Newsletter                                         April 2019
Executive Director's Letter

On April 1 at 7:30 p.m., the proposed 2019-2020 city budget will be submitted to the City Council by the City Manager. Otis Library will be recommended for an operating allocation of $990,000. This is $40,000 more than our current allocation of $950,000.  While this is ostensibly heartening news, keep in mind that during the last three budget cycles the recommended increases were rejected by the Council majority and the library's support reduced. In addition, while an improvement from the current allocation, $990,000 does not fully close the gap between income and expenses or eliminate the need for reconsidering existing services and hours. We need the engagement of all our supporters to ensure that the past is not prologue.
The size of the reduction since 2016 outpaces the library's ability to raise funds and generate endowment income.  The Council received copious information on the impact of three successive budget reductions, totaling $175,000, on our financial status. Also provided was statistical information illustrating the low level of support when compared to other communities and their libraries.

We need your advocacy and welcome your support during the public hearings scheduled for April 11 and May 13 at 7:30 at City Hall. For those not comfortable speaking in a public forum, please advocate for your library through phone calls or emails to City Council members. In particular, the majority members of the Council can benefit from communications received from Norwich residents and community library patrons.

The link to the contact information for the mayor, council members and manager follow this text. Thank you for your support of Otis Library!

Robert Farwell
Executive Director

Please Note:  Otis Library will be closed on Friday, April 19, for Good Friday.  We will be open on Saturday, April 20.

Otis Library Receives Arts & Culture Award

Pictured L to R:  Al Ayers, Board Chair of the Eastern CT Chamber of Commerce; Julie Menders, Community Engagement & Programming Coordinator, Otis Library; Robert Farwell, Executive Director, Otis Library; Wendy Bury, Executive Director of the Southeastern CT Cultural Coalition;  Alex Peterson, Manager of Government Affairs and Assistant to the Executive Director for the Connecticut Airport Authority, Awards Sponsor for the Chamber's 2018 Annual Meeting; and Tony Sheridan, President of the Eastern CT Chamber of Commerce

During the Eastern CT Chamber of Commerce's Annual Meeting on Wednesday, March 27, Otis Library received the inaugural  Outstanding Arts and Cultural Business Award from the Southeastern CT Cultural Coalition. Otis Library was recognized for this award as a  business (non-profit) that has demonstrated excellence in enhancing the arts, heritage, or cultural vitality in the region through:
  • Building successful partnerships and mutually beneficial collaborations
  • Exemplifying industry excellence
  • Raising the profile of arts and culture in the community and of southeastern Connecticut.
We are very grateful this honor!
The Millie and Martin Shapiro Author Series
Featuring an Evening with Pam Jenoff
Friday, April 12, 6pm
The Spa at Norwich Inn

Thank you to Sayet & Seder, Attorneys  at Law, and CoreP lus  Credit Union for  their support!
Please join us for our 16th Annual Evening with an Author, Otis Library's signature fundraiser.  The evening begins at 6pm with cocktails and a silent auction, followed by dinner, keynote address and book signing by New York Times bestselling author Pam Jenoff.  

Pam Jenoff is the author of several novels of historical fiction, 
inclu ding
theinternational bestsellers The Orphan's Tale and The Kommandant's Girl.  She holds a bachelor's degree in international affairs from George Washington University and a master's degree in history from Cambridge, and she received her J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.  Jenoff's novels are inspired by her experiences working at the Pentagon and also as a diplomat for the State Department handling Holocaust issues in Poland. 
Her newly released novel of espionage, The Lost Girls of Paris, is set during and post-World War II and explores themes of courage and resilience - both physical and emotional - in the face of adversity. 

Tickets are $125 per person and include a copy of The Lost Girls of Paris.  Sponsorship opportunities are also available. 

For information on sponsorship or to purchase tickets to this event, please contact Cathy Special at (860) 889-2365, ext. 125, or e-mail
The Friends of Otis Library Book Sale is here!

Don't miss it!  The dates for the Friends of Otis Library Book Sale are as follows:
Early Bird Preview $10:  Friday, April 26, 9 - 10am
Free General Admission:  
Friday, April 26, 10am - 3pm
Saturday, April 27, 10am - 3pm
Sunday, April 28, 12 - 3pm

All proceeds benefit Otis Library.  Thank you to our Friends for their hard work on behalf of our Library!

Harris Sisters Month
Sponsored by The Friends of Otis Library

Otis Library is hosting a series of programs this month to celebrate the Harris sisters, Norwich natives and students at Prudence Crandall's school for young African-American women from 1833 - 1834. The umbrella theme for the month is student advocacy.

Prudence Crandall is justifiably celebrated in Connecticut as the State Heroine. Less recognized are the black students who assumed enormous risk to receive an elite education. Indeed, the stimulus to the establishment of the academy was the repeated requests of Sarah Harris to take classes at the then all-white school. Sarah started taking classes in 1832; the resulting withdrawal of the white students from the academy and subsequent establishment of an all-black girls' school in 1833 constitute a remarkable chapter in the annals of abolitionist history.  Sarah Harris and her sister, Mary, were key in this brave, transformative effort.
Throughout the month of April, items on loan from the Prudence Crandall Museum will be on display in the Otis Library atrium display cases. 
On Friday, April 5, from 6pm - 8pm in the Children's Department, the library will host the opening of the student art exhibit, "How Can I Make The World A Better Place?"  Children from pre-school through fifth grade will exhibit art - paintings, drawings, collage, and assemblage - that illustrates this theme.  The exhibit will be on display throughout the month of April.
On Saturday, April 13, 10am - 11:30 am, the Norwich Historical Society will officially launch the Walk Norwich Freedom Trail.  Please join us as we explore a largely untold piece of Norwich's history in the Jail Hill Historic District.  This walk is 1.5 hours, 1.5 miles, is strenuous and has some very steep hills   It will begin at City Hall, David Ruggles Courtyard, 100 Broadway, in Norwich. Free parking is available at City Hall Garage.

The New London County Historical Society is sponsoring a lecture on Frances Caulkins by Nancy Steenburg, PhD, on Saturday, April 20, at 1pm in Otis Library's Community Room.   Nancy will be speaking about Caulkins's life and work in Norwich, but more specifically about her involvement in the abolition movement in Norwich, where she was the first president of the Norwich Female Anti-Slavery Society.

On Wednesday, April 24, at 6pm, Norwich City Historian Dale Plummer will give a talk entitled "The Harris Family After Canterbury: The Later Life of the Harris Sisters."  This event will take place in the Community Room.

All programs are free and open to the public. No registration required.  Sign language interpretation will be available if requested one week prior to each event. Descriptive tours of the exhibit will also be available upon request. Please contact Elanah Sherman at 860-614-7200 or by e-mail at for interpretation or descriptive tours.

These events are free and open to the public.  For more information, contact Julie at (860) 889-2365, ext. 128.  

Gardening Programs for Beginners

In partnership with the Eastern Connecticut Community Gardens Association (ECCGA), Otis Library will host a series of classes on gardening for beginners.   Experienced gardeners from the ECCGA will teach basic gardening skills for everyone, from homeowners to apartment dwellers. This series will lead beginner gardeners through the steps and practices involved in maintaining a flourishing home garden.  Dates are as follows:  Monday, April 8; Monday, June 3; Monday, August 5; and Monday, September 9. All programs will begin at 6pm in the Story Room and are free and open to the public.  No registration is required.  Appropriate for teens and adults.  

For more information on the ECCGA, visit
Programs for Adults

Technology Classes at Otis Library
Wednesdays, 5pm - 8pm & Fridays, 10am - 1pm
Feeling a little lost with all the new technology?  Maybe even some of the old technology?  We are ready to assist you with one-on-one instruction tailored to your specific needs. Topics include basic computer skills, navigating the internet, e-mail, e-readers, and Microsoft Office. Assistance will be provided by appointment only. Please call 860-889-2365, ext. 100, for additional information or to make an appointment.

Technology Classes are offered in Spanish by appointment only.  Please call Bassem at (860) 889-2365, ext. 109 or 110 to register.

Para reservar una cita, apersonese a la biblioteca o llame a Bassem
860-889-2365, ext. 109 o 110.

Technology Classes at Rose City Senior Center
Tuesdays, 10am - 12pm
Otis Library provides computer/technology instruction to seniors at the Rose City Senior Center.  Please call 860-889-2365, ext. 100, for additional information.

Drop-In Chess
Wednesdays, 5pm - 8pm, in the Business Center 
Players of all ages and skill levels are invited to play chess. Use one of our chess sets or bring your own.  

Drop-In Knitting Group
Fridays, 10am - 11:15am, Meeting Room
The Rows City Knitters meet every Friday.  All skill levels welcome!  For more  information, call (860) 889-2365, ext. 128.  Members of the Rows City Knitters would like to thank  Driftwood Yarns  of Groton for their continued support!

Ask The Expert!
Wednesday, April 10, 10:30am - 12:30pm, Business Center
Are you looking to start your own business but don't know where to begin?  Do you need help writing a business plan?  What if you own a business but need advice on marketing?  Jill Fritzsche, Community Manager at Norwich Community Development Corporation, will be in the Business Center at Otis Library the second Wednesday of every month from 10:30am - 12:30pm to answer your questions. Drop in; no appointment necessary.  This is a free program.  For more information, call Julie at 860-889-2365, ext. 128.

Changing Minds Book Club
Wednesday, April 10, 5pm,  Meeting Room
The group will be discussing Unexpectedly, Milo by Matthew Dicks. Refreshments will be served.  No registration required. Copies of the book are available to borrow at the Front Desk.

Otis Library Genealogy Club
Tuesday, April 16, 1-2:30pm,  Meeting Room
The club meets on the 3rd Tuesday of each month to learn and to brain storm  about family history projects. Please bring with you any basic information you have about the family members for whom you are looking.  This club will be useful for beginners as well as experienced researchers. For more information, please call Kathleen Wieland, Genealogy Librarian, at 860-889-2365, ext. 108. 

Travel Writer Peter Mandel:  Going to Extremes
Wednesday, April 17, 6:30pm
Sponsored by The Elsie Brown Fund
Otis Library will host the program "Going to Extremes" with author Peter Mandel in the Millie and Martin Shapiro Community Room on Wednesday, April 17, at 6:30pm.  This program is appropriate for teens and adults. 
An award-winning adventure travel journalist for The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, National Geographic Kids, and Providence Journal, Peter Mandel hunts his stories and photos in the world's far corners, including Antarctica, India, Egypt, Patagonia, the fjords of Norway, the mountain pathways of Japan, and the deserts of Africa. 
The author of ten books, he'll show slides of his most extreme travel
experiences - surviving a coup in Ecuador, visiting a "city" of penguins at the South Pole, fishing for piranha on Brazil's Rio Negro, floating in the Goodyear Blimp, sailing on an Arctic icebreaker, camping in the African bush, and kayaking to the Statue of Liberty - and talk about how adventure travel turns to prose in today's media.

Registration is required.  To register, please call 860-889-2365, ext. 128, or register on our online calendar.

Coming In May!

Classics Book Club
Saturday, May 11, 10 - 11:30am
We will read a variety of classic works, from the ancient to modern, and meet four times a year in various locations around the City.  May's discussion is on Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. Meet us at the new  Cafe Otis , 80 Broadway , Norwich.To register, call Julie at 860-889-2365, ext. 128.

Delicious Discussions
Wednesday, May 15, 12 - 1:30pm, 
Michael Jordan's Steak House
This series is generously sponsored by Guinan & Houle, LLP Attorneys at Law

Otis Library and Bank Square Books present a Delicious Discussions luncheon with author Wendy Walker in celebration of her new book  The Night Before. Tickets for this event are $45 and include an author talk and signing, a copy of the book and a buffet lunch at Michael Jordan's Steak House at Mohegan Sun.

This event requires pre-registration.  To register, call Julie at 860-889-2365 x128, or  register online.  Delicious Discussions Author Series is a partnership between Otis Library, Bank Square Books and Michael Jordan's Steak House at Mohegan Sun.

Programs for Tweens and Teens
All programs are offered at no charge to the public.  Registration is required for some programs. Please register in person at the Front Desk; by calling (860) 889-2365, ext. 100; or you may register for our programs via our online calendar.

Drop-In Chess
Wednesdays, 5pm - 8pm, Business Center
Players of all ages and skill levels are invited to play chess.  Use one of our chess sets or bring your own.

Tween Book Club (grades 6-8)
Monday, April 29, 6 - 7pm
The Time Museum by Matthew Loux will be the featured book this month.  Join in activities related to the book!  Pizza will be served.  Registration required.  Pick up a copy of the book at the Front Desk.  Program will take place in the Meeting Room.

Children's Programs
All programs are offered at no charge to the public. Registration is  required for some programs.  Please register in person at the Child ren's Desk; by calling (860) 889-2365, ext. 114; or you may register for our programs via our online calendar .

Mother Goose & More: Rhyme Time and Playgroup (ages zero to 23
Mondays, April 1, 8 22, & 29, 10:30am (program); 11am-12pm (playgroup)
Enjoy 30 minutes of rhymes, songs, and other activities for the very young, then stay (or not) for a one-hour open play group.  Older siblings are welcome!  No registration required. Drop-in.

Time for Twos (ages 2 )
Tuesdays, April 2 - May 7 (no class April 16), 10:30 - 11am
Enjoy stories, songs, rhymes, and a simple craft with your child!  This program is age appropriate for your active two-year-old!  Space is limited; r egistration required.

Preschool Storytime (ages 3-5)
Thursdays, April 4 - May 9 (no class April 18), 10:30 - 11:15am 
Children enjoy stories, songs and rhymes while their grownups wait in the Children's Department.  Caregivers are encouraged to join the fun during craft time at the end of the class!  Space is limited; registration required.

Monthly Mother Goose & More: Rhyme Time and Playgroup (ages newborn to 23 months)
Saturday, April 6, 10:30am (program); 11 - 11:30am (playgroup)
Enjoy 30 minutes of traditional rhymes, songs, fingerplays, and other activities for the very young; then stay (or not) for a half-hour open playgroup. This is a great opportunity for working parents to enjoy this weekend program!  Older siblings are welcome to attend. Drop-in.

Drop-In Peacock Craft (all ages)
Saturday, April 6, 11am - 1pm
Help your child make a colorful peacock craft!  No registration required.  For all ages.  Program will take place in the Children's Department.

Bella! Therapy Dog Extraordinaire (all ages)
Saturday, April 13, 12 - 1pm
Courtesy of Ms. Pepin - thank you!
It's Bella's birthday!  Visit, read, and help celebrate the birthday of our very favorite therapy pug, Bella!  No registration required.

Build It! Clinic (grades K-8)
Monday, April 15, 11am - 12:30pm
Stop by on school vacation week and build structures using a variety of materials in the Children's Room.  No registration required. 

Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center presents: Raptors  (all ages )
Wednesday, April 17, 1pm 
Meet real birds of prey with this program presented by Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center.  What makes a bird of prey a raptor?  Find out in this interactive hour.  No registration required.

Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center presents: Snakes  (all ages)
Thursday, April 18, 11am
Are you brave enough to meet and greet a real snake?  Test your curiosity in this dynamic program hosted by the Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center.  No registration required.  

Kids Imagine Book Club (grades 3-5)
Monday, April 22, 6 - 7pm
Come discuss Poptropica: Mystery of the Map by Jack Chabert. Join in activities related to the book!  Pizza will be served.  Registration required.  Pick up a copy of the book at the Front Desk.  Program will take place in the Story Room.

Otis Library | 261 Main Street, Norwich, CT 06360 | (860) 889-2365 |

 Monday & Wednesday 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Tuesday, Thursday & Friday 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Saturday, 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Closed on Sundays
Closed on Saturdays in July & August

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