Oliver Wolcott Library - Programs

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Events are updated regularly. Please check back!


Wednedsay, December 13th
6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

The Cookbook Club
Holiday Cookie Swap Party
Click Here to Register 

The OWL Cookbook Club wants to simplify your holiday baking! Join Audra MacLaren and Patricia Moore as they host the Cookbook Club’s Holiday Cookie Swap Party. Be inspired by one of our recommended holiday cookbooks or bring a batch of your holiday favorite cookies or brownies. Come prepared to tell us what inspired you or share why your cookie is a family favorite. 

We will sample our delicious treats, then swap and package them to take some home. Patricia and Audra will provide festive take-home boxes to package our treats. Everyone leaves with a wonderful assortment of holiday cookies -- and plenty of new recipes for the holidays!

Each baker, please bring the recipe you used and we will make copies to share. Check out our display of recommended holiday cookbooks beginning a month before the event. Join us and make your holiday season sweet! REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED 


Sunday, January 7th
1:00 - 2:00 p.m.

The Viola Question
A Comedy Performance
Click Here to Register 

Formed in 1986, The Viola Question is Yale University’s youngest and most fit comedy group. Renowned for its quick wit, comedic daring, the ‘VQ’ has awed audiences across the nation with its devastatingly clever combination of short and long-form improv. Since its founding, The Viola Question has performed at many notable venues, including The Second City Chicago, Atlantic City, the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre of New York, Caroline’s of New York, Standup NY, the Comic Strip, ComedySportz, and Harvard.

This January, the Viola Question is taking their comedy on tour to the Litchfield Hills. We will be performing 1-hour shows at theaters, libraries, and schools across the state. These 1-hour improv comedy shows take the form of a series of unscripted comedic scenes and plotlines, guided by audience suggestions and participation, and a simple-set of rules, called the “game.” The Viola Question specializes in both long- and short-form improv. That is, our shows offer a veritable smorgasbord of styles - quicker games that focus on wit and audience interaction, as well as longer scenes that revolve around character development, storytelling, and situational humor.

The Viola Question is comprised of Chase Ammon, Yonatan Zeff, Ben Kronengold, Gilbert Saenz, Gillian Bolt, William Nixon (Director), Zoe Ervolino, Jared Newman, Aidan Swift, Amanda Thomas, Lindsay Daughtery, and Toby Richkind. REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED


Tuesday, January 9th
6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

A Transcendent Evening
with Electric Violinist Caryn Lin
Click Here to Register 

At the intersection of tradition & technology, Caryn Lin literally transforms sound through the use of her electric violins and a myriad of modern technology.  Years of concentrated experimentation with sound, results in a live show that is the musical equivalent of light traveling through a prism – spectacular. Caryn plays her 4, 5 and 6 string electric violins, using looping to create short, on-the-spot recordings of her voice, percussion, and other sounds. As she plays the violin, the recorded snippets play back in a continuous loop adding fascinating layers of sound over deceptively simple melodies. The resulting music is both otherworldly and totally catchy: mesmerizing and unique.

Caryn is a classically trained violinist who became an electric violinist, composer, and education innovator. She finds influence in everything from baroque to rock. She started violin lessons at age 9, and soon began studies with the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Larry Grika. She earned a bachelor’s degree in violin performance from Northwestern University. After graduation Caryn moved to Germany to study under virtuoso Suzanne Lautenbacher.

Caryn has played everywhere from Lincoln Center to a monastery in the French Alps to hundreds of thousands of kids in schools and community venues. Her music has been featured on MTV’s “The Real World,” and on 150 international radio stations including Sirius/XM satellite. Both she and her music appear in the movie Philadelphia. Visit her website at carynlin.com. REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED



Wednesday, January 10th
6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

Pizza & Picks:
Adult Book Recommendations
Click Here to Register 

Join us for an evening of pizza and book recommendations. Have you ever wondered what books keep your OWL librarians up reading at night? Audra MacLaren and Patricia Moore are here to share their must-read lists with you! 

Eighteen books will be shared. For each book, we’ll give a brief story line and then share our thoughts on why this book made it on our list. A bifold with each pick listed will be provided at the talk as well as available for download from our website at its conclusion. From recently published books to favorites you might have missed, you will hear about what we loved and why they are on our recommended reading list. REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED

What do I read next?

There is nothing we enjoy more than helping to connect readers with books! Try these ways to guide you to your next best read!

1. Meet us for Pizza & Picks on January 10
2. Look at our past recommendation list by visiting our website. Select Read/Owl Staff Picks.
3. Ask us! Our staff is happy and eager to help you connect with the right book! Next time you visit ask for Audra, Patricia or Caroline if you want personalized assistance.

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

The Evolution of Beauty
with Author Richard Prum
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The Evolution of Beauty presents a unique scientific vision for how nature’s splendor contributes to a more complete understanding of evolution and of ourselves. In the great halls of science, dogma holds that Darwin’s theory of natural selection explains every branch on the tree of life: which species thrive, which wither away to extinction, and what features each evolves. But can adaptation by natural selection really account for everything we see in nature? Yale University ornithologist Richard Prum - reviving Darwin’s own views - thinks not. 

In thirty years of fieldwork, Prum has seen numerous display traits that seem disconnected from, if not outright contrary to, selection for individual survival. To explain this, he dusts off Darwin’s long-neglected theory of sexual selection in which the act of choosing a mate for purely aesthetic reasons - for the mere pleasure of it - is an independent engine of evolutionary change. Most crucially, this framework provides important insights into the evolution of human sexuality, particularly the ways in which female preferences have changed male bodies, and even maleness itself, through evolutionary time.

Richard Prum is William Robertson Coe Professor of Ornithology at Yale University, and Head Curator of Vertebrate Zoology at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. He has conducted field work throughout the world, and has studied fossil theropod dinosaurs in China. He received a MacArthur Fellowship in 2010.

The Oliver Wolcott Library and the Yale Club of Northwest Connecticut are delighted to co-sponsor this event. A wine & cheese reception will follow. The Hickory Stick Bookshop will provide books for sale & signing. REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED

Sundays, January 21st & February 18th
1:00 - 2:30 p.m.

Exploring Identity in Two 19th Century Novels
with Mark Scarbrough
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Because of imperialism, slavery, the rise of modern psychology, the growth of the great cities, and a host of cultural factors, the question of who we are may be the quintessential nineteenth-century riddle, carried into the twentieth century and beyond by theorists, therapists, and writers galore. 

Let’s go back to two novels that explore this question near its beginnings and from either side of the Atlantic: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) and Mark Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson (1894). Is it enough to account for birth, rank, culture, race, and religion? Or is there more lurking below the surface of this most vexing question? Come join us for a lively lecture/discussion on these two classic novels.

January 21: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Victor Frankenstein is a young scientist who through a strangely unorthodox experiment creates a grotesque yet sentient being.

February 18: The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain

Switched at birth by a young slave woman attempting to protect her son from the horrors of slavery, a light-skinned infant changes places with the master’s white son.

Mark Scarbrough started his professional life as an academic whose focus was Chaucer and Harriet Beecher Stowe. After several years teaching, he resigned and moved to New York to write. In New York, he met and married Bruce Weinstein. Together, they have written more than two dozen cookbooks, and have appeared on The Today Show, CBS This Morning and The View. His website is bruceandmark.com. REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED

Books are available at the library to borrow four weeks in advance of the discussion.

Tuesday, January 23rd
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Connecticut Geology: A Billion Years of Earth History in 5,000 Square Miles
with Brendan Hanrahan
Click Here to Register 

Geologists marvel at the incredible diversity of earth history recorded in Connecticut’s rocks. This program provides a complete geological history of the state - illustrated with animations, video clips, maps and diagrams - and describes how fundamental geological forces worked over great spans of time to piece together and shape our region. Learn where continents once collided, how molten rock once flowed over and through the surface, how glaciers sculpted our modern landscape and more!

Brendan Hanrahan is the publisher of the Road to Discovery Series of guidebooks of day trips to explore the natural history of Connecticut. The guides aim to make it easy for anyone to explore local places where discoveries about geology, dinosaurs and the State’s native wild places have been made for centuries.

Mr. Hanrahan also produced a series of videos capturing the life histories of native amphibians and reptiles. He is a graduate of Reed College. REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED


Tuesday, January 30th
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

The Magic of Communication
with Greg Dwyer
Click Here to Register 

Do you suffer from negative self-talk or low self-esteem? Are you frustrated with others and would like to improve your relationships? How one communicates with self and others is the key to a fulfilled life. Former illusionist Greg Dwyer will share secrets with you on how to create real magic in your life. Based on neuroscience and a little storytelling, Greg will entertain and educate you on the magic of communication. 

In this dynamic presentation on communication, Greg Dwyer, will help you discover the secret power of focus, non-verbal communication and of written goals: all using the power of your mind in a way that you have never experienced before.

Greg is a business and marketing strategist, author and professional speaker on the role communication plays in leadership. As a former illusionist he worked backstage on Doug Henning’s hit Broadway show, The Magic Show, and appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman in 1995. Greg was ordained a minister in 1992 and continues as a church consultant and speaker. REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED


OWL Monday Scholars
Creative Writing: The Craft of Character

Mondays, 12:30 - 2:00 p.m.
February 5, 12, 26 and March 5
Click Here to Register

Monday Scholars is a weekly series that meets in the library’s Jamie Gagarin Community Room. Each week, a new lecture topic is watched and then discussed by all who attend. All you need to do is come ready to engage your mind and participate in discussion. Registration Required. 

Join librarian Patricia Moore as she facilitates this online course. Each week we will watch 30 minutes of Amy Bloom’s teaching, then do 30 minutes of writing using the tools we learned that day, and the final 30 minutes of each class will be spent sharing our work.

About the Course:
At the center of a good story are the characters in it. In this course aspiring writers will discover how to build and bring to life complex, vivid and unforgettable characters. We will study the choices a writer makes to bring all characters to life on the page. We will learn how to use our own life experiences, the people we know, develop inner thoughts and feelings and much more.

About the Professor:
Amy Bloom is the Distinguished University Writer in Residence and Director of the Shapiro Center for Creative Writing at Wesleyan. Previously, she was senior lecturer of Creative Writing in the department of English at Yale University. Bloom has been nominated for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. 

Wednesday, February 7th
6:30 - 7:30 p.m.

The Cookbook Club
Cooking from South America
Click Here to Register 

This year the OWL Cookbook Club is going global!
At each of our four meetings this year we will focus on the cuisine of one continent. We are kicking things off with South America (and to expand the possibilities Central American cuisine can be included as well). We will order the books and then it’s up to you! Let your imagination and taste buds transport you. 

We invite you to come to the OWL beginning a month before the event to check out the South American cookbooks we have on display. When you register for the program we will assign you an appetizer, entrée, side dish, salad, or dessert. On the night of the event we will share in lively conversation around a potluck dinner made up of all the dishes we prepared.

Join librarians Audra MacLaren and Patricia Moore for this fun event. Come for the delectable dishes and the fun conversation. Don’t worry - we are all just amateur cooks who love books! If you’re running short on time, don’t worry; just bring yourself - there is always a surplus of delicious food to enjoy. REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED


Thursday, February 8th
6:30 - 8:00 p.m.

The Letters Project
A Live Theatrical Reading with Local Actors & Friends
Click Here to Register 

Join us for a special evening as local actors and friends read from letters written by real people of the past. All of these letters are real and reflect what the writer truly felt or believed at that time. 

The Letters Project was accidental and it was never purposeful. It began many decades ago when John Fabiani spent time reading letters in his local library. Inspired, he found himself purchasing and collecting them wherever he went. At some point, he realized he had a lot of material, and being an actor/director, he thought it would be interesting to organize the letters into a program and ask friends to perform it. The Letters Project was born.

The range of correspondence is eclectic; it represents letters John found interesting. Some are funny, some sad, some poignant or angry. There are letters written by immigrants to their friends or family back home, by soldiers describing their time on the frontlines, someone complaining about their nosy neighbor next door, somebody describing the breakup of their marriage, and much more. The letters are written by the famous, the infamous, the unknown, and the ordinary. Since most were never written to be read by anyone other than the intended correspondent(s) they are an intimate history of humanity and prove that people, no matter where they are from, what time period they lived, or what culture they were a part of, are still recognizable as being very much like ourselves. 

Local actors and friends involved in the performance include John Fabiani, Jeff Savage, Hitchy Rahilly, Jane Coughli, Joe Stofko, Ingrid Smith and Tim Cleary. REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED  

Tuesday, February 20th
2:00 - 3:00 p.m.

American Airpower: Bombers of WWII
with John Cilio
Click Here to Register 

John Cilio returns to the OWL with a relevant, engaging and enlightening multi-media presentation on America’s World War II Army Air Force. His presentation focuses on the heavy and medium bomber aircraft used during the war and the people who flew them. The history of these important offensive weapons that saved millions of lives and helped end hostilities will be covered in vintage photographs and discussion. 

John Cilio has been privileged to meet many historically significant people or their children in his quest for experiencing the past. He is the author of six historical books, including American Airpower: Bombers 1935-1960 Vintage Aviation Photographs from WWII, Korea and the Cold War. As a member of AOPA (Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association), EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) and an honorary member of the Danbury, Connecticut WWII Lost Squadron Veterans organization, his stories are recognized for their excellence in accuracy and authenticity.

John Cilio is an historian who thrives on researching the ghosts of our past; uncovering the underlying forces and historical trends that one single event rarely impacts. He believes that often the consequences of a historical incident were hidden from those that experienced it yet on looking back one can sense the full impact of their moments in time. REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED

Wednesday, February 28th
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Abigail Adams: Live Multi-Media Performance
with Sheryl Faye
Click Here to Register 

Explore the life of Abigail Adams in this live, multi-media, theatrical performance and presentation. 

Abigail Adams is considered by many to have been a founder of the United States and is now designated as the first Second Lady and second First Lady of The United States.

Adams’s life is one of the most documented of the first ladies: she is remembered for the many letters she wrote to her husband while he stayed in Philadelphia during the Continental Congresses. John sought the advice of Abigail on many matters, and their letters are filled with intellectual discussions on government and politics. Her letters also serve as eyewitness accounts of the American Revolutionary War home front.

Sheryl started taking acting lessons when she was seven years old at the Harwich Jr. Theater on Cape Cod. She attended Emerson College, in Boston, where she received a BFA in Acting. She travels throughout the country performing her one-woman shows in schools, libraries and others venues.

She also writes and performs with StageCoach Improv. She has been the voice of several characters for Sony Play Station games and was recently in a national print ad for Vicks cold/flu. Visit her website at sherylfaye.com. REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED







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