Exploring the Sinking of the Titanic on its 100th Anniversary

When e-books entered the market, experts began debating the future of libraries, theorizing that, for libraries to survive, they’d have to become community centers. Because even if paper books were to eventually disappear, the need for community ‘never goes away.’ That’s how Mitchell Kaplan, of independent bookstore “Books & Books” in Miami, explained why he believes indies will continue to survive.

Kaplan’s model, according to John Avlon, is “an expanded version of the old coffeehouse.” Local musicians perform, authors give talks, and “buying a book becomes a backdrop, an essential organic part of the overall experience.”

The Westport Library provides this kind of book lending venue in our town, and the town-wide reading program, WestportREADS, is an expression of this service to the community, bringing us together not only with the book itself but by exploring its implications through additional programs.

This year’s selection, “I Was Amelia Earhart,” also gave us an opportunity to explore an event of historical significance—Earhart’s disappearance in the year we mark its 75th anniversary.

An event of historical significance with a widespread catastrophic outcome also marks a landmark anniversary this year. This April 15 will be the 100th anniversary of the ocean liner’s sinking. Fairfield’s town-wide reading program—One Book, One Town—marks that anniversary with its selection, “The Watch That Ends The Night: Voices From the Titanic.” Described as a novel in verse, Wolf's book presents the viewpoints of 24 different passengers, from John Jacob Astor, socialites, and the captain to lookouts, immigrants, the ship rat, and even the iceberg itself. (Click here to read reviews at goodreads.)

If you’re among the many who are absorbed by the Titanic and its historical implications, the Fairfield library is hosting two programs this week more than worth the short drive up I95.

Monday, March 19 at 7 p.m.

Fairfield residents who had relatives or friends who survived the catastrophe will speak on a panel in the Memorial Room of the Main Library, located at 1080 Old Post Rd.

The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Online registration is available at www.fairfieldpubliclibrary.org, or call 203-256-3160 for more information.

Tuesday, March 20 from 4:15 to 5:15 p.m.

Lauren Tarshis, award-winning author of the “I Survived” series and a Conn. resident, will discuss her research for “I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic, 1912,” told from the perspective of 10-year old George Calder as he attempts to escape the sinking ship. Also on the agenda is a discussion of life now versus then.

The program is recommended for ages 8 through 13 and will take place at the Main Library. Register here for this program,

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