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What's New for AdultsJessica Psaros' blog

Book Club Meets Science Cafe coming this Spring 2017


Stowe Free Library is pleased to announce it has received a $3,500 National Science Foundation grant from the Califa Library Group to provide science-based programs for adults.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, & Math) are popular topics for children's education, but rarely mentioned in relation to adults.

The programs funded by the grant are essentially “book club meets science café.” Attendees read a pre-announced popular book selection, then to come to the library for an event in which they discuss the book, and then watch and discuss a short human interest video where scientific ideas touched on in the book intersect everyday life.

Stowe Free LIbrary will host a free four-part reading, viewing and discussion series for adults called Pushing the Limits.  The library is one of 55 rural public libraries nationwide receiving grants to host the series.  Check our Calendar  for times and dates of the upcoming discussions.  Pushing the Limits brings together books and video featuring authors, scientists and everyday people who thrive on exploring the natural world. 


Listed here are the four books and the themes we will be discussing.  

Pushing the Limits of Nature


T.C. Boyle’s, When the Killing's Done.  Boyle’s book fictionalizes the true story of an effort to eradicate a colony of rats that had overtaken the Catalina Islands off the coast of California.  The rats were not originally part of the island wildlife, but made it to the island by virtue of a shipwreck.  The questions that are asked for this program would be:


What does it mean for something to be “natural”, in the environment or in ourselves?  If the environment changes or we change, when is that change no longer part of what is natural?  Is there such a thing as human nature, and can we escape it, or even shape it?   Or even more specifically, What is the difference between rats coming via shipwreck, versus larvae.  In the mud attached to a seagull’s feet.  Is a human effort to eradicate a species different from one species removing another according to their predator-prey relationship?  What about habitat destruction?




Pushing the Limits of Knowledge


Jean Auel, Land of the Painted Caves.  

Author of the best-seller Earth’s Children series, Jean Auel’s long time interest has been the intersection of the Neanderthal and the Cro-Magnon during the Paleolithic era.  Her works build from more than thirty years of consultation with experts around the world, visits to numerous archaeological sites and her own research.  In her speculative worlds, genetic memory and experiential knowledge are combined to question which of the branches on the human tree will survive.  The questions that are asked for this program would be :


What is knowledge and is it the same as information?  Is learning the same as knowing, or are there multiple way to know things?  What makes different types of knowledge important over time?




Pushing the Limits of Connection


Erik Larson’s, Thunderstruck.

Erik Larson, author of the widely acclaimed Devil in the White City, combines painstaking research about the history of technology with compelling characterizations and murderous twists. His novel, Thunderstruck, brings to life Guglielmo Marconi’s struggle to generate enough electricity for a reliable trans-Atlantic transmission, which also parallels the true-life search for one of Britain's most notorious serial killers.  Marconi’s technology eventually allows people on both sides of the ocean to listen in as Scotland Yard's tracks and captures the villain.  This book explores the ways in which broadcast radio enabled large-scale social connection that transcended geography and class.  

Questions that can be asked or developed on for this book would be:  How do we connect with one another and with our past?  How do we build bridges so that we can continue to connect in the future?  What are the common threads of family connection and societal connection?  How have our human interactions changed over time as a result of our ever-expanding ability to remain connected?


Pushing the Limits of Survival


Clive Cussler’s Arctic Drift.

Clive Cussler’s attention to the scientific detail of cutting edge marine technologies, woven seamlessly into speculative fiction, keeps readers transfixed all the way to the triumphant end of this tale of adventure.  The book’s heroes focus on staying alive, while keeping life-changing technology out of the hands of the bad guys.  The consequences of their actions have implications for the survival of humankind.  

This program theme explores the fundamental urge to survive and how it has manifested in society in the past compared to today.  Questions that can be asked or developed in the program would be : What are we willing to do in a life and death situation?  What about saving our family’s way of life?  What drives us to compete in a sport and survive as the winner?  Survival of the planet, the family and the individual is considered along with the ways that science comes into play.  


These four programs will be coming to the Stowe Free Library in the Spring 2017.  


Rural Gateways is funded through the National Science Foundation and was created through a collaboration of Dartmouth College, The Califa Library Group, the Association of Rural and Small Libraries, Dawson Media Group, and the Institute for Learning Innovation. 


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    Barbara von Schlegell Apr 3 2017

    I am interesting in taking a part in the Pushing the Limits series of discussions. I regret I did not check back soon enough to take part in the Thunderstruck w/Shelby Gaines program on Mar 30! May I be part of the April 11 program Land of Painted Caves w/Ian Shea? Please let me know if there is space for the event. Thank you, Barbara

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When you reread a classic you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than was there before.Clifton Fadiman