Archive for the ‘Humanities Programs’ Category


Harry and the Potters Rock the Casbah

July 19, 2011

Nationally known rock band Harry and the Potters returned to Durham to celebrate the opening of the final movie in the series: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.

Fans packed the Casbah in downtown Durham as the band rocked Harry Potter related tunes.

Thanks to the Durham Library Foundation for sponsoring the band’s return to the Bull City.



Vote for Your Book!

July 5, 2011

It was Jay O’Berski’s idea to poll the public for the 2011 Banned Books Onstage on Sept. 24 at Main Library. We loved the suggestion to get the library audience involved in selecting the books.

For the third year running, Jay O’Berski and Dana Marks will lead a troupe of professional actors in this production by Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern. Jay says, “What better way to support a community’s love of reading than by bringing their favorite stories to life?” You can vote for your favorite books at this link and help spread the word by inviting your friends to vote too.

In the past, the troupe chose from a list of books that were banned from schools, libraries and bookstores. They selected seven to 10 scenes to mount a thrilling performance that celebrates our freedom to read. Most memorable for me was Michael Goolsby’s interpretation of And Tango Makes Three. This children’s book is based on a true story about two male penguins raising a chick together. Goolsby’s emotion and palpable desire for a family wrenched my heart. This banned book has been called anti-family and unsuited for young children.

Please vote and prepare to open your mind and heart on Saturday, Sept. 24 at 3 p.m. in the Main Library auditorium. In a 90-minute, professionally-staged performance – costumes, live music, professional lighting – you will directly experience the language, emotions, insights and perspectives of the banned works. A talk-back with the actors will follow the performance.

Anastasia Bush, Durham County Library Grant Writer


Meet the Author: Jean Bradley Anderson

May 24, 2011

Date: Sunday, June 5, 2011
Time: 3:00 PM
Location: Durham County Library, Main Library, 300 N. Roxboro Rd. (map and directions)
Contact Information: Joanne Abel 560-0268 or joanneabel@durhamcountync.govCover of Durham County by Jean Bradley Anderson

For the past twenty-one years, those of us with questions about Durham’s history have made a beeline for one book: Jean Bradley Anderson’s Durham County, first published in 1990 by our friends at the Duke University Press.

Now, Mrs. Anderson’s second edition of Durham County, released in April, tells Durham’s history up to the end of the twentieth century.

To celebrate, the Duke University Archives has joined with the Durham County Library to present an afternoon with Jean Bradley Anderson. Join us at the Durham County Library’s Main Library, where Mrs. Anderson will discuss this monumental book, as well as interesting and surprising moments in her research. She’ll also answer questions from the audience—so here’s your chance to ask the expert historian everything you’ve ever wanted to know about Durham! A book signing and refreshments will follow the discussion.

Can’t make the event? Leave us a comment and let us know what you’d like to ask Jean!


Award-Winning Poet Marilyn Nelson coming to DCL

April 16, 2010

Have you ever heard of the International Sweethearts of Rhythm? I hadn’t, until recently, in preparation for a visit from the poet Marilyn Nelson.

The Sweethearts of Rhythm was an incredibly successful, all-female, mostly-African-American swing band that toured the US in the 1940s and broke all sorts of  attendance records, including those held by Count Basie and Louis Armstrong. Despite its popularity, however, the band and its legacy have now all but faded into obscurity.

Marilyn Nelson, who will be appearing on Monday, April 19 at 7:00 pm at Main Library, has written a book of poems about the Sweethearts and let me tell you, it’s one incredible book. With stunning illustrations by renowned illustrator and artist Jerry Pinkney, Sweethearts of Rhythm tells the story of these unique female musicians, told in the “voices” of their instruments. Here is a sample verse, from the point of view of the tenor sax:

She performed the daily ritual of the reed —
Soaking the reed, trimming it, fitting it in,
Tightening the ligature. She bowed her head,
Then lifted me and eased me into song.

— from the poem “Chattanooga Choo Choo” by Marilyn Nelson

Please join us on Monday night to celebrate National Poetry Month with Marilyn Nelson. Ms. Nelson, who has written a number of award-winning books of poetry, will read from her work and answer questions, followed by a book signing (there will be books, including copies of Sweethearts of Rhythm, for purchase on-site). The event is free and open to the public. See you there!

Marian Fragola, Humanities Coordinator


Smarty Pants Unite!

February 26, 2010

What do off-beat artist Andy Warhol, dandy playwright Oscar Wilde, and contemporary author J. California Cooper have in common? They’ve all been the subject of recent humanities programs at Durham County Library. If you are a fan of intellectually stimulating fare, I encourage you to join the 150 (and counting!) members of the recently-founded Durham Library Foundation Humanities Society. It’s like a “frequent buyer” program, but for folks who attend multiple humanities programs at the library — “frequent attenders” if you will.

To join this who’s who of the culturally curious, simply fill out a short form the next time you come to a humanities program. You will receive a membership card and membership number. Each time you attend a humanities program, a staff person or volunteer punch your card. Society members that attend six programs in a calendar year will be entitled to special events, invitation-only receptions and other benefits. We are even speeding up the process so that if you attend just three humanities events by May, you will be invited to an off-site reception in a great downtown location. Please mark your calendar for one of the many humanities programs at the library. Coming up next? A book discussion of James Baldwin’s Go Tell It On the Mountain, moderated by Dr. Lynne Jefferson, Visiting Assistant Professor at North Carolina Central University. The discussion will be March 6 at 2:00 pm at Stanford L. Warren Library, 1201 Fayetteville Street, so check out a copy and start reading this classic novel about a young man’s birthday in 1930s Harlem.

I can’t promise that attending humanities programs makes you more successful or better looking, but I can promise that they’ll make you better informed and provide excellent cocktail party bon mots.

See you at the library!

Marian Fragola, Adult Programming and Humanities Coordinator


J. California Cooper is coming!!!

February 5, 2010

In case you haven’t heard, a very special guest is coming to Durham this weekend — the much-loved author J. California Cooper! Sponsored by the Durham Library Foundation, she will appear at Hayti Heritage Center, 804 Old Fayetteville St., on Sunday, February 7 at 3:00 pm. Her author talk is free and open to the public, and books will be available on-site for purchase from the NCCU Bookstore (Ms. Cooper will sign books following her talk). The author of novels, short stories and plays, Ms. Cooper’s work is alive with fascinating characters, a wonderful sense of place, and interesting themes. If you haven’t read any of her work, hop on over to the library and check some out!

Ms. Cooper’s appearance is a special event we’ve planned to coincide with the book discussion series Let’s Talk About It which begins on February 20 at 2:00 pm at the Stanford L. Warren library, located at 1201 Fayetteville Street, with a discussion of J. California Cooper’s Family. More information about the series is available on the Programs and Events tab on the library website ( and I do hope you will join us. Let’s Talk About It Is made possible by a grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, in partnership with the North Carolina Center for the Book, a program of the State Library of North Carolina.

So grab your umbrella and come out and join us on Sunday for what promises to be an engaging and special afternoon with J. California Cooper.

— Marian Fragola, Humanities Coordinator (and guest blogger — thanks Skip!)


Reading Together, Being Together

October 8, 2009

Special times in Durham happen for most of us, often. Extra special times come around only every now and then.  Now is one of those times.

This whole month all across our city and county, thousands of us are reading Something for the Pain, by Durham ER Doctor Paul Austin.   What a great book!  We watch ER and Grey’s Anatomy and now Mercy, but in this book we have real-life insights into life and work surrounding the busy and stressful Durham Regional Hospital emergency room.

Library staff in all our locations decked out this week in doctor’s scrubs we made up specially for this month of community reading and programs and discussion.  Sunday, I had the pleasure to attend the program “For Better or For Worse: When Your Spouse Has a Stressful Job.”  What a wonderful kickoff program with Monica Barnes moderating a panel including Sally Austin, Nicole Marsalis, John McCallie, and Paula Flood, each one of whose famous spouses has a stressful job that of course creates challenges back on the home front.

The month is chock full of great programs and events.  Take a look at our Durham Reads Together web page at to see the full list.  Dr. Austin is attending many of the programs and will be at Durham Tech on October 22 and the Sarah P. Duke Gardens on November 1.

Coming up next is “Faith and Healing” with Dr. Lori Carter-Edwards of the Duke Medical Center and Dr. Susan Dunlap of Duke Divinity School this Saturday morning at East Regional Library.  See you there or at one of the yoga sessions every Monday evening this month at Parkwood Library!