Martha's Vineyard libraries: More than meets the eye
The public libraries of Martha's Vineyard are wonderful evidence that libraries are not just about books anymore; they are about communities. Each of Martha's Vineyard's six public libraries has put together a long list of programs and activities for winter designed to have broad appeal. It's a solution to economic constraints as well as seasonal doldrums.
The Aquinnah Public Library (508-645-2314), in its temporary quarters at Old Town Hall, offers everything from food to fabrics. There will be a quilting workshop on Thursday, Feb. 19, with Lindsey Scott. On Thursday, Feb. 26, the library will host its second potluck dinner and movie night. Tuesdays the knitting and stitching group meets and in the evenings, game nights are held. Library director Jennifer Christy has made the library a prime destination.
Photo by Ralph Stewart
Things are also busy at the Chilmark Free Public Library (508-645-3360) under the leadership of director Ebba Hierta. The Offseason Library Café is open five days a week, the free Friday evening movie series continues through the winter, and the "Stories and Songs" for all ages meets Tuesdays and Saturdays. The library also holds a creative after-school program for children 11 through 13 years old led by Kristin Maloney, the library's youth services director, and Irene Tewksbury.
There's something different being planned this week for youngsters at The Edgartown Public Library (508-627-4221): a Valentine's Day tea party that will have children six and younger practice their manners and dressing in fancy attire.
Library director Felicia Cheney seems determined to extend programs into the community, and has forged collaborations with such organizations as the League of Women Voters, The Anchors (Edgartown's senior center), and Edgartown School. It's working. The library's popular "Edgartown 101" series that explores town government continues through February.
File Photo by Ralph Stewart
On February 17, the library offers sewers an opportunity to create their own 50s style retro apron, offering patterns and books to augment the learning.
All of this demonstrates the emergence of town libraries as community centers, places to socialize, learn, and participate. In a real sense it epitomizes the best of Martha's Vineyard's small town spirit of neighborliness, of being in touch with each other and sharing resources.
This month the focus is on history at Vineyard Haven Public Library (508-696-4210) where Black History Month continues to be observed. Thursday, Feb. 19, Islander Robert Hayden and members of the Martha's Vineyard branch of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History will offer a lecture, "Moments in Black History and the Martha's Vineyard Story."
Through a federal grant, the Vineyard Haven library, directed by Amy Ryan, recently acquired two genealogical computer databases, and will be offering a course in online genealogical research.
Photo by Mae Deary
The library's very busy adult program coordinator, Betty Burton, has created a knitting class for all ages and levels on Saturday afternoons.
The Vineyard Haven Friends of the Library received an Anderson Foundation pledge to support a series of special performances for children and the first of these will be in March featuring the "Dream Tales Puppets."
New and spacious, the Oak Bluffs Public Library (508-693-9433), under the direction of Danguole Budris and children's librarian Jessica Bowers, has become known for providing activities for all ages. On Tuesday, Feb. 17, the library's new Teen Poetry Group for ages 13 through 17 begins; and on Wednesday and Thursday, Feb. 18 and 19, Oak Bluffs public health nurse Nichole Barlett will present the lecture, "Aging Successfully."
Basic and internet/email computer classes are being planned, and films scheduled - such as "Ruby Bridges," which will be shown at the "After School Kids Program" on February 20 as part of Black History Month. There's the "Wimpy Kids Book Club" that meets monthly for ages 9 through 12, and a new Teen Advisory Council formed to develop programs that meet the needs of teens.
File photo by Diana Waring
In West Tisbury, under the guidance of director Beth Kramer, the children and young adult program director, Nelia Decker, and program director Colleen Morris, the West Tisbury Free Public Library (508-693-3366) has become not only a destination, but also a moveable resource. Twice a month, the library's "Books on Wheels" program brings books, CD and DVDs to residents at Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, and its six-week "Mother Goose on the Loose" program for toddlers and their caregivers goes to both the hospital's day-care group and the family network of Community Services, as well as being held at the library. On Valentine's Day the popular "Fun Family Days" celebration will take place, and every week during March the library will host its winter writers lecture series.
For a small Island with limited resources, this sampling along with other library programs present an extravagance of provocative, educational, and entertaining options. Collectively, they make winter a happening season on the Vineyard.
For more information, see libraries in the Directory of Information.
Susan L. Silk is a freelance writer living in West Tisbury.