Oliver Wolcott Library - Programs

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About OWL

 ~Adult Events ~


April Monday Scholars 

2019 Adult Summer Reading Program 


Bibliotherapy Series 






April 8  through July 8
12:30 - 2:00 p.m.

Monday Scholars:
Understanding Russia: 
A Cultural History

 Click Here to Register 


Monday Scholars is a weekly series that combines the best of online learning with classroom discussion. Each week a new lecture topic is watched together and then discussed by the group. All you need to do is come ready to engage your mind and participate. Join Adult Services Librarian Patricia Moore as she facilitates this discussion.

About the course:
The video lecture series of Understanding Russia: A Cultural History will be taught by Professor Lynne Ann Hartnett. The lectures will define - and sometimes redefine - a Russian identity through culture.

These lectures will give you a better understanding of the empire of land and spirit stretching from Europe to Asia and from the Baltics to the Pacific. To do so, we will focus on the country’s intellectuals - the poets, novelists, artists, composers, leaders, clerics, and revolutionaries.

We will also look deeply into the recesses of the Russian mind, from holy medieval icons to the expressive 19th-century paintings of Ilya Repin, from the comedic plays of Anton Chekhov to grueling memoirs from the Soviet gulags, and from the ceremony and majesty of the Romanov autocracy to the Russian baths and daily rituals of the Russian village.


Key figures in the course include the 16th-century Russian ruler Ivan the Terrible, the Russian Orthodox Church, and Peter the Great, among many others. We’ll also look at Lenin and Stalin through the lens of their cults of personality and the imposition of a Soviet rather than historically Russian character on the people. In later lectures, the course enters the shared public spaces of the immediate post-Soviet period and the faceless flats constructed by Nikita Khrushchev.

In sum, the course seeks to answer the same question asked by Russians throughout history: What does it mean to be Russian? The answer is multifaceted, fascinating, and continually changing.

About the Professor:
On video, Lynne Ann Hartnett, PhD is the professor lecturing this series. She is an Associate Professor of History at Villanova University, where she teaches courses on all facets of Russian history as well as on the social, political, and intellectual history of modern Europe. She earned her PhD in Russian History at Boston College. Dr. Hartnett’s research focuses on the Russian revolutionary movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and she has conducted archival research in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Amsterdam, and London. She regularly presents her research at international conferences in the United States and Europe. 

Registration is Required



Optical Delusions
Shakespeare Talk with Emily Mattina

Wednesday, May 29
7:00 - 8:00 PM

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In anticipation of this summer’s production of Comedy of Errors by Shakespeare in the Park in Washington, Connecticut, join Emily as she discusses the underlying themes found in Comedy of Errors and provides a family-friendly interpretation of this Shakespearean comedy. 

Her presentation is a conversation on science and art, comedy and catharsis, symmetry and duality, double revelation and double dilemmas. Emily’s interpretation of the play asks the question, “Does your identity shape your perspective or does your perspective create your identity?”

Since attaining her M.A. in 17th Century English Literature with an emphasis on Shakespeare from the University of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England, Emily Mattina has directed approximately half of Shakespeare’s canon at least once. The main stage productions of Comedy of Errors by Shakespeare in the Park will take place at the River Walk Pavilion August 7 - 11, 2019. Performances are free; attendees are encouraged to bring blankets, beach/lawn chairs and picnic dinners for these Theatre Under the Stars events.

For more information about this summer’s Shakespeare in the Park, visit www.shakesperience.org.

Registration is Required 



75th Anniversary of D-Day
with Historian John Cilio

Wednesday, June 5
7:00 - 8:00 PM

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Join us to learn about one of the most pivotal events of the 20th century – the Normandy Invasion of WWII Europe. Its complexity, ingenuity, and decisive effect on the war in Europe make it unique. Seventy-five years ago, as an early June dawn broke over the greatest sea-borne invasion ever launched, the D-Day of D-Days unfolded. The invasion began on June 5th with nighttime paratroopers converging on the French countryside. They were followed by squadrons of gliders, nearly 7,000 ships and 160,000 Allied ground troops supported by nearly 300,000 naval personel. It was a vast international military operation that succeeded against the odds and one which called for human endeavor on a heroic scale.

During the presentation John Cilio will underscore, through vintage photographs and stories, how the allies deceived the enemy, carried out years of planning in near total secrecy, stockpiled men and materials and executed the most complex military exploit ever accomplished.

John Cilio is an historian who thrives on researching the ghosts of our past. He has written over 200 articles and contributed to several books covering everything from steam driven automobiles to a secret B-24 mission to bomb Toyko. His stories are recognized for their excellence in accuracy and authenticity. He is an American Marketing Association Silver Effie winner and has spoken to large and small audiences world wide in over 60 countries.

Registration is Required 



The General's Cook
with Author Ramin Ganeshram

Thursday, June 6
7:00 - 8:00 PM

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How does a veteran food writer decide to write a novel? What was her process of researching and plotting a narrative set 200 years in the past? What drew her to the character of Hercules, President George Washington’s chef? Find out the answers to these and other questions about the passion and process of writing historical fiction with Ramin Ganeshram, author of the acclaimed novel The General’s Cook.

In February 1797, Hercules, President George Washington’s chef, is famous for both his culinary prowess and for ruling his kitchen like a commanding general. Working at the President’s House in Philadelphia, he earns twice the salary of an average workingman. He wears beautiful clothes and attends the theater. But while valued by the Washingtons and rewarded far over and above even white servants, Hercules is enslaved in a city where most black Americans are free. And so, on February 22, 1797 as President Washington celebrates his birthday, Hercules escapes.

Ramin Ganeshram is a journalist who has written features for the New York Times and New York Newsday. She is a celebrated food columnist who has been awarded several awards for her work as well as an IACP Cookbook of the Year Award. A professionally trained chef, Ganeshram is the author of several cookbooks. She specializes in writing about multicultural communities as a news reporter and about food from the perspective of history and culture.

Registration is Required 


How to Grow Great Readers
with Dr. Caroline Wilcox Ugurlu

Tuesday, June 11
7:00 - 8:00 PM

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In spring and summer, conditions are right for relaxed, gentle growth for our gardens and our children. Parents and caregivers can use this special time to ensure that children get what they need to grow into avid readers.  When children are able to read well, they will likely read for pleasure.  Picture your little one whiling away a summer afternoon exploring their minds and expanding their hearts with a great book. During this one hour talk you will learn about how to provide reading support for your child. Play based tools and techniques will be discussed. Caregivers will learn how to help all types of readers read optimally – from those that struggle to those who excel. 

The importance of reading to a child’s well- being and sense of self cannot be overstated.  We know how to examine the path to literacy so that all children reach their highest reading potential. 

Caroline Wilcox Ugurlu, is a researcher, teacher and OWL’s library assistant with a focus on early literacy. She has spent four years studying reading including the neurological processes involved in reading and the sociological, physiological and cultural aspects of reading acquisition and its opposite – failure to acquire reading fluency. She has developed a method to help children ages 4 – 7 break the phonemic code in a fun and playful way and has authored a book on the subject (in publication).

Registration is Required 



Tales Well Told
A Live Theatrical Performance
with Michele LaRue

Tuesday, June 18
7:00 - 8:00 PM

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Join us for a story hour for adults! Let actress Michèle LaRue and a book spirit you away to the turn of the 20th century where small towns and farms pervade the landscape and stars still fill the nighttime sky. A hand-cranked wall phone is a modern miracle, and a thirty-mile wagon ride the adventure of a lifetime. Life is simpler - often harder. But our ancestors’ loves, longings, and laughter are just like ours. And their stories - by authors famous or forgotten - remain enchanting.

With infinite variety of inflection, dialect, and gesture, Michèle creates a full cast of distinctive characters for each remarkable Tale. Tonight’s stories will include Dorothy Canfield Fisher’s “The Bedquilt,” and Mary E. Wilkins Freeman’s “A Quilting Bee in Our Village.”Michèle LaRue, a graduate in Acting from the University of Kansas, is a member of the Actor’s Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA, and is a theatre editor and writer for Drama Desk, an organization of New York drama critics. She tours nationally with a repertoire of historical one-woman productions. A Chicago native now based in New York City, she has presented her offerings at more than 300 venues, including Washington’s Smithsonian Institution, Chicago’s Newberry Library, and NYC’s Lincoln Center. Her website is michelelarue.com.

Registration is Required 



2019 Adult Summer

Reading Program


Begins June 18!



Join OWL Reads! - our third annual Adult Summer Reading Program that runs from June 18 through August 22. Our theme this year is Self-Care and we encourage you to participate and enjoy a summer of books and events!

Taking care of your brain by nourishing your mind with books as well as attending engaging events are all critical components of self-care. This summer, our adult summer reading program will provide both. It’s easy, fun and healthy to participate!

Just sign up at the front desk. Once you register, we will give you an OWL Reads Bingo Challenge Card. Select either a paper copy or an electronic version - it looks just like a bingo card except that instead of numbers we have reading challenge categories. Read any book, fiction or non-fiction, that you feel fits the category suggestion.

In addition to the seven book categories there are also two spaces on your bingo card for “Attending an OWL Event.” We have a host of engaging and enlightening program events to choose from all summer! Our live theatrical performance with Michele LaRue will kick off our Adult Summer Reading Program on June 18 (see page 13).

What do I need to do to complete the Challenge? And what do I win?
To WIN this year’s Summer Reading Challenge, all you need is three-in-a-row or four corners. You asked for more time and a simpler challenge and you got it! If you’re feeling ambitious, fill out the entire card to be one of our super star readers!

If you complete three-in-a-row or four corners on your Bingo Card, you are invited to our exclusive After Hours Finale Party on Monday, August 26 at 7 PM. We’ve got a great night planned including wine and sparkling water, dessert, and fun literary games!

What are the Reading Challenge Categories? What should I read?
Our seven reading challenge categories include:

~ Classic books that soothe the soul
~ Books that inspire
~ Books for times of angst
~ Books with a happy ending
~ Books that take you far away
~ The novel cure
~ Books from your past that you would happily re-read

In a reversal from previous years we want you to tell us the books that fit each challenge category. What classic book soothes your soul? What book inspires? Which novel cured your anxious or stressed mind? How about a book for times of angst—what would have been the perfect novel to hand to your teenaged self or book that helped you get through a rough time? And don’t forget to tell us about books with happy endings and books that help us escape to a far, far away place! We want to get your recommendations!

Every week we will post a category at OWL and ask for your Reading Rx! Put a title that fits the category on a post-it and add it to the display. You could also send us your Reading Rx in an email (pmoore@owlibrary.org) or post on social media with the hashtag #owlreads. At the end of the week we will create an e-newsletter sent to our Book Lovers E-list with everyone’s recommendations linked to the library catalog. Participate as often or as little as you want to the recommendation list.

Questions? Ask Patricia at pmoore@owlibrary.org, 860-567-8030 or stop in!




 Bibliotherapy Series with Mary Mahoney 


Books as Medicine:
Reading, Writing, and Reflecting on Therapeutic
Reading and Its Histories

Wednesdays, June 19 - July 24*
7:00 - 8:00 PM
* No meeting July 3rd

Click Here to Register


This 5 week series centers on bibliotherapy, or the use of books as medicine. Mary Mahoney will lead us in a discussion of the rich history of bibliotherapy, from asylums in the 1800s, to World War I, to present day ideas about what makes for a healing book in our own lives. Our examination of the past will serve as inspiration for life writing exercises that invite participants to write and reflect on their own experiences.

Mary Mahoney is a scholar whose research focuses on the history of the idea that books can serve as medicine. Specifically, her dissertation examines the history of bibliotherapy, or the use of books as medicine, in the Anglophone world from 1800 to 1970. The study considers conceptualizations of the imagination, mind, and the self in tracking what practitioners of bibliotherapy, as this field came to be known, believed they were healing. It asks what physicians, psychologists, librarians, and patients identified as the sick object in need of treatment, what books made the best medicine, and who decided. In doing so, her scholarship presents both a history of ideas and a history of the emergent medical technologies and professions inspired and shaped by these ideas.

Registration is Required 




Accordion Stories from the Heart
A Talk & Demonstration with
Author Angelo Paul Ramunni

Sunday, June 23
1:00 - 2:00 PM

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Accordion Stories from the Heart provides stunning and loving insights into the exceptional, and sometimes tear-evoking stories involving accordions from around the world. The book features more than 70 photos of spectacularly decorated, hand-built accordions of multiple colors and ivory-like keyboards that date back as far as 1829. Mr. Ramunni share some of these stories and then perform a number of accordion songs and answer questions from attendees.

Paul Ramunni, a CPA by practice, is a full time instructor-in-residence at the University of Connecticut in accounting and financial literacy. He has been a director of numerous non-profit organizations over the years and lives in Canaan, Connecticut with his wife and best friend Marcia. It wasn’t until 2008 that he started playing the accordion again. This pastime turned to passion and his desire to collect and save accordions and memorabilia that he finds in peoples’ homes, offices and other locations.

Mr. Ramunni also runs the privately-operated New England Accordion Connection and Museum Company which showcases over 600+ stunningly beautiful accordions and houses his studio where he repairs, buys and sells hand-crafted accordions. He also offers over 10,000 pieces of sheet music and accordion-related books for sale.

Registration is Required 


West Side Story
with Music Historian Jeffrey Engel

Tuesday, June 25
7:00 - 8:30 PM

Click Here to Register 


When “West Side Story” opened in London a critic wrote “This show begins a new age in theatre.” Bernstein’s fourth musical certainly was ground-breaking. This modern version of “Romeo and Juliet” was no musical comedy fantasy, but rather a realistic tragedy with major characters killed at the end of each act. Never had a musical integrated so much dance which was also crucial to the story-line. Add to that a rhythmically and harmonically rich score and the team of Sondheim, Robbins and Bernstein, you’ve got a revolutionary work for Broadway.

Through the use of CDs and DVDs to play excerpts from this great musical, join Music Historian Jeffrey Engel as he discusses the creation of “West Side Story.”Jeffrey Engel has been giving lectures devoted to music history for more than twenty years. He believes that such lectures should be entertaining as well as informative. After graduating from Ithaca College, Jeffrey lived in Paris for fourteen years where he studied cello and art history at the Sorbonne. As a cellist, he played with numerous orchestras and chamber ensembles in France, and taught in municipal conservatories. Since 2004 Jeffrey has taught at Northwestern Connecticut Community College. Visit his website at jeffreyengel.net


Registration is Required 














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