Several years ago, the Lewiston Public Library was the grateful recipient of a million dollar bequest from the estate of John E. Callahan, a local citizen who envisioned the establishment of a publicly accessible venue where people of all backgrounds could gather to explore and celebrate the community’s diverse cultural heritage.

His dream became reality when, in December of 2005, local residents were invited to climb a grand stairway to attend the first of an endless assortment of public programs in the Library’s new Callahan Hall on the third floor. The debut week’s offerings included a multi-media travelogue documenting a Maine folk group’s tour of Tajikistan, a teen coffeehouse showcasing aspiring singer-songwriters and spoken-word artists, and the screening of a silent Charlie Chaplin film with live piano accompaniment.

The Library facility has been bustling with activity ever since, boasting a varied schedule of events such as:

The Great Falls Forum lunch-lecture series, monthly from September through May. The Forum’s new season kicks off on Sept. 17 with Deborah Lipsky and her presentation “Living with Autism: An Insider’s View.”

Folk Dance activities, such as New England contra dancing, French Canadian quadrilles, Irish set dancing, Greek line dancing, polka workshops & more. Upcoming activities include a French Canadian dance soiree featuring the Quebecois band Reveillons on Aug.7 and a contra dance starring local teen fiddlers on Aug. 14.

Literary Events, including author talks, readings, book signings and discussion groups. A three-week discussion series on the book “The Whale and the Supercomputer” (authored by Charles Wohlforth) will begin on Sept. 29, led by Bates College anthropology professor Loring Danforth.

Instructional Workshops on such topics as readers theatre, genealogy, plant identification, animal tracking and more. A group of youngsters is currently immersed in a summer juggling program with plans to take their show on the road to local retirement communities this fall.

Also on the list of past and future arts programs at LPL are musical events such as concerts, coffeehouses & sing-alongs; film screenings, from premieres by young local up-&-coming filmmakers to nationally acclaimed documentaries; and various opportunities for discourse, such as panel discussions, symposiums and community dialogues.

Most LPL programs are offered free of charge or at modest cost, in keeping with the Library’s mission to preserve local history, build community, and enrich the life of the mind.

For a calendar of upcoming activities at the Library, visit the Web site, or contact LPL cultural coordinator Cindy Larock at 513-3050.
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Caption for photo #1: Callahan Hall has been the site of many colorful ethnic music and dance events over the past four years, such as this performance by the Ecuadorean folk troupe Yarina.

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