News & Events

African American Connecticut Explored coverOvercoming the Odds: Anna Louise James and Ann Petry Gamble and Win

Tuesday, February 24
Hubbard Room

Middlesex County Historical Society to host author Elisabeth Petry - who will speak on the topic, “Overcoming the Odds: Anna Louise James and Ann Petry Gamble and Win.” The illustrated talk will expand on essays included in the recently published, African American Connecticut Explored (Wesleyan University Press, 2014), and will illuminate the lives and work of two remarkable women: Anna Louise James, who became the first African American woman to obtain a pharmacy license and operate a pharmacy for more than forty years in Old Saybrook; and Ann Petry, a best selling novelist. The talk will include readings from her essay, “Just Like Georgia, Except for the Climate: Black Life at Mid-Century in Ann Petry’s The Narrows.” Copies of the books will be available for purchase and inscription.

For further information, contact the Historical Society at 860-346-0746.  Co-sponsored by Russell Library.

William FosterChanging Image of African Americans in Comic Books

Thursday, February 26
Hubbard Room

Comic book historian, Bill Foster returns to Russell with an exciting new presentation on the changing image of African Americans in comic books at 7pm on Thursday, February 27 in the Hubbard Room at Russell Library, 123 Broad Street, Middletown.  He will present a historical overview, with a specific focus on comic books from the 1950's and 1960's. “It is sure to be a hit with children of all ages!"

Caravan of Dreams; Author Beth Lapin Launches Latest Novel

Caravan of Dreams by Beth LapinSaturday, February 28
Hubbard Room

Join author Beth Lapin when she discusses her latest novel Caravan of Dreams at 2pm on Saturday, February 28 in the Hubbard Room at Russell Library, 123 Broad Street, Middletown.  In 1896, Mrs. Victoria Williams was found dead on the railroad tracks in East Hartford. Her husband, the King of the Gypsies, had died recently. Who were these horse dealers and what was their story? These questions intrigued Middletown author Beth Lapin, as she searched for answers. Tracing lives, loves, and aspirations of English Gypsies arriving in mid-nineteenth century America, Caravan of Dreams is a rare insider’s view of a mysterious culture, a love story, an uneasy truce with wealth garnered from the Civil War, a mother’s excruciating bereavement, and the emotional cost of loss and injury.  Come hear her story of sleuthing and connections that led to the publication of her newest novel.  Autographed copies of Caravan of Dreams will be available for $15.

Beth Lapin has been writing and publishing since elementary school. She has two previously published novels, To Say Goodbye (a Wings ePress best seller) and its sequel, The Light Gets In.  Born and raised in Connecticut, Beth has lived in Puerto Rico, Massachusetts, Maryland, and all the states that begin with “C.” She enjoys kayaking, hiking, contradancing, and family genealogy. She currently lives in her home state.

People, Places and Adventures in Western Ireland , 2008-2014

Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Hubbard Room

Guest speaker, Roy Lisker spent 4 recent summers, in Galway and Dublin, Ireland. During these visits  he  was the guest of the famous Irish sculptor John Behan and his wife Emer

In these visits Roy met with  poets, artists, actors, scientists, teachers, novelists. He  attended plays and art exhibitions at the Galway arts festivals, watched the horse races on Omey Island, and climbed the ramp up to the top of the Cliffs of Moher.

These trips included many encounters with  colorful characters. A Power Point display accompanying his talk will include  photographs taken during these visits.

Introduction to Reiki with Hillary Gauvreau

Sunday, March 8
Hubbard Room

Hillary Gauvreau will teach this free introductory class from 1:30-3:30pm on Sunday, March 8 in the Hubbard Room at Russell Library, 123 Broad Street, Middletown.  Reiki is a simple, natural, safe, and effective technique that reduces stress and promotes healing.  Anyone can learn Reiki; it is not dependent on one’s intellectual capacity, education, experience or spiritual development and has been taught successfully to thousands of people of all ages and backgrounds.
Hillary Gauvreau is a Brennan Healing Science practitioner, Reiki Master, writer, and teacher. Since opening her practice in 1993, she has trained in Matrix Energetics, and trauma release methods.  She is a long standing member of the Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals.  No registration required.

The Many Faces of Laurence Olivier; a Film Discussion Series- Wuthering Heights

Tuesday March 17
12 NoonLaurence Olivier in Wuthering Heights
Hubbard Room

Film critic Richard Alleva continues this series with Wuthering Heights. By the time of his death in 1989, Laurence Olivier was generally recognized as the greatest British actor of the twentieth century.  This was mainly due to his titanic performances on stage, but some of his greatest work was done on film.   

Olivier in Hollywood - We may think of him primarily as a classical actor, but as the tormented, vengeful lover Heathcliff in William Wyler's adaptation of Emily Bronte's novel, Olivier became a front-rank Hollywood star and a serious rival of Cary Grant and Ronald Coleman. Yet, on the set he had alienated his leading lady, Merle Oberon, and appalled his producer, Samuel Goldwyn, with his demonic portrayal of a role that Goldwyn had wanted to sweeten and romanticize.

From February through May, Richard Alleva, film critic for Commonweal magazine, will present and analyze Olivier’s acting in the movies that established and consolidated a reputation and career that has never yet been equaled in the English-speaking world. And glimpses into his often troubled personal life may offer some illumination, too.  Upcoming films are The Entertainer (April 21), and Sleuth (May 19).

Jon Katz, author: Saving Simon; How a Rescue Donkey Taught Me the Meaning of CompassionSaving simon

Rescheduled to Saturday March 21
2 PM
Hubbard Room

Spend Saturday afternoon with best-selling author Jon Katz.  He will talk about his latest book, Saving Simon: How a Rescue Donkey Taught Me the Meaning of Compassion.  Of this book, Jon Katz, says..."there is no doubt that Simon changed my life.  He opened my heart and soul, jarred me into a true understanding of the power of compassion, and cracked open long buried feelings and emotions...every morning, his bray, his "call to life", stirs my own aspirations and gratitude."


Stretching for Health

Jo Ellen Morman, local fitness instructor and personal trainer, will present this stretching class for all ages on Sunday March 22, 2-3pm.  It will incorporate the Esmonde method which employs moves from Pilates, Tai Chi, Yoga, Chiropractic and more.  Registration is requested.  Please call 860-347-2520.

Empowerment Workshop for Women

Dr. Annie Wilder of Uncommon Counseling LLC will lead this workshop on Monday, March 23 at 7:00pm in the Hubbard Room. This program aims to empower women by offering examples of tools, education and insight that can be used in many difficult circumstances.  Dr.Wilder will speak on her experiences in empowering women from all walks of life.

Dr.Wilder is a pastor, a Clinical Christian Counselor and a licensed pastoral counselor as well as a mother and grandmother. She brings many years of experience as an industrial engineer, public speaker and positive self-esteem group facilitator.  This presentation is one of a series of community events based on the One Book One Middletown 2015 book: Stranger in a Strange Land.

An Introduction to the Universe

Bob Crelin, award-winning astronomer and author, is the featured speaker for this event on Tuesday, March 24 at 7pm in the Hubbard Room.  This program is designed for all ages to explore the magic of our night sky. The audience will be introduced to the wonders of the universe waiting to be discovered in their own backyards. This visual adventure explores the constellations, ancient sky mythology, our galaxy and includes a reading of Bob’s popular book, There Once Was a Sky Full of Stars. Books and moon gazer wheels will be available for purchase. This presentation is one of a series of community events based on the One Book One Middletown 2015 book: Stranger in a Strange Land.

Great Reads Book Discussions with Hedda Kopf

Author/scholar Hedda Kopf will lead discussions of two very different short story collections beginning on Wednesday, March 25 at 7pm in the Hubbard Room.  We will encounter an extraordinary array of characters (some taken from history) and situations that span centuries and take us into the future.  The first session will be Joan Wickersham’s The News From Spain: Seven Variations on a Love Story; it explores the many ways relationships grow, endure, change or end.  One reviewer described her collection as one that  “… makes you slow down and listen, and then watch for people to reveal themselves.”  On April 15 we will discuss The Tenth of December by George Saunders.  The books are available at the checkout desk in the lobby.

Noah Baerman’s Jazz Up Close: Performance/Discussion with Freddie Bryant

Resonant Motion, Inc. presents the first of four installments in the 2015 Jazz Up Close series on Saturday, March 28 at 2:00 pm in the Hubbard Room.  Guitarist Freddie Bryant presents a quartet featuring drummer Willard Dyson, bassist Henry Lugo and pianist/series curator Noah Baerman. Bryant’s resume is as diverse as it is impressive. He has made a name as a first-call New York jazz musician in groups like Ben Riley’s Monk Legacy Septet, the Mingus Orchestra and Tom Harrell’s band, but also has a graduate degree from Yale in classical guitar and has worked with giants of world music including Brazilian pianist Eliane Elias, Malian singer Salif Keita and klezmer clarinetist Glora Feldman. He is also an accomplished bandleader and will be featuring music from his recent albums Dreamscape and Live Grooves . . . Epic Tales.  For his Jazz Up Close appearance, Freddie will intersperse musical selections with discussion of his process and inspiration and Q&A with community members in attendance. This program is cosponsored with Russell Library and made possible by a generous grant from the Middletown Commission on the Arts.  Free and open to the public.

New Library Resource

NewThe Russell Library now subscribes to, which offers high quality, current video tutorials in topical areas such as software, technology, creative processes and business and job seeking skills.   Click on the “create profile” link to set up your own account using your Russell Library barcode and a password that you select.  is available from within the library as well as remotely. 

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