Programs for all Mainers

The Maine Humanities Council helps people of all ages and educational levels deepen their understanding of themselves, their communities, and the world. Through programs that convene conversations around books, and grants that reward local innovation, the Council works to make Maine a more thoughtful, literate, and humane place in which to live.

The Council’s programs are conducted under the umbrella of the Harriet P. Henry Center For the Book, through which the Council serves as Maine's affiliate of the Library of Congress Center for the Book.

General Audiences

Let’s Talk About It, a free, facilitated book discussion program for adults, has been hosted by local libraries all over the state. This program is undertaken in conjunction with the Maine State Library, with the support of the Maine Community Foundation.

World in Your Library, program offers six libraries a chance to host a foreign policy speaker series focused on topics of their choosing.

Local and Legendary: Maine in the Civil War Maine Historical Society (MHS) and Maine Humanities Council (MHC) are partnering for this grant program, which will engage Maine communities in their Civil War history. It will bring together collaborative project teams comprised of libraries, historical organizations, and educational institutions to explore local Civil War history in multidisciplinary ways and investigate questions of that era's motivations, loyalty, identity, and politics at the community level.

One Day Programs: Maine Humanities Council annually produces several one day enrichment programs on a variety of topics. Open to the general public, teachers and students, participants learn about a diverse range of subjects. Programs encourage dialogue and conversation, always aiming to broaden perspectives and understanding.

The Portland Community Seminars engage dedicated readers in scholar-led book discussion programs.

What It Means To Be a Mainer: conversations through three interrelated programs: Let's Talk Local, Maine at Work, and Think + Drink.

Winter Weekends explore a great work of literature from a number of perspectives over the course of a weekend. Selections have included Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf, Moby Dick, Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, Cervantes' Don Quixote and, Tolstoy’s War and Peace. We also offer occasional programs on music and other topics.

Specialized Adult Audiences

Let’s Talk About It is also offered in prisons.

Literature & Medicine: Humanities at the Heart of Healthcare® brings doctors, nurses, hospital trustees, and support staff together monthly for facilitated discussions of literature that illuminates issues central to caring for people. This program has taken place in the majority of hospitals in Maine as well as other healthcare facilities. Thanks to support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Council has expanded this program to other states.

New Books, New Readers is a free, facilitated book discussion program for adults who are learning to read or who are infrequent readers. Participants are given copies of the books, the first many of them have ever owned. New Books, New Readers serves approximately 500 Mainers each year in towns and prisons throughout the state.

Stories for Life offers probationers and probation officers the opportunity to meet with a scholar to discuss readings (such as short stories by Raymond Carver, Annie Proulx, and Ernest Hemingway) and reflect on the lives and choices of the characters. Stories for Life is offered in cooperation with the Department of Corrections.

Children and Youth

History Camps, one-week seminars for high school students who enjoy history, are offered in the summer. Each camp revolves around a theme related to a Maine person, historical site, or event, and may be offered in collaboration with other organizations.

Letters About Literature is a national student essay contest for students in grades 4–12 through the Center for the Book. The Maine Humanities Council/Harriet P. Henry Center for the Book is the Maine sponsor.


Other teacher programs use a variety of formats and a wide range of content to give K-12 educators a way to refresh and enrich their professional lives through new scholarship and collegial exchange.


By visiting these archived web pages, you can learn about some of the past programs and activities of the Maine Humanities Council. This is a great way to "attend" a conference or "view" an exhibit that you missed!