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Through free programs at the state's public libraries, kids read aloud (to dogs), seniors gather for classic films, and audiences sing along to Irish music – and that's just the start.

Free programs at local libraries
By Elisabeth Tuite
January 9, 2011

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Well versed

Brookline Public Library

Walt Whitman wrote, “To have great poets there must be great audiences too.” A loyal audience gathers monthly at A Taste of Poetry, hosted by librarian Rosalie Bookston. At this lunchtime drop-in session, the group listens to one poet’s work read aloud and then discusses it. Bookston proudly notes that in the six years since she started the gathering, it has never repeated a poet. Copies of the poems are provided and no sign-up or preparation is needed. The next three sessions will feature William Bronk, Amy Lowell, and Robert Lowell. More fun than running errands on your lunch hour. First Thursday of every month, noon-1:30 p.m., 361 Washington Street, Brookline, 617-730-2369, http://www.brooklinelibrary.org

Parlez-vous?

Lucius Beebe Memorial Library, Wakefield

Calling all Francophiles. Join others to chat – that would be papoter – in a small group setting. The library’s French Club, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, meets weekly and encourages drop-ins. Every other week a native French speaker attends to help with vocabulary, grammar, and accent. Beginners are welcome at this casual group. Thursdays from 7:30-9 p.m., 345 Main Street, Wakefield, 781-246-6334, http://www.wakefieldlibrary.org

Black History

Boston Public Library

Public historian and local author Alex Goldfeld will give an illustrated presentation at the Central Library on Boston’s African-American community from the Revolution through the Civil War. The relatively small number of black Bostonians living during that time on the north slope of Beacon Hill, once considered part of the old West End, were central to the fight for the abolition of slavery and for civil rights for African-Americans. They successfully petitioned the Legislature to enact the state’s first desegregation laws in 1855. February 9, 6:30-7:45 p.m., Orientation Room, 700 Boylston Street, Boston, 617-536-5400, http://www.bpl.org

Getting jiggy with it

Middleborough Public Library

Songs from “Ireland, the mountains, and the sea” will put you in a St. Patrick’s Day mood. Founders of the musical group Northeast Winds, Mac McHale and Emery Hutchins (affectionately known as Mac and Hutch), join forces to provide a night of old-time traditional Irish and country music, songs of the sea, and singalongs to well-known tunes. You’ll hear instruments such as the banjo, guitar, mandolin, concertina, and bodhran. March 11, 7-8:30 p.m., 102 North Main Street, Middleborough, 508-946-2470, http://www.midlib.org

Classical nights

Thomas Crane Public Library, Quincy

Professor and composer Delvyn Case of Wheaton College aims to banish the January doldrums with his Listen Up classical music seminars. First up is “An Introduction to Mozart’s Requiem,” which looks at the composer’s setting of the requiem Mass, the musical structure of this masterwork, and how it brings the sacred texts to life in a powerful way. The second night, “Modern Music From Debussy to Case,” takes listeners on a tour of the trends and developments in classical music since the start of the 20th century. Case gets audience members involved in a joyful way, by encouraging them to clap and sing. January 10 and January 24, 7-8:30 p.m., 40 Washington Street, Quincy, 617-376-1316, http://www.thomascranelibrary.org

All about manga

Worcester Public Library

Graphic novelists and cartoonists Andy Fish and Jamie Buckmaster introduce 13- to 18-year-olds to manga, or Japanese comics. As Fish explains, “The program is designed to help them understand how to tell stories with comics, and manga, in particular.” Participants will learn how a book is published by producing a graphic novel/comic compilation called “Manga for Teens.” Second and fourth Fridays of every month through June, 3:30-4:30 p.m., Banx Room, 3 Salem Square, Worcester, 508-799-1655, http://www.worcpublib.org

To dog’s ear

Sturgis Library, Barnstable

Dogs from the Companion Animal Program on Cape Cod sit quietly (and attentively, no doubt) to be read to by children ages 5 to 10. The dogs have all passed the AKC Canine Good Citizen test and are accustomed to listening to young readers practice their skills out loud. In one-to-one pairings, children rotate dogs and books during the monthly program. Fourth Wednesday of every month (no program in February), 4-5 p.m., 3090 Main Street, Barnstable, 508-362-6636, early readers (5 and up) through fourth grade, http://www.sturgislibrary.org

60 plus

Boston Public Library

The Never Too Late Group is one of the country’s oldest continuously running groups for seniors. Established around 1950, it’s open to people 60 and older from anywhere in Massachusetts. Programs are held year-round in the Central Library and include classic and contemporary films, live musical performances, and author talks or lectures about various topics, including Boston and Massachusetts history. Thursdays at 2 p.m., Rabb Lecture Hall, 700 Boylston Street, Boston, 617-859-2339, http://www.bpl.org

Discovering your forebears

Milton Public Library

Curious about your ancestors? Janis Duffy, reference supervisor at the Massachusetts State Archives and a past president of the Irish Ancestral Research Association, can get you started with this introduction to the archives’ services and holdings, including its collection of vital records, naturalization records, passenger lists, and Census information. March 2, 7-8:30 p.m., Keys Community Room, 476 Canton Avenue, Milton, 617-698-5757, http://www.miltonlibrary.org

Reading Is Fundamental

Dudley Literacy Center, Roxbury

Literacy education is a priority in many Massachusetts libraries, and it’s the sole mission of this center attached to the Dudley Branch Library. Join English-conversation groups and computer workshops or use the center’s collections of videotapes, DVDs, CD-ROMs, and podcasts for help with MCAS and GED testing and citizenship preparation. The center also provides space for programs, such as GED test preparation courses offered by Roxbury Community College and other area institutions. Daily programs, times vary, 65 Warren Street, Roxbury, 617-859-2446, http://www.bpl.org/branches/dudleylrc.htm

Girl power

Haverhill Public Library

Girls in grades 5-8 bring an important woman in their life – mom, grandmother, aunt, or neighbor – to the monthly She and Me Book Club. Alissa Lauzon, youth librarian, says the club focuses on books with plenty of “talking points for female and teen issues” and strong female characters. For January, the group will discuss When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead, the 2010 Newbery Medal winner. The library orders books for everyone interested, and they can be checked out for the reading and discussion period. Fourth Thursday of every month, 7:30-8:30 p.m., Teen Zone, 99 Main Street, Haverhill, 978-373-1586, http://www.haverhillpl.org

A pre-bee

Adams Street Branch Library, Dorchester

Can you spell N-E-R-V-E-S? Get rid of them by practicing at the Spelling Bee Warm-Up Round in advance of the Neponset-area national-level-qualifying Spelling Bee being held in Dorchester on February 12. Children in grades 1 through 8 are eligible to participate in the warm-up round, and prizes and refreshments are provided. Preregistration is encouraged. Practice lists can be downloaded at all-about-spelling.com/free-spelling-lists. January 22, 1-4 p.m., 690 Adams Street, Dorchester, 617-436-6900, http://www.bpl.org/branches

Elisabeth Tuite is head of The Boston Globe library. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.

  • January 9, 2011 cover
  • Jan. 9, 2011 Magazine cover