL’s telescopes for patrons to borrow! 

Thursday, March 10th
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

The Capitalist
A Conversation with Peter Steiner
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Compelling and complex, The Capitalist is a thriller that will appeal to fans of John le Carre and Graham Greene. In this fifth novel in the critically acclaimed Louis Morgon series written by Peter Steiner, the villains who abuse our monetary system get what’s coming to them.

Wall Street investment banker St. John Larrimer fronts an operation where everyone wants a piece of the action. The only problem is the whole operation is a hoax. When the markets collapse, Larrimer’s scam is revealed, and he escapes to his Caribbean retreat. Louis Morgon, an ex-CIA operative now living in France, is one of Larrimer’s victims and hatches a clever scheme to bring Larrimer down.

Join Joseph Montebello as he facilitates this conversation with novelist, cartoonist and painter Peter Steiner.

Earlier in his life, Peter Steiner taught literature for a living before becoming a cartoonist for The New Yorker. He now writes stunningly good spy novels. His previous books include Le Crime, L’Assassin, The Terrorist, and The Resistance. All are set in France and feature ex-CIA man Louis Morgon. Steiner makes his home in France and Connecticut. Visit his website at www.plsteiner.com. A wine & cheese reception will follow the event. The Hickory Stick Bookshop will provide books for sale & signing. Registration is required.

Generously sponsored by Union Savings bank


Sundays, Mar. 13th, Apr. 10th & May 15th
1:00 - 2:00 p.m.

The Irish in Fiction
A Book Discussion Series with John Tully
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Irish Americans have a rich literary history, one that encompasses the sweep of their history in the United States. Novels, in particular, have been a way for Irish Americans to explore issues of family, religion, politics, assimilation, and alienation. Our reading group and discussions will focus on three of the most iconic and insightful works in this long tradition.

Dr. John Day Tully will provide an historical context of both the novels and their settings within the wider struggles of Irish Americans to find their own identity and meaning. The legacy of those efforts live on in every Irish American family today.

Dr. John Tully is a Professor of History at Central Connecticut State University and the author of Ireland and Irish Americans, 1932- 1945: The Search for Identity, published by Irish Academic Press. He has been a Visiting Fellow at the Clinton Institute for American Studies at University College, Dublin, and has presented papers at meetings of the American Conference for Irish Studies and the American Historical Association. In April, he will be presenting at the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Registration is required. Books are available at the library to borrow four weeks in advance of the discussion. 

March 13: Ironweed
, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, is the remarkable story of Francis Phelan, once a talented major league baseball player, husband, and father of three, who has fallen so far from grace that his home for the past twenty-two years has been the street. Author William Kennedy takes us into the mind and heart of a homeless vagrant and explores the situations which have brought Francis to this heartbreaking station in life. 

April 10: Brooklyn

It is Ireland in the early 1950s and for Eilis Lacey opportunities are scarce. When her sister arranges for her to emigrate to New York, she arrives in a crowded lodging house in Brooklyn and can only be reminded of what she has sacrificed. Just as she takes tentative steps towards friendship and more, Eilis receives news which sends her back to Ireland. There she will be confronted by a terrible dilemma - a choice between duty and one great love.

May 15: Charming Billy
Billy Lynch’s family and friends have gathered to pay their respects to one of the last great romantics. As they trade tales of his famous humor, immense charm, and consuming sorrow, a complex portrait emerges of an enigmatic man, a loyal friend, a beloved husband, and an incurable alcoholic. The winner of the 1998 National Book Award for Fiction, Alice McDermott’s striking novel is a study of the way good intentions can be as destructive as the truth they were meant to hide.


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

An Evening with Connecticut’s Favorite Irish Balladeers:
The Kerry Boys
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With their signature vocal harmonies and high energy instrumentation, The Kerry Boys are just plain Celtic fun! Connecticut’s favorite Irish balladeers, Mark James and Pierce Campbell have been performing together for over 25 years, dazzling fans of all ages from Maine to New York. Their humorous, high-energy show will have you clapping and singing along in no time, engaging you from start to finish with their wide collection of traditional and original Irish/Celtic songs. 

Mark James, originally from the County Kerry, Ireland now a Cheshire, Connecticut resident, and Pierce Campbell, (Connecticut’s official State Troubadour 2007/08) from Prospect, Connecticut got their start at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Both are strong vocalists and instrumentalists; Mark plays guitar and Pierce plays mandolin, guitar and banjo. They also write great pub songs. In their years together they have performed at many Irish pubs, clubs, libraries and festivals, including The Connecticut Irish Festival and The Scranton Celtic Festival. They are members of the Connecticut Commission on the Arts and have released four CDs. Visit their website at www.thekerryboys.com. Registration is required.


Wednesday, April 6th
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

The Cookbook Club - Cheese
with OWL Staff
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Say cheese! Join Adult Services Librarian Audra MacLaren and Librarian Patricia Moore as we discuss and celebrate food and cookbooks with the Cookbook Club. Come to our April meeting to eat and discuss all things cheese - fondue, soufflé, cheesecake, whatever your heart desires! Just be sure to come ready to eat!

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 selected cookbook 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 some of their favorites to the discussion and if you are feeling adventurous we encourage you to do the same - don’t be intimidated, we are all just amateur cooks who love books. Registration is required.

Learn more about the highlighted cookbooks, read about trial recipes, and reference the post-meeting round-up of recipes on our new blog: owlcookbookclub.wordpress.com


Thursday, April 7th
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

From Georgia to Maine: Hiking the Appalachian Trail
with Sam Ducharme
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“Not all those who wander are lost” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

In March of 2015, Sam Ducharme set out on a 2180 mile, 14 state backpacking trip from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mt. Katahdin, Maine. During his six month journey he documented the rugged beauty of the Appalachian Mountains, the wildlife, the hardships encountered on the trail, as well as the people, culture and humanity at its finest.
Come join him as he takes you through the trail towns, over the mountaintops and through the backcountry. The images and stories will leave you with a renewed awe of the beauty of our country and its people. You will also see his gear, how he prepared his meals, and hear what it is like sleeping in a hammock for six months through three seasons.

A lifelong resident of Connecticut, Sam Ducharme is a retired K9 Officer. He has two adult sons, both serving in the United States Air Force. As an avid outdoorsman, and finding the empty-nest, Sam decided to buy a backpack and a plane ticket to Georgia. From there, he started walking North. With no prior backpacking experience, he learned on the trail. Gear, trail nutrition, enduring the elements, and the logistics involved in a long distance backpacking trip were hard lessons. After 20 years working within Connecticut’s prisons, the search for a positive recharge resulted in a life changing journey. Registration is required.


Wednesday, April 20th
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

An Evening of Poetry & Spoken Word
with Poets Wear Prada
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Join us in celebration of National Poetry Month with a gathering of poets published by Poets Wear Prada who will read selections from their work.

Featured poets include: Hilary Sideris, author of Most Likely to Die, a collection inspired by Life the Keith Richards autobiography and written in the voice of the Rolling Stones guitarist; Laura Vookles, chief curator of the Hudson River Museum, whose John on the Chrysler: Poems of Love and Grief, with Wordglass, by Robert Kramer, retired professor of English, German, European Studies, and Art History, received Pushcart Prize nominations as “best of the small presses” this year. Additional special guest poets are also expected.

Poets Wear Prada is a small literary press that divides its operations between Hoboken, New Jersey and Litchfield. Founded nine years ago by former Wall Street investment banker Roxanne Hoffman, the Litchfield division is managed by co-publisher Jack Cooper. The small press in relation to literature and the reading public has lately risen in stature and function. Poets Wear Prada’s mission is to introduce new authors through limited editions, and publish works of outstanding artistic and creative expression. Visit their website at: poetswearprada.com. A foretaste of the evening’s diverse entertainment may be found on Jack Cooper’s blog These Are Aphorithms by visiting http://aphorithms.blogspot.com. A wine & cheese reception will follow the event. A selection of works published by Poets Wear Prada will be available for purchase. Registration is required.

Tuesday, April 26th
1:00 - 2:00 p.m.

Sinatra at 100
with Gil Gigliotti
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Frank Sinatra was one of the most popular entertainers of the 20th century, forging a career as an award-winning singer and film actor. Born in Hoboken, New Jersey, on December 12, 1915, Sinatra rose to fame singing big band numbers. In the ‘40s and ‘50s, he had a dazzling array of hit songs and albums and went on to appear in dozens of films, winning a supporting actor Oscar for From Here to Eternity. He left behind a massive catalog of work that includes iconic tunes like Love and Marriage, Strangers in the Night, and New York, New York. During Sinatra at 100, we’ll listen and view some of his most entertaining, powerful, and significant performances in song and film -- with a peek behind the scenes at his wives, lovers, friends, and politics.

Gilbert L. Gigliotti is a professor of English and Latin at Central Connecticut State University and the host for more than two decades of “Frank, Gil, and Friends” every Tuesday morning on WFCS 107.7 FM. He earned his PhD in comparative literature at The Catholic University of America. His books on Ava Gardner and Frank Sinatra belie his more traditional academic interests in American Puritans like Cotton Mather and the literature of ancient Greece and Rome. In December 2015, to celebrate Sinatra’s 100th birthday Gil played Sinatra songs on WFCS for 24 hours! Registration is required.

Wednesday, April 27th
6:30 - 8:15 p.m.

The First Ladies Coalition:
A Live Theatrical Performance with Ginger Grace
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In The First Ladies Coalition, Colleen McCracken invites the audience into her tiny New York City apartment, which also serves as her sewing shop. A struggling immigrant and ex-convict, Colleen builds a unique and humorous relationship with a Coalition of four of our First Ladies: Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Kennedy, Lady Bird Johnson and Mary Todd Lincoln. As Colleen’s mysteries and secrets are unveiled, she disarmingly relates stories of daunting challenges faced by the First Ladies. With deep delight in mimicry and subtle impersonations, Colleen seamlessly transports us into the life and times of these iconic women. Driven by their inspiration and encouragement she begins to turn her troubled past into a bright future in today’s New York City.
Ginger Grace has recently performed The First Ladies Coalition at the Abingdon Theatre in New York as well as the David M. Player Center for the Arts in Arizona. She toured nationally opposite Rich Little in The Presidents playing all of his First Ladies from Jackie Kennedy to Hillary Clinton. She has played Emily Dickinson in The Belle of Amherst by William Luce throughout the country since 2002, and recently created her own interactive performance piece: Inside Emily Dickinson: Her Poetry & Her Life. Ms. Grace has worked extensively in New York and Regional Theater and in independent films. You may have seen her recently opposite Dr. Oz for The Dr. Oz Show’s “Bringing Healthy Back” Campaign! Registration is required.







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