Friday, March 30, 2012

Dickens Mania

Don't forget this weekend is the grand kick off to the Dickens in Lowell celebration. There's lots of fun stuff to do, including this evening's opening of the central exhibit at the Boot Gallery (behind Boardinghouse Park) . The opening runs from 5pm-7pm and will feature music food and speakers (or as Dickens might have put it—harmony, wittles, and orators).

Then come on by the Pollard tomorrow morning for Victorian Parlor games from 10am-11am. We'll be playing authentically Dickensian games such as Blindman's Bluff, Courtiers and Forefits as well as a take off of Pin the Tail on the Donkey called Pin the Raven on the Couch. Intrigued? We hope so.

Then tomorrow afternoon we'll be showing the film classic Oliver! at 1pm. So get ready to feel light again! Of course, there's lots more Dickens stuff going on all around the city full schedule here.

PLUS! Sunday evening, Masterpiece Theatre is serendipitously airing their latest and greatest production of "Great Expecations" featuring Gillian Anderson as Miss Havisham. It looks like this is going to be quite a production—and a great way to get into the story that's the subject of our Lowell Reads "Great Expectations" program coming this summer.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Friends Meeting Thursday 6PM

The Friends will be holding a meeting to discuss the 2012 book sale this Thursday the 29th from 6:00 to 7:00 PM in the Meeting Room of the Pollard Memorial Library. So come on by if you want more information or are willing to lend a hand. Bring a friend, meet some friends.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Exciting News for Genealogists

(The following article was written by the newest member of our reference department, Alison Zaya. Alison is an experienced and knowledgeable reference librarian who worked for a number of years at the Nashua Public Library. We're very happy to welcome her to the PML team! If you have questions or comments on this article you can email her at

Did your grandparents move during the Great Depression? Was an aunt or uncle you’ve been trying to track down born in 1931? For 72 years, the individual records from the 1940 Census have been sealed. On Monday, April 2 at 9:00 a.m. the records will be available for your perusal.

In addition to questions regarding name, age, gender, race, education, and place of birth, census takers asked occupants if they owned or rented their home, its value, and whether the home was on a farm. They recorded respondents’ occupation and employment status for the week of March 24-30, 1940, as well as their income for the previous year. Citizenship for the foreign born was noted, as was the person’s residence on April 1, 1935. This information could be particularly insightful for a family that moved often. For each census form, two people provided supplementary information. Approximately 5% of census takers shared the place of birth of their parents, their native language, veteran status, and whether they had a social security number. Married women were asked if they had been married more than once, the age at their first marriage, and the number of children born. I find these last questions, as well as the instruction to enter “infant” if a child under one year had not been given a name, particularly interesting. The National Archives website has a list of the questions asked as well as a blank census form.

You may be tempted to log on to your favorite genealogy site at 9:00 on Monday. After all, it has been 10 years since the 1930 records were unveiled. Despite the availability of the records, finding what you want may be difficult for a while. The 1940 census records are not yet indexed; thus, name searching is not possible. Some genealogy sites, including, will be working to index the census once it is released. In the meantime, you can use enumeration districts (geographic areas assigned to census takers) to locate people, but it is a more complicated and time consuming process. More information about the enumeration districts is available on NARA's website.

If you want more information about the 1940 census, take a look at the following websites:

  1. The National Archives, which includes an FAQ about the census
  2., which is hosting the census website for the National Archives, and the blog
  3. The United States Census Bureau
  4. The US Census Community Project, which is working to index the 1940 Census
  5. Pollard Memorial Library’s Online Research Database page, which has a link to Ancestry Library (in library use only)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Artist Richard Marion @ Dracut Library, March 27th, 7PM

Local artist Richard Marion will be at the Parker Memorial Library in Dracut next Tuesday, March 27th at 7pm. Mr. Marion's work captures a unique vision of Lowell and its surroundings. He's been painting for more than thirty years and will be discussing his artwork and its muse, the city of Lowell. A full description of the event can be found on the Parker Memorial Library's website and his paintings have recently appeared on Richard Howe Jr's Blog.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Dickens in Lowell Opening Weekend - Victorian Parlour Games and a screening of Oliver! the PML Saturday, March 31st

The Pollard is elbows deep in the grand celebration of Charles Dickens' 200th birthday sweeping across Lowell this year. Can you feel the Dickens in Lowell buzz? Opening weekend is nearly here.

We'll be celebrating opening weekend in grand style with a morning of Victorian Parlour games of the ilk that Mr. Dickens played and wrote about in his novels. This event for children grades 1-4 and runs from 10am-11am Saturday, March 31st, in the Ground Floor Meeting Room. While your at the library, you'll want to be sure to visit the Dickens & Victorian Scrapbooks Exhibit created by the talented girls of Girls, Inc. You can catch their fun and informative display in the cases outside the meeting room.

What's that? You want more, you say? MORE? Well...

Come on back at 1pm, Saturday, March 31st for a special screening of the musical Oliver! This winner of six Academy Awards boasts a superb British cast including Ron Moody, Oliver Reed and Shani Wallis and an unforgettable musical score. Rated G; 148 minutes; 1968. This screening sponsored by the Friends of the Library. Free and open to the public.

About Dickens in Lowell:
To mark the bicentenary of Charles Dickens's birth and to commemorate his historic trip to America in 1842*, UMass Lowell and its partners present "Dickens in Lowell," a seven-month slate of performances, speakers, family programs, and a landmark exhibition exploring Dickens's life, work, and travels in America! Full schedule of events is available at:

*He visited Lowell on this trip and dedicated an entire chapter to our fair city in the book he wrote chronicling his time in America. Mr. Dickens believed there was a lot to like about Lowell, even then!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mass Memories Road Show Hits the Boot Mills this Saturday 10am-3pm

If you work, live, or feel a connection to Lowell you have an incredible opportunity this weekend to participate in a sweeping state-wide history project. Here's the deal: you bring up to three photos that exemplify life in Lowell, to the Tsongas Industrial History Center on the 4th floor of the Boot Cotton Mills. You can bring historical photos or contemporary casual pictures of your neighborhood—as long as they show what it's like to live in Lowell they're fair game. The photos you bring will be scanned and the originals returned to you. You may also participate in an oral history video project where you would tell the story behind your photo. For more information about this event and the Mass Memories Project please visit their website, or contact Ellen Anstey via e-mail: or by phone: 978-978-5080

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Another Busy Week @ PML - Author Night, Library Club, Hunger Games Food Drive, etc, etc

There's lots of interesting reasons to come down to the library this week quite apart from the usual ones of checking out books, audiobooks, CD's, DVDs and museum passes.

Thursday night at 7pm, we have local author night featuring Nicholas DiGiovanni discussing his latest book "Rip"—a hillarously irreverent retelling of Washington Irving's classic Rip Van Winkle.

Friday features two fun youth oriented events. First there is the kick off of Library Club from 10-11am for kids aged 3 and older. A program to familiarize youth with all the benefits of a library! There will be fun library activities, and a special guest performer storyteller / puppeteer. Sign up by calling 978-970-4122.

And second there is the highly anticipated Hunger Games Teen Event & Food Drive from 3-4pm for teens grade 5 and up. Participants are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to donate to the Merrimack Valley Food Bank for their chance to win movie passes. Teens will also have the opportunity to create buttons to support their favorite tributes and to participate in some friendly competition of our own. May the odds be ever in your favor.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Author Night: Nicholas DiGiovanni - "Rip" - Thursday, March 22 @ 7pm

Wake Up, Citizens of Greater Lowell...Wake Up and Come on down to the Pollard Library Thursday, March 22nd at 7pm to meet local author Nicholas DiGiovanni as he reads from and discusses his novel "Rip: A Modern Retelling of Washington Irving's Classic Tale."

DiGiovanni has ole Rip VW waking up in the 1960's imagine the culture shock! The book finds for our hero a job as a toll taker on New York's Tappan Zee Bridge and that is only the beginning of the awkward hilarity offered up in the culture skewing novel. "Rip" is also good enough to include a copy of the original Washington Irving tale so readers can compare and contrast and savor the two great stories at once.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Daylight Saving Time begins 2am this Sunday March 11th

So, even if you're not planning on staying up til 2am Sunday to change your clock one hour ahead, it'd be a good idea to do so before you turn in for the night on Saturday. That way, you won't be late for brunch or whatever else you have planned for Sunday (hopefully a UMass Lowell hockey game...fingers crossed).

Career Change Workshop - Thursday, March 15 @ 7pm

The Ides of March has been long recognized as a pivotal day for Julius Caesar—and if you come down to the Pollard next Thursday, it might also prove to be pivotal for your career. We're not suggesting your career will be ambushed or anything like that. On that contrary, it might be given a new life because on Thursday, March 15, at 7PM, the Pollard is pleased to welcome Fred Nothnagel, executive director of WIND job-networking organization. Mr. Nothnagel will be giving a free presentation and facilitated discussion designed to help individuals understand better their work situations, the current job market and the major factors to consider when deciding whether and in what direction to make a career move. The presentation is also for those in transition who wish to consider different industries or functions, for whatever reason. To register for the workshop or get more information, e-mail frednothnagel at

Thursday, March 8, 2012

All Our Voices Exhibit is Live!

Lead artist Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord just posted a wonderful article on her blog about her artistic background and the process of synthesizing and realizing this wonderful piece of community art. There are also tons of pictures documenting the process and this past Tuesday's Opening Reception available on her Flickr page.

Come visit the Lowell Women's Week All Our Voices Art Exhibit and sign the guest book. The exhibit will be on display for the remainder of March and then will be bound into one large book to be archived at the Center for Lowell History.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Author Stacy Schiff profiled in the Boston Globe's Sunday Bibliophiles column

I don't know if anyone caught it but Stacy Schiff, the author of this month's Non-Fiction Book Club selection, Cleopatra: A Life, was profiled in this past Sunday's Globe Bibliophiles column. She shares that growing up in Adams, MA, she "rode her bike to the local library, where she was awarded a sticker for each book she read." This reminds me of the Pollard's children's Summer Reading Program (details of the 2012 program will be available in the coming months).

I was impressed by Ms. Schiff's wide ranging readerly interests—fiction and non-fiction alike—and her admission that fiction is her "first a probably true love." I'm sure her abiding love for storytelling is one of the reasons her biographies are such a delight to read.

She also shares a funny little story about Ms. Vera Nabokov's aversion to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. She will be speaking this Wednesday at the MFA about "The Real Cleopatra." Sadly, it appears as though the event is already SOLD OUT.

Two bookish art displays now open for viewing at the Pollard

Lowell Women's Week has begun and the "All Our Voices" art exhibit is open for viewing on the first floor landing of our grand staircase. Don't forget to stop by the opening for this exciting community building exhibit tomorrow night from 5-7:30pm in the Ground Floor Meeting Room of the library. This project is made possible by the Massachusetts Cultural Council through the Lowell Cultural Council.

We are also excited to host a display of art books, inspired by the works of Mr. Charles Dickens, created by the talented girls of Girls Inc. of Greater Lowell. These books were created as part of the Dickens in Lowell celebration. The books are on display on the ground floor of the library near the Colburn Street entrance.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Non-Fiction Book Club: Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff, Thursday, April 5, 2012 @ 6:30PM

As a humble moderator, I would like to thank, once again the dedicated and insightful folks comprising the Non Fiction book group for a thoughtful, if somewhat contentious, discussion of James Carroll's memoir An American Requiem. Y'all brought it: perspective and passion. Great work.

It is time, once again to set our sights on another nonfiction gem. This time around, we'll be leaving the nebulous, fact bending world of memoir to enter the better researched emotionally removed neighboring province of biography. Though it is clear, the facts of the life of the figure outlined in the chosen book are certainly shrouded in misconception, bombast, and caricature. I am talking of Cleopatra. And the book—meticulously cobbled together by, Pulitzer Prize winning biographer Stacy Schiff (Vera: Mrs. Vladimir Nabakov)—is Cleopatra: A Life.

As Ms. Schiff outlines in her opening chapter there are only a few actual recorded facts known about Cleopatra. The rest of her story has been written by her enemies or admirers, often decades or lifetimes after her death.
And in the absence of facts, myth rushes in, the kudzu of history. The holes in the record present one hazard, what we have constructed around them another. Affairs of state have fallen away, leaving us with affairs of the heart. A commanding woman versed in politics, diplomacy, and governance; fluent in nine languages; silver-tongued and charismatic, Cleopatra nonetheless seems the joint creation of Roman propagandists and Hollywood directors. ... To restore Cleopatra is as much to salvage the few facts as to peel away the encrusted myth and the hoary propaganda.
Ironically enough, the rights to this myth peeling biography have been bought by film producer Scott Rubin with Angelina Jolie's name being bandied about to play the queen. Ah, Hollywood.

I've posted a video of Ms. Schiff on the Tavis Smiley show talking about her reasons for taking on the task of illuminating the life of this elusive character.

Watch Pulitzer Prize-winning author Stacy Schiff on PBS. See more from Tavis Smiley.