In early 2016, we had nine beautiful, custom-made Oak shelving units built with heavy-duty wheels so that we could move them around to create an event space. Then we had to decide what might pique people’s interest enough to come to a library program.
The first event we offered was a repeat of a very successful program held several years earlier – The Antique Appraisal Clinic with David Cordier. For five dollars each, our library visitors brought family treasures to be evaluated. Cordier’s stories about the items that lined the front tables were more interesting than the appraised value itself. Cordier sponsors Antique Roadshow, a popular program on WITF, our local Public Television affiliate. We had 81 attendees and I think it went well. We brought Jay Smar, a talented folk entertainer, whose songs, stories, and displays from the Northeast Pennsylvania coal region were enjoyed by a full house again.
As we turned our attention to the Underground Railroad, we presented Lenwood Sloan, who spoke to us in the character and attire of Mr. T. Morris Chester, a Harrisburg native from the mid-1800s. A dynamic performance by this celebrated Pennsylvania Past Player included stories and spirituals from the era. Afterwards, people asked for more of these type of programs, especially about the Underground Railroad in our area.
The second guest speaker on the topic was Lamar Matthew, who spoke about Quakers (Society of Friends) in the Red Land Valley that aided freedom seekers as they struggled to reach Canada. Although they were not allowed to take sides in political affairs, Quakers quietly helped many enslaved people to freedom. A Quaker himself, Lamar explained their beliefs, a people who continue to strive for peace and justice in the world today.
And then for something entirely different, we had the opportunity to present Rik Palieri, who shared the music, dance, and culture of traditional Polish people. Dressed in traditional clothing, Rik brought mountain instruments, such as a horn that took several people to hold while he played it, as well as a Polish bagpipe made from a goatskin and sounded, well, just like a bagpipe. With this delightful program, Rik had us dancing to his flutes, horns and pipes.
As of this writing, we have planned a program focused on the Indians of the Susquehanna Valley with Dr. Barry Kent and a very special Saturday to kick-off fall programs. We are delighted to present the Swedish band, Jaerv, followed by a potluck picnic. A program we are currently still planning for the fall is the Tales of ’98. Michael Baish of Skagway, Alaska will make his way to the ‘lower 48’ to talk about the Gold Rush Days of 1898.
So as long as our library visitors keep coming, we will continue to have programs for adults. It’s the least we can do, since babies, toddlers, children and teens are our specialty. It is fun to offer something educational and enjoyable for the rest of us.
Red Land Community Library