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News & Events

All Programs Sponsored by the Friends of the Russell Library 

Banned Books Week

September 23 - 29

Banned Books Week is the annual celebration of the freedom to read! The 2018 theme, “Banning Books Silences Stories,” is a reminder that everyone needs to speak out against the tide of censorship. The American Library Association’s list of the Top 10 Challenged Books of 2017 includes the critically acclaimed and timely YA novel The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, the bestselling middle grades graphic novel Drama by Raina Telgemeier, the groundbreaking children’s book And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell, Justin Richardson, and Henry Cole, and much more. These stories and others have been silenced. Come in to the library and learn which books are challenged, which have been banned and why. Then, exercise your right to read and take them out!

National Voter Registration Day

Tuesday, September 25, 9:00am
The Lobby and the 2nd floor Information Area

Celebrate National Voter Registration Day by registering to vote! If you have moved within the past four years, you will need to update your registration. Did you just turn 18? Celebrate by registering to vote!

Classic Mystery Book Discussion: Death Comes to Pemberley by PD James

Tuesday, September 25, 7:00pm
Meeting Room 2

The book this month is Death Comes to Pemberley by PD James. In their six years of marriage, Elizabeth and Darcy have forged a peaceful, happy life for their family at Pemberley, Darcy's impressive estate. Her father is a regular visitor, her sister Jane and her husband, Bingley, live nearby; the marriage prospects for Darcy's sister, Georgiana, are favorable. And preparations for their annual autumn ball are proceeding apace. But on the eve of the ball, chaos descends. Lydia Wickham, Elizabeth's disgraced sister who, with her husband, has been barred from the estate, arrives in a hysterical state--shrieking that Wickham has been murdered.  Plunged into frightening mystery and a lurid murder trial, the lives of Pemberley's owners and servants alike may never be the same.
Copies of the book will be available at the Borrowing Desk.
Drop in; no registration.

Scrabble Wednesday

Wednesdays, September 26; October 3, 10, 17, 24, and 31, 5:00pm
Meeting Room 3,

Carol Whitfield will lead players in scrabble games for ages 12 - 112.
We will have dictionaries, score sheets and scrabble boards. Bring your brains! 
For ages 12 to 112.

Just drop-in or sign-up online and get an email reminder!

Connecticut’s 102nd Infantry Regiment in WW I

Wednesday, September 26, 7:00pm
Hubbard Room

During World War I, France was a whole world away, a place most Americans could only imagine. Yet thousands of Connecticut soldiers found themselves there not long after America entered the war in 1917.  Join us to hear Christine Pittsley, Project Director for the Connecticut State Library’s WWI Centennial Commemorations, talk about her journey to France earlier this year to follow in the footsteps of Connecticut’s 102nd Infantry Regiment, part of the 26th ‘Yankee Division.’ Pittsley visited the towns in the Vosges Mountains that soldiers described as the ‘Valley Forge of the American Expeditionary Forces’ and experienced what life was like in the caves of the Chemin des Dames. A highlight of her presentation will be stories about the town of Seicheprey, where six Middletown soldiers died on April 20, 1918, and how the village remembers their sacrifice today. And, of course, you will hear about how Connecticut’s favorite hero, Sgt. Stubby, became the most popular pooch in France! Christine Pittsley is the Project Director for a number of WWI Centennial Commemoration projects led by the Connecticut State Library, including the Remembering World War One community archiving project and the 'Over the Top’ Twitter project. She is the Chair for the Connecticut World War One Centennial Committee and Connecticut’s liaison to the United States World War One Centennial Commission. For further information, call the Historical Society at 860-346-0746. Sponsored by the Middlesex County Historical Society.

We Were There: Writing Your Military Experiences

Thursdays, September 27; October 4, 11, 18 and 25, 6:30pm
Meeting Room 2

Author Elisabeth Petry will continue to lead The Veterans' Writing Group which invites Veterans to share their stories and photos in their own voices. All Veterans, either active or retired, are encouraged to come and share their experiences for their own benefit or to share with family and friends. New members are encouraged to visit to see what the group is all about! Currently, service people from combat and non-combat situations from WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and Iraqi Freedom attend regularly. We hope to hear from other Iraq War Vets, and those who have served in Afghanistan.  Elisabeth Petry is a writer and former journalist and lawyer. She lives in Middletown with her husband, Lawrence Riley, who is Commander of the American Legion Milardo-Wilcox Post 75, Middletown CT.
The workshop facilitator is Christy Billings. She can be reached at (860) 347-2528 x 160 or cbillings@russelllibrary.org

Concert: Los Trovadores de America

Thursday, September 27, 7:00pm
Hubbard Room

The Mariachi Band, 'Los Trovadores de America,’ hail from the Hartford area of Connecticut. They travel and perform throughout the New England region. Los Trovadores de America are a multi-cultural ensemble with experienced and talented musicians from various backgrounds and nationalities. Their repertoire is ample in rhythm and style, and very adaptable to the requests of their audience. They sing in both Spanish and English.
This event is part of our Immigrant Artist series, and is supported by a grant from the Middletown Commission on the Arts and the Friends of the Russell Library.
All ages are welcome.

Crafts for Adults: Creating New Things from Old

Friday, September 28, 11:00am
Hubbard Room

Come explore the world of crafts for adults! Each month, we will have a new type of craft to try. The library will provide materials to complete the craft. If you have a certain craft or project in mind, you may bring your own materials, and share your knowledge and expertise with others. We will also have Adult Coloring pages available for those who do not wish to participate in the craft activity. 
This month, we will offer some ideas to make new things out of old, broken, or discarded stuff. Drop in; no registration required.

Book Talk with a Walk: Small Books with Lots to Say

Mondays, October 1, 15, 29, 12pm – 1pm
Starting from the Lobby

Mondays from 12pm – 1pm during September and October, weather permitting. Threat of heavy rain or thunderstorms cancels. Meet in the lobby of Russell Library for a short walk down to the river, with lively book discussions during the scheduled stops along the way. Grab your water bottle, lace up your sneakers and join us! Gentle pace and great discussion! It is not necessary to have read the book.

Books are available at the Circulation desk. Discussions will be led by Christy Billings, Chair of One Book on the Riverbend. Contact cbillings@russelllibrary.org or call (860) 347-2528 x 160. This is a One Book on the Riverbend 2018 event.
Sponsored through a Middletown Rotary Grant and by the Friends of the Russell Library.

25th Anniversary of William Casper Graustein Memorial Fund

Tuesday, October 2, 5:30pm
Activity Room

Please join us for one, some, or all of our 25th Anniversary regional celebration & reflection events! Enjoy music, food, an uplifting atmosphere, story sharing, and community building activities. Former and current grantees, staff, and community members of all ages are welcome! Our 25th Anniversary year will culminate with a story sharing exhibit and statewide celebration. We welcome you to share your story or reflection at one of our regional events where you can choose to have it be part of our closing 25th Anniversary event on December 13th.

The 10th Middletown International Film Festival

Tuesdays in October and November, 6:00pm

The Common Ground Tenth Annual Middletown International Film Festival is a collaboration between Middlesex Community College, Wesleyan University and Russell Library. The line-up of films, locations and speakers is as follows:

October 2: The Hubbard Room, Russell Library, 123 Broad Street, Middletown.
The Insult, (Lebanon, 2017, directed by Ziad Doueiri)
Speaker: Peter Gottschalk, Professor of Religion, Wesleyan University.

October 9: Wesleyan University Center for Film Studies, 301 Washington Terrace.
Kills on Wheels, (Hungary, 2016, directed by Attila Till)
Speaker: Máté Vincze, Director of the Hungarian Cultural Center in NYC.

October 16: Wesleyan University Center for Film Studies, 301 Washington Terrace.
Drunktown’s Finest, (USA , Native, 2014, directed by Sydney Freeland)
Speaker: Sarah Del Seronde – Navajo Documentary Filmmaker.

October 23: Chapman Hall, 100 Training Hill Road, Middlesex Community College.
White Sun, (Nepal, 2016, directed by Deepak Rauniyar)
Speaker: Indra Karamcheti, Professor of American Studies, Wesleyan University.

October 30: Chapman Hall, 100 Training Hill Road, Middlesex Community College.
Santa & Andres, (Cuba, 2016, directed by Carlos LeChuga)
Speaker: Victor Triay, Professor of History, Middlesex Community College.

November 6: The Hubbard Room, Russell Library, 123 Broad Street, Middletown.
Amerika Square, (Greece, 2017, directed Yannis Sakaridis)
Speaker: George Syrimis, Program Director Hellenic Studies, Yale University.
The series is sponsored by Connecticut Humanities.

Racial Justice Book Group: The Leavers by Lisa Ko

Tuesday, October 2, 6:00pm
Hubbard Room

The Racial Justice Book Group meets on the first Tuesday of each month. This month’s meeting is presented in conjunction with Russell Library’s Immigrant Artists series.
One morning, 11 year old Deming’s mother, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, goes to work in the Bronx and never comes home. Left with no one to care for him, Deming is eventually adopted by two white professors who move him to a small town and rename him Daniel. But Daniel struggles to reconcile his new life with memories of his past. Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid and moving examination of borders and belonging. This powerful debut is the winner of the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for fiction, awarded by Barbara Kingsolver for a novel that addresses issues of social and racial justice.
Copies of The Leavers are available for check-out. Contact Christy Billings: cbillings@russelllibrary.org or 860 347-2528 ext 160.
No registration necessary; everyone is welcome.
The Racial Justice Book Group is offered in partnership with the Middletown Racial Justice Community.

Estate Planning Basics

Wednesday, October 3, 6:30pm
Hubbard Room

Paul Czepiga from the elder law firm Czepiga Daly Pope & Perry will explain estate planning basics. You'll learn answers to questions such as: "What is the difference between a 'will' and a 'trust?'" "Do you really need both?" "What are 'power of attorney' and 'health care directives'?" Paul will also talk about the probate process. After this program, you'll know what to do to create an estate plan that will protect your assets.
Drop in; no registration.

First Friday Book Club: I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi (an OFFSITE book discussion at RaMaLuNa Yoga)

Friday, October 5, 7:00pm.
RaMa LuNa Center for Yoga and Well Being, 282 Main Street Ext., Middletown.

RaMaLuNa is on the third floor of the Palmer Eye Care building, next to the Historic Sanseer Mill and CVS. I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi, is about Maddy, who was a loving, devoted stay-at-home mother until she committed suicide, which left her husband and her teenage daughter heartbroken and reeling, wondering how to continue without her. In an attempt to fulfill her family's needs, Maddy watches and meddles from beyond the grave, determined to find the perfect wife and mother to replace herself and heal her family.
Copies of the book are available at Russell Library, 123 Broad Street, Middletown. First Friday Book Club is facilitated by Christy Billings: 860-347-2528 x 160 or email cbillings@russelllibrary.org. For Rachel Payne at RaMa Luna: 860-800-5862 or www.ramaluna.com
Sign-ups are preferred.

U.S. Passport Fair

Saturday, October 6, 10:30am – 1:30pm
The Quiet Area on the 2nd floor

Russell Library and the US Post Office have teamed-up to offer you a convenient and time-saving opportunity to apply for or renew a US Passport. Photos can be taken on site for a small additional fee. Passport processing takes four to six weeks. Frequently asked questions: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/apply-renew-passport/faqs.html Direct questions to Christy Billings at 860-347-2528, ext 160.
Drop in; no registration.

Russell Readers: Xuela by Jamaica Kincaid

Tuesday, October 9, 6:30pm
Meeting Room 2

Join us to discuss Xuela by Jamaica Kincaid from the collection 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories. Discussions are based on the Great Books Foundation method in which readers talk in open gatherings, under a leader, about the great issues that have shaped civilization as reflected in the readings. The group meets the second Tuesday of each month at Russell Library. For more information about participating in the group or acquiring the text, contact Chantal Foster at 860-573-2946 or Chantal.foster@comcast.net.
Drop in; no registration.

Preserving Your Treasures: Family History Documents and Photos

Wednesday, October 10, 7:00pm
Hubbard Room

Nothing escapes the ticking of the clock. Even when treasured family heirlooms such as letters, documents, photographs and other items are stored under the best of conditions and never handled, they can slowly deteriorate. Digital photographs and scanned letters are susceptible to hardware crashes and improper storage. To counter potentially tragic deterioration, Lizette Pelletier, State Archivist at the Connecticut State Library, will offer some basic preservation steps to ensure that family records are available for future generations.

The Friends of the Russell Library Book Sale

Friday, October 12, 9:00am – 6:00pm, Saturday, October 13, 9:00am – 2:00pm, and Sunday, October 14, 1:00pm - 5:00pm.
Activity Room

The Friends' book sales help the Friends fund a wide variety of programs, and feature something for everyone, from art books and collectibles to children's books to CDs and DVDs and more. Donating books for the Friends' book sales is easy: place your books in the Friends’ Book Drop box in the lobby of the Library. If you have large quantities, email the Friends about possible pick-up at friendsatrussell@gmail.com

Readers Theater: 4000 Miles by Amy Herzog

Monday, October 15, 7:00pm
Hubbard Room

4,000 Miles received the 2012 Obie Award for Best New Play; was the first play to receive a performance at Lincoln Center in their New Works Program begun in 2012; was a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize, and more recently was performed by Shakespeare & Company in the Berkshires in 2017. Anne Cassady will perform as a feisty 91 year old grandmother visited in her West Village apartment by her 21 year old grandson who recently lost his best friend on a cross country bike trip. The grandson will be performed by Daniel Avotte. Richard Kamins will direct. Readers Theater is looking forward to beginning their fourth season at Russell Library, and their eleventh season as Readers Theater!

Job and Career Center Open House

Tuesday, October 16, 6:00pm
Career Center, Second floor

Join us for light refreshments and visit the new Career Center, designed especially for job seekers. Four state-of-the-art computers offer Microsoft Office software which allows patrons to prepare cover letters, résumés, and other documents, and to access popular job search sites, the State of CT employment site, and other training and career databases. Meet the job and career team and make an appointment for a résumé review, practice interview or a one-on-one job coaching session. All services are free.
For more information, contact Bob Carlson or Christy Billings at (860) 347-2528.
The Russell Library Career Program is funded in part by The Community Development Block Grant, the Liberty Bank Foundation, and the Family of Thomas J. Regan.

Lunch and Learn: Reference USA with T J Pridell

Wednesday, October 17, 12:00pm
Hubbard Room

Join us for a complementary light lunch, and learn about referenceUSA, a powerful database through which patrons can search for information about topics such as U.S. Jobs / Internships with 2.5 million postings, U.S. Healthcare with 1.2 million Physicians & Dentists, U.S. New Businesses with 4.4 million new businesses, Canadian White Pages with 11 million individuals, and many others.
Sign-ups are required. Call the Information Desk at 860-347-2528 x 125.

Books and Brews: Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (an OFFSITE book discussion at Stubborn Beauty Brewery)

Thursday, October 18, 6:00pm – 7:00pm
Stubborn Beauty Brewery, 180 Johnson Street, Middletown.

Children of Blood and Bone, a West African-inspired fantasy debut and instant #1 New York Times Bestseller, conjures a world of magic and danger, that’s simultaneously pulse-pounding, prescient, and enchanting. Discussion will be facilitated by Christy Billings: cbillings@russelllibrary.org or 860-347-2528 x 160. Copies of Children of Blood and Bone are available for checkout at Russell Library.
This program is sponsored by the Friends of the Russell Library, and is presented in conjunction with Russell Library’s Immigrant Artists series.

Songs of WWI Performed by Tom Callinan

Thursday, October 18, 7:00pm
Hubbard Room

Connecticut’s first State Troubadour and former Middletown native Tom Callinan will sing a variety of songs from WWI. Tom will accompany himself on an assortment of string, wind and percussion instruments. In addition to weaving a narrative about 'The War to End All Wars,' Tom will present the answer to a life-long family mystery: why his great-uncle Jerry’s name was not included on the WWI obelisk on Middletown’s Washington Terrace Green.
Drop-in; no registration.
Sponsored by the Middlesex County Historical Society.

Bodies, Curiosity and Four Walls: a Theater Workshop with Toto Kisaku (OFF SITE at Oddfellows Playhouse)

Saturday, October 20, 9:00am – 5:00pm
Oddfellows Playhouse, Washington Street, Middletown

Congolese Theater Artist Toto Kisaku will teach a day-long workshop for theater students, teachers, and theater professionals. Lunch will be provided. Mr. Kisaku, an award-winning playwright, actor, director, and producer whose work focuses on social justice, was born in Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In 2015, the Congolese government kidnapped and prepared to kill him because of the content of one of his plays. This past summer, his play, Requiem for an Electric Chair, which told the story of his imprisonment, was presented at the New Haven Arts and Ideas Festival.
This free workshop is limited to 15 participants, age 16 and up.
This event is part of Russell Library’s Immigrant Artists series funded by a grant from the Middletown Commission on the Arts. Russell Library is partnering with ARTFARM and Oddfellows Playhouse to present this workshop.

Downtown Trick or Treat Stop

Saturday, October 20, 11:00am – 2:00pm
The Lobby

Russell Library is a Downtown Trick or Treat stop from 11:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. We are a Teal Pumpkin Project location which means that small prizes suitable for children with food allergies or candy restrictions will be available.
All ages!

Concert: The Hirsch-Pinkas Piano Duo

Sunday, October 21, 2:00pm
Hubbard Room

Sally and Evan bring virtuosity, passion, and irresistible warmth to their collaborations. They perform works by Mozart, Schubert, Brahms, Rachmaninoff, Debussy, Ravel, and Bartók, and their adventurous repertoire also includes rarely-heard works such as Messiaen’s Visions de l’Amen and Milhaud’s La création du monde.
This concert is sponsored by the Friends of the Russell Library and The Middletown Commission on the Arts as part of Russell Library’s Immigrant Artists series.

Film Screening: The Age of Love with Director Steven Loring

Wednesday, October 24, 1:00pm
Hubbard Room

The Age of Love follows the humorous and poignant adventures of thirty seniors in Rochester, NY who sign up for a first-of-its-kind speed dating event exclusively for 70- to 90-year-olds. Director Steven Loring will be speaking about the making of the film and conduct a question/answer session after the film. For more information, call 860-344-8788.
Co-sponsored by The Village at South Farms and The Law Firm of Czepiga Daly Pope & Perri.

Crafts for Adults

Friday, October 26, 11:00am
Hubbard Room

Come explore the world of crafts for adults! Each month we will provide materials for a new type of craft. If you’re working on a certain craft or project, you are welcome to bring your own materials and share your knowledge and expertise with others. We will also have Adult Coloring pages available for those who do not wish to participate in the craft activity.
Drop in; no registration required.

Jazz Up Close presents Ike Sturm

Saturday, October 27, 1:30pm
Hubbard Room

Resonant Motion, Inc. presents the third event in its 2018 'Sound Belief’ series with bandleader, composer and recording artist Ike Sturm, jazz director at Saint Peter's Church in NYC. Ike has played bass with major jazz figures including Wynton Marsalis, Bobby McFerrin and many others. Joining him will be guitarist Jesse Lewis and vibraphonist Chris Dingman.
This event is presented with the support of the Middletown Commission on the Arts and the CT Department of Economic and Community Development, Office of the Arts, which also receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency, along with the Shoreline Arts Alliance.

Yoga in the Courtyard- or the Hubbard Room

Sunday, October 28, 1:00pm
The Courtyard or The Hubbard Room

No prior experience necessary, and no mats will be used. Our instructor will be Jeff Hush, founder of Food and Movement Therapy and a local instructor of Family Yoga, Tai Chi and Chair Yoga. Come experience how practicing yoga can help you feel calmer and more energetic, and learn how it can also help support a stronger immune system and better sleep patterns. Depending on the weather, the class may be held in the Hubbard Room or outside in the Courtyard.

Food Therapy Workshop

Sunday, October 28, 2:00pm
Hubbard Room

Meet the physicians, nurses, medical historians, and chefs who teach Food Therapy in Connecticut. Take control of your own health by eating the right way. Learn the science and practices behind the Plant-based, Whole Foods movement. Watch our demos of how to prepare the best foods for you and the simple recipes you need. Ask us questions. Led by Jeff Hush and Rachel Hedrick, the founders of Food & Movement Therapy (famtusa.org). Co-sponsored by the Middletown Green Community Center (middletowngreencc.org) and The Plant Partners, LLC (theplantpartners.com).

Film Screening: Young Frankenstein: Celebrating the Bicentennial Of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Monday, October 29, 6:00pm
Hubbard Room

Prior to the film, we will read short pieces from the novel as a partnership with Frankenreads, an international bicentennial celebration of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein organized by the Keats-Shelley Association of America. Spoofing classic horror in the way that Mel Brooks' film Blazing Saddles spoofed classic Westerns, the movie is both a loving tribute and a raucous, irreverent parody of Universal's two classic horror films Frankenstein (1931) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935).
Rated PG. Run Time 102 minutes. Light refreshments.
Drop-in; no registration.

Classic Mystery Book Discussion

Tuesday, October 30, 7:00pm
Meeting Room 2

This book discussion focuses on classic mysteries by famous authors. It is led by librarian Amy Slowik. This month’s mystery will be The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. Copies of the books are available one month before the discussion at the Russell Library Borrowing Desk.

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