Let’s Talk About It

Violence and Belonging

Podcast | Violence & Belonging

“Violence & Belonging: The 14th Amendment and American Literature” is a Let’s Talk About It book and discussion series that addresses issues of diversity, identity, and inequality. For many Americans, the promises of citizenship fall short of reality, and the books in this series remind us that the more expansive version of American citizenship brought… Read more

Read More

Hugh Manatee's BR Social Media

Hugh’s Book Registry

Hugh, like any good humanities mascot, loves Maine’s library programming. But he’s seen what it takes from the inside, too, especially with all those books. Each MHC Let’s Talk About It series needs book replacements—for damaged books or out-of-date books (or books that just don’t work with the series for which they were intended). And… Read more

Read More


“Race and Justice in America” Book Series

Contempt of Court: The Turn-of-the-Century Lynching That Launched A Hundred Years of Federalism  by Mark Curriden and Leroy Phillips, Jr. Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age by Kevin Boyle  The Contested Murder of Latasha Harlins by Brenda Stevenson Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by… Read more

Read More


“Violence and Belonging” Book Series

In examining the legacies of the Fourteenth Amendment for the nation’s literary history, this reading and discussion series looks at books that address issues of diversity, identity, and inequality in exploring how, for many Americans, the promise of citizenship falls short of their reality. Between the World And Me by Ta Nehisi Coates A Map… Read more

Read More

Woman reading

Announcing the Winter and Spring Let’s Talk About It Libraries

The following libraries will be hosting a “Let’s Talk About It” series this winter and spring:   1. Roberta Morin at Albion Public Library  “Becoming an American: Struggles, Successes, Symbols” 2. Jackie Bennett at Bristol Area Library (New Harbor) “Crossing Over: Works by Contemporary American Indian Writers” 3. Janet Fricker at Brown Memorial Library (East… Read more

Read More

Potshot by Gerry Boyle

New “Mysteries by Maine Authors” Reading Series

The MHC, in collaboration with scholar Jeffrey Aronson and librarian consultants Linda Wohlforth of Shaw Public Library in Greenville and Jeanne Benedict of Henry D. Moore Library in Steuben, has developed a new Let’s Talk About It series! The “Mysteries by Maine Authors” series plunges into the gritty underbelly of Maine as seen through the eyes of its talented… Read more

Read More

Louise and Celeste at the Scarborough Library

To Uplift and to Empower: Q&A with the Scarborough Public Library

By Diane Magras Turn off busy Route 1 in Scarborough, and on a fast-moving side street you’ll find the Scarborough Public Library. The library building emerges past a small cattail-filled pond surrounded by trees, presenting a beautiful and welcoming exterior. This fall, I met Celeste Shinay, Program and Development Manager, and Louise Capizzo, Youth Services… Read more

Read More

McArthur Staff Photo 2014

Fostering a Culture of Community at the McArthur Public Library

By Diane Magras Like the books on their shelves, public libraries are full of character: suave and charming, warm and exciting, brilliant and quirky. Sometimes the specific type of character is due to a single librarian, but more often the library itself and the staff and patrons together make libraries what they are. To the… Read more

Read More

Bricks and Mortar for the Mind: Let’s Talk About It

By Kate Webber If you take Interstate 95 as far north as it goes, you’re just two hours south of St. Agatha. The town is seated on the shores of Long Lake and about as close to the New Brunswick border as it is to the nearest US town. In the middle of winter there aren’t… Read more

Read More

Craving—and Finding—Community

By Nicole Rancourt Right after my high school graduation, I spent a year abroad as a member of Up With People. One of the high points of that year was staying with host families in each community we visited. In those homes, we learned about each town, city, and country in far deeper and more… Read more

Read More

A Love Letter to the Maine Humanities Council

By Sheila Jans Inspiring. Amazing. Incredible…. An endless ribbon of words would do nicely to describe my past eight years on the board of the Maine Humanities Council. But, if I really had to choose only one word to express what it was like to serve on one of the most outstanding boards in Maine… Read more

Read More

Let’s Talk Rural

Abandoned schools, unused buildings, sometimes just a basement: these are often the birthplaces of rural libraries. What a community might see as a useless structure can be a golden start for a book-centered community organization as long as a person with a vision is involved. Faye O’Leary Hafford did this in Allagash, creating a library… Read more

Read More

Opinion: Ideas, a Common Currency

By Diane Magras On August 14, the New York Times published an opinion piece by Neal Gabler about how big ideas area disappearing from our society due to, among other things, the rise of social media.  Gabler makes many interesting points, but early on writes, “If our ideas seem smaller nowadays, it’s not because we… Read more

Read More

Coming to Language

By Bruce Span Coming to language was not easy for me. As a boy, the written word eluded me most of elementary school. I took third grade twice since my teacher discovered that I read from right to left, not left to right; breaking words into syllables seemed by then, and is still now, an impossible… Read more

Read More

Spotlight on: St. John Valley

By Diane Magras The St. John Valley in Aroostook County is an area rich in history and culture. When I visited it two years ago for the second time in my life, I saw rural lawns mowed in straight rows, houses painted perfectly, and window boxes full of flowers. Fields of grass, clover, potatoes, and broccoli… Read more

Read More

Building Community In a Small Town

St. Agatha is nestled beside a large lake, surrounded by undulating hills and farms. It is an intimate setting rich in history and culture. St. Agatha was once the seat of a convent, and locals credit the religious heritage still present in the community (through the active Daughters of Wisdom) for a work ethic unique to the Saint John Valley, in northern Maine, on the border of New Brunswick and Québec. This work ethic and awareness of community helped its residents pull together to raise significant funds for the local historical society, museum, and library. Read more

Read More

People, Place, and Purpose: Let’s Talk About It provides just the right mix in Belfast

By Annaliese Jakimides Recently Belfast Free Library and writer, translator, scholar, and textile artist Sagaree Sengupta came together to provide a lively, packed series of discussions around the Maine Humanities Council’s Let’s Talk About It series “Across Cultures and Continents: Literature of the South Asian Experience.” Thirty-seven people showed up the first day—that’s packed—and even… Read more

Read More

India and Pakistan: The History Behind the Headlines

By Brita Zitin When Charles Calhoun started planning a teacher symposium on India and Pakistan, “The History Behind the Headlines” seemed an appropriate tag line. Although the symposium was almost a year away, it was safe to assume that this volatile region would be in the news when it took place. In fact, violent attacks… Read more

Read More

Let’s Talk About It | Cornish

Since 1985, Let’s Talk About It has served a dual purpose in Maine: strengthening the state’s small libraries and their communities by bringing people together in open conversation around books. Scholars facilitate this free program and help create new series. Series are comprised of five topically grouped books that are loaned to program participants. Themes… Read more

Read More

Let’s Talk About It: Luring Maine Readers Out Of Our Living Rooms and Beyond Our Borders

By Brita Zitin Ten years ago, Oprah’s Book Club emerged as a major force in book publishing, pushing sales of its selected titles into the millions. The club raised thorny questions about celebrity culture, engaged many new readers, and enraged some seasoned ones, but its one irrefutable effect was to make book club culture more… Read more

Read More

Poetry Flourishes in a Maine Library

By Betsy Sholl Maine’s Poet Laureate Betsy Sholl facilitated the new poetry series in the Council’s free reading and discussion program, Let’s Talk About It, in Bridgton last summer. In honor of National Poetry Month, she has contributed this account of her experiences. On five Saturday mornings in July and August, I drove along Route… Read more

Read More

30 Years: Telling the Stories of Our State

By Brita Zitin Maine Humanities Council reading programs roam across the globe: Let’s Talk About It groups discuss Indian and Cuban literature; New Books, New Readers shares stories from Uganda, Mexico, and Haiti; and Born to Read distributes Chinese and African folktales to children. At the same time, programming at the Harriet P. Henry Center for… Read more

Read More

Let’s Talk About It | Bristol Area Library

Let’s Talk About It is one of the Maine Humanities Council’s oldest programs, offered free to Maine libraries in partnership with the Maine State Library. This popular reading and discussion program makes a real difference, giving residents of communities both large and small the pleasure of gathering with neighbors to talk about good books and… Read more

Read More

Summary of Programs, 2004

By Diane Magras New Books, New Readers In 2004, New Books, New Readers served 27 sites, offering 45 four-session series to over 600people. People who are first learning to read often find the process frustrating. Many experience dismissive attitudes from friends and families, which sometimes persuades them to give up. Through reading and discussion groups… Read more

Read More