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Jackie Hemond

Jackie Hemond

It’s the end of the year. Amen. For some, 2017 has been a tough year, a polarizing year, when conversations were difficult among neighbors, strangers and families.

Sometimes there seems to be no point in talking. But we need to talk (and listen). Some libraries provide community conversations on difficult subjects. The Nashville Public Library is one. Some librarians are being trained to facilitate these conversations. The American Library provides such a course. The Columbus Public Library in Wisconsin set up a “wishing” tree to spawn community conversations, moving it around to different areas in town. The Brooklyn Public Library and the California Fallbrook Library pick discussion books to spark conversations. But some conversations have trouble getting started. In Fallbrook, the county library system banned the book, Not My President, from the discussion group. The ACLU interceded, and the discussion ultimately took place. Unfortunately, I don’t know how it went.

The Kent Memorial Library provides Great Decisions, a community discussion group on foreign affairs, now in its third year. The library has also facilitated thought-provoking programs on immigration policy, Islamic beliefs, Constitution law, and the biography of a Pakistani Muslim woman who became an American Muslim woman. Additionally, author Luke Dittrich explored the moral and ethical issues involving human research subjects in his book, Patient H.M.

Next year, in February, Adrienne Fulco, Director of Policy and Law at Trinity College, will discuss the U.S. Supreme Court decisions. In March, Matthew Dunne, a professor at the Housatonic Community College will explore fake news and how to spot it.

Does Suffield need more community conversations and current affairs programming? Yes, I think so. We need to converse with one another. We need to understand and explore difficult issues. If you have suggestions for conversations and programs, let me know. I am listening.

However, there are other conversations that are less heavy. We need them too. I love to overhear the food conversations in our Cookbook Club, the social discussions the teens have in their afterschool coffee club, and the talk among young mothers in the library’s drop-in play group. Our patrons loved to talk about travel and converse over hors d’oeuvres in previous winter reading programs. Who wouldn’t?

On January 8, come to our newly formed book group, BYOB (Bring Your Own Book). Talk about a book you love or recently read. Meet a neighbor. Have a conversation.

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