Hip hop icon, musician, producer, and artist, Dooley-O holds a signed copy of "Verso Records: Volume One"

Verso Records: Volume One, the debut album from Verso Studios at The Westport Library, got a proper introduction Saturday night, June 3, with 200+ fans packing the Library’s Trefz Forum to celebrate the first vinyl record ever recorded, produced, and released by a public library.

The album is now officially on sale, available at the Library Store, online via Bandcamp, through the Verso Records website, and soon at local record stores around the area. The bright yellow vinyl sells for $22 and includes a digital download. A $10 digital-only version is also available.

“I am thrilled to be celebrating this momentous achievement for Verso Studios,” said Westport Library Executive Director Bill Harmer. “This is a historic snapshot of the current Connecticut and tri-state area music scene. This album is eclectic, powerful, fun, and shows the world what community and vision can do when we band together.”

Harmer and U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal kicked off the event, welcoming the attendees and emphasizing the historic nature of this can’t-miss event.

“This is an example of Westport at its best, Connecticut at its best,” Blumenthal said from the stage, standing in front of the Trefz Forum’s 18-foot videowall, cane in hand as the result of an injury he suffered earlier this year. “I grew up for a number of years in Westport, and there is a quality to the vision and vibrancy of this community, a commitment to artistic achievement and culture that helps power culture throughout the state of Connecticut. … I had surgery about seven weeks ago, but not even a broken leg could keep me away tonight.”

And with that, it was on to the music. Five of the bands featured on the album performed: Folk/Americana artist Kierstin Sieser (Middletown) kicked things off, followed by Lulu Lewis duo Dylan Hundley & Pablo Martin (NYC), indie rock mainstay Ports of Spain (New Haven), and hockey rockers The Zambonis (Bridgeport), with The Problem With Kids Today (New Haven) closing out the evening.

Remarks and introductions to the bands were made by a variety of emcees, including record artist Sheneta Nicole, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth of Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club — Frantz also wrote the liner notes for the record — and legendary drummer and Norton Records founder Miriam Linna, whose label covered the record release in advance of the celebration.

Other outlets to cover the release of the record include Pitchfork, the American Library Association, Yahoo News, The New Haven Independent, and CT Public/WNPR, to name just a few.

"A library with a record label? Shazaam!” wrote Linna. “It took a small town library to make the impossible happen. … Westport Library sets the trend. … Benjamin Franklin got the ball rolling over 200 years ago in the United States, and what a concept they are — vestibules of knowledge, free to everyone, growing with the people, for the people! And the people want vinyl records!”

Verso Records: Volume One culls 12 live tracks from Connecticut and tri-state area artists, recorded by Audio Studios manager and in-house sound engineer Travis Bell at the Library’s Verso Studios.

The record features a diverse array of talent across all genres (rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, hip hop, folk, indie) heralding the oft-unsung heroes of the region. Standout tracks include indie-rock band Daniprobably’s “Cowboy,” produced by Grammy Award-winning producer Peter Katis (Interpol, The National, Kurt Vile, Sharon Von Etten); futuristic hip-hop from MIGHTYMOONCHEW with “Jus Bcuz,” produced by influential hip-hop icon Dooley-O; and Alexandra Burnet & The Stable Six’s lush, ethereal, eight-piece arrangement of the meditative “You’re Okay,” plus many others. 

Danielle Capalbo from Daniprobably, Dooley-O, and Burnet were among the many local musicians in attendance to ring in the album Saturday night.

“It’s special to make a record in a library,” Capalbo said on the CT Public show Where We Live, “because you’re surrounded by ideas, surrounded by beautiful words, beautiful concepts. And The Westport Library is a uniquely beautiful space with wonderful, supportive people. … This is the most amplified I’ve ever felt as a musician in terms of the energy and excitement for the project, so kudos to The Westport Library for that.”

Acclaimed author Zadie Smith will be honored in person at The Westport Library on Sunday, November 12, with the inaugural Westport Prize for Literature.

The Westport Prize for Literature is an annual prize established to honor an original work of fiction that explores issues in contemporary society. Smith was recognized this year for The Fraud, described by publisher Penguin Random House as “a kaleidoscopic work of historical fiction set against the legal trial that divided Victorian England, about who gets to tell their story — and who gets to be believed.” 

Going forward, the prize will be overseen and administered by a steering committee of Westport resident volunteers, with an independent jury selecting the winner.

“We are over the moon to announce the Westport Prize for Literature and thrilled that Zadie Smith will be our first honoree,” said Candice Savin, chair of the steering committee. “She is an icon in letters and an inspiration to writers — and a delight for readers — everywhere. We could not imagine a more deserving award winner for our inaugural prize. To have her in Westport is an honor for us and a treat for the entire community.”

Smith is the author of the novels White Teeth, The Autograph Man, On Beauty, NW, and Swing Time, as well as the novella The Embassy of Cambodia. In addition, she has written three collections of essays — Changing My Mind, Feel Free, and Intimations — a collection of short stories, Grand Union, and the play, The Wife of Willesden, and is the editor of The Book of Other People.

Among her many honors, Smith has been awarded the Women's Prize for Fiction and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Fiction for On Beauty, the Guardian First Book Award and the Whitbread First Novel Award for White Teeth, the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism for Feel Free, and the Critics' Circle Theatre Award for Most Promising Playwright for The Wife of Willesden.

She is also a three-time nominee for the esteemed Booker Prize, and just last year was honored with the PEN America Literary Service Award.

“Zadie Smith is one of the most renowned writers of her generation and a voice that speaks to readers around the globe,” said Bill Harmer, executive director of The Westport Library. “To have her in the Library is a truly special occasion. Without question, she is a most-deserving recipient of the inaugural Westport Prize for Literature, and I commend the committee for their inspired selection.”

Starting in 2024, the Westport Prize for Literature will be presented each fall in conjunction with the Library’s annual StoryFest, the largest literary festival in Connecticut.

The Westport Library Adult Summer Reading Challenge returns for its seventh year in 2023, replete with a fresh set of categories to keep you reading from its June 1 kickoff through the end of August.

That means three months — 92 days — to complete the 25 challenges in this year’s contest. (Full list of categories below.)

“Summer Reading Challenge time is my absolute favorite part of the year,” said Westport Library Reference Manager Melanie Kelly. “The best part is reading something wonderful that I might not have picked up if I hadn’t needed to fit it into a challenge category. It is kismet for books! And there is no pressure. You can do all of the categories or only one, or anything in between, just as long as you have fun reading!”

The challenge itself is simple: Fulfill one of the designated categories and then submit your result via the form available on The Westport Library website. (Click here to access the form.) And check back to the running leaderboard to track your progress, see what everyone else is reading, and provide recommendations to the Library’s community of readers.

The only rules are that each category may be fulfilled only once, and each book you read can be used for only one category.

In addition, join the Westport Reading Challenge Facebook group to talk books all summer long.

2023 Summer Reading Challenge

Westport Library 2023 Summer Reading Challenge

Read a book …

__ about an antihero

__ that blows your mind

__ about a character in disguise

__ about an escape

__ that takes place in an extreme climate

__ with eyes on the cover

__ that was first runner-up

__ about a golden age

__ that haunts you

__ that you heard about at the Library

__ featuring a librarian

__ in which the location is intrinsic to the story

__ with a neurodiverse protagonist

__ with a nonhuman narrator

__ about a podcast

__ that is published THIS summer

__ with a purple cover

__ recommended by a librarian

__ about a road trip

__ that is short

__ that SHOULD be a movie or a show

__ with a star on the cover

__ that takes place during a holiday

__ in which the time is running out

__ that takes place under the sea

Looking for programs to keep your kids active and engaged this summer? The Westport Library has you covered.

Once again in 2023, the Children’s Library will host a series of offerings for all ages and interests, including STEAM programs, summer learning clubs, and, of course, a summer reading challenge.

Camp Explore returns for its fourth year of STEAM exploration, with workshops kicking off June 27 and running into August. Among the courses offered this year are Microbit Makery with Josh Burker for grades 6-8, African Mask Making with Iyaba Ibo Mandingo for grades 5-6, and Matica Arts (circus skills) with Heidi Kirchofer and Joel Melendez for grades 6-8. In addition, there will be a one-day class on jewelry making with the Library’s own Sharon Cooper and a Matica Circus performance on August 8 at 10 am that is fully open to the public, no registration needed.

The Summer Learning Clubs integrate math, literacy, and STEAM activities into a thematic approach, with each class blending inquiry, design, research, writing, and the arts. Taught by certified teachers, this program melds traditional academic activities into a Project Based Learning experience and student-driven study. The Library offers three sessions for kids of all ages: Three-hour classes on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for Grades 1-3, three-hour classes on the same days for Grades 4-5, and weekly sessions on Mondays for middle schoolers.

Both Camp Explore and the Summer Learning Clubs are brought to the Library by the continuing generosity of Roz and Bud Siegel.

“Camp Explore and the Summer Learning Clubs are two of our most popular offerings,” said Youth Services Director Mary Parmelee. “They’re a great way to get kids active in the summer, keep their minds working and growing, and apply many of the concepts they’ve learned in school in a way that is both social and fun.”

The summer reading challenge — Imagine Your Summer — kicks off June 1 and encourages kids to read anything, anytime, anywhere, all summer long. It runs through September 3. To take part, kids can register online and keep track of minutes read. For every 100 minutes read, kids can decorate a summer sun that will be displayed in the Children’s Library. At 500 minutes, kids earn a treat from Shake Shack. And at 1,000 minutes, they get to choose a free book to keep from the Library’s selection of titles.

And, of course, there will be weekly free programming offered throughout the summer, including Miss Lynne’s Summer Storytime, Princess Diana’s Storytime, Ready Readers, Rhythm & Rhyme, Story Fun with Mrs. Olson, Storytime on the Green, and Tummy Time.

On Tuesday, June 6, in partnership with the Connecticut Art Trail, The Westport Library’s Verso University will launch an exploration of the art museum landscape in Connecticut.

Connecticut Art Trail President and longtime Westport resident Carey Weber will present an overview of the organization’s mission and member museums, illustrating the world-class cultural vibrancy that exists throughout the state.

This initial program will take place from 2 to 3 pm on June 6, in the Brooks Place program room on the Library’s main level, adjacent to the Sheffer Art Gallery. Registration is available here.

Verso University is the Library’s lifelong learning and education initiative, serving up year-round offerings of classes, workshops, and lectures designed to further education and learning. Offerings run the gamut of educational opportunities, ranging from one-time lectures to ongoing courses to classes that meet weekly or perhaps monthly.

“This collaboration reinforces our goal with Verso University, which is to provide a valuable regional resource where our patrons can explore new interests and gain insight and knowledge from other members of the local community, the experts among us who have so much to teach — to an audience eager to learn,” said Bill Harmer, Westport Library executive director.

For its latest endeavor, Verso University will bring individual curators and museum directors from the CT Art Trail membership to the Library. Participants will have the opportunity for deeper learning — gaining an insider’s view of the museums, their collections, and history, along with an invitation for an on-site visit.

On July 12, the newly appointed director of the Housatonic Museum of Art, Jennifer Reynolds-Kaye, will present an overview of the Museum’s 7,000-piece collection and upcoming exhibits. (The museum was founded by the late Burt Chernow, a Westport resident and professor emeritus at Housatonic Community College, as well as the husband of renowned Westport artist Ann Chernow.)

Then, on August 2, the director of the The Weir Farm National Historic Site will present an overview about Weir Farm, the only national park service site dedicated to American painting, and the home to three generations of American artists.

The Connecticut Art Trail is a nationally recognized partnership between 23 world-class museums and historic sites, created to promote Connecticut’s rich cultural assets to residents and visitors.

Carey Weber is the Frank and Clara Meditz Executive Director of the Fairfield University Art Museum. She currently serves as president of the Connecticut Art Trail and as the Connecticut representative for the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries.


Verso University programs are made possible by the generous support of the Nancy J. Beard Lifelong Learning and Education Fund.

Graphic for event: It’s All Our Backyard: Just Transitions to Regional Sustainability, with Rhiana Gunn-Wright

Climate change and the fight for racial justice are two of the most pressing issues of our time. And they are not independent events, but interconnected realities that impact how we interact with our natural world and how the changes in our natural world affect people everywhere.

On June 1, Roosevelt Institute Director of Climate Policy Rhiana Gunn-Wright will explore these interconnections between environmental justice and racial justice with the Westport community in a can’t-miss talk held at 7 pm in The Westport Library’s Trefz Forum. (Click here to register.)

In the talk, Gunn-Wright will discuss how to cultivate regional responses to the climate crisis, recognizing that environmental impacts cross town lines.

The event is part of a Lilly Foundation-funded initiative at the Saugatuck Congregational Church to “embrace our coastal community” and is the result of a community partnership featuring the Library, the Congregational Church, TEAM Westport, and Sustainable Westport.

“To reverse the climate crisis, we need to think and live regionally,” said Saugatuck Congregational Church Rev. Alison J. B. Patton, “recognizing our interdependence with neighbors across town lines and learning from those who have been most directly impacted by climate events and environmentally unsustainable practices. How do we ensure that all people and parts of our shared ecosystem can flourish?”

“This vitally important talk was inspired by Westport's commitment to becoming a sustainable, thriving community — economically, environmentally, and socially — and by our ongoing community-based efforts to dismantle systemic racism,” said Harold Bailey Jr., chair of TEAM Westport. “It is a significant opportunity for each of us to build awareness that the sustainability of our most distressed regional neighbors today could easily signal the sustainability of our own community tomorrow.”

Gunn-Wright leads the Roosevelt Institute’s research at the intersection of climate policy, public investment, racial equity, and public power. Along with her colleagues, Gunn-Wright aims to create a body of work that examines the role of economic policy and large-scale economic transformation in catalyzing just and rapid responses to the climate crisis. She also supports Roosevelt’s engagement with the Green New Deal Network and other partners in the climate movement.

Prior to joining Roosevelt, Gunn-Wright was the policy director for New Consensus, charged with developing and promoting the Green New Deal, and the policy director for Abdul El-Sayed’s 2018 Michigan gubernatorial campaign. A 2013 Rhodes Scholar, she has also worked as the policy analyst for the Detroit Health Department, acted as the Mariam K. Chamberlain Fellow of Women and Public Policy at the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, and served on the policy team for former First Lady Michelle Obama.

“We are remarkably fortunate to have such an esteemed expert as Rhiana Gunn-Wright here to discuss how climate justice and racial justice intertwine and impact each other,” said Westport Library Executive Director Bill Harmer. “This is a timely and important event for Westport and the greater Fairfield County community as we all work together to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to grow and thrive — now and for generations to come.”

Pulitzer Prize finalist Nicholas Dawidoff will be appearing at The Westport Library on Thursday, May 25, at 7 pm to talk about his riveting 2022 book, The Other Side of Prospect: A Story of Violence, Injustice, and the American City.

Dawidoff will be in conversation with Norwalk Community College Professor and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Althea Seaborn.

Books will be available for purchase and signing at the event. Register here for this free event.

Dawidoff is the critically acclaimed author of five books, including The Catcher Was a Spy, The Fly Swatter, and In the Country of Country. In addition to being a Pulitzer Prize finalist for The Fly Swatter, he has also been a Guggenheim, Berlin Prize, and Art for Justice Fellow.

For The Other Side of Prospect, Dawidoff returned to his hometown of New Haven, Connecticut, and dedicated eight years to researching and writing. Urban decay, white flight, redlining — the transformation of Newhallville, in Dawidoff’s telling, make these symptoms of racist neglect vividly clear. As Bobby, the subject of the book, says, “Lack of jobs. Men don’t know how to be. That’s the tragedy of our world.”

The Other Side of Prospect was a finalist for the New York Public Library's Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism and also for the American Bar Association's Silver Gavel Award for Media and the Arts.


Description from book publisher W.W. Norton & Company:

One New Haven summer evening in 2006, a retired grandfather was shot point-blank by a young stranger. A hasty police investigation culminated in innocent 16-year-old Bobby being sentenced to prison for 38 years.

In The Other Side of Prospect, he has produced an immersive portrait of a seminal community in an old American city now beset by division and gun violence. Tracing the histories of three people whose lives meet in tragedy — victim Pete Fields, likely murderer Major, and Bobby — Dawidoff indelibly describes optimistic families coming north from South Carolina as part of the Great Migration, for the promise of opportunity and upward mobility, and the harrowing costs of deindustrialization and neglect.

Foremost are the unique challenges confronted by children like Major and Bobby coming of age in their “forgotten” neighborhood, steps from Yale University. After years in prison, with the help of a true-believing lawyer, Bobby is finally set free. His subsequent struggles with the memories of prison, and his heartbreaking efforts to reconnect with family and community, exemplify the challenges the formerly incarcerated face upon reentry into society and, writes Reginald Dwayne Betts, make this “the best book about the crisis of incarceration in America.”


Event Information:

Nicholas Dawidoff Discusses ‘The Other Side of Prospect: A Story of Violence, Justice, and the American City'
Thursday, May 25
7 pm
Trefz Forum, The Westport Library

The Westport Library is unveiling three new exhibitions for spring, highlighting the work of Connecticut artists Nancy Moore and Charles Douthat as well as the art of the album with a display related to the Chicago blues.

All three exhibits are currently on view and will run through August 8, with Moore’s Women Telling Stories in the Sheffer Gallery, Douthat’s Three Seasons in the South Gallery, and Chicago Blues displaying in the Jesup Gallery.

With a background as a book editor, Moore has internalized the art of storytelling to inform her passion as a painter. She paints primarily on large slices of archival paper, working mainly with watercolor and also with graphite, gouache, metallic paint, colored pencil, and wax crayon. Themes of her work include transformation, ethnography, design, shape-shifting, gender identity, fashion, and creation myth.

Moore (pictured above) is a proud, self-taught artist who revels in the distortion of body proportions and perspectives, with a goal of creating narratives from emotion and instinct that flow from the heart and hand onto the paper. The resulting work resides in many private homes, and in galleries, museums, and other public institutions.

There will be an event and reception on June 4 to celebrate the exhibit, from 2 to 4 pm, with a talk between Moore and Miggs Burroughs at 3 pm.

“How wonderful to have my work hanging here in this glorious space,” Moore said. “I grew up in my neighborhood library in New Haven internalizing the voices of countless authors who entertained me, guided me, and kept me company. I went on to become a book editor, spending 38 years in the company of people compelled to describe the world and to tell stories. Around the edges of that career, I painted — a passion I discovered in childhood and never lost. The need to tell stories, to communicate through my work, has propelled me forward in my career as an artist.”

Douthat is a poet, retired litigator, visual artist, and member of the Artists Collective of Westport. A graduate of Stanford and the University of California, Douthat is a self-taught painter who works within the traditions of abstract expressionism and lyrical abstraction. He began painting 15 years ago, toward the end of a long career as a trial lawyer in New Haven. In 2019, he received an MFA in fine arts from Warren Wilson College.

His paintings, featured individually in many curated and juried shows, were most recently the subject of the one-person exhibition, Everyone Has Feelings, at Metro Art Studios in Bridgeport, and a two-person exhibition, Moving Lines, at the Kershner Gallery in Fairfield.

Douthat will be appearing in the Library on June 14 for a reception and talk with Burroughs, from 6 to 8 pm. The talk kicks off at 7 pm.

“I grew up in Southern California, and though living here for over 40 years, I still can’t make myself like New England winters,” said Douthat. “Partly it’s the cold and the short, dark days. Partly it’s the absence of vivid colors in the world around me. The best I can say for winter is that the more it lingers, the more I long for it to end. And sometimes I’m able to paint out of that longing, as I did this year for the three new works in this exhibit, which were all started and finished during the coldest months. You’ll notice no winter painting among the three. Yet if they’re strong paintings, I suspect that winter walks behind them, that each expresses my winter longing for spring.”

Chicago Blues features albums from the collection of Ellen and Mark Naftalin, the American blues keyboardist who was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame with the Paul Butterfield Blues Band in 2015. The exhibit features album covers of some of the original blues musicians who made their way to Chicago and changed the face and sound of American music forever.

The Chicago blues evolved from rural country blues following the Great Migration of African Americans from the southern U.S. to the industrial cities of the east, north, and west. The blues was one of the most significant influences on early rock music, with Chuck Berry crediting Muddy Waters and playing with Willie Dixon and others on his early Chess recordings.

Across the Atlantic in the 1960s, the Rolling Stones, Eric Clapton, and the Animals brought Chicago blues to a younger audience, while at the same time American artists such as the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, John P. Hammond, and Charlie Musselwhite performed in the style of Chicago blues.


Pictured above (L to R): Muddy Waters cover, courtesy Ellen and Mark Naftalin; Nimbus, by Nancy Moore; and Spring 40x40, by Charles Douthat

Willy Deville, musical polymath and subject of "Heaven Stood Still." Photo by Duana LeMay.

From Todd Haynes' groundbreaking Velvet Underground documentary to Ken Burns, Lynn Novick, and Sarah Botstein’s acclaimed The U.S. and the Holocaust to JIB Productions popular Short Cuts program (featuring selections from Sundance, Tribeca, SXSW), Verso Studios and The Westport Library are fast becoming a regional film hub for Fairfield County, the State of Connecticut, and the tri-state area.

Formally tying all of these emerging elements together is the May 19 launch of the Lundberg Family Foundation Masters Film Series, featuring the Connecticut premiere of a rising new documentary, Heaven Stood Still: The Incarnations of Willy DeVille, directed by Connecticut native Larry Locke.

The film event is free with registration, with doors at 6:30 pm and the film screening at 7 pm.

The Westport Library’s Lundberg Family Foundation Masters Film Series will showcase films and filmmakers, celebrating contemporary masters, innovative new voices, and emerging artists. This series provides an experiential and community-forward cinema experience, acting as a bridge between emerging independent production and established innovation. Special film screenings are coupled with master class sessions that educate and inspire on modes of production and storytelling craft, as well as technical, philosophical, and historical aspects.

The Trefz Forum, an ideal space for film. A recent snap from VersoFest 2023's screening of filmmaker Steve Gaddis's "Alice Cooper: Live from the AstroTurf."

“We thank the Lundberg Family Foundation for supporting and igniting an engaging series that builds up Connecticut’s dynamic film community," said Westport Library Executive Director Bill Harmer. “This is an exciting endeavor that showcases the strength of Verso Studios facilities with our 18-foot HD screen and concert-grade sound system. If you haven’t caught a film screening, now is the time to come out. The series also lends itself to the mission of Verso University: Audiences will get insider perspective and philosophy from an eclectic mix of filmmakers that will prove to be invaluable.”

Fusing a trailblazing film series with a trailblazing artist, Heaven Stood Still chronicles the American singer, Stamford, Connecticut-born Willy DeVille, who leapt out of the 1970s CBGB punk scene in New York City with his band Mink DeVille. Deville traversed to New Orleans as soul singer, blossoming into the premier voice of American roots music on the continent of Europe for more than three decades.

“Being a part of the inaugural Lundberg Family Foundation Masters Film Series, bringing Willy back home to Connecticut, it means everything,” says Heaven Stood Still Director Larry Locke (pictured above, next to the film poster). “As rock legend Peter Wolf says about Willy’s performance, ‘It’s atomic. It’s huge. And it always stays with you.’ You will never forget Willy DeVille." 

"Heaven Stood Still," production still of interview subject, and "Stand By Me" soul pioneer Ben E. King.

Heaven Stood Still features Westport locals Chris Frantz and Crispin Cioe, who star in the film. Cioe also serves as a producer. Heaven Stood Still has enjoyed a propelling and impressive start, with a series of sold-out screenings across Europe and a sold-out, star-studded New York City premiere just months ago.

After the screening, there will be a Q&A with the filmmakers, including Locke, writers Nick Flynn and John Eskow, Frantz, Cioe, along with Willy's niece, Marlene O'Brien DeVille.

Master classes, led by Locke, will follow, on June 14 and 21, entitled, "Finding the Best Story to Tell Your Story." Both will be held from 2 to 3 pm in Brooks Place, on the Library's main level. The class will focus on techniques to convert a film concept into a compelling documentary story. Attendees will be shown examples in current films and also participate in the development process for a new film currently in pre-production.

Tickets for BOOKED for the evening, The Westport Library’s signature fundraiser, will go on sale Monday, May 8, at 10 am, available for purchase on the Library’s BOOKED for the evening homepage.

BOOKED for the evening this year will be honoring award-winning theatre, film, and television actress Laura Linney, who will be appearing in person in the Library’s Trefz Forum on Thursday, July 13, at 8 pm.

Now in its 24th year, BOOKED for the evening honors an individual whose work reflects the purpose of the Library: to nurture a love of learning and to enhance our understanding of the world.

In her remarkable career, Linney has been nominated three times for an Academy Award, five times for a Tony Award, once for a BAFTA Award, and eight times for a Golden Globe. She has won one SAG Award, one National Board of Review Award, two Golden Globes, and four Emmys.

Her film credits include Genius, Nocturnal Animals, Mr. Holmes, Kinsey, You Can Count on Me, Mystic River, Love Actually, and The Truman Show. Among her prominent Broadway productions are The Crucible, Time Stands Still, Sight Unseen, and Six Degrees of Separation. And on television, she has starred in the Showtime series The Big C and the HBO mini-series John Adams, as well as Tales of the City and Frasier. She currently features as Wendy Byrde in Ozark, a role for which she has earned Emmy and SAG Award nominations.

Linney holds honorary doctorates from her alma maters, Brown University and The Julliard School. She has been honored for her work in cancer advocacy and is a sought-after speaker focusing on reconsidering the arts as essential for success, easing the pain of cancer and finding beauty in tragedy, and navigating gender inequality in the film industry. She also delivers master classes on acting and theatre.

Previous BOOKED for the evening award recipients include Tom Brokaw, E.L. Doctorow, Calvin Trillin, Wendy Wasserstein, Pete Hamill, Martin Scorsese, Arthur Mitchell, Doris Kearns Goodwin, David Halberstam, Oscar Hijuelos, Adam Gopnik, Will Shortz, Patti Smith, Barry Levinson, Jon Meacham, Nile Rodgers, Lynsey Addario, Ron Chernow, Alan Alda, Justin Paul, Frederic Chiu, Itzhak Perlman, and 2022 guest of honor Shonda Rhimes.

The Westport Library is striving to bring civility back to civic discourse with the launch of the Common Ground Initiative, Westport’s new forum for public discourse on issues of importance to the community.

The aim of the initiative is to host a positive, productive conversation on how we work together to move forward as a civil society, to encourage respectful, constructive dialogue, and to build capacity to tackle challenging and controversial issues.

The program planning for the initiative is led by The Westport Library in conjunction with community leaders representing a wide array of constituents and ideological standpoints.

“In recent years, and in so many capacities and on so many stages, we have witnessed a breakdown of decorum in public conversation and people focusing on that which divides us, not what unites us,” said Bill Harmer, Westport Library executive director. “We have seen that nationally as well as locally. But we have also witnessed, particularly in Westport, a great capacity for kindness, compassion, and compromise. It is those ideals that we want to strive for, and we look forward to the Common Ground Initiative in helping us find that balance.”

The Common Ground Initiative officially launches on Tuesday, May 2, at 7 pm with a conversation between Senator Roy Blunt and noted attorney Steve Parrish. Blunt will appear virtually, via the videowall in the Library’s Trefz Forum, while Parrish will appear in person.

In a public service career that has spanned nearly five decades, Blunt earned the respect of his peers and colleagues for his willingness to find common ground, make the legislative branch of the federal government work, and for achieving principled, bipartisan compromise.

“In every position he has held, Roy Blunt has shown the value of listening to others and working across the aisle to find common ground solutions for complicated problems," said Parrish.

Blunt was elected to U.S. House of Representatives in 1993 and served six consecutive terms before being elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010, serving in the chamber from 2011 to 2023. His leadership roles in the Senate included vice chair of the Republican Conference (2012-18), chair of the Committee on Rules and Administration (2017-19), and chair of the Republican Policy Committee (2019-23).

Before serving in Congress, Blunt was a history teacher and a county official, and in 1984 he became the first Republican in more than 50 years to be elected as Missouri’s secretary of state. The senator also served four years as the president of his alma mater, Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Missouri.

Parrish is the founder of Steve Parrish Consulting Group, LLC, which specializes in crisis management, corporate social responsibility, public affairs, and communications for senior executives of corporations, law firms, and nonprofit organizations. Previously, he was senior vice president, corporate affairs, of Altria Group, Inc., and served as secretary of the Public Affairs and Social Responsibility Committee of the board of directors of Altria Group, Inc.

Parrish is a member of the board of trustees of Carleton College and the board of directors of Orchestra Lumos (formerly the Stamford [CT] Symphony Orchestra). He also is board member emeritus and past board chair of Safe Horizon, an internationally recognized leader in the field of victim assistance. His past board service includes the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation.

In a talk as timely as it is fascinating, award-winning author, constitutional scholar, and Duquesne University President Ken Gormley will be making a special trip to The Westport Library on Wednesday, April 26, to speak on presidential scandals.

The event, which will take place at 7 pm in the Trefz Forum, will be moderated by noted attorney Steve Parrish. The talk is free and open to the public; please register in advance.

Gormley, who has published bestselling books on Watergate, the scandals that engulfed the Clinton presidency, and constitutional crises facing U.S. presidents throughout history, will discuss these topics and more — and connect them to current issues confronting Donald J. Trump during and after his presidency.

“President Gormley is an accomplished author, historian, and scholar, as well as a sought-after speaker,” said Bill Harmer, Westport Library executive director. “We’re thrilled he can be here with us to discuss what we’re sure will be a topic of great interest to our — and every — community.”  

Gormley’s first book, Archibald Cox: Conscience of a Nation, the authorized biography of one of the leading lawyers and public servants of the 20th century, was awarded the 1999 Bruce K. Gould Book Award for outstanding publication relating to the law. In 2010, he published The Death of American Virtue: Clinton vs. Starr, a New York Times bestseller chronicling the scandals that nearly destroyed the Clinton presidency, which received a 2011 Silver-Gavel Award (Honorable Mention) from the American Bar Association.

His most recent non-fiction work, The Presidents and the Constitution: A Living History, was published by NYU Press in 2016 and was likewise critically lauded. The Presidents and the Constitution came out as a two-volume paperback in the fall of 2022, with a new chapter on the Trump presidency.

Gormley, who was named Duquesne's 13th president in July 2016, previously served as dean and professor in the Duquesne University Thomas R. Kline School of Law and taught at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He has testified in the U.S. Senate three times; served as president of the Allegheny County Bar Association, the first academic to hold that position in the organization's 137-year history; and was mayor of Forest Hills, Pennsylvania, from 1998 to 2001.

Parrish is the founder of Steve Parrish Consulting Group, LLC, specializing in crisis management, corporate social responsibility, public affairs, and communications for senior executives. Previously, he was senior vice president of corporate affairs for Altria Group, Inc., and served as secretary of the public affairs and social responsibility committee of the board of directors of Altria Group, Inc.

In addition, Parrish is a member of the board of trustees of Carleton College, the board of directors of Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation, and the board of directors of Orchestra Lumos. He is also board member emeritus and past board chair of Safe Horizon, an internationally recognized leader in the field of victim assistance. His past board service includes the United Negro College Fund and the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

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