Learning Series

The Friends of Eldredge Public Library sponsors a fall and spring learning series each year. It is a program of enlightening and entertaining courses open to the public at a suggested donation of $10 per course.  All net proceeds are used by the Friends of the EPL to support the Library.

Registration is required.   To register online and donate by credit card or Paypal, click here. If you prefer to donate by check and to either mail in or drop off your registration at the library, please click here to get the registration form.  

Classes will take place at the Eldredge Public Library,  with the exception of The Music of Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael and The Empire of the Athenians programs, which will take place at the Chatham Community Center.

For further information contact the committee at learningseries@eldredgelibrary.org or call the library at 508 945 5170

Spring 2023 Learning Series


The Irish Monks: A Light in the Darkness

THREE SESSIONS:     Mondays, 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon     March 6, 13 and 20

Drawing on their extensive travels and interest in Irish culture, Bob and Joanna Noonan will take you on a journey back to a time when Western Civilization hung by a thread on a few remote islands off the coast of Ireland and Scotland.   They will explore the holy isles of Skellig-Michael, Iona and Lindisfarne and other monastic sites where Irish monks kept literacy and Western culture alive while developing and spreading their own unique form of Celtic Christianity.  They will examine the history and also tell the tales that the Irish monks inscribed in their manuscripts - tales of saints and mythical Celtic heroes. 

Bob and Joanna Noonan are retired educators who have made multiple journeys to Ireland and Scotland and spent many years exploring the literature, music, and art of Ireland.   Bob is a trained historian with a doctorate from Rutgers.

Nature’s Symphony

ONE SESSION:     Wednesday, 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon     March 15 

Ever wonder how the symphony orchestra and specifically music come from nature?  Did you know that birds and whales sing in the same key every time?  The Zebra finch learns to sing from his father and that happens within the first 35 days of life.  If he is not exposed to song he will never learn. Learn this from George Scharr and many other fun facts about music and how it relates to us as humans with lots of images and videos.

George Scharr currently plays bass trombone for the Cape Symphony Orchestra. He is the Chair of the Arts Department, Director of Orchestra and the Advanced Jazz Band at Falmouth Academy. A graduate of the New England Conservatory, he is founder and conductor of the Symphony Swing Band and the Downtown Dixie Strutters.  

Toward Achieving Wildlife Conservation: A More Effective Path

TWO SESSIONS:     Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon     March 29 and April 5

Wildlife expert and conservationist, Herb Raffaele, presents the argument of his latest book, Revoyage of the Mayflower: Social Values- Conservation’s Driving Force, on how nature conservation can be achieved more effectively in the future by focusing on community values.   Having learned much through his exposure to conservation efforts around the world from small remote communities to grand international treaties, he lays out a 9-point framework for effectively achieving conservation.

Dr. Herb Raffaele’s career spanned over five decades in wildlife conservation from field biologist in Puerto Rico to Chief of the Division of International Conservation at the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  He has led global efforts to conserve endangered species such as tigers, elephants, gorillas, and sea turtles.

Challenging Borders: A Documentary Film Series

 THREE SESSIONS:     Mondays, 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.     April 3,10 and 24

In this course, documentary films will be used to help us enter the lives of immigrants struggling, making their way, and triumphing against the odds in a new country. In their stories we will find admirable examples of the creative imagination, the pluck, and the entrepreneurial spirit that sustains them. 

A long-time and favorite presenter for the Learning Series, Carol Yindra loves to view, explore, and share films she has discovered with others.

The Empire of the Athenians

TWO SESSIONS:     Thursdays, 7:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.     April 6 and 13

During much of the Golden Age of Ancient Greece, Athens held the pre-eminent position among the various city-states of the Greek peninsula and held sway over an extensive grouping of island cities and other maritime populations.  This offering will explore the rise of Athens to the hegemony of Greece, and its precipitous decline, while touching on her original and inestimable political and cultural contributions to Western civilization.

Dean P. Nicastro is a Chatham resident with a long-standing fascination for the classical world.  A graduate of Harvard Law School and an attorney by profession, he has practiced both public and private sector law, most notably serving as Massachusetts Assistant Attorney General, Quincy City Solicitor, and Massachusetts Medical Society Vice President & General Counsel.  He is also in his seventh year as a Chatham Select Board member and serves as the board’s liaison to the Library.  A classics major at Harvard College, he taught Greek and Latin at Boston College High School.

Taming of the Shrew 

 FOUR SESSIONS:     Mondays, 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon     April 10, 24 and May 1, 8

One of Shakespeare’s earliest and most rollicking comedies, The Taming of the Shrew is today one of his most controversial, raising questions about women’s roles in society, the age-old battle of the sexes, and the institution of marriage in Elizabethan and contemporary times. We will look at these aspects from both dramatic and historical perspectives and consider the play in light of Shakespeare’s continuing development as a dramatist.

Kerry Brown, Ph.D., University of Delaware, taught Shakespeare to high school students for 45 years and more recently to adults for many years at the Eldredge Public Library and Snow Library.

World War II in the Far East

FOUR SESSIONS:     Tuesdays, 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon     April 11, 18, 25 and May 2

This course will trace the evolution of Japanese expansionism from the Meiji Restoration (1898), the "insult" to the officers of the Imperial Japanese Navy by the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922, to the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937 (the true beginning of World War II), the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and the subsequent naval and land war in Asia and the Pacific.

Michael McNaught earned BA and MA degrees from Oxford University (where he specialized in Military History and the Theory of War) and an MA from Columbia. He was a schoolteacher and administrator for 44 years. Now retired, he lectures extensively around Cape Cod.

Women in the History of Music

FOUR SESSIONS:     Wednesdays, 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon     April 12, 19, 26 and May 3

Joe Marchio will lead us on an exploration of classical music, tracing the role of women from the time of the ancient Greeks to the present day.   From the Middle Ages he highlights Hildegard von Bingen, abbess, polymath and one of the first named composers of either gender. From the romantic period, he brings Clara Schumann and Fanny Mendelssohn out of the shadows of their better-known male counterparts.    Joe brings to life these and other women composers through the stories of their lives and analysis of selections of their music.

Joe Marchio currently serves as music director of the Chatham Chorale and pastor of First Congregational Church in Chatham. He has performed as an organist throughout the United States and Europe and has also taught Learning Series courses for many years in addition to a number of other Cape venues.

The Music of Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael

THREE SESSIONS:     Thursdays, 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.     April 20, 27 and May 4

Always popular John Whelan is back with another musical review. This time it is the songs of Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael.  Some of the greatest songs of all time were written by Johnny Mercer and Hoagy Carmichael.  They wrote a few together and a great number with other writers. Their songs will continue John’s exploration of the Great American Songbook.

John Whelan has been teaching classes at both the Eldredge and Snow libraries for many years, always to rave reviews, and this year will surely be no exception. John is a retired stockbroker, writes a monthly column for the Cape Cod Chronicle, and is the author of several books, including I am of Cape Cod.

Edgar Degas: Impressionism with Distinction

ONE SESSION:     Tuesday, 10:30 a.m. to 12 noon     May 9

Like other Impressionist painters, Degas was intrigued by the challenge of capturing the effects of light, a moment in time, and was attracted to scenes of urban leisure. But his academic training, and his own preference toward realism, set him apart from his Impressionist peers.   He painted and sculpted his subjects – the ballet, the races, women at their toilette - from multiple points of view, with contrasts of lighting and an emphasis on the precision of movement.

Beth Stein is a retired educator who developed award-winning programs in art education for her students and since retiring to the Cape has entertained her adult audience with a wide array of presentations on modern masters.

The Future of Local News

ONE SESSION:    Wednesday, 10:30 a.m.  to 12:00 noon    May 10

Thousands of local newspapers have closed recently leaving millions of Americans without a reliable source of local news and depriving communities of a critical tool for exposing wrongdoing and promoting civic engagement. Many of those left have laid off reporters and reduced coverage and circulation. The Cape Cod Chronicle thrives, recently expanding coverage to include Chatham, Harwich, Orleans and Brewster.  How are local news decisions made, what are the challenges of local reporting and how can citizens engage in this effort?  Editor Tim Wood and Executive Editor Alan Pollock will lead a panel discussion and answer questions on this critical topic.

Tim Wood began working at The Cape Cod Chronicle in July 1982 in the production department. He began writing feature stories and eventually became a full-time reporter and was promoted to editor in 1998.

Summer Shakespeare Festivals Around America

ONE SESSION:     Monday, 10:30 to 12:00 noon     May 15

Chatham’s fledgling Shakespeare in the Park festival, which this summer will feature the Bard’s comedies Much Ado About Nothing and As You Like It, builds on a long tradition of such celebrations.  Alan Rust will highlight Chatham’s entry into this lively venue, while Directors Layman and James will speak about some of the challenges and delights of staging their upcoming midsummer productions outdoors in Kate Gould Park in Chatham.

Alan Rust is a professional actor and theatre educator.  He was artistic director of the Monomoy Theatre in Chatham for 39 years, directing and acting in many of the 300 productions under his leadership. Terry Layman has acted in NYC on and off Broadway, at theatres from Florida to Alaska and on many TV shows.    Francesca James is the recipient of 5 Daytime Emmys for her work as an actress, director, and producer of several daytime dramas.  Both were also involved with the Monomoy Theater for many years.