Category Archives: Library

The Last Night Shall Be First

Tonight, Westport celebrates the final night of 2016 with a First Night celebration.

The family-oriented event includes a slide at Saugatuck Elementary School …

first-night-2016-slide

… Dennis the Train Man at the Westport Library …

first-night-2016-trains

… and a telescope for stargazing on the banks of the Saugatuck. In the background are launch boats, for the 8 p.m. fireworks.

first-night-2016-telescope

Hundreds of volunteers — including 1st Selectman Jim Marpe and Jacqueline Devine — make First Night possible:

first-night-2016-jim-marpe-and-jacqueline-devine

It all takes place in and around downtown. There’s music, magicians and more at Town Hall, Toquet Hall, Jesup Green, the Westport Historical and Christ & Holy Trinity Church, through 10 p.m.

first-night-2016-light

Last-Minute Shopping At The Library

Folks flock to the Westport Library for many reasons. We check out books and DVDs. We conduct research, use the computers, enjoy the Maker Space, meet in conference rooms, hear a speaker, grab a coffee.

Now there’s another attraction: holiday shopping.

The gift shop — really just some tables near the circulation desk — is stocked with unique gifts for all ages, interests and styles. Manager Heli Stagg has found an “Abe” locket made from real pennies; small tech gadgets, games and toys; even literary temporary tattoos produced by Staples High School grads Danny and Corey Fein.

"Literary tattoos," created by a pair of Staples grad brothers...

“Literary tattoos,” created by a pair of Staples grad brothers…

All proceeds help support the library.

But time is tight. They’re open until 9 p.m. tonight and tomorrow (Thursday); from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday — then closed on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

... and other holiday gifts available at the Westport Library.

… and other holiday gifts available at the Westport Library.

 

Nile Rodgers: Booked For The Hall Of Fame

Two years ago, Nile Rodgers — the longtime Westporter/musician/ producer/ composer/arranger — received a great honor: He was the Westport Library’s “Booked for the Evening” star.

Now he’s booked on an even bigger stage. On April 7, he’ll receive the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame’s Award for Musical Excellence.

He’ll be in good company for the Brooklyn ceremony. Pearl Jam, Tupac Shakur, Joan Baez, Electric Light Orchestra, Journey and Yes are fellow honorees.

Nile Rodgers

Nile Rodgers

Make no mistake. Our neighbor is an impressive addition to the roster of the Rock Hall’s Music Excellence honorees — a list that includes Leon Russell, the E Street Band and Ringo Starr.

Rodgers has performed or produced for everyone from Sister Sledge (“We Are Family”) to Duran Duran, David Bowie, Madonna and Britney Spears. In 2014 — the same year he gave a rousing performance at the library — he earned Grammys for Record of the Year and Album of the Year (for Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories”).

He’s also an influential guitarist with Chic (“Le Freak”). But for the 11th time, his famed band has not made the Hall of Fame cut.

NIle Rodgers with Chic ("Le Freak") -- back in the day.

Nile Rodgers with Chic — back in the day.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Westport’s latest rock legend called the announcement — he’s in, the group’s out — “bittersweet.” Click here for the full Q-and-A, all about his Chic years and after.

Then — when you’re finished reading — let’s dance!

(Hat tip: Dick Lowenstein)

 

 

Westport Library’s Iconic Eikon

It’s been there in the Westport Library — right near the reference desk — since spring.

You might not have noticed it.

But plenty of business executives, investors, entrepreneurs and job seekers have.

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

(Photo/JP Vellotti)

It’s a Thomson Reuters Eikon database. And Westport is the only public library in Connecticut to have one.

The financial analysis tool enables users to track market, company and economic data. It’s sophisticated, strong — and completely free.

For Westport Library patrons, that is.

If you installed one of these babies in your office or home, or on a mobile device, — according to published rates — it could cost up to $1,800 a month.

Thomas Reuters donated both the hardware and software to our library. They’re looking to expand their market, and thought making it visible — in a community that cares very much about the markets — would be a smart move.

Feedback has been great. Eikon is used often, by a variety of folks for a host of reasons. It’s already led to positive results for job seekers, as they’ve researched potential employers before interviews.

But this is not our library’s only just-one-in-the-state database. For the past few years, LexisNexis has provided legal and business research — also free. That’s a donation too, from the Berchem, Moses & Devlin law firm.

Our library is amazing. In fact, there’s none other like it in Connecticut.

You can take that to the bank.

Photo Challenge #102

Old-timers call it “Needle Park.” Newcomers refer to it as “the place at the corner of the Post Road and Main Street, near the Calypso store.”

Either way, it was the answer to last week’s photo challenge. There’s a large concrete urn (perhaps a planter?) there now, which fits in with the drab, gray surroundings.

Once it was a vibrant park next to what was then the Westport Library. It attracted its share of “hippies” — hence the derogatory “Needle Park” — along with many others.

It was supposed to remain a park in perpetuity. Well, they paved paradise and — you know the rest. (Click here to see last week’s photo; click here for an “06880” story on Needle Park.)

Congratulations to Shirlee Gordon, Joyce Barnhart, Bob Grant, Dan Herman, Anthony Palmer and J. Wagner, all of whom knew where to find the photo — whatever they called it.

As for this week’s photo challenge: No, it didn’t snow here last week. But Lynn U. Miller found this mound anyway. If you know where in Westport she took this shot, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

I Voted!

The signs are ready…

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The surrogates (like Mike Calise) are in place…

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The coffee is hot…

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The doors are open…

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The instructions are clear…

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Election 2016 is on…

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May the best man — or woman — win!

Riverwalk Reflections

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Click on or hover over to enlarge. (Photos/Anne Bernier)

Click on or hover over to enlarge. (Photos/Anne Bernier)

Clinton And Trump Debate In Westport!

The 2016 presidential campaign is one of the most polarizing in American political history.

Whether you’re with her, him or none of the above, passions run high.

So when the League of Women Voters — a non-partisan organization — was searching for a safe space where Westporters could watch Monday’s debate, they chose the most (small-d) democratic place they could find: the Westport Library.

The event will be as welcoming as possible. It begins at 8 p.m. with light refreshments, courtesy of the Library Café and LWV.

Local author and former NBC and Fox News journalist/media critic Eric Burns will provide an introduction before the 9 p.m. debate. At 10:30, Burns will moderate a public discussion about what was heard (or not).

I’m not a betting man. But I have followed this presidential race/train wreck quite closely.

So I bet that if you go to the library on Monday, whatever you hear afterward will be a lot more insightful than much of what passes for the “debate” itself.

clinton-and-trump-debate

Larry Aasen Buttons Up

In 1928, Larry Aasen’s father returned home to North Dakota from the national Democratic convention. He brought his young son an Al Smith pencil.

The souvenir is long gone. But Aasen — in his 90s, and a longtime Westporter who with his fellow politcally activist wife Martha has attended “many” national and state conventions — amassed over 2,000 other buttons, posters and assorted mementos.

Aasen mounted some in wooden frames. He donates others — worth at least $15 each to collectors — to local non-profits, to sell at silent auctions. They raise $100 to $150, he says.

Though Aasen is an avid Democrat — and his collection skews that way — his collection is non-partisan. His Republican memorabilia dates back to Wendell Willkie. He trades for some of them. Others come from his many GOP friends.

jfk-posterStarting tomorrow (Wednesday, September 21), his favorites will be on view at the Westport Library’s lower-level Riverwalk display case. They include a Woodrow Wilson button, and posters for FDR and JFK. The exhibit runs through (of course) Election Day.

An opening reception is set for Thursday, September 29 (6 p.m., McManus Room).

Aasen will be there. He’ll tell stories about his buttons — and his political life.

Like this one. In the 1950s, he was in Kansas City on business. He found out where Harry Truman often parked, to walk to his office. Sure enough, early in the morning, the former president drove through heavy snow, got out and prepared to walk.

There were no Secret Service agents around. Aasen asked if he could walk too.

Martha and Larry Aasen.

Martha and Larry Aasen.

They talked about politics, including Aasen’s native North Dakota and Martha’s Mississippi.

Somehow the discussion turned to the disputed presidential election of 1876. As Truman recounted how — 80 years earlier — Rutherford B. Hayes beat out Samuel Tilden, Aasen says, “he really got worked up.”

There’s no question who Aasen is voting for this Election Day. He’s met Hillary Clinton many times, he says, going back at least 20 years.

“People don’t realize how many times she’s been in Westport for fundraising,” Aasen says.

At the opening reception next week, maybe he’ll pair his “I’m With Her” button with one that says “We Want Willkie.”

wendell-willkie-button

Friday Flashback #7

Earlier this week, I wrote about the exciting transformation plan for the Westport Library. If all goes well, the newest iteration of the library will be finished in 2019.

The Jesup Green building opened in 1986 (on the site of the former town landfill). A bit more than a decade later, it underwent its first renovation.

Westporters of a certain age think they remember the original library. Most of the stacks — and the famous art collection, and children’s section — were housed in the sterile Parker Harder building that now includes Starbucks, Freshii and HSBC Bank:

library-old

But the real first library — built in 1908, called the Jesup Library in honor of its benefactor Morris Jesup, and then in the 1950s incorporated as part of the “new” library — was located just east of that building. It sat on the corner of the Post Road and Main Street:

library-original

But our Friday Flashback digs even deeper than that.

Here’s what that 1908 “Jesup Library” replaced:

(Photo/Seth Schachter)

(Photo/Seth Schachter via Bill Scheffler)

This view looks west, at the corner of the Post Road (left) and Main Street (right). You can see the outlines of the buildings that are there today, lining the left side of Main Street.

If you’ve got any Westport Library memories, we’d love to hear them. Click “Comments” below.