standing Westerly Library

Tuesday would have been Martin Luther King Jr.’s 90th birthday, and next Monday, the library is closed for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. I read a bit about him recently and was reminded of what an impressive and accomplished man he was. He graduated from his segregated high school at the age of 15! He then earned his first college degree by 19. At 26 years old, he had earned a second college degree, as well as a Ph.D. from Boston University.

From 1957-68, Dr. King was extremely active in the civil rights movement, traveling over 6 million miles and speaking over 2,500 times. In those 11 years, he also wrote five books and numerous articles, met with President Kennedy, was arrested 20 times, and was awarded five honorary degrees. In 1963 he was named Time magazine’s “Man of the Year.” At 35 years old, Martin Luther King Jr. became the youngest person to ever win a Nobel Peace Prize. He turned over the prize money of $54,000 to the civil rights movement. His 1964 acceptance speech in Oslo is still considered by many to be among the most powerful remarks to ever be delivered at the event.

In 1964, at least partially due to the March on Washington, which was the event where Dr. King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, which eliminated legalized racial segregation. In 1965, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act, which eliminated barriers to voting for African-Americans. The passage of this legislation was a direct result of the march that Dr. King led from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., titled the March for Voting Rights.

On April 4, 1968, Dr. King was assassinated on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tenn.

At Westerly Library, we have numerous resources on Martin Luther King, Jr. There are many children’s books that explain the holiday, describe to children what the United States was like during Dr. King’s lifetime, picture books, and biographies for children. For adults, we have a 15-CD audio book from BBC America that includes 24 original recordings of Dr. King, including some of his most famous speeches. I can’t list them all because the Westerly Library alone has over 50 items on Martin Luther King! If you are interested in learning more about this amazing person who undoubtedly changed the world in significant ways, the library should be your first stop.

This Thursday evening, we have a special event in honor of Dr. King — the Westerly Area Peace and Justice Group presents our second annual reading of Dr. King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Beginning at 5:30 p.m., 12 readers will read five-minute portions of the letter. This letter was written by Dr. King on the margins of a newspaper (the only paper available to him) while jailed in the Birmingham, Ala., city jail, and became an important text of the civil rights movement.

Top-requested books

1. “Becoming” by Michelle Obama

2. “Nine Perfect Strangers” by Liane Moriarty

3. “The Reckoning” by John Grisham

4. “Past Tense” by Lee Child

5. “Educated: A Memoir” by Tara Westover

6. “Kingdom of the Blind” by Louise Penny

7. “Long Road to Mercy” by David Baldacci

8. “Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens

9. “Dark Sacred Night” by Michael Connelly

10. “Unsheltered” by Barbara Kingsolver

Top-requested movies

1. “A Star is Born”

2. “Crazy Rich Asians”

3. “Bohemian Rhapsody”

4. “A Simple Favor”

5. “The Wife”

6. “The Equalizer 2”

7. “First Man”

8. “The Old Man & the Gun”

9. “Venom”

10. “Green Book”

Top billing

For All Ages

MONDAY — 10-10:45 a.m., Sensory storytime – for ages 4+, designed for children who have autism and/or sensory challenges; 5:30-7 p.m., Conversation Class – A free conversation class for English Language Learners; 6-7:30 p.m., Cookbook Club! Each month we focus on a different cookbook and choose recipes to prepare and share with the group. This month, we’re using The Italian Vegetable Cookbook. Copies are available for checkout in Reference and registration is required.

TUESDAY — 10-10:45 a.m., Family storytime for all ages; 3-4 p.m., Veggie Social Club -- Are you curious about plant-based foods? Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, or mostly carnivorous, all are welcome! This casual monthly club is a chance to share questions, recipes, tips, and concerns about incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet; 3:30-5 p.m., Teen Crafting – Friendship bracelets, string and snacks provided; 3:30-4:30 p.m., Teen S.A.G.A. meeting -- A discussion and support group for teens 12-18 about LGBTQ+ stories and issues. This group will foster a sense of community for those who identify as LGBTQ+, questioning, or their allies in a welcoming, inclusive, and accepting space; 6-7 p.m., Author talk and book signing with Nancy McCann Vericker, the author of Unchained: Our Family’s Addiction Mess Is Our Message. Books will be available for purchase at the event; 6-7:45 p.m., Quilters Corner – all are welcome to this quilting club.

WEDNESDAY — 10-10:45 a.m., Storytime for ages 1-3; 4:30-7:30 p.m., Shoreline Robotics Practice – For teens grades 7-12 interested in STEM and Robotics.

THURSDAY — 10-11:30 a.m., Conversation Class – A free conversation class for English Language Learners; 10-10:45 a.m., Storytime for ages 3-5; 3:30-5:30 p.m., Teen Game Bonanza – Board and card games in the teen space, snacks provided; 5:30-7:30 p.m., Chess Club – All ages and experience levels are welcome, no sign-up required; 5:30-7:30 p.m., Reading of Dr. King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail -- About twelve readers will read 5-minute portions of the letter; 6-7:30 p.m., Monthly cribbage night, all are welcome!

FRIDAY — 9-12 p.m., R.E.A.P. – Join Marty Gallagher for a training on customer service using the REAP program (Reasoning, Evaluation, Action, and Purpose); 4-5:45 p.m., Shoreline Robotics Practice – For teens interested in STEM and Robotics; 4-5:30 p.m., Teen Advisory Board – Help shape the future of the teen space! Come share your ideas about the library and the world; 5-5:45 p.m., Teen Tutoring Program – come learn about this new program, where teens tutor kids in grades K-8.

SATURDAY — 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Make & Take Crafts – Drop in at any time to create with other children; 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m., Adult Writers Workshop – A group-led prose writing workshop; 1-2:30 p.m., Dungeons and Dragons (Teen Led Program) – No prior experience with the game is necessary—registration is required.

Nina Wright is a reference librarian at the Westerly Library.

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