What’s Happening (Virtually) at Cheshire Library in May

May we tempt you with our upcoming programs? We’re excited to have a return visit from local author Kathleen Marple Kalb, to do some virtual traveling to the Outer Banks, to dig deep into the subject of vegetable gardens, and much more. Sign up for as many virtual programs as you want and participate from the comfort of home!

May Teen Volunteering Challenges

Earn community service hours by submitting a photo, video, or other content that may be added to CPL’s social media pages! Each submission will be awarded 2 community service hours. May’s challenges include:

  • Art: It’s the month of Monster MAY-hem! Draw your favorite monster, creature, or beast.
  • Writing: Write a bucket list for summer- what do you hope to do this year?
  • Food: May 6th is National Beverage Day, so make something fun to drink- it can be hot or cold.
  • Reading: On May 4, celebrate “May the Fourth Be with You” by reading a Star Wars-inspired story!
  • More Reading: Listen to an audiobook of a story you’ve read and loved.
  • Even More Reading: Take a book vacation! Read a book set somewhere you would love to visit.

If you participate in the challenges, earn community service credit by submitting your creations so we can share them on our social media pages.

How to Have a Successful Vegetable Garden

Saturday, May 1, 2021, 3:00 – 4:30pm

Have you found yourself wanting to start growing food in your backyard, or apartment patio, but have no idea where to begin? Cut through the intimidation by attending this step-by-step workshop all about how to have a successful vegetable garden with CT garden expert, Jillian Shea of PlantHer Garden Coaching. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Take + Make Kits for kids & teens

Make something at your own pace this week with a Take + Make kit! We have kits for kids in every age group this month, and registration is required to pick up a kit in the Children’s Room each week. We have a limited number of materials and the kits get reserved very quickly, so please register early and limit to one kit per child.

Birdscaping: Home Sweet Habitat

Tuesday, May 4, 2021, 2:00 – 3:30pm

This beautifully illustrated program explores the importance of creating welcoming habitats for birds through thoughtful landscape choices, including native plants vital for food and nesting sites. Learn about the benefits and joys of creating beautiful layered gardens designed for avian – and human – habitat. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Virtual Trivia Night

Monday, May 10, 2021, 6:00 – 7:30pm

Come by yourself or bring your friends! ! Test your knowledge from general categories, including pop culture, current events, history, music, and of course, literature. Please register once per home computer for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Spaceship Harmony: A Musical Journey through the Universe

Tuesday, May 11, 2021, 10:00 – 10:45am

Experience new and familiar music with a cosmic twist! Blast off in a rocket ship, walk on the moon, shake your moon rocks and defy gravity! Best for children ages 2-7. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Cartooning Workshop: Animals

Wednesday, May 12, 2021, 3:00 – 4:00pm

Award winning cartoonist and humorous illustrator, Rick Stromoski, will teach you how to create your own cartoon animals! All you will need is a stack of paper and something to draw with. Please note this is an early dismissal day for Cheshire Public Schools. For children and teens in grades 3-8. Please register once per family and you will receive a Zoom meeting link 1 hour prior to the program start time.

Cheshire Author Talk: A Fatal First Night

Wednesday, May 12, 2021, 6:30 – 7:30pm

Calling all cozy mystery lovers!  Join us for a conversation with local author Kathleen Marple Kalb on A Fatal First Night, her second Ella Shane mystery. While Ella’s opera company’s latest premier manages to attract adoring crowds and rave reviews, it also attracts a killer who’s a real showstopper. Please register once per home computer for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Lighthouses of the Outer Banks of North Carolina

Thursday, May 13, 2021, 3:00 – 4:30pm

The Outer Banks of North Carolina have been called “The Graveyard of the Atlantic” because of their centuries of shipwrecks and disasters. This Illustrated Lecture will share not just the history, but also the beauty of the lighthouses that guard the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Please register once per home computer for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Cat Tales Writers Group

Monday, May 17, 2021, 6:00 – 7:30pm

Join us virtually for an open writing group that can help answer your questions on writing, editing, grammar, and publishing. Read a selection of your work to the group for general constructive feedback, or discuss a book you’ve read that might help someone else. Join us once, join us every month! Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Pajama Storytime

Monday, May 17, 2021, 7:00 – 7:30pm

Put on your pajamas and fuzzy slippers and tune in for a fun-filled evening of stories, songs, and adventures! Best for ages 2-5. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Genealogy: Where to Find Cemetery Data Online

Wednesday, May 19, 2021, 2:00 – 3:30pm

While most people are familiar with Find-A-Grave, there are actually several other sites and sources that contain cemetery images and information, which Carol Ansel, Godfrey Memorial Library Director, will share with you. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Author Talk: Arlington National Cemetery

Saturday, May 22, 2021, 3:00 – 4:30pm

Join Us as author Cindy Parych presents the backstory of Arlington National Cemetery and highlights some of the stories of the interesting people who lived and were buried there. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

New Haven’s First Pizzerias

Monday, May 24, 2021, 6:00 – 7:30pm

Join us, as Colin M. Caplan the pizza guru will discuss how pizza in New Haven came to be, from the Italian immigrants bringing their special recipes. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Sing Me a Fairy Tale: Not so Nimble Jack

Tuesday, May 25, 2021, 10:00 – 10:45am

A musical retelling of the classic tale about a boy named Jack who uses his quick wits to outsmart a giant and make a fortune for himself and his mother. Best for ages 2-5. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Books Over Coffee: Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Wednesday, May 26, 2021, 12:00 – 1:30pm

Want to engage in great discussions about books? Meet new people? Join us for an adult monthly book club program called Books Over Coffee. This month’s book is Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell. We will meet over Zoom, please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

What’s Happening (Virtually) at Cheshire Library in April

We’ve got a touch of Spring Fever this month, with programs about gardening and birdwatching on the calendar, along with several authors joining us to talk about their books. And don’t forget Take + Make projects for all ages. Sign up early to reserve your spots!

April Teen Volunteering Challenges

Earn community service hours by submitting a photo, video, or other content that may be added to CPL’s social media pages! Each submission will be awarded 2 community service hours. April’s challenges include:

  • Art: Now that the weather is getting nicer, draw something in your backyard.
  • Writing: Write a story, poem, or essay about April showers. Do they really bring May flowers?
  • Food: April 12th is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day, so cook up some cheesy goodness to share with your friends or family.
  • Reading: Celebrate National Siblings Day on April 10 by reading a book about siblings. Share the story with your own sibling if you have one!
  • More Reading: Think of a skill or hobby you’d like to learn or get better at. Find a nonfiction book with information or how-tos.
  • Even More Reading: Think of your favorite movies. Find out if any of them were books first and, if so, read the book!

If you participate in the challenges, earn community service credit by submitting your creations so we can share them on our social media pages.

Book Buzz Teen Book Club: Long Way Down: The Graphic Novel

All month long

This month we are going to read Long Way Down: the Graphic Novel by Kate Moore. Register starting April 1 to pick up your copy of the book in the Children’s Room, then join us on our Google Classroom page to share and hear our different points of view about the book! (This book discussion group will be available all month -and beyond- and you can interact with us and post your thoughts any time that’s convenient for you.) For grades 6-12.

Take + Make Kits for kids & teens

  • Week of April 5: Magic Kit (Grades 2-8)
  • Week of April 12: Owl Pellet Dissection (Grades 6-12
  • Week of April 19: Pipe Cleaner Constellations (Grades 1-6)
  • Week of April 26: Finger Knitting (Grades K-6)

Make something at your own pace this week with a Take + Make kit! We have kits for kids in every age group this month, and registration is required to pick up a kit in the Children’s Room each week. We have a limited number of materials and the kits get reserved very quickly, so please register early and limit to one kit per child.

Good Looking: how to get better views of birds

Tuesday, April 6, 2021, 2:00 – 3:30pm

This program will focus on “Fieldcraft”, the field practices and specialist skills for observing birds at close range. Techniques intended to advance birding proficiency and get those killer views will be revealed with the goal of raising gratification and lowering frustration that can accompany our favorite pursuit. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Stunning Spring Perennials

Wednesday, April 7, 2021, 2:00 – 3:30pm

Whether you garden in sun or shade, there are lovely spring perennials that will add colorful flowers and interesting foliage to the early season garden. Master Gardener  Joan Butler will tall about some favorites with and how to combine them for best effect in your garden.  Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Paint Night for Teens

Wednesday, April 7, 2021, 6:00 – 7:30pm

Follow along with instructor, Pamela Halligan, of Pam’s Picassos as she walks you through creating your own masterpiece. For this virtual class, we will be painting a sunflower. For teens in grades 6-12. The library will provide all the materials you need, but supplies are limited.. Each teen must register in advance to pick up their supplies during open library hours.

Author Talk: Kupanda and Being Brave in the Attempt

Saturday, April 10, 2021, 1:30 – 2:30pm

David Maliar, a Cheshire Police Officer, has written a book about his quest to raise awareness and much needed funds for the Special Olympics athletes, by conquering the tallest mountain in Africa. Please join us as the author talks about his experiences climbing the mountain, his book and the Special Olympics. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Cat Tales Writers Group

Monday, April 12, 2021, 6:00 – 7:30pm

Join us virtually for an open writing group that can help answer your questions on writing, editing, grammar, and publishing. Read a selection of your work to the group for general constructive feedback, or discuss a book you’ve read that might help someone else. Join us once, join us every month! Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Broadway Tails With Bill Berlioni

Tuesday, April 13, 2021, 2:00 – 3:00pm

For more than 30 years, animal stage trainer Bill Berlioni has been rescuing animals and making them stars! The only trainer to ever receive a Tony Award, Bill is currently the director of Animal Behavior at the Humane Society of New York. Come hear Berlioni’s tales as he shares stories of his latest book Broadway Tails: Heartfelt Stories of Rescued Dogs Who Became Showbiz Superstars. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Cartooning Workshop: Superheroes

Wednesday, April 14, 2021, 4:30 – 5:30pm

Award winning cartoonist and humorous illustrator, Rick Stromoski, will teach you how to create your own cartoon superheroes! All you will need is a stack of paper and something to draw with. For children and teens in grades 3-8. Please register once per family and you will receive a Zoom meeting link 1 hour prior to the program start time.

Poetry Matters

Wednesday, April 14, 2021T, 6:00 – 7:30pm

Pat Mottola, President of the Connecticut Poetry Society and Aspiring Cheshire Poet Laureate, invites you to spend an evening with poetry and learn how it changes lives. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Cut the Cord

Saturday, April 17, 2021, 3:00 – 4:30pm

Back by popular demand, James Gifford returns to show you how to get out of a cable service agreement, find and negotiate the best internet/broadband access deal, and get started with streaming services for a vast range of entertainment options… many of which are free! Due to the popularity of this program and limited capacity,  registration will begin two weeks before the program.

Adult Take & Make Paint Night

Monday, April 19, 2021, 6:00 – 7:30pm

Follow along with instructor Pamela Halligan of Pam’s Picassos online as she walks you through the steps of creating your own masterpiece.  You must be registered in advance for the program in order to pick up a paint kit, which will be available for pickup on April 14 from 1-7 and April 15 from 10-4. Please make sure you can attend (and pick up kit) BEFORE you register.  A link to the program will be sent the day of the program. Please note this program is intended for adults.

Insomnia Affects your Overall Health

Wednesday, April 21, 2021, 3:00 – 4:30pm

Join Health and Wellness Coach Cynthia Griffin and learn why insomnia, inflammation and unstable weight can be related. You will be introduced to healthy natural practices that will align you with the circadian rhythms of nature, and learn how food can affect our sleep and the way we feel in our bodies. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Earbud Holders and Wrapped Earbuds (Teen Take + Make tutorial)

Wednesday, April 21, 2021, 6:00 – 6:45pm

Create a fun earbud holder out of a metal tin using scrapbook paper and washi tape, and embroidery thread. Register in advance to pick up a Take + Make kit with supplies for the craft any time during open library hours the week of April 12, 2021, then join us on April 21 for the tutorial!

Stories from a Peace Corps Volunteer in Libya

Wednesday, April 21, 2021, 6:30 – 7:30pm

Randy Hobler served in the Peace Corps in Libya in 1968 and 1969.  When he set out to write a book about his experiences he decided the book should include the stories of some of the other volunteers who also served in Libya.  Eventually,  Randy tracked down 101 of his fellow volunteers.  His new book, 101 Arabian tales : how we all persevered on Peace Corps Libya is a collective memoir of these volunteers. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Virtual Trivia Night

Monday, April 26, 2021, 6:00 – 7:30pm

Come by yourself or bring your friends! ! Test your knowledge from general categories, including pop culture, current events, history, music, and of course, literature. Please register once per home computer for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Designing a Sunny Perennial Border

Tuesday, April 27, 2021, 2:00 – 3:30pm

Learn about plant layering, new and reliable perennials, companion plants and design techniques that will make your garden POP with Jana Milbocker of Enchanted Gardens. Please register once per home computer for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Books Over Coffee: News of the World

Wednesday, April 28, 2021, 12:00 – 1:30pm

Want to engage in great discussions about books? Meet new people? Join us for an adult monthly book club program called Books Over Coffee. This month’s book is News of the World by Paulette Jiles. We will meet over Zoom, please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Science Comics: The Digestive System

Wednesday, April 28, 2021, 4:00 – 4:45pm

Join Massachusetts-based graphic novel writer, Jason Viola, for a behind-the-scenes look at how a comic is made and learn about some of the decisions that go into the construction of a professional comic book page! Jason will also discuss his newest book, Science Comics: The Digestive System. Participants will receive a free copy of the book to keep! For ages 7-12. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Library Resources You Might Not Know About: Part 2

We recently highlighted some services & resources offered by Cheshire Library that may have been new to you. From a book-matching service to streaming video and online courses, the library has an abundance of free resources. Today we’ll highlight a few more you may not be aware of, that you don’t even need to have a library card to use.

Cheshire Library is constantly reviewing and adjusting our online services to bring  patrons what they need. The library is still here for you, even though how you use it these days might look a little different.

A Page Full of Freebies

When the shutdown happened in March 2020, our intrepid librarians started assembling a list of useful free resources that people could access from home. This expanded from Local (links to the CT Covid Response Page, 211 Directory, Cheshire School Meal Distribution)  and  National  (links to the CDC, NIH, WHO) Health Information to other resources that might help take the sting out of being isolated. Sites to access free online activities like virtual museum tours, webcams of animals and nature, interactive learning, and even armchair travel!

Community Service in a Virtual World

Many high school student are required to complete a set number of community service hours as part of their curriculum, but COVID-19 has made it difficult to volunteer in-person. We’ve designed a program (info on our Teen Page and monthly Event Calendars) where teens can earn community service hours by submitting a photo, video,  or other content for us to add to CPL’s social media pages. Ideas for submissions include book reviews, artwork, poetry, short stories, personal essays, photos or video of food you’ve cooked or baked, or any other creative idea you have for content. (Not all submissions will be used on our social media, and submissions including photos of people are not allowed.) Each submission will be awarded 2 community service hours.

Get WOWed by Our Newest Books and Dvds

If you’re not able to get into the library as often to check out what’s new, we’ve got a resource you’re going to love. We’ve teamed up with Wowbrary to deliver a list of the latest additions to our catalog straight to your inbox. The New Item Newsletter lets you know everything that’s new, digital items as well as physical items. In fact, you’ll learn about the physical books and dvds the minute we order them, before they even hit the shelf, and can place holds on them right away (you will need a library card for this part)!

No Printer? No Problem!

Many people have used our public printers in the past to print up important documents. Now you can do so without ever stepping foot inside the building. Our Mobile Printing Portal (accessed through the “Visit” tab on our website) allows you to send print jobs to us right from your computer or mobile device. We’ll let you know when your printouts are ready, and you can pick them up at the Grab ‘n Go station by the parking lot entrance.

Something Fun for Our Youngest Patrons

Our Baby Bop music & movement classes for infants 0-12 months and their caregivers has been on hiatus during the pandemic, but we’ve created a dozen free printable guides (find them on our Kids Page) of fun lap-sit songs, rhymes, and activities of music and movement to help develop motor and language skills. But mostly it’s just plain fun – playing is learning! We will add new guides periodically, so check back often!

Entertainment and Information in the Video Age

Finally, we encourage you to subscribe to our YouTube Channel. We’ve really stepped up our video content creation during this pandemic, and the results are on YouTube. From DIY tutorials, to lit tips,  to silly skits, to full length programs, we’ve got something for everyone to enjoy and learn from. You can even sit in on a Library Board meeting, if that’s your jam! Subscribe to be notified when we post something new.

What’s Happening [Virtually] at Cheshire Library in March

We’re Marching on (yes, we did go there) with a month of engaging, enriching, and entertaining virtual programs. Mark your calendars and sign up while there are still spots open!

March Teen Volunteering Challenges

Earn community service hours by submitting a photo, video, or other content that may be added to CPL’s social media pages! Each submission will be awarded 2 community service hours. March’s challenges include:

  • Art: Will March come in like a lion and go out like a lamb? Draw your favorite animal.
  • Writing: Write a story, poem, or essay about luck. It could be good, bad, or a bit of both!
  • Food: March 10th is National Oreo Cookie Day, so bake or make something awesome with Oreos!
  • Reading: Pick a book you’ve read and loved, and make a bookmark inspired by it.
  • More Reading: For Women’s History Month, read a nonfiction book about an accomplished woman you’ve never heard of.
  • Even More Reading: Think about your favorite book character- and choose a book you think that character would like to read!

If you participate in the challenges, earn community service credit by submitting your creations so we can share them on our social media pages

Book Buzz Teen Book Club: The Radium Girls

All month long

This month we are going to read The Radium Girls by Kate Moore. Register starting March 2 to pick up your copy of the book in the Children’s Room, then join us on our Google Classroom page to share and hear our different points of view about the book! (This book discussion group will be available all month -and beyond- and you can interact with us and post your thoughts any time that’s convenient for you.) For grades 6-12.

Take + Make Kits

Make something at your own pace this week with a Take + Make kit! We have kits for kids in every age group this month, and registration is required to pick up a kit in the Children’s Room each week. We have a limited number of materials and the kits get reserved very quickly, so please register early and limit to one kit per child.

Food Explorers

Join a Registered Dietitian from Food Explorers to make ChocolateCheesecake Egg Rolls and Loaded Veggie Tot Nachos! Ingredients are listed on our Event Calender. For kids ages 6-12. Please register for these virtual events and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Preschool Storytime

Tuesdays, March 9 – April 6, 2021, 10:00 – 11:00am

A virtual storytime for preschoolers (and their grown-ups!) to learn through talking, singing, reading, writing,and playing! Best for children ages 3-5. Younger and older siblings are welcome. Registration required. This program meets five times: March 9, 16, 23, & 30 and April 6. Register once to attend all five sessions. Registered participants will receive a Zoom link 1 hour before the beginning of each session.

Connecticut in Motion

Tuesday, March 9, 2021, 2:00pm – 3:30pm

This overview of 400 years of transportation developments in Connecticut, from the colonial era through the present day, focuses on the privately owned railroads and trollies of the nineteenth century and the publicly operated interstate and express highways of the twentieth. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

College Admissions in the Time of COVID-19

Wednesday, March 10, 2021, 6:45 – 7:45pm

Learn how COVID-19 is changing the college admissions landscape and how it will affect Freshmen, Sophomores, and Juniors. This program covers how admissions officers are handling the current situation and how students can position themselves to develop a compelling narrative to increase their chances for admission. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Toddler Storytime

Thursdays, March 11 – April 8, 2021, 10:00 – 10:30am

A virtual storytime for toddlers and their caregivers, with interactive songs, stories, and other fun activities. Best for children ages 1-3. Younger and older siblings are welcome. This program meets five times: March 11, 18, 25, and April 1 and 8. Registration required. Register once to attend all sessions. You will receive a Zoom link one hour before the beginning of each program.

Cat Tales Writers Group

Monday, March 15, 2021, 6:00 – 7:30pm

We’re back! Join us virtually for an open writing group that can help answer your questions on writing, editing, grammar, and publishing. Read a selection of your work to the group for general constructive feedback, or discuss a book you’ve read that might help someone else. Join us once, join us every month! Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Family Trivia Night

Monday, March 15, 2021, 6:30pm – 7:15pm

 
 
 
 
 
 

Looking for something that you can do as a whole family? Team up for this virtual trivia challenge! Trivia questions will cover a variety of topics and will be appropriate for children of all ages. Each family will need a device (or devices) to participate in Zoom and answer trivia questions. Registration is required–please register once per family participating. You will receive a link via email for the Zoom meeting prior to the event.

Jammin’ with Jeffrey

Wednesday, March 17, 2021, 10:00 – 10:30am

Join Early Childhood Music specialist Michele Urban and her silly puppet friend, Jeffrey, as they make music together! Best for ages 0-5 but all ages welcome. Please register for these virtual events to receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Ten Trends in Landscape and Land Care

Wednesday, March 17, 2021, 2:00 – 3:30pm

Presenter Kathy Connolly takes us on a brief visit to the world of landscape professionals. Listen as professional landscapers and garden center owners describe what they see for the future, and what common beliefs and practices they wish would change. Be prepared for some laughs and perhaps a bit of controversy. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

What to Grow in My Medicinal Herb Garden?

Wednesday, March 24, 2021, 2:00 – 3:30pm

The right herbal “superstars” can help treat common ailments like colds and flu, inflammation, pain,  anxiety, poor digestion, and insomnia. But where should you begin? How do you even start a medicinal herb garden? It’s a question many people ask, and we’ll help take the mystery out of starting a medicinal herb garden. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Clear Lip Gloss with Gemstones (Teen Take & Make tutorial)

Wednesday, March 24, 2021, 6:00pm – 6:45pm

Pick up a Take + Make kit with supplies for the craft any time the library is open during the week of March 15. Then join us on Zoom March 24 to learn how to make your own lip gloss at home with lovely gemstones and no beeswax or petroleum jelly! Please register for this virtual event to receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Comics Club: Stargazing

Thursday, March 25, 2021, 4:00 – 4:45pm

This month we’ll make instruments in addition to discussing the book, Stargazing by Jen Wang. Please read the book before attending this virtual event. Copies of the book and craft materials are available at the children’s information desk starting on Feb 22. For kids in grades 3-5. You must register for each child in order to pick up a copy of the book and craft supplies. Registered participants will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the event start time.

Books Over Coffee: The Woman Who Stole Vermeer

Wednesday, March 31, 2021, 12:00 – 1:30pm

Want to engage in great discussions about books? Meet new people? Join us for an adult monthly book club program called Books Over Coffee. We will meet over Zoom. This month’s book is The Woman Who Stole Vermeer by Anthony Amore. Please register for this virtual event and you will receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the start of the program.

Keeping House: The Hidden History I Uncovered with Genealogy Records

Ancestry Library Edition is the library version of Ancestry.com and is available free to Cheshire Library cardholders. Originally available only inside the library, access was expanded to include home use when the Covid-19 pandemic closed libraries down  in the spring of 2020. Ancestry has continued to allow expanded access during these times of social distancing. CPL staffer Lauren took full advantage of Ancestry’s resources to research some old photos she came across:

When my grandmother cleaned out her house, I inherited a collection of old photos, documents, and books. Many items were of unknown origins, collected by a long-dead relative and placed in a series of boxes and bags, which in turn was tucked into a closet until it emerged one Sunday afternoon. I was fascinated. I spent hours going through the pages of the books and turning over the photos to see the names. I grew to recognize them, even if I couldn’t exactly connect them to me. Here in this local history book is a Balliet: the name I carried for most of my life. This photo, a Bloss. Here’s a Schneider, a Kern. But nothing haunted me quite like the handwritten inscription that prefaced a photo album: “Presented to Kate E. Haines by her Affectionate Mother, July 18, 1866.”

There were two such photo albums, small, sturdy, and so elegant they seemed out of place. Inside the albums, the trading card-sized cartes de visite showed women in dark corseted dresses and bearded men in somber coats, all sitting or standing in professional studio settings. Unlike the faces in the black-backed scrapbook, framed in glossy three-by-fives and looking out candidly from lawns and stoops, I found no familiar features in these posed men and women. They were a complete mystery. Who were they? Who was Kate? And how did my family come to possess the remnants of her life?

Lillie, my second-great-grandmother, as a young woman in the 1890s

There are no Haineses in my family. At least, not according to the hefty History of the Counties of Lehigh and Carbon in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. It’s one of the books in my collection, published in 1884, and it sits on a shelf with the first and third volumes of the 1914 History of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania, and a Genealogical and Biographical Record of Its Families. Inside their pages I traced my sixth-great-grandfather, Paulus Balliet, from his 1717 birth in Alsace-Lorraine, to his 1738 arrival in Philadelphia and his quick rise to small-town gentry in Lehigh County. The Balliet branch of my family is heavy with documents and stories. The Bloss branch isn’t as full, but I know it by its physical pieces. I have photos of my second-great-grandmother, wearing tiny wire-framed glasses and the hint of a smile. Her name was Lillie. We shared birthdays, first initials, imperfect eyesight. She married a Balliet. I have a composition book full of her handwritten recipes. The black-backed scrapbook has photos from her father’s slate quarries, captioned by her son. I put those objects in one archival box, and the Haines albums went into a separate box of photos with unknown subjects.

Another tintype probably from Kate.

Once, I removed the cartes de visite from the Haines albums. I flipped them over one by one, turning up three handwritten notes with unfamiliar, untraceable names. I tried pinpointing the time period by looking at their clothing. I googled “Kate E Haines,” hoping for the same luck I’d had with the Balliets in my family. I even documented which studios took each photo, hoping that the series of names, addresses, designs, index numbers would somehow suddenly open up a revelation. But, like the single mirrored daguerreotype in my collection of photos, Haines was a ghost.

Portrait of an unknown woman, probably from the mid-1800s. This daguerreotype’s reflective qualities distinguish it from the more common ambrotypes and tintypes.

Last spring, as covid kept us in our homes, I needed a project to occupy myself. It was announced that the genealogy database Ancestry.com was expanding access to Ancestry Library Edition. I knew from my past life as a reference librarian that Ancestry Library Edition was a trove of genealogical information that can normally be used only at local libraries. But for the foreseeable future, researchers could access the database from home. I immediately took an early lunch and grabbed my archival boxes and a fresh notebook. For the first time, I had unfettered access to vital records, grave markers, and the research that other genealogists had completed. I began to fill in the bare branches. It didn’t take me long to see how the names connected, how they flowed down to me. And, curiously, how they flowed back from Lillie. A name I recognized from an 1833 birth certificate turned out to be her grandmother, my fourth-great-grandmother. More names appeared that matched the scrawled labels on the backs of photographs. Lillie had been curiously absent from those lineups of Bloss women on front porches. But it started to make sense. Someone had been holding the camera, focusing the lens, calling the relatives to attention. Someone put those photos in the black-backed scrapbook. Someone had held onto the history books. Not a Balliet, as I’d first suspected. A Bloss. Lillie was one of my collectors.

Once I made those connections, it didn’t take me long to move on to Kate E. Haines. Google had turned up nothing a year ago. This time, though, I had the full range of records from Ancestry Library Edition. I typed in “Haines, Kate E.” A few hits, but nothing that looked right. “Haines, Kate E,” and I expanded the search to look for similar names. I got thousands of hits. I gave her a birth date between 1840 and 1855, assuming that the 1866 photo album was a teenage birthday gift, or a marriage gift. I set her location to Pennsylvania. Too many results from Philadelphia, so I refined it to Lehigh County, Pennsylvania.

And then I found the death certificate for Mrs. Catherine Balliet, informed by Lillie Balliet.

1880 Census record for Ballietsville Village, North Whitewall Township, Lehigh County, Pennsylvania.

Vital records tell a story, if you know how to read them. In a census, the sudden appearance of a household member sixty years younger than the head can indicate a recently widowed daughter or son moving back with their parents, their child in tow. Inconsistent spellings of last names can point to either illiteracy or, in the case of my overwhelmingly German ancestors,* that the bearer moves between two languages. Kate’s death certificate told me that she had no remaining blood relatives.

The other records on Ancestry Library Edition confirmed my suspicion. The census entries and family trees showed her birth in 1849, and her mother’s marriage to a second husband when Kate was six years old. Her father, presumably, had died. I found a child of hers who died in infancy, a husband who died a year later. A later census places her as the wife in the household of my third-great-granduncle, a Balliet man almost forty years her senior. She is younger than the stepchildren she lives with. Before she reaches the age of 45, she will lose her mother, her second husband, her remaining daughter. She spends the rest of her years living with her unmarried, childless sisters until they, too, die. When she herself passes in 1924, it’s not her stepchildren who recount the details of her life. It’s Lillie, her niece by marriage. Lillie was only a girl when Kate was widowed a second time and her ties to the Balliet family, at least on paper, were severed.

Portrait of a young woman, possibly Kate Haines’ daughter, encased in a heart with embroidered flowers. The back reads “Handle with care – Miss Mamie Emery.”

I have no explanation for how Lillie came to know Kate, her aunt-in-law, well enough to recount her information to a medical examiner. But she did. I can imagine Lillie cleaning out Kate’s room after her death. She sees the photo album that contains the cartes de visite from decades of friends and family. She opens it up, recognizing a face here and there. She spots the second album. There’s more photos: tintypes, a daguerreotype, small keepsake hearts. She moves about the room and silently gathers them up until she holds the last traces of Kate Haines in her hands. She takes one final look around, then closes the door on the dark, still room.

Looking at the people who entered her life and left too soon, I think I understand why Kate collected so many photos. It’s why my second-great-grandmother Lillie took her albums and placed them alongside her family’s history books. She was keeping house.

The Bloss Family in the early 1900s. Lillie is at the top left.

These women that I’ve come to know through their objects and my research – women who were teachers and gifted students and descendants of prominent locals – when they married, the totality of their lives was diminished over and over again to a single line on the census: “keeping house.” And they kept house in the fullest sense of the word. Not only did they physically maintain the members of their families, their children and husbands and mothers, but they also maintained the intangible threads that held them together. They remembered the names, the stories, the histories. They kept the photos and the history books. They kept their fathers’ geography textbooks and their aunts’ albums and their grandmothers’ tiny crochet hooks and the commencement programs that listed their mothers-in-law as school valedictorians.

And I see it happening today. In my family and in so many others, the women are arranging baby showers and funerals, grocery shopping for barbecues and get-togethers, reminding everyone about upcoming birthdays and anniversaries, writing messages in cards, buying pages for scrapbooks and frames for photos, and placing their children’s school projects in a box in their closet. When the day is done, some of them are sitting down in front of computer screens and typing names of their relatives and their husbands’ relatives into genealogical databases. We all know our family histories because of the women who are keeping house. And many of us will do the same, holding our histories and passing them on to our own granddaughters and grandsons, and hoping they, in turn, will continue to keep their house.

I intend to do my part.

 

* When I tell non-Pennsylvanians that I’m Pennsylvania Dutch, I often get strange looks, as if they’re wondering about my Amish rumspringa. But Pennsylvania Dutch, or Pennsylvania German, refers to all German-speaking Protestants who came to Pennsylvania from the Rhineland in the 17th and 18th century. They assimilated and became farmers and wives and business owners and statesmen, and their descendants continued to speak their German dialect for hundreds of years. Insular communities like the Amish and Mennonites still speak it today, but the vast majority of PA Dutch descendants today have little to no knowledge of the dialect. My grandfather spoke it, but my grandmother knows only English, though she speaks with a strong accent. My only linguistic trace of the region is my fondness for the word “rutsch,” a verb used to describe the barely-contained energy of small children who have been sitting in one place for too long. I have yet to find a satisfying equivalent in standard English.