Dancing in the aisles, a sumptuous dinner, and an impersonation contest. All unlikely events to be associated with a library except when the institution involved is the extremely innovative Chappaqua Library.
In the fall, a grand total of 23 events were presented by the Library in celebration of an author who embodies the essence of Americana: Mark Twain. In the spirit of a community read, the Library organized a bevy of Twain centered programs designed to educate and entertain. While the 100th anniversary of Mark Twain’s demise was definitely a catalyst in the selection of Twain, it was not the only factor. Program Coordinator Joan Kuhn emphasized that the staff chose to highlight this wordsmith because of his relevance to today’s society. “Life lessons, they’re all in his books,” Kuhn said.
“Twain’s Domain” was a multimedia extravaganza. Zydeco music enlivened the atmosphere on the opening weekend. Twain’s pen and inkwell and his wife Livy Clemens’s dress were on display. “The Adventures of Huck Finn” and Ken Burns’ documentary on Twain were screened. Lectures topics included the Tiffany designed interior of his home and Twain and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s commentary on race relations. A book discussion focused on “Pudd’nhead Wilson.” The public was invited to give their best impersonation of Twain.
The announcement of the Twain theme unleashed a torrent of creativity. Organizations and businesses in the hamlet were eager to contribute. Crabtree’s Kittle House hosted a Twain inspired dinner, accompanied by music and readings by Michael Shapiro, conductor of the Chappaqua Orchestra. The garden club created a floral arrangement based on the short story, “The Celebrated Jumping Frogs of Calaveras County.”
The main motivation for Twain’s Domain was to encourage patrons to become acquainted with or deepen their knowledge of the author’s prowess. “Pick up a Twain story and read,” Library Director Pamela Thornton exhorted. “That’s our mission – literature. Read it, live it!”