Oliver Wolcott Library - Programs

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Events are updated regularly. Please check back! 


Tuesday, June 28th
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Mark Twain’s Hartford
with Author Steve Courtney
Click Here to Register 

"Of all the beautiful towns it has been my fortune to see,” Samuel Clemens said on his first visit in 1868, “Hartford is the chief.” Throughout his two decades of residence in the city he enjoyed a joyful family life, produced his best-read books, pursued vigorous social activities and poked fun at local icons such as the insurance industry and the Charter Oak.

Mark Twain’s Hartford follows the tale of the author’s early life, the city he saw when he arrived, his interrelationships with city matters and people, the building of his grand home on Farmington Avenue and his family’s eventual departure in the face of financial distress. It covers the city’s role in spurring him to comedy, the tragedy that led him to call Hartford the “city of Heartbreak,” and the later revival and restoration of his house to the iconic national landmark it is today.

Steve Courtney has been a journalist for 40 years, largely at The Hartford Courant, and won the 2009 Connecticut Book Award for Joseph Hopkins Twichell: The Life and Times of Mark Twain’s Closest Friend. He served as publicist for The Mark Twain House & Museum, founded its Writing Program and Twainian lecture series, and now works in the Museum’s Curatorial Department. A wine & cheese reception will follow the event. The author will provide books for sale & signing. Registration is required. 

Sundays, July 10th & August 14th
1:00 - 2:00 p.m.

Harper Lee: A Book Discussion Series
Led by Joseph Montebello
Click Here to Register 

In 1961 To Kill a Mockingbird won the Pulitzer Prize and has become a classic of modern American literature. The plot and characters are loosely based on Lee’s observations of her family and neighbors, as well as an event that occurred near her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama. The novel deals with the irrationality of adult attitudes towards race and class in the Deep South of the 1930s, as depicted through the eyes of two children. Go Set a Watchman, was written in the mid-1950s about these same characters but was not published until July 2015.

Join Joseph Montebello as he leads a book discussion on these two novels. The discussion will begin with Go Set a Watchman on July 10 and finish with To Kill a Mockingbird on August 14. Books will be available to borrow beginning in June.

Joseph Montebello was the former Vice-President and Creative Director at HarperCollins. During his tenure, he worked with some of the most prominent authors publishing today: Annie Dillard, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Tony Hillerman, Stuart Woods, Jackie Collins, Roxana Robinson, Allen Ginsberg, among many others. In addition to being Creative director, he also founded his own imprint Harper Style, where he published books on fashion, photography, and interior design. He discovered Carolyne Roehm and published her series of flower books. He is a contributing editor for Litchfield magazine, The Litchfield County Times, Passport Magazine, and Berkshire Style


Tuesdays, July 12th & 19th 
7:00 - 8:30 p.m.

Writing for Real~ Writing Teen Fiction
A Workshop for Adults with Steven Parlato
Click Here to Register 

Successful fiction requires the right combination of observation and imagination. Young adult fiction is no exception. But this popular genre also demands special attention to authenticity because teen readers won’t tolerate insincerity - a YA novel must read real. Characters and emotions must mirror reality, even if the plot is fantastical. Emotional truth hinges on an author’s ability to capture a believable YA voice and a willingness to go deep, to draw from one’s own adolescence in creating characters and situations that resonate. 

This two-session program with award-winning YA author Steven Parlato features a series of writing prompts to access authentic voice and emotion in creating young adult fiction. In session one participants will use life experience to spark story ideas. Each writer will create a chapter draft that captures vivid emotion. During session two, participants will develop their drafts through workshop and additional writing time. Parlato will also offer thoughts on publication.

Steven Parlato, novelist, poet, and illustrator, is Associate Professor of English at Naugatuck Valley Community College, where he serves as faculty advisor to the award-winning student newspaper, The Tamarack. His poetry appears in numerous journals. Steven’s young adult manuscript won a 2011 CT Shoreline Arts Alliance Tassy Walden Award. Upon The Namesake’s 2013 release, Publishers Weekly called Parlato “a name to watch.” Steven can be found online at www.stevenparlato.com and on Twitter @parlatowrites. Space is VERY limited. Registration is required.  

Thursday, July 21st
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Missing Man: The American Spy who Vanished from Iran
with Author Barry Meier
Click Here to Register 

In late 2013, Americans were shocked to learn that a former FBI agent turned private investigator who disappeared in Iran in 2007 was there on a mission for the CIA. The missing man, Robert Levinson, appeared in pictures dressed like a Guantánamo prisoner and pleaded in a video for help from the United States.

In Missing Man, Barry Meier, an award-winning investigative reporter for The New York Times, draws on years of interviews and never-before-disclosed CIA files to weave together a riveting narrative of the ex-agent’s journey to Iran and the hunt to rescue him. The result is an extraordinary tale about the shadowlands between crime, business, espionage, and the law, where secrets are currency and betrayal is commonplace. Its colorful cast includes CIA operatives, Russian oligarchs, arms dealers, White House officials, gangsters, private eyes, FBI agents, journalists, and a fugitive American terrorist and assassin.

Barry Meier has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in journalism and is a two-time winner of the George Polk Award. During his career, he has exposed the dangers of various drugs and medical products, including a defective heart device and a generation of flawed artificial hips. He was the first journalist to shed a national spotlight on the abuse of OxyContin. Before he joined The Times in 1989, Meier worked at The Wall Street Journal and at New York Newsday. He lives in New York with his wife and their daughter. A wine & cheese reception will follow the event. The Hickory Stick Bookshop will provide books for sale & signing. Registration is required. 

Friday, July 22nd
(Rain Date: Friday, July 29th) 

10:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Our Magnetic Sun: Lecture & Observing
with Denis Williamson
Click Here to Register 

Join us from 10:30 - 11:30 a.m. for a lecture presentation, and then from 11:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. for solar observing on the library’s lawn.

It hovers in space, 93 million miles from Earth, gently shepherding its retinue of planets along, and bathing us in gentle sunshine, doing nothing more dramatic than giving the unwary a sunburn and occasionally putting on a pretty light show…

No! The Sun is a gigantic ball of seething, boiling gas, 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit at the surface and over 28 million degrees at its center.  The region above the surface, called the corona, is actually hotter than the surface - 1 million to 20 million degrees.  Streams of electrically charged particles race away from the Sun. Violent magnetic storms hurl vast quantities of material into space, sometimes forming arches larger than Earth before falling back. 

We’ll discuss the sun’s structure and the magnetic turbulence that drives immense storms, touch on the effects they have on us, and speculate about what a major storm might do to civilization. Then we’ll head outside and view the Sun through both white-light and hydrogen-alpha (red-light) telescopes, looking for sunspots and eruptions of material.

A member of the Litchfield Hills Amateur Astronomy Club and the Club Secretary, Denis Williamson 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.
Visit the Astronomy Club’s website at lhastro.org.

Light refreshments will be served. Participants are welcome to bring a bag lunch. Registration is required.  

Tuesday, July 26th
2:00 - 3:00 p.m.

A History of the Litchfield Hills Road Race
with with Author Lou Pellegrino
Click Here to Register 

Forty years after two friends brought the joy and excitement of the 1970s running boom to their hometown of Litchfield, the Litchfield Hills Road Race continues to challenge and delight world-class runners, first-timers, and everyone in between - an event Runner’s World Magazine dubbed, “The best little race you’ve never heard of.”

In A History of the Litchfield Hills Road Race, Lou Pellegrino captures the spirit of this beloved community event and pays tribute to the race’s creator Joe Concannon, a sportswriter for The Boston Globe who wanted nothing more than to share his hometown and his love of running with the world.

Pellegrino puts the race in its historical context while introducing readers to the ever-growing family of dedicated Litchfield volunteers who make the course come to life each year. The book explains the origin of the race and its notoriously difficult path through town, including the story of Gallows Lane, which race founder Concannon called, “one of the most feared hills in road racing.” Spectators and runners alike will appreciate why the race has gained devoted fans and world-class athletes from around the world.

Lou Pellegrino lives in Litchfield with his wife and three children. A graduate of the University of Connecticut and Indiana University, he is a social studies teacher at Avon High School and runs the race each year with his family and friends. Reception will follow with light refreshments. The author will provide books for sale & signing. Registration is required. 


Thursday, August 4th
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Amour Provence
with Author Constance Leisure
Click Here to Register 

What is life really like in Provence? Constance Leisure will provide an insider’s look at the real Provence. Twenty-five years ago, she and her husband made a bold decision to move to France with two young children and soon afterwards purchased a tumbledown farmhouse in Provence that would eventually become the center of her creative life. 

Inspired by the people, places, and events surrounding her, Amour Provence describes life in two, adjacent villages in the South of France where most of the inhabitants are vintners. The characters in the novel live lives that overlap and intertwine over a span of nearly 70 years, from the Nazi occupation to the present. The lives of the villagers reflect less the guidebook image of the balmy skies of Provence, than the reality that the Midi is a place of extremes, the summers of unbearable heat and the harsh winters. The result is a portrait of lives deeply lived, rooted in the soil of Provence, shadowed by the past, against the backdrop of a region and a nation gripped by change.

Constance will reflect on life in Provence, describe the events that made her imagine the lives of the people who experienced them, and read short passages of the novel. She will give the view of a region in France that most tourists don’t see.

Constance Leisure was a writer and magazine editor in New York before moving to France. She lives there and in Litchfield. Visit her website at constanceleisure.com. A wine & cheese reception will follow the event. The Hickory Stick Bookshop will provide books for sale & signing. Registration is required. 


Tuesday, August 9th
7:00 - 8:15 p.m.

The Bear Facts: Natural History of Black Bears
with Paul Colburn
Click Here to Register 

What The Black Bear is an impressive animal. Males, or boars, normally weigh between 150 to 450 pounds, while females, or sows, weigh from 110 to 250 pounds. Adults are generally five to six feet long. Good tree climbers and strong swimmers, they can run up to 35 miles per hour! Encountering a bear in Connecticut was once rare as they had been extirpated from the state by the mid-1800s. Their return is due, in part, to the regrowth of forestland. Since 1980s, annual sightings have increased dramatically as more people and infrastructure have moved into rural areas.

The Bear Facts presentation will focus on the natural history of black bears in Connecticut by giving an overview of their habitat, diet and behavior and current research. Learn all about this fascinating animal and ways to coexist with our bear population.

Paul Colburn is a graduate of Master Wildlife Conservationist Program and is a certified Master Wildlife Conservationist. The MWCP trains participants in the fields of wildlife management, natural history and interpretation. In addition to his work as a MWC, he volunteers for the Wesleyan University Admissions, the Red Cross and The Connecticut Sports Foundation. Paul holds a BA from Wesleyan University and served in the United States Army. Registration is required. 

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

The Beer Snob: A History of Connecticut Brewing
Lecture & Tasting with Will Siss
Click Here to Register 

Join us for an insightful presentation and tasting of Connecticut Brewing. New breweries are popping up all over the state, but brewing in Connecticut has its roots in colonial days. Will Siss, writer of the “Beer Snob” column for the Waterbury Republican-American, will focus on the birth of brewing through Prohibition and into the modern surge of brewpubs and breweries. Researching and writing his book, Connecticut Beer: A History of Nutmeg State Brewing, gave him insight into the intricacies of brewing, and helped him appreciate the role immigration and politics played in its history. He’ll share stories about how breweries started and survived, despite pushback from religious figures and social reformers. He’ll also answer any and all questions about Connecticut beer, past and present.

Then, Siss will take the audience through a tasting of Connecticut beers, with information about each beer and how best to drink like a “beer snob.” He’ll discuss each beer’s style and suggest food pairings, share information about each local brewery that makes the beer, and lead a lively conversation.

Will Siss is a regular columnist for the Waterbury Republican American and author of Connecticut Beer: A History of Nutmeg State Brewing. He is a Columbia University School of Journalism graduate whose work has appeared in newspapers and magazines, including Beer Advocate and Brew Your Own. He conducts beer-tasting classes, writes humor pieces, and plays in a band. His website is beersnobwrites.com. The author will provide books for sale & signing. Registration is required. 

Wednesday, August 24th
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

The Mind Reader
Lecture with Keith Zalinger
Click Here to Register 

Get ready for an Extra Sensory Performance!

Can Keith read your mind? Predict the future? Demonstrate that you and other guests can read minds? Read a guest’s personality from an item they are wearing? Perform acts that defy description? Many aspects of this show involve any number of participants, sometimes everyone in the room!

Is Keith psychic? He says it depends on your definition but from his perspective, everyone is psychic...to a certain degree. Keith also welcomes skeptics and says most self-proclaimed skeptics love his show.  The only thing he expects during his performance is courtesy.

Keith Zalinger is an acclaimed and award winning thought-reader and paranormal entertainer. A licensed hypnotist in the state of Connecticut, Keith also performs card, palm, and numerology readings, which people love and find useful in their lives. He is the author of Palmistry, Love, & You; Learn the Tarot and Practical Astrology. His clients include Harvard University, Cisco Systems, Mutual Insurance Company, Bridgeport Hospital, and Alden Global Capital. He was the featured guest speaker at Yale School of Management MBA Program in April of 2013. Visit his website at readerofminds.com. Registration is required.



160 South Street, P.O. Box 187 Litchfield, Connecticut 06759 | Ph: 860-567-8030 | Fx: 860-567-4784

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