It’s not really February’s fault that it became the month where everything is kind of dark and murky and generally not conducive to optimism. However, dear readers, it’s also the shortest month. And with the turning of the calendar page, we get that much closer to Spring, and the potential for sunshine, longer days, and new adventures. So, in the spirit of looking ahead, we wanted to highlight a few of the programs taking place at the Main Library and Branches in March to give you something to look forward to on this last Monday of February. You can register for these events at our website, or by calling the hosting library directly. And check out our full calendar to see all the great programs we have in store in the coming months!
And, as always, if there are classes or programs that you would like to see offered at the Library, please let us know! We are here for you, and are always striving to provide the best classes, programs, and events possible for you!
Flowers and foliage in the dull days of March! This armchair tour showcases six public gardens within just 40 miles north of Boston—gardens with important history and significant horticultural elements. The audience will ‘meet” the ladies and gentlemen who created these gardens including the Editor of The Atlantic Monthly magazine, a nephew of Isabella Stuart Gardener, and an heiress who gave away her entire fortune to historical and charitable endeavors. Antique photos are mixed with colorful images of perennial borders, rose gardens, allées and drives, woodland paths, tropical annuals, water features, statuary, and more. b North Shore native Gail Anderson is a trained horticulturist and has been researching and photographing these gardens for nearly 10 years. Gardens covered in the lecture include: Ropes Mansion, Salem; The House of the Seven Gables, Salem; Glen Magna Farms, Danvers; Sedgwick Gardens at Long Hill, Beverly; the Crane Estate at Castle Hill, Ipswich; and the Stevens Coolidge Place, North Andover. To register, please call (978) 531-0100. This program is generously sponsored by the Friends of the Peabody Institute Libraries.
For ages 13 to adult. A vinyl cutter can be used to make all sorts of professional-quality decals, from small bumper stickers to giant wall decorations. Learn the basic operation of a vinyl cutter here, and leave with a decal of your own! To register, please call (978) 531-0100.
Adults 18+ are invited to the library for a night of board games and card games! Bring your friends or other family members who are 18 years or older for light snacks, laughs, and fun! Enjoy more classic games like Chess, Scrabble, and Backgammon, or indulge in newer games such as Cards Against Humanity, What Do You Meme?, and Codenames. All snacks and games will be provided, but please feel free to bring your own along as well! Come for all three hours or any time in between. Space is limited and registration is required; please call (978) 531-3380, ext. 11
Please note: Some of our games contain crude humor, strong language, or suggestive themes.
Have you ever wanted to try making your own natural beauty products? Join us once a month through the spring and summer as we try a different recipe each month. We’ll make things like sugar scrubs, facial mists made with tea and essential oils, and aromatherapy eye pillows. All supplies will be provided.
Sign up for one session or multiples. Please contact Linda if you have any questions or concerns about potential allergens at (978) 535-3354 , ext. 11
We look forward to seeing you at one of our programs soon!
It may still be winter, beloved patrons, but apparently we’ve gained over a half-hour of daylight a day since the Winter Solstice! Meanwhile, we here at the Library have been busy putting together programs, events, and classes to help you learn, savor, and grow. Here are just a few of the programs on offer in the month of March. Be sure to check out our full Events Calendar for all the programs that are on offer. And, as ever, don’t hesitate to tell us what kind of programs would be helpful to you–we are always open to new ideas and new programs!
To sign up for any of the events listed below (or any events listed in the full Events Calendar), you can go to www.peabodylibrary.org, or call us at (978) 531-0100. Registration for these events begins tomorrow, February first. We look forward to welcoming you to the Library soon!
Flowers and foliage in the dull days of March! This armchair tour showcases six public gardens within just 40 miles north of Boston—gardens with important history and significant horticultural elements. The audience will ‘meet” the ladies and gentlemen who created these gardens, including the Editor of The Atlantic Monthly magazine, a nephew of Isabella Stuart Gardener, and an heiress who gave away her entire fortune to historical and charitable endeavors. Antique photos are mixed with colorful images of perennial borders, rose gardens, allées and drives, woodland paths, tropical annuals, water features, statuary, and more. North Shore native Gail Anderson is a trained horticulturist and has been researching and photographing these gardens for nearly 10 years. Gardens covered in the lecture include: Ropes Mansion, Salem; The House of the Seven Gables, Salem; Glen Magna Farms, Danvers; Sedgwick Gardens at Long Hill, Beverly; the Crane Estate at Castle Hill, Ipswich; and the Stevens Coolidge Place, North Andover. This program is generously sponsored by the Friends of the Peabody Institute Libraries.
In this workshop, we’ll show you some of the awesome FREE digital entertainment content you can get with your library card! We’ll give you the highlights of various services the library offers to help you enjoy e-books, e-audio books, music, TV shows, digital magazines, movies, comics, and more! Feel free to bring your own device. The library does have (5) laptops and a couple of tablets available if you need one! Some of these services will require an e-mail and most will require your library card to use and/or register. Bring your logins and library card to class.
This class will take place in a new location at the Main Library – Program Room – in the basement of the building. Please contact staff if you have any questions or need directions: (978) 531-0100
Please note: Registration for this class begins on March 1.
Have you ever wanted to try making your own natural beauty products? Join us once a month through the spring and summer as we try a different recipe each month. We’ll make things like sugar scrubs, facial mists made with tea and essential oils, and aromatherapy eye pillows. All supplies will be provided. Sign up for one session or multiples. Please contact Linda if you have any questions or concerns about potential allergens (978-535-3354 x11).
Adults 18+ are invited to the library for a night of board games and card games! Bring your friends or other family members who are 18 years or older for light snacks, laughs, and fun! Enjoy more classic games like Chess, Scrabble, and Backgammon, or indulge in newer games such as Cards Against Humanity, What Do You Meme?, and Codenames. All snacks and games will be provided, but please feel free to bring your own along as well! Come for all three hours or any time in between. Space is limited and registration is required. Sign-ups will open one month prior to the event.
Please note: Some of our games contain crude humor, strong language, or suggestive themes. For more information about this event, please call 978-531-3380 x11.
This week, our friends at the Swampscott Library announced that they are launching a book group for adults fans of YA books. This is such exciting news, not only because it’s always fun to meet other reads who share your bookish passions. It’s also important to help remind readers that anyone can read any books that they enjoy, regardless of where they are shelved in the Library. Here’s the announcement from Swampscott (click on the announcement to read a larger version):
Looking for some books to suggest at the meeting? Or looking to start exploring YA books for yourself? You can start by checking out the stellar suggestions from the devoted staff of our Teen Room, as well as some the sensational books below:
The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch: Zombies? Check. Historical fiction? Check. Rollicking adventure? Check. Thoughtful consideration about what actually makes us human? Surprisingly enough…check. Daniel Kraus’ 2-part saga stars Zebulon Finch, who is gunned down by the shores of Lake Michigan–and suddenly reanimated into his wild and raucous second life. Zebulon’s new existence begins as a sideshow attraction in a traveling medicine show. From there he will be poked and prodded by a scientist obsessed with mastering the secrets of death. He will fight in the trenches of World War I. He will run from his nightmares—and from poverty—in Depression-era New York City. And he will become the companion of the most beautiful woman in Hollywood. This is a phenomenally ambitious novel that takes all the elements of the “great American saga”, and injects them with…well….zombies…as well as humor, heart, and plenty of kick-ass action.
The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland: It’s hard to explain how a novel about grief, mental illness, psychological conditions, and acute loneliness can be both funny and charming, but Rebekah Crane pulls it off beautifully in this one. Sixteen-year-old Zander Osborne has been sent against her will to Camp Padua, a summer camp for at-risk teens. Zander is convinced that she doesn’t, and will never, fit in here; not with her cabin mate Cassie, a self-described manic-depressive-bipolar-anorexic. Not with Grover Cleveland (yes, like the president), a cute but confrontational boy who expects to be schizophrenic someday, and not with Bek, a charmingly confounding pathological liar. But slowly, as the summer wears on, Zander finds herself at home within this group, and falling just a little bit for Grover. Is it possible she could actually be happy? What does happy even look like? And what will it require of her? If you’re looking for a book that tackles the tough stuff with humor, and has the courage to make the most difficult characters lovable, then this is a read you shouldn’t overlook.
Dreamland Burning: One part murder mystery, one part social commentary, and all together compelling, Jennifer Latham pulls off a dual-narrative book that is well-balanced and truly powerful. When seventeen-year-old Rowan Chase finds a skeleton on her family’s property, she has no idea that investigating the brutal century-old murder will lead to a summer of painful discoveries about the present and the past. Almost a century before, a misguided violent encounter propels seventeen-year-old Will Tillman into a racial firestorm. In a country rife with violence against blacks and a hometown segregated by Jim Crow, Will must make hard choices on a painful journey towards self discovery and face his inner demons in order to do what’s right the night Tulsa burns. Latham brings the horror, the hatred, and the inescapable reality of the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot to vibrant and violent life in this book, making a commentary that is as timely as her book is spellbinding. Readers who enjoyed the historic elements of Dennis Lehane’s The Given Daywill love this story, which partly set during the same time period.
January has arrived, bringing freezing temperatures, resolutions, and, whether we like it or not–tax season.
Fret not, the Library is here to help you!
The Peabody Institute Library has a helpful page chock-full of resources to assist you in making taxes as painless and safe as possible. Find out where to get local services, downloadable forms and instructions, free online filing, updates and more.
Every year, as online filings increase, the library receives fewer and fewer tax forms and instruction booklets from Massachusetts and the IRS. Unfortunately, this year will be no exception. Mass resident forms will be reduced by 10% and non-resident forms by about 40%, according to the Commonwealth Department of Revenue. We expect these by the last week of January.
IRS federal forms are expected to arrive mid-to-late January. This year, the library will have a limited supply of basic 1040, 1040A, and 1040EZ forms and instructions.
But don’t worry! Even though supplies will be limited, the library staff will be here to offer you assistance in photocopying or printing necessary items online, as well as accessing important sites and reference guides to help you get started filing.
The Peabody South Branch was unfortunately unable to secure AARP volunteers for its free tax help this year, and will not be offering free filing assistance. The Peabody West Branch will offer appointments on a first-come, first-serve, limited basis. Call (978) 535-3354 or stop by the West Branch at 603 Lowell Street to find out more.
We’re here to get you through tax season, and while we can’t offer financial advice, the library is always happy to help you find resources that can get you from start to finish. Have questions? Give us a call!
Main Library: (978) 531-0100
West Branch: (978) 535-3354
South Branch: (978) 531-3380
And just a friendly reminder, Federal Tax Day this year is APRIL 17. This is not a typo. The regular tax return filing deadline is April 15. However, due to April 15 being on a Sunday and the Washington D.C. Emancipation Day holiday being observed on April 16 instead of April 15, 2018, Tax Day is on the following Tuesday.
Here at the Library, we’re already writing “2018”, as well plan our upcoming programs, classes, and workshops, and please believe me when I tell you it’s really super-duper confusing. We shall persevere, however, because we have a terrific line-up of events at the Main Library, as well as the Branches, to help you start 2018 in the best way possible. In fact, just check out a few of the programs on offer from our Events Calendar–are you looking to learn a new skill for the New Year? Eager to learn how to use the new devices you got for a gift or on sale? Looking to be carried away by a performance? Look no further than your Library.
And, as always, if there is a program you would like to see, a class you would like to attend, or a new skill you’d like to learn, please let us know. We are super excited about the programs we’re offering, but we’re even more excited to learn how we can best serve you, our beloved patrons!
In this 2-week workshop, we will talk about the basics of constructing a resume, common resume types and their differences, and how to get started with a document in Microsoft Word 2013. In week two of this workshop, we will continue working on creating Word resumes and provide formatting and content feedback, as well as additional helpful resources. If you encouraged to bring your own laptop to this event. The library has just (5) laptops available for use during class. Sign up soon, as space is limited!
Chamber ensemble Music at Eden’s Edge opens this four-part lecture/performance series, Close Encounters with Music, with ‘The View is Longer than the Sum of the Parts.’ Violinist Daniel Stepner joins Maria Benotti, violin and viola, and Lynn Nowels, cello, to offer an eclectic mix of string trios by the Mozarts (father and son), John Harbison, Beethoven and Zoltán Kodály. Sometimes a trio is much more than just three -in-one. Ramble with us and enjoy the view. The Close Encounters with Musicseries aims to deepen the music listening experience for audience members, from new listeners to committed music lovers, by offering context for and exploration of the music performed live.
Close Encounters with Music is generously supported by the Peabody Institute Library Foundation.
A 3D printer is a device that can make nearly any plastic object imaginable using only a digital model. This course will teach you how to use the Creativity Lab’s 3D printers to print models downloaded from the Internet. You will have the opportunity to print a model of your choosing during the course. If you are interested in learning how to design your own models to be printed, also check out Basic Design for 3D Printing, which is held on the following week. For ages 9-adult. Space is limited; please sign up. This course counts as training for use of the 3D printer during Open Lab (for ages 13+; ages 9+ allowed with adult supervision) and Teen Makers (for ages 11-18).
Massachusetts-based author Anthony Sammarco will be giving a lecture on his latest book, Jordan Marsh: New England’s Largest Store. Come learn more about this fascinating piece of local history! Mr. Sammarco will have books for sale (he can accept cash or check). Purchasing a book is not required to attend the lecture. Please be sure to register in advance to reserve your space at this lecture!
This program is generously sponsored by The Friends of the Peabody Institute Library.
The days are definitely getting shorter, dear patrons, but there are plenty of ways to counter the darkness and the gloom of late autumn. Here at the Library, we are keeping our schedule full of classes, workshops, and performances to help you think, learn, and explore. Why not check out a few of the programs we have on offer in the coming weeks? You can learn how to make some potential holiday gifts (or keep them for yourself. We won’t judge at all.), try a new skill, or simply escape the hubbub out there for a little while and enjoy. You can register for these events on our website, or call the Library offering the program to register in person.
And please note: these are only a few of the programs on offer at the Main Library and Branches. You can check out the Events section of our website too see everything we offer. And, as always, please let us know if there is a program that you would like to see offered. We are, after all, here for you!
West Branch Historical Adult Book Group
Thursday, November 9: 7:00pm – 8:30pm
Meetings are held at the West Branch Community Room the 2nd Thursday of every month at 7 pm. New members welcome! For additional information call (978) 535-3354.
Lyle Brewer Guitar Concert
Tuesday, November 14: 7:00pm-8:00pm
Lyle Brewer has been an integral part of the Boston music scene for over a decade. He has released six albums and has toured and recorded with dozens of artists. His guitar playing weaves effortlessly throughout a variety of musical styles, and his album, ‘Juno,” made the Boston Globe’s list of Best Local Albums of 2015.
Lyle Brewer is on faculty in The Guitar Department at The Berklee College of Music. Currently he is working on a transcription book of his own music and a recording of two suites by Johann Sebastian Bach. He will perform original songs and classical music. To register, please call (978) 531-0100
The Fall Concert Series is generously sponsored by the McCarthy Family Foundation and the Peabody Institute Library Foundation.
South Branch Super Sleuths Adult Book Group
Monday, December 4: 1:00pm-2:00pm
The South Branch welcomes adult members to the Super Sleuths Book Group the first Monday of every month from 1-2 p.m. New members are welcome! For more information or to find out this month’s title, please call (978) 531-3380.
Introduction to Cold Process Soap Making
Tuesday, December 5: 10:00am – 12:00pm
Creating soap from scratch allows you the freedom to formulate bars specifically to meet your wants and needs. This presentation will go over a brief history and basic chemistry of soap making; necessary materials; supplies and equipment; safety considerations when working with sodium hydroxide; taking accurate measurements & proper mixing temperatures; coloring and scenting your soap; preparing your molds and molding options; and insulating, cutting, curing and storing your finished soap.
Presenter Jennifer Hofmann has been making soap for over eight years. She fell into it by accident, but once she made her first batch of soap she found she couldn’t stop…Jennifer makes and sells her own soaps and body products which have been featured on Etsy and can be found at many local farmers markets. Information can be found on her website: www.jennifersoap.com. Jennifer has passed her Basic and Advance CP/HP Soapmaking Certification test. To register, please call (978) 531-0100
Managing Your Digital Mailbox
Saturday, December 9: 10:00am – 11:30am
In this class, we’ll talk about taming your e-mail. We’ll cover managing, sorting, and organizing messages, searching your e-mail, sending messages and attachments, filtering, setting up contacts, folders, and more. To register, please call (978) 531-0100
The library has (5) laptops available for users, but you are welcome to bring your own device.
This class is for active e-mail users. Please bring a valid e-mail address and password to class
The world is a fraught place, dear readers. And in such a world, it can be really, truly difficult to avoid seeing the world as an exclusively polarized place…as black/white, good/bad, right/wrong…and forget that very few things in human society are that simple.*
A few weeks back, there was a bit of a brouhaha in Library Land over a letter written by a children’s librarian in Cambridge, addressed to the First Lady of the United States regarding the donation of several children’s books to the school at which she worked. The letter is still posted on The Horn Book website. You can read it, if you so choose, and form whatever opinion you chose. The letter and its author have become the target for so much public debate, acrimony, and verbal bile that it doesn’t seem particularly useful for us to wade into the whys, wherefore, and whataboutisms.
However, I would like to bring up one point in the letter that many people have tended to overlook: that line that calls Dr. Seuss “a bit of a cliché, a tired and worn ambassador for children’s literature.”
The image depicts the reference in the story to “A Chinese man who eats with sticks“. The image itself is of a very stereotypical Chinese caricature, with a pointy hat, and slanted eyes.
So what are we to do with this information? What good librarian patrons do…get more information before making a judgement call.
Ted Geisel was absolutely a man of his time. He frequently reproduced cultural and racial stereotypes in his work without questioning their validity, their effect on others, or the harmful mentality that produced them–the Chinese man (or Chinaman in the original text) is just one example.
And, because it’s not a stereotype that is as widely discussed today, the image of the slant-eyed Chinaman with the pointed hat originated during the late 19th century. Chinese immigrants were associated with opium dens and often accused of ‘polluting’ British and American men (and women) who visited these dens. Around the turn of the century, it was quite normal to see highly stereotyped Chinese villains in books and films. They were portrayed as something other than human, and a threat to all “good” people.
To provide a few examples: Philip Nel, who wrote the endlessly fascinating and extraordinarily thought-provoking bookWas The Cat In The Hat Black?, points out that Geisel wrote and performed in a blackface minstrel show in high school, called “Chicopee Surprised”. When he was drawing the initial sketches for the Cat, in The Cat and the Hat, Nel observes, Geisel was “inspired by blackface performance, racist images in popular culture, and actual African Americans. Now, in 1920-1 when this show was performed, blackface was a very popular, highly visible form of caricature and entertainment. It was criticized as racist, demeaning, and offensive by some, but you don’t have to look any further than Al Jolson’s The Jazz Singerto see how well-known and generally unquestioned it was. (The photo to left is Geisel in 1925, when he was a student at Dartmouth College in Massachusetts, via Today In History).
Following the bombing of Pearl Habor, Geisel, who drew a large number of political cartoons in the course of his career, drew a cartoon of a line of Japanese people, captioned the “Honorable 5th Column” waiting in a line to receive blocks of TNT, while one (highly racialized and stereotypes) figure looks eastward with a telescope “Waiting for a Signal from Home“. The cartoon supports Japanese interment camps, which were being established on the west coast, and in which American citizens of Japanese origin and heritage were treated with brutal inhumanity. This was not, by any means, the only racialized cartoon he drew to represent the Japanese during the Second World War.
None of these facts are pleasant or easy to discuss. It’s hard to accept that a person whose books you grew up cherishing was a human person with ugly, unquestioned prejudices.
But the story doesn’t stop here. Because Geisel was also a human being in the very best sense–he was able to grow, and to change. As Willems, Yee, and Curato wrote in their letter, “The career of Ted Geisel, writing as Dr. Seuss, is a story of growth, from accepting the baser racial stereotypes of the times in his early career, to challening those divisive impulses with work that delighted his readers and changed the time.”
Geisel began Horton Hears a Who in 1953, after a postwar visit to Japan, when he was researching a piece for Life magazine on the effects of the war and post-war efforts on Japanese children. With the help of Mitsugi Nakamura, dean of Doshisha University in Kyoto, Seuss went to schools all over Japan and asked kids to draw what they wanted to be when they grew up.
Having met Japanese people, and seen the effects of the war on everyday human beings there, he realized just what kind of harm caricatures like his earlier political cartoons had provoked. The book is dedicated to Nakamura, and the message, about embracing everyone’s humanity, regardless of whether they look or sound like, marks not only a huge moment in children’s literature, but also an enormously revelation for Geisel himself. The Whos are saved by one small Who, named Jo-Jo, makes his “Yopp!” heard–as Kelly Smith points out in this sensational blog post, “Dr. Seuss is stressing the power of a single voice making all the difference for a people and, with it, showing how he should have used his voice to protect the Japanese, rather than denigrate them.”
He more explicitly apologizes when he puts himself in his rightful place in history with the previously skeptical kangaroo, who says “from now on, you know what I’m planning to do?… From now on, I’m going to protect them with you” (page 58 of Horton Hears a Who)
Following Horton, he wrote The Sneetches, another book about how individuals are punished for the way they look, and the harm it does, not only to them, but to their whole society, as well. In 1973, he changed the text and the images in And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street. He removed the “Chinaman” reference, changing the wording to “Chinese man”, and made the character’s face the same white color as the rest of the figures in the story. It’s not the everything. But it’s a huge sign of change.
We need diverse books. We need to have children from all backgrounds and experiences to be able to see themselves in the stories we tell. Therefore, Dr. Seuss should by no means be the only books we read. However, neuroscientists have proven, through the marvels of science, that Dr. Seuss’ use of repetition, rhythm and rhyme help children in crucial ways to process the speech they hear, and fine-tune the connections between auditory and language networks in the brain.
But, maybe more importantly, Dr. Seuss’ own story teaches us a powerful lesson: people can change, and they can change for the better. Children, just like grown-ups, are faced everyday with people who are scared, who are angry, and who are resistant to change. We cannot protect them from that. But we can show them what positive growth and change looks like by talking to them about Dr. Seuss, and how he grew as a person, an author, and a spokesperson for humanity. This lesson is as important today–perhaps even more important–as it has ever been.
Portraying Seuss’ illustration of “the Chinaman” without talking about how it changed, and how he changed, really isn’t fair, either to Dr. Seuss or his readers. Portraying him as “tired” does enormous dis-service to the energy with which he combatted stereotypes and xenophobia in his later career. For that reason, it’s important not to forget Dr. Seuss’ inspiring contributions, even as we work to fill our shelves with a world of diverse books that tell even more powerful stories.
Because a person’s a person, no matter how small.
*Some things are that simple. Things like “be kind to others”, don’t drive if your motor skills are impaired”, “mosquitoes buzzing in your ears at night is awful”, or “raccoons are terrifying”.
"Once you learn to read, you will be forever free." ~Frederick Douglass