Category Archives: Library

Roundup: Lanternfly, Dead Tree,, Orchestrating Change …

Chuck Greenlee, acting Y’s Men Gardening chair, writes:

“Wednesday afternoon at the very popular Westport Community Garden, our our Ys Men Gardening group noticed an unusual flying insect. JP Montillier got an eerily good photo.

“It was our newest American insect invasive scourge: the lanternfly.”

Click here for more information on lanternflies.

Lanternfly (Photo/JP Montillier)

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Speaking of the less-wonderful side of nature:

Dave Wilson sent a photo of a dead tree on New Creek Road, near the Greens Farms Station and Beachside Avenue.

(Photo/Dave Wilson)

It’s dangerous. Dave says that a few requests have been made over the years to remove it.

He thinks it may have been tagged this week.

Fingers crossed …

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Nômade — the new restaurant replacing Tavern on Main — has had a few previews, before opening officially next week.

The previously dark interior has been reimagined, much more brightly. (The fireplace remains — but it’s now white). The patio is filled with tables, and a large bar. Wicker baskets hang from the ceiling.

The eclectic menu ranges from burgers and steaks to octopus, clams and ravioli.

The Nomade patio, overlooking Main Street. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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Tickets are going fast for tonight’s (Friday) Levitt Pavilion show — the inaugural one, launching Hiss Golden Messenger and Aiofe O’Donovan’s “Turn Tail in the Milky Way” tour. (Next stops: Chautauqua, and the Philadelphia Folk Festival.)

And kids’ tickets (12 and under) are free.

Both bands are part of the Levitt’s “Stars on Tour” event.

The show starts at 7 p.m. tonight. Doors open at 6; the Walrus Alley food truck will be there. Click here for tickets, and more information.

Tonight’s “Stars on Tour” folk double-header follows the free one last night. Intergenerational greatness was on stage, as Clueless (with School of Rock stars Ethan Walmark, Anais Preller, Jake Greenwald; Zach Rogers, Francesco Perrouna and Witt Lindau teamed up with perennial favorite the Mill River Band.

Dancing to the Mill River Band last night at the Levitt Pavilion, under a super moon.

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Yesterday was the first of the 3-day Heida Hermanns International Piano Competition.

The international event includes master classes by finalists at the Westport Public Library, and performances at MoCA Westport.

Today’s (Friday) events include a lecture by educator and musician Clipper Erickson, plus more master classes at the Library, and performances at MoCA. The competition concludes with an awards ceremony at MoCA on Saturday, (August 13).

Click here for tickets for all events, both in-person and virtual, and more information.

Heida Hermanns finalist Artem Kuznetsov leads a master class at the Westport Library. (Photo/Feria Sewell)

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Speaking of music: Me2/Orchestra is the only one in the world created by and for people living with mental illness. R

It was created by Ronald Braunstein. On a trajectory to becoming a leading conductor, he made his diagnosis of bipolar disorder public and was shunned by the classical music community.

He vowed to erase the mental health stigma. one concert at a time. The film “Orchestrating Change” follows Braunstein and several musicians for 2 years, capturing their setbacks and accomplishments.

The film ends in triumph for Braunstein, who thought he might never conduct again — and for the musicians and audience, whose perspective on mental illness is forever changed.

The Westport Library will show “Orchestrating Change” on September 13 (7 p.m.). Executive producers/directors Margie Friedman and Barbara Multer-Wellin, and several people featured in the film, will be on hand for a talkback after the screening. Click here for more details. 

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The Staples High School football program was inspired yesterday by a visit from a combat wounded Army veteran, Intelligence Sergeant Quincy Lopez.

He cheered on the athletes, as they did a Marine Corps “Murph workout.” It’s a fundraiser for both Westport football and Catch a Lift, the program that helps wounded vets.

Sgt. Lopez spoke of being part of something “bigger than yourself.” He added:

“You are as strong as your strongest link, and as weak as your weakest link. If you guide your decisions by what makes the team better, that in turn makes you better.

“We will soon approach another anniversary of 9/11. The darkest of hours and ultimate tragedy was followed by the greatest period of camaraderie and unity.  Incredible gains can happen when everybody works together.  Keep this in mind as you persevere for whatever you do and aim to achieve.”

Staples football players listen intently. (Photo courtesy of Adam Vengrow)

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Colorful seacoast mushrooms at the Westport Farmers’ Market make today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo particularly colorful.

(Photo/Mike Hibbard)

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And finally … on this day in 1966, John Lennon apologized for saying that “the Beatles are more popular than Jesus.”

Diverse Lineup Lights Up Library’s StoryFest

It’s just 5 years old. And it weathered a couple of COVID years.

But since its debut in 2018, the Westport Library’s StoryFest has grown quickly into a major event. The celebration of reading, writing, ideas and community draws some of the region’s most accomplished, exciting and up-and-coming authors.

This year’s event is back fully live, September 9 and 10. The array of authors — of all genres, for all ages — solidifies the Library’s role as a literary leader.

There are 2 headliners: Isaac Fitzgerald, the How to Be a Pirate author whose debut memoir, Dirtbag, Massachusetts, is #2 on The New York Times best-seller list, and Saeed Jones, who was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry in 2014 and won the Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction in 2019 for his memoir, How We Fight for Our Lives. A conversation between the 2 is the Friday evening feature.

“What a joy to be attending the largest literary festival in Connecticut,” says Fitzgerald. “The two of us reconnecting onstage will be all the more special.”

From left: Isaac Fitzgerald and Saeed Jones.

StoryFest continues Saturday evening with an appearance by James Beard Book Award-winning author Mallory O’Meara and filmmaker/actress Brea Grant. The women behind the popular Reading Glasses podcast will host a live event that doubles as an episode of their show.

Joining in are StoryFest participants Sarah Gailey, Paul Tremblay, Stephen Graham Jones, Alexis Henderson, and Clay McLeod Chapman.

Other authors scheduled this year include May Cobb, Rachel Harrison, Gabino Iglesias, Alma Katsu, Eric LaRocca, Ellen Datlow, John Langan, Bracken MacLeod, Seanan McGuire, Gwendolyn Kiste, Hugh Ryan, Mondiant Dogon, Gus Moreno, Lorien Lawrence, Alexis Henderson, Isabel Canas, LaQuette, Julia Phillips, Greg Galloway, Coco Ma, Amanda Parrish Morgan, and Kate Racculia.

“StoryFest is one of the highlights of our year, and a crown jewel of the New England literary experience,” says Westport Library executive director Bill Harmer.

“It is an opportunity to welcome back old friends and fan favorites, while showcasing some of the country’s brightest rising talents. We are excited to celebrate 5 years of this remarkable event with readers from across New England and the tri-state area, and to welcome everyone to explore all our space has to offer.”

Past StoryFest participants include New York Times best-selling authors Mitch Albom and Michael Lewis; National Book Award finalist Jason Reynolds; Pinkalicious author/illustrator Victoria Kann; Goosebumps author R.L. Stine; young adult superstars Nic Stone, Tiffany Jackson, and L.L. McKinney; and Emmy Award winner Sheila Nevins.

For a complete list of events, panels, and authors participating in this year’s StoryFest, click here.  For a history of the event, click here.

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Roundup: Tennis Courts, Stephen Wilkes, Monarchs …

A reader writes:

I am infuriated by this community.

My daughter and I played tennis Wednesday at Staples High School. I was disgusted to see all of the trash left on the court. The same trash I saw 2 days prior had grown in volume.

In addition to empty water bottles and tennis cans, there were about 8 of those sharp and dangerous metal seals. My daughter and I cleaned up the mess.

I don’t understand why people can’t clean up after themselves. They think it’s ok to leave their trash behind. There is a green receptacle on the court, and a garbage can just outside the fence.

Why is it so hard? Come on, people. Let’s all enjoy this public space together!

Mess at the Staples tennis courts.

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World-renowned (and Westport) photographer Stephen Wilkes is featured in a new Westport Library exhibit.

Encompassing all 3 galleries, the show will explore how his visualization of the concept of time has evolved from the earlier days of his career, on through his latest series “Day to Night” and “Tapestries.”

The exhibition opens September 8.

The program will be preceded by a reception with the photographer at 6:15, followed by a Q&A in the Forum, with Stacy Bass.

The show runs through November 29.

“Flatiron 2010” (Photo/Stephen Wilkes)

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Longtime Weston resident Bill Rother — a well-known musician and travel company executive — died August 1, at his beloved Kettle Creek Camp in the Pennsylvania mountains, surrounded by family. He was 89.

A strong athlete, Bill was captain of his high school swimming and crew teams. He continued to swim throughout his life, winning dozens of medals in the senior Olympics. Bill swam his age in laps on his birthday – hitting 89 this year.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from Penn State University in forestry in 1955, and remained a lifelong Nittany Lion supporter. Although he never worked in the field, Bill loved to quiz his grandkids on the Latin names of trees in the woods.

He served as an Army second lieutenant in the Reserve Officer Training Corps at Penn State, then first lieutenant and platoon leader with the combat engineers at Fort Bragg, North Carolina with the 82nd Airborne Division.

He was a musician from his earliest days, working his way through college playing banjo with a Dixieland band, The Sadistic Six. This led to work as a professional musician with Fred Waring & the Pennsylvanians. He traveled the world with the group, performing on live television with stars like Perry Como, Jackie Gleason and Garry Moore, and appearing on “The Ed Sullivan Show” right before the Beatles.

Highlights for Bill were playing at the White House and meeting a President (Eisenhower), a Queen (Elizabeth), and a King (Elvis).

Bill’s next foray into Hollywood was an attempt to produce his own TV show in London about a race car driver called “Knights of the Road.” Despite a year of work, even hiring a down and out actor who went on to future success (Peter O’Toole), they ran out of money and Bill returned to Los Angeles penniless.

He saw an ad in the L.A. Times: “Tour Director to lead deluxe groups to Hawaii.” He was quickly hired by the company, Ask Mr. Foster. Within days they bought Bill a tuxedo and sent him to work on the SS Lurline cruise ship, chatting with the likes of Lloyd Bridges on his way to run tours in Hawaii.

After several years in the travel industry Bill connected with his close friend, Arthur Tauck, who hired him as a tour director with his premier tour company, Tauck Tours. It was a career he enjoyed for over 30 years.

His most proud accomplishment was setting up Tauck’s first itinerary in Hawaii, fulfilling a lifelong dream of living in the islands. Bill couldn’t believe he got paid to travel the world, and live at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.

Bill married the love of his life, Bonnie Marie Orton, in 1969 on Kauai. Their honeymoon included adventures in Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti and Bora Bora. Bill and Bonnie raised one daughter, Samantha Carrie Maile Lou Li’i Li’i Rother Nagy, who Bill called “the light of my life.”

In Weston, Bill became friendly with José Feliciano. He became the singer’s tour manager, and performed with him locally.

Bill was preceded in death by his brother Bobby. He is survived by his wife Bonnie, daughter Samantha, son-in-law Christopher, and grandsons William James and Luke Robert Nagy.

A celebration of life service will be held in September at the Unitarian Church in Westport, at a date to be determined.

In lieu of flowers, his fmaily says: :be kind, laugh, play music, love big, drink the good beer, and live a great life.”

Bill Rother

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Longtime Westporter Jo Ann Miller has a question: Should children and teenagers call adults by their first names?

She comes from a military family, where that was a no-no. But she’s seen and heard it around Westport.

Jo Ann wonders: Does the trend show a lack of respect? Or is it simply a new way of raising kids?

She’d love to hear readers’ thoughts. Click “Comments” below.

Back in the day, kids did not call parents — or their parents’ friends — by first names.

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Wakeman Town Farm’s lecture garden series continues August 29 (6:30 p.m.). Master gardener Alice Ely talks on Milkwood Growing and Monarch Raising.”

Monarchs have suffered tremendous habitat loss recently. Alice will describe ways to attract egg-laying monarchs to gardens, raising eggs into hungry caterpillars, and tips on growing a variety of milkweed species to help them thrive.

Click here for more information, and tickets.

Monarch butterfly and milkweed.

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Season 2 of “Kids are Talking” has been a great success.

Producer Michael Bud of Weston brought in new moderators for each episode. Among them: State Senator Will Haskell, who inspired teenager to get involved in politics; a “conspiracy rhetoric” professor who talked about the JFK assassination and lizard people; a Yale professor who discussed sleep habits and moods; an expert on boundaries, and last night, teen leaders of a suicide prevention organization.

Click here for past episodes, and more information.

Last night’s “Kids are Talking” episode.

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The Westport Library has added a noir film to Miggs Burroughs and Ann Chernow’s exhibition, “Double Indemnity.”

“Mildred Pierce” will be shown on the Trefz Forum big screen on August 25 (7 p.m.).

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” features some luscious tomatoes from Tom Cook’s Community Garden plot.

(Photo/Tom Cook)

Your bounty may not look like this. But there’s plenty of produce available today at the Westport Farmers’ Market. It’s runs through 2 p.m., at the Imperial Avenue parking lot.

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And finally … Judith Durham, whose beautiful voice helped make The Seekers the first Australian pop group a success during the British Invasion — died today in Melbourne. She was 79, and suffered from a lifelong lung disease.

“Georgy Girl” was the Seekers’ biggest hit. I didn’t care for that one, but I loved many of their other songs — those well known, and others less famous. Australians considered them a treasure, and they were right. Click here for a full obituary.

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Roundup: Back-To-School Help, Online Returns, Hate Incidents …

If it’s August, it must be back-to-school time.

Which means, it’s time to help local youngsters whose parents can’t afford all the bells and whistles — or perhaps even notebooks and pencils — that their kids need.

Not to mention, after-school childcare.

Last year, Westport’s Department of Human Services helped 115 children from 70 families with back-to-school needs. They also provided 15 children with financial assistance to participate in programs while their parents were at work.

Human Services seeks Walmart gift cards to allow families to shop for essentials. Monetary donations provide access to after-school programs. Both are tax-deductibel.

Donations can be made online. Click here; then click on “Family to Family Programs – Seasonal Program – Back to School.” Checks can be made payable to the “Town of Westport/DHS Family Programs,” and sent to Human Services, 110 Myrtle Ave Westport, CT  06880.

If you or someone you know requires assistance, call 203-341-1050 or email humansrv@westportct.gov. All calls are confidential.

Every child deserves access to school supplies.

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First came the excitement of Lily’s Market. There’s new (and convenient) life in Weston Market.

Starting Friday, Lily’s will offer something else: returnable online returns.

“Returnable” is a subscription service. Members drop returns for items bought online in a bin, at Lily’s — skipping the hassle of printing labels, packaging, and hauling them to a shipping location.

To subscribe, scan a QR code on Lily’s returnable bin. To return an item, email rose@returnable.com with purchase/return information. Returnable processes the info, and provides next steps.

It’s all good. Plus: the first month is free!

Lily’s Market, Weton.

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With hate incidents rising in Connecticut, Stacey Sobel’s appearance yesterday at the Westport Rotary Club was timely.

Sobel — the state’s regional director of the Anti-Defamation League noted that while violence has been minimal here, white supremacists have increased their physical and online presence.

She commended Connecticut legislators and media for their vigilance in exposing and combating hate speech. “We are focused on preserving democracy,” said Sobel about the ADL. (Hat tip: Dave Matlow)

Stacey Sobel holds up a “New England Nationalist Social Club” flyer at the Westport Rotary Club’s meeting, at Greens Farms Church. (Photo/Dave Matlow)

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Yesterday’s “06880” highlighted the volunteer efforts in Ukraine of Westporters Brian Mayer and Ken Bernhard.

They’re hard-working. They’re inspiring.

And on August 15 (7 p.m.), they’re at the Westport Library.

They’ll discuss UkraineAidInternational.org, the not-for-profit Brian co-founded, as well as the triumphs and difficulties of the Ukrainian people as they fight the Russian invasion. Click here for more information, including in-person and Zoom registration.

(From left): Ken Bernhard, and Jeff, Nancy and Brian Mayer, unloading supplies for Ukraine.

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Elizabeth Petrie-Devoll is the August artist exhibitor at the Westport Book Shop.

Eleven works will be on display this month. Elizabeth creates new art from old object, enlivening history and questioning the border between the past and present.

She says, “In a disposable age I reconfigure, repurpose and compose well-worn and often utilitarian relics.

All work is available for purchase. To see more of her work, click here.

Elizabeth Devoll, at the Westport Book Shop.

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Actor Pat Carroll died Saturday. She was 95 years old.

She was well known to Westport Country Playhouse theatergoers. Her 4 stage appearances spanned 4 decades: “Once Upon a Mattress” (1961), “Something’s Afoot” (1975), “Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein” (1982) and “Nunsense II” (1993).

In 1995, she directed the Playhouse production of “The Supporting Cast.”

Longtime WCP PR manager Patricia Blaufuss calls Carroll’s “Nunsense” performance “a master class in comic timing and delivery. She made the show fresh, vibrant, and a sellout. She was a remarkable stage presence and a memorable woman in entertainment history.”

Click here for a full obituary. Click here for an in-depth video interview.

Pat Carroll in “Gertrude Stein.” (Photo/Gerry Goodstein)

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Admit it: Secretly, you’d love to do improv.

This fall, the Westport Community Theatre will once again offer a master class in the art. All levels are welcome, from beginner to advanced.

Second City-trained actress Heather Delude will teach both short- and long-form scenic improvisation, along with musical improv. This is not her first WCT rodeo; she’s instructed there many times before.

The class meets Saturday and Sunday, October 8 and 9, from 1 to 4 p.m. For more information and registration, email WCTJuniors@gmail.com, or call Cindy Hartog at 203-858-6993.

Heather Delude

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Problems with the Westport Library air conditioning yesterday were nothing to crow about.

But this guy beat the heat, with a special spot outside the café, where manager Heli Stagg captured the image, for “Westport … Naturally.”

(Photo/Heli Stagg)

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And finally … were there other crows at the Library too?

We’re not sure. We were not …

Roundup: Curt Swan’s Superman, Starbucks’ Scalding Coffee …

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman at the Westport Library!

Sort of.

For many years, the legendary superhero comic strip was drawn by Westport illustrator Curt Swan.

This Wednesday (August 3, 7 p.m., Westport Library), local comic book art historian Arlen Schumer dives into the artist’s work.

Swan worked full time on Superman from 1957 to 1986. From the scenes of a doomed Krypton to soaring above Metropolis, his Superman is the standard against which all succeeding artists are judged.

Schumer is an award-winning comic book-style illustrator and pop culture historian. He writes, lectures and teaches on his passions.

Click here for more information.

From the 2002 book “Curt Swan: a Life in Comics”

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An environmentally minded, coffee-drinking reader writes: “Starbucks now uses sustainable cups, straws and lids. That’s great.

“But the lids suck. Twice this week at the drive-through one they fell off, burning my husband and me.

“When I asked for a new lid, they told me to call corporate because everyone is complaining about these flimsy sustainable lids, and ‘someone is gonna sue soon.’

“I’m all for sustainable Westport — but not at the expense of being burned.

“The good news is: They gave me a $10 gift card the second time. They saw it happen, and felt terrible.”

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Lou Weinberg is a teacher, director of our town’s Community Gradens, and a superb photographer.

Here’s what he says about today’s “Westport .. Naturally” submission:

“I was listening to this black-capped chickadee sing its song. It really went the extra mile. My exuberant applause was met with a full bow by the bird. It was a command performance!”

(Photo/Lou Weinberg)

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And finally … in honor of Arlen Schumer’s homage to Curt Swan at the Library this week (see story above):

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Library Re-Purchases Controversial Book

A controversial book on transgender issues will soon be back on the Westport Library shelves.

Last month, after “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing our Daughters” was taken out of circulation, a group of residents accused the Library of “political censorship.” They asked the Library to re-purchase it.

The Library said the book by Abigail Shrier was rejected by the Purchasing Committee because it included misinformation about scientific studies on transgender issues, and omitted other information.

The residents called the decision “unacceptable and most likely unlawful.” 

Today — noting that the Library’s appeals process works as intended — executive director Bill Harmer says the book has been re-evaluated. It will be re-purchased.

The decision was announced in an email to Alessandra Gordonos, who made the original complaint. Harmer said:

In accordance with the Library’s Challenged Materials Procedure, the Library has reevaluated the book in question in the context of the Library’s Collection Development Policy.

As a result of this reevaluation, the Library has made the decision to re-purchase the book for the Library’s collection.

The Library is committed to its mission of empowering the individual and strengthening the community through dynamic interaction and the lively and open exchange of ideas.

In furtherance of its mission, the Library also is committed to the American Library Association’s Library Bill of Rights, and The Freedom to Read Statement of the ALA Council and AAP Freedom to Read Committee.

The Library is committed to making available books and materials that promote diversity of thought and opinion, and deepen patrons’ understanding of issues.

I note that inclusion of any materials in the Library collection does not constitute or reflect an endorsement of any particular opinion, idea, or viewpoint by the Library.

The Westport Library first added “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters: to the Library’s materials collection in February 2021.

To the best of our knowledge, the book circulated only once, and was withdrawn in June 2021. In July 2021 and again in September 2021, you made separate requests for the Library to re-purchase the book for the collection.

After review, the Library’s selection committee decided not to re-purchase the book, due in part to the mixed reviews that the book had received during that summer — reviews that highlighted omitted information and misinformation from some of the results from the studies the author cites in the book.

The Library’s collection manager indicated to you that the Library had a selection of other recent books on this topic in our collection, and offered to borrow a copy of the book for you from another library.

The Westport Library’s collection is always in flux. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

In selecting materials for the Library’s collection, the Library follows its Collection Development Policy. The fact that this item was once in the Library’s collection and was then removed is not unusual, given space considerations and in keeping with Library best practices.

The Library’s collection, at any given moment, is always in flux. We are not an archive. Much of our collection comes in based on interest, and leaves — is replaced — when interest wanes. Out-of-date books, for instance, are removed by librarians, as are multiples of a book as its popularity decreases.

Library staff constantly reviews items in our collection against the Collection Maintenance criteria in our Collection Development Policy, to determine whether any items should be withdrawn.

The Library also has a Contested Materials Policy and Procedure to ensure that all patrons have an opportunity to appeal any decision reached by the selection committee — and to provide us with a complete system of checks and balances.

“Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters” has been reevaluated in accordance with the Library’s Challenged Materials Procedure. The book represents a current, diverse viewpoint on culturally significant subjects (gender identity and expression, gender dysphoria, being transgender, adolescence, and development) that are relevant to the community. The book and its author have gained widespread public attention and are relevant to the contemporary discourse concerning the subject matter of the book.

The Library recognizes that public response to the book has been divided; that the book endorses theories concerning gender identity and gender dysphoria that are controversial and disputed; and that the book’s accuracy and objectivity have been challenged.

In reaching this decision, the Library also takes into account the extent to which other materials addressing gender identity and expression, gender dysphoria, being transgender, adolescence, development, and related topics are available in the Library’s collection, as well as the Library’s commitment to providing materials that reflect a diversity of thought and opinion.

The Library’s collection includes more than 100 physical books, over 900 e-books, and other materials concerning these subjects, rounding out the body of information available to patrons and permitting patrons to educate themselves, test ideas, draw conclusions, and make their own, informed decisions abou what to read and believe.

The Library’s collection is dynamic. Materials in the Library’s collection are subject to ongoing evaluationm and may be retained or withdrawn by the Library as circumstances change or warrant. Decisions concerning the development and maintenance of the Library’s collection will continue to be guided by the Library’s Collection Development Policy.

I also reiterate that inclusion of materials in the Library collection does not constitute an endorsement by the Library of any particular viewpoint, idea, or opinion.

Thank you for taking an active interest in the Library’s resources. Please feel free to contact me directly with any further questions you may have

Check Out These Library “Things”

Once upon a time, the Westport Library was only about books. (And — because so many artists and illustrators lived here — a noted collection of prints too.)

In the 1980s, the Library began offering DVD. Purists howled. “That’s Blockbuster’s job!” they said. (Of course, you can’t beat free. Naysayers soon became some of the biggest patrons. And where is Blockbuster today?*)

Then came the MakerSpace. Prime main floor real estate was given over to computers, tools and a first-of-its-kind 3D printer. The noise level rose. So did user engagement.

Today the Westport Library offers many things. There are still tons of books; still DVDs (and CDs and vinyl); still a Maker Space; . Plus cutting-edge TV and audio studios; a 19-foot state-of-the-art screen, and equally killer sound system; a store, café and more.

Plus a “Library of Things.”

It’s not the most elegant name. But there may be no better way to describe all the “things” the Library lends.

Westport Library employees Kathleen Malloy and Brendan Toller, with a few “things.’

The Library of Things is found along the right-side (upper parking lot) wall, on the main floor. Extending from near the entrance all the way to Verso Studios (interrupted only by restrooms), it’s shelf after shelf of stuff to check out.

Sewing machines, battery testers, puzzles and games, metal detectors, waterproof speakers, bubble makers, a 45-cup coffee urn, ukuleles, phone and car chargers, a Hello Kitty cake pan, CD players, Zoom ring lights, MIDI-controlled keyboard, button makers, smartphone lens kits, golf range finder, SAD therapy lights, field microphones, portable projectors, a Nintendo Switch — they’re all there.

A kayak, cornhole games and disc golf sets are not there. They’re too big. But they’re available too.

And every one of those “things” is free. All you need is a library card.

More things!

Sign your thing out, and keep it for 10 days. (21 if it’s something like a sewing machine or ukulele, helping you learn a skill.)

Who wants to check out a thing?

Everyone.

Families who need a projector for an outdoor movie. Bands making buttons for an upcoming tour. Someone seeking hidden metal treasures at Compo or Sherwood Island. People creating their first videos. A person who bought a new car without a CD player, finishing an audiobook. Grandparents whose grandchildren will be visiting soon.

Folks are “stunned” when they realize all that’s hidden in plain sight, says Kathleen Malloy, the Library’s manager of patron experiences.

Available items are right there on the shelves. (Except for that kayak and those outdoor lawn games.) Things that have been checked out — and all the high-tech Verso things — are represented by photos.

Things on the wall near Verso Studios. (Photos/Dan Woog)

A walk along the Library of Things is like going to an all-you-can-eat buffet — with every cuisine, each one next to another in random order.  You’ll find things you never you needed or wanted, things you never knew existed, and things a friend would love (if they only knew it was here).

People have found the Library of Things through word of mouth (and a mention in the Library’s monthly publication).

Once they find it, users come back. And they offer idea. Many new items come from patrons’ suggestions.

Westporters have always loved our library. But it’s hard to imagine someone in 1908, or 1958 — or even 2008 — saying, “Excuse me. Can I check out a kayak today?”

Today, it’s the thing to do.

*In Westport, it’s a Hartford HealthCare center.

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Roundup: Ignazio’s Pizza, Grace Salmon Park, Cribari Bridge …

In May, “06880” reported that Ignazio’s was looking for a new owner.

The asking price was $275,000. Rent is $8,000 a month.

The restaurant in the former Bertucci’s space is now closed. Tables and chairs are stacked outside, and lights are off inside.

A phone call brings this cheery-sounding message: “Hi! You’ve reached Pizza Life, formerly Ignazio’s. We are remodeling, and will be back soon!”

Meanwhile, Ignazio’s’ website — still live — promises a new location, coming soon to Mystic. The original location was in Brooklyn.

Iganzio’s opened in Westport in November 2019, just 4 months before COVID struck.

Ignazio’s, this week. (Photo/Matt Murray)

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Grace Salmon Park is one of Westport’s most beautiful — and underrated — places to relax.

Yesterday, it was a classroom.

University of Connecticut master gardeners (and Westport residents) Monica Buesser, Alice Ely and Nathalie Fonteyne  conducted an invasive plant workshop. It was sponsored by the Westport Garden Club.

Sixteen participants learned about the park’s top 15 invasive plants. They then broke into 4 groups, each canvasing a quarter of the site — and found several different invasives.

The next step: using the data to apply for a grant for removal of invasives from Grace Salmon.

Buesser — the conservation chair of the Westport Garden Club —  plans to be at Grace Salmon Park every Thursday from 8 to 10 a.m. (weather permitting). She invites everyone interested in weeding or learning more about the park’s plants to join her.

“You can’t miss me. I wear overalls!” she says.

Grace Salmon Park is a beautiful spot. Like many in Westport, however, it is home to several invasive species. (Photo/Patricia McMahon)

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Seen on the Town of Westport’s Instagram:

The Public Works Department was out in force on Bridge Street. Workers cut back branches and brush that had encroached on the pedestrian walkway leading to Saugatuck.

It won’t make your drive over the Cribari Bridge any quicker. But it’s sure a boon to the many bikers, joggers and walkers who love the view.

(Photo courtesy of Department of Public Works)

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Three Westport non-profits have received CT Humanities grants:

  • United Nations Association Southwestern Connecticut, Westport: $4,980, for “When the Stars are Scattered” author/illustrator visits.
  • Westport Country Playhouse: $14,750 for the production of “From the Mississippi Delta” this coming October.
  • Westport Museum for History & Culture: $4,074 for “Saugatuck Stories: Walking Tour Exploring Diverse Experiences.”

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Sure, NASA is excited about the James Webb Space Telescope.

But the Westport Astronomical Society has Cal Powell.

The former WAS president hosts the “Cal & Friends Meteorite Show & Tell Party” on Tuesday (July 19, 8 p.m.).

Cal received his first meteorite in 2010, as a going-away gift from WAS. He started collecting them a few years later. His collection of nearly 400 specimens covers most meteorite classifications.

Cal will his present his extensive personal meteorite collection, and introduce Stefan Nicolescu with rare samples from Yale’s Peabody Museum. The WAS adds: “Bring your own meteorites and assemble your meteorwrongs!” Click here for more information.

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Noted local artists Miggs Burroughs and Ann Chernow hosted the third and final noir film last night, on the Westport Library’s large Trefz Forum screen.

“Nightmare Alley” was part of the series accompanying the artists’ “Double Indemnity” art exhibit, in the Library’s Sheffer Gallery. It runs through August 6.

Miggs Burroughs and Ann Chernow. (Photo/Dave Matlow)

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo is as delectable as it gets: raspberries, straight from Lauri Weiser’s back yard.

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

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And finally … Lauri Weiser’s photo (above) reminds us of …

(If you enjoy the daily Roundup, please support “06880.” Click here to donate.)

“06880” Podcast: Diederik van Renesse

It’s summer, so let’s talk about … college.

The season doesn’t really matter. In Westport — and communities around the country like it — college admissions is a year-round interest obsession.

And it starts long before the summer before senior year.

This newest “06880: The Podcast” features a very interesting chat with Diederek van Renesse. His 24 years as a teacher, admission director and private school college counselor have served him well as a senior partner at Westport’s Steinbrecher Educational Advisors.

He works with families around the world on college, boarding and day school, and therapeutic treatment placements. He’s got a fascinating, 360-degree view of admissions processes, and he shared them the other day in our chat at Westport Library’s Verso Studios.

Roundup: Ireland, Lacrosse, Politico …

“06880” readers know that Westport is a great place to live.

Now it’s official — at least, across the Atlantic.

Susan Garment spotted this sign the other day in Westport, Ireland. It says: “Tidy Towns National Winner.:

And below that: “Best Place to Live in Ireland.“

(Photo/Susan Garment)

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Westport sports fans know that the Staples High School boys lacrosse team’s rout of Darien in the state championship final was big.

But just how huge was it?

Inside Lacrosse just ranked the Wreckers’ win as the top performance in all of public high school lax this spring — in the entire country.

The site says:

A strong argument could be made that the Wreckers’ stunning 12-3 victory over Connecticut powerhouse Darien in the Class L state championship game was high school lacrosse’s biggest story in June. Scoring the game’s first eight goals to take a 9-1 lead into halftime, Will Koshansky’s squad played smart, methodical lacrosse en route to a commanding win over a Blue Wave squad that spent much of the season in the national Top 10.

This spring, the Wreckers picked up six victories over teams from the computer ratings Top 100, topping Massachusetts state champ St. John’s Prep, as well as Fairfield County foes Greenwich, Wilton, New Canaan, Ridgefield and Darien….

The 9-goal victory over Darien in the state championship stands above all of the Wreckers’ previous accomplishments this season, and now, Staples finishes as IL’s No. 1 public school program to end 2022…

AD

A young nucleus returns, so expect to hear even more about Westport’s finest going forward. (

(Click here for the full story. Hat tip: Dave Briggs)

Staples High School: boys lacrosse state champs — and now, #1 in the nation. (Photo/Chris Greer)

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Earlier this year, Steve Parrish brought Carlotta LaNier — one of the Little Rock 9, who desegregated Central High School in 1957 — to the Westport Library.

Now the consultant specializing in specializing in crisis management, corporate social responsibility, public affairs and communications — and frequent TV news show guest — has reached into his Rolodex, to plan another intriguing evening.

On July 19 (7 p.m.), he’ll chat with political journalist and Politico co-founder John Harris. Prior to creating one of the country’s most visited news sites, Harris was a national political reporter for the Washington Post.

Click here to register for a seat in the Trefz Forum. Click here for the livestream.

John Harris

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Kathie Motes Bennewitz — who serves as both Westport town arts curator and executive director of the Hopper House Museum and Study Center in Nyack, New York — joins Westporter Robin Frank in inviting “06880” readers to the Museum on July 19 (6 p.m.). Frank will give a presentation on “Framing Memory in American Art: Visions of Love and Loss.” The lecture is followed by  complimentary cocktails to toast the current exhibition Liliane Tomasko: Evening Wind.

Memory is the underlying theme of both Hopper’s isolated figures in interiors and Tomasko’s lyrical paintings of unmade beds. In addition to their works, I will discuss a diverse array of historic and contemporary objects—ranging from eighteenth-century mourning jewelry to a Covid-inspired video on view at the Whitney Biennial—that celebrate love and memorialize loss.

Click here for more details and tickets.

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Longtime Westporter, Red Cross volunteer, and one of Staples High School’s longest-lived graduates, Eloise Neyle Reilly died peacefully at her home, surrounded by her family and caregiver, on July 1. She was 102 years old.

Born on March 22, 1920 in New York City, she was called “a remarkable, self-sufficient and independent woman, known for her positive outlook on life.”

Eloise moved to Westport in 1934, and graduated from Staples High School. One of the most important chapters in her life began during World War II. She joined the American Red Cross Club Mobile Unit, a service to provide comfort and support to combat troops on the front lines with coffee, donuts and conversation.

After the war ended, she spent 2 more years in Germany, supporting US troops. She often told stories of her remarkable friendships and experiences during her years with the Red Cross.

Eloise’s strength and independence continued beyond the war when she returned home to Westport. In the late 1940s and ’50s she built a career in New York City, culminated as a human resource director at the advertising firm Young and Rubicam.

Eloise designed and worked with a local contractor to construct the home that she lived in since 1957. She was an avid gardener, a lover of nature and a long time member of the Westport Garden Club.    

In the late 1960’s, she left the city and the commute to start a second successful career as a real estate agent, with Helen Benson Real Estate.

One of her passions and strengths was maintaining great friendships in her community, and staying connected with lifelong friends and family across the country. A result of this passion came in the early 1970’s, when she began the first of many annual Red Cross Club Mobile reunions at her home here.

The tradition gained momentum and continued through the early 2000’s.   Reunions were held at the homes of Red Cross members and friends across the US and Europe.

Eloise is survived by her nephews, Kevin (Leslie Carrere) Reilly of Newfield, New York; William (Laura Gotfried) Reilly of Enfield, New York and Peter (Mary Picard) Reilly of Rye, New Hampshire; grand-nieces and nephews Colin, Marissa Mia, Megan and Conor Reilly, and great-grand-niece Kendall Reilly.  Her brother, Donald Reilly, recently predeceased her.

The family gives special thanks to Mary Krewsen, her personal caregiver, for her loving care, and the staff of Visiting Angels of Fairfield for their support.  In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in her honor can be made to The American Red Cross.

Family and friends are invited a visitation on Wednesday, July 13th (9:30 a.m., Christ & Holy Trinity church. Funeral services will follow at 10 in the church sanctuary.  Interment will follow at the Christ and Holy Trinity Cemetery.  Click here to sign the online guestbook.

Eloise Reilly

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Crabs are not the most elegant looking creatures.

But they — like this one, today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature — have been at Compo Beach and environs longer than we have.

lot longer.

(Photo/Jeanine Esposito)

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And finally … happy 52nd birthday to Beck. The one-named singer/songwriter/ producer turns 52 today.

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