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Capital In the 21st Century — A Community Conversation

posted: , by Kim Simmons
tags: Programs & Events | Recommended Reads | Adults | Teens | Seniors | Business | Government | News

Thomas Piketty’s book “Capital In the 21st Century” has surprised some by becoming a NYT Bestseller and a Longfellow Books top seller, too!  It is surprising only because the book is long and long on data and we’ve become accustomed to assuming that our public conversations are fueled on tweets rather than tomes.  However, the exploration of wealth and income inequality in society –and in particular, in modern Western societies including the United States — intersects with a lived reality that is sobering, perplexing and requires complex responses.

The Portland Public Library’s “Choose Civility” Initiative and City of Readers’ Team are thrilled to invite economists Susan Feiner and Garrett Martin to help us better understand the data and the arguments made in Picketty’s book and to answer questions about the text.  Our evening will also include ample opportunity for discussion about the book and the ideas raised in it.

If you do not have the book (or time to read the whole thing) there are some great guides and reviews online that provide an overview and some critique:

  • The Financial Times posted an in-depth blog post leveraging critiques about Piketty’s data and data analysis; an interesting back and forth has followed.
  • Bill Moyers posts lots of related links here and provides more resources and analysis regarding the importance of addressing economic inequality here.
  • The New York Times maintains an income inequality topics page.
  • Watch a Cornell roundtable on the book
  • Watch Senator Elizabeth Warren and author Thomas Picketty discuss inequality via MoveOn
  • Read a critique of the book in the Wall Street Journal
  • Read a related book on the topic

Use comments to submit questions for Professor Susan Feiner and economist Garrett Martin ahead of time or come participate in what should be a lively civil conversation regarding our shared economy — June 24th at 6:30pm in Meeting Room 5!

 


Activating Our Hope

posted: , by Kim Simmons
tags: Recommended Reads | Adults | Teens | Seniors | Government

Last month, 9 of us gathered to reflect on Joanna Macy’s ideas presented in the book Active Hope. We began by considering the “spiral of the work that reconnects” and the various stages, including : gratitude, honoring our pain, and seeing with new eyes. The last piece is “going forth” and we left considering our own commitments and ideas for how to bring “active hope” into our lives and our communities.

Some of the ideas for preventing or addressing burn-out that were shared included:

  • – Spend more time outside
  • – Be informed but avoid people who are cynical
  • – The film “A Great Green Fire” was recommended as a provocative overview of the environmental movement – it is available via MaineCat
  • – Engage with arts that promote social change and lift spirits
  • – Ask ourselves, “How can I actually, in some small way… “
  • – Connect in places we’re already connected, including Church, through kids, and in neighborhoods
  • – Engage intergenerationally – consider asking elders to play the role of a steadying force
  • – Have fun while making change
  • – Check out some other resources on this topic (here’s a booklist to start with)
  • – JoAnna Macy’s book World As Lover, World as Self was highly recommended
  • – Learn more about the history of social movements and the “wins” of past movements

Use the comments to share your insights about how to stay hopeful in the face of challenges and stay active in community life.


An invitation to a discussion : “What Is The What”

posted: , by Kim Simmons
tags: Programs & Events | Recommended Reads | Adults | Teens | Seniors | Art & Culture | Government

what is the whatSudan. A country experiencing serious violence now, a country that endured a civil war lasting over 20 years, between 1983-2005.

Valentino Achak Deng shared his story of surviving Sudanese Civil War, refugee camp, and resettlement in the United States with acclaimed author Dave Eggers and Eggers shares the story, in novel form, with all of us in his 2006 book “What Is The What.” While the stories of the “Lost Boys” have changed over the years, “What Is The What” remains an exceptionally important cultural history, narrative of war and survival and the challenges associated with living as a refugee in the United States. Please note: “What is the What” includes vivid descriptions of war related violence and can be a painful – even traumatic – read.

Through a partnership with the Machiah Center and Maine Humanities Council, Portland Public Library welcomes Bates Anthropology Professor Elizabeth Eames to lead a facilitated conversation about the book on June 10th at 6pm. The Machiah Center has provided 25 copies of the book to be checked out and PPL also offers the book as an e-download and audiobook.

To register for the program please sign up at the Reader’s Advisory Desk on the 1st floor of Portland Public Library’s main branch, or sign up with Kim Simmons at  simmons@portland.lib.me.us

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