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.  There are no refunds unless the course is cancelled.

All courses will take place at the Eldredge Public Library.

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

Spring 2024 Learning Series


Canterbury Confidential: The Story Behind the Tales

THREE SESSIONS:  10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.  Mondays March 11, 18, 25

Perhaps one of the most influential authors in all of English literature, Geoffrey Chaucer and his The Canterbury Tales have left an indelible mark on our language and our storytelling - but many of us haven't had the opportunity to spend some time with the man who defied and defined conventions.  Mike McCartney will take a peek at his life - as the son of a vintner who may have been a spy but certainly married above his station and had a granddaughter who was a duchess - and at his masterpiece.  In exploring the work, he will dip into the wildly inappropriate “Millers Tale” and “Reeves Tale”.  He will then look at his most daring and dark stories including “The Wife of Bath” and “The Prioress Tale.”

 Mike McCartney is the Circulation Supervisor at the Eldredge Public Library. He earned his undergraduate degree at Moravian University in Pennsylvania and his MA from Middlebury College's Bread Loaf School of English. He also spent considerable time studying at Oxford, particularly at the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. He was Chair of English and Fine Arts at the Maine School of Science and Mathematics and was recognized as both a County Teacher of the Year and a Maine State Teacher of the Year Semifinalist.


Mind Games We Should Play - This program has been cancelled

ONE SESSION: 10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Wednesday March 13  

We are all familiar with the wide variety of games that have captivated players young and old for generations.  We have a special fondness for these games, not just for the familiarity and nostalgia they provide but also for their numerous mental and social benefits.  A great deal of thought and skill goes into playing games, making them excellent exercises for the mind.  We will explore some very familiar games and their history as well as introduce you to a few new ones that will keep us thinking both critically and creatively.

Donna Todd Rivers is the founder of Mah Jongg Cape Cod with the sole goal of sharing the fun, fascinating and sometimes challenging game of Mah Jongg.  When she is not teaching Mah Jongg, she is the Director of Business Development at Maplewood Senior Living and a Certified Dementia Practitioner.  Her passion for Mah Jongg ( and other games) and her commitment to helping teach others how to remain “mind strong”  comes  together as she shares the numerous mind and social benefits of the games we play and why we should play them more as we age.

The Heroic Sounds of John Williams

TWO SESSIONS:  1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Mondays March 18 and 25 

In this two-part course, Scharr poses the question of why Williams' music is so successful. Scharr considers Williams a modern-day Mozart and almost single-handedly is responsible for keeping the symphony orchestra present in today’s ever-changing culture. To answer it, he will cover Williams’ career from pianist for Henry Mancini to his television theme songs and collaborations with Steven Spielberg on the big screen.

In class one he will examine Mr. Williams’ life from early childhood through his music education and travels to the west coast, ending in his film career with Steven Spielberg some 94 films later. Class two will find us listening to and analyzing Mr. Williams’ music compositional techniques. How does he make us feel afraid just before the shark attacks? Why does “Raiders” music sound so heroic and inspiring? 

George Scharr is the Arts Chair and Music Director at Falmouth Academy and former Education Director of the Cape Cod Symphony. A trombonist and conductor, Scharr also led the Symphony Swing Band for over a decade. 


College Sports - A New Game and Business

TWO SESSIONS. 1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Wednesdays March 20 and April 3

Recent court decisions have given student-athletes the right to be compensated for the use of their names, images, and likenesses. Additionally, rules governing transfers for student-athletes from one school to another have been significantly relaxed. As a result, college sports are going through dramatic changes on and off the field. 

In Part I of this course, Brad Joyal, Sports reporter for the Cape Cod Chronicle and Boston Globe correspondent, will provide background and insight on the rule changes and their impact on student-athletes, coaches, recruiting and retention, competition, and the big business of college sports.

Part II will focus on the impact of these changes on the Cape Cod Baseball League and, in particular, the challenges the Chatham Anglers face in this new era of college sports. Chatham General Manager Mike Geylin will cover the steps in developing a CCBL roster, the challenges involved, and how things have changed over the course of his ten years as General Manager of the Anglers.


Astronomy: What You Can See and Beyond 

TWO SESSIONS: 2:30 - 4:00 pm Thursday March 21 and Tuesday March 26

 Photographing the Night Sky on Cape Cod   Thursday March 21, 2:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Dive into the cosmic realm of Astrophotography with our host, Jamison Smith, amateur astrophotographer and science teacher at Thayer Academy in Braintree, MA. From mesmerizing star trails to the ethereal beauty of the Milky Way and the intricate details of lunar photography, he will delve into the techniques, equipment, and planning needed to embark on your own cosmic photography adventure -- all from locations around Cape Cod. Whether you're a seasoned sky enthusiast or a complete novice, this session is designed to guide you through every step of the process—from selecting equipment to planning your shots. No prior experience required—just bring your curiosity and a passion for exploring the universe through the lens.

Jamison Smith has been teaching AP Physics & Astronomy at Thayer Academy since 2008, where he also manages the Academy’s Cahall Observatory.  Mr. Smith has a B.A. in Physics from Cornell University and an M.Ed. from Harvard University.

The Big Bang – In the Beginning   Tuesday March 26, 2:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

The story of the Universe's origins is perhaps the most fascinating story in modern science. The Big Bang is the scientific theory that describes the origins of all space, time, matter and energy approximately 13.7 billion years ago from the violent expansion of a singular point of extremely high density and temperature.  Physicist James Lynch will explore the complex science that underlies this theory in a way that makes it accessible to laymen.  He will touch on how the new WEBB telescope has added new information about the early years of the universe.

 Dr. James Lynch is a scientist emeritus in applied ocean physics and engineering at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He has a B.S. from Stevens Institute of Technology and a PhD in Physics from University of Texas, Austin.  He has been an amateur astronomer all his life and is President of the Cape Cod Astronomical Society.

: Stories of James Joyce’s Ireland

FOUR SESSIONS: 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Mondays April 1, 8, 22 and 29

In the first years of the twentieth century, James Joyce composed the stories of Dubliners to arouse “the indifferent public” and thereby advance “the course of civilization in Ireland.” He did not succeed. What Joyce did achieve is a literary work that is among the best known and most highly-regarded collections of short fiction written in English. Long overshadowed by Joyce’s great, later novels, these stories reward careful reading and rereading. More than a century after first publication, Dubliners still offers an abundance of literary creativity, psychological insights both individual and social, and unparalleled pleasure. The classes will begin with a brief presentation, and the bulk of the time together will center on dialogue and conversation among course members. The recommended text is James Joyce, Dubliners, Penguin Classics.    

 Joseph Auciello has been an English teacher and department head in public and private schools and is a published journalist on literature, education and politics.


The Wyeths:  Three Generations of Talent

TWO SESSIONS: 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Wednesdays April 3 and 10

For admirers of the art of the Wyeth Family, NC Wyeth is ‘the great illustrator,’ the man with as much gusto as the swashbucklers he painted.  Andrew is ‘the painter of old barns.’ and many an admirer has said that if Andrew could see a broken gate or window, he would paint it.  Jamie Wyeth paints animals in interesting poses and bucolic settings.  NC is acclaimed for his accuracy of historical detail, Andrew for the detail itself, and James for the lushness of his paint.  These artists depict easily recognizable things, but there is a greater depth to their art– the art of NC, his son and grandson has been deeply affected by both cultural and historical events in American national life.  To discover their unique visions, join Beth Stein as she looks at the traditions they share, at the life of their family, and the influences upon it.

Beth Stein has been educating adult audiences on the lives and works of famous artists for the past fifteen years on Cape Cod and in New Jersey. She received her BS in education from Indiana University, MA in history from Seton Hall University and MA in administration from Montclair State University.


 Local Photography and Colors of Chatham  

ONE SESSION:  10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Tuesday April 9

Barry Desilets will talk about his journey to Chatham and becoming a professional photographer. He will show scenes from the Chatham area with background history and details on the images. You'll see things in a different light and surely learn something about the area that you never knew. 

Barry Desilets went to Westfield State University, studied criminal justice and became a police officer in Uxbridge, Massachusetts.   After five years as a police officer, he left law enforcement and went into sales.  He remained in sales until he launched a new career as a photographer after he moved to Chatham with his wife and opened up The Colors of Chatham Gallery on Main Street in Chatham. 

The Life and Music of Frank Sinatra

THREE SESSIONS: 1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.   Wednesdays April 17, 24 and May 1

Frank Sinatra recorded about 1300 songs during his long career and that number does not count any songs he recorded multiple times. His concerts were legendary as was his film career. Frank experienced a number of ups and downs in his life, but throughout all the turmoil he was able to deliver great music.  We will focus on the highlights of his life, his films and his incredible number of great songs.

John Whelan 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. Peter Gaines has been entertaining Library fans at the piano for the last three years.


The Great Maestros and the Art of Conducting

FOUR SESSIONS:  1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. Mondays April 22, 29 and May 6, 13

Conductor Joe Marchio will lead a course on not only the art of conducting but the great conductors, their lives, and their performances. Using many video clips, he will explore the range, history, and the variety of styles of great conductors.  From the legendary maestros Arturo Toscanini and Herbert von Karajan to the stars of today, Gustavo Dudamel, Sir Simon Rattle, Marin Alsop and others, he will demonstrate how they shape the sound and style of classical music.  One full day will be devoted to the first great American conductor, Leonard Bernstein, the subject of the current movie, “Maestro”.    

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


The Great Ponzi Scheme

ONE SESSION:  10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Wednesday May 8

 “I will pay you 50% return on your money in 45 days promised Charles Ponzi in 1920 to the people of Boston. To thousands the promise sounded like manna from heaven, and they gave him over $10,000,000. Then the manna turned to cardboard and their life’s savings were gone. Everyone has heard the term “Ponzi Scheme” because of Bernie Madoff and other recent fraudsters. But do you really know what it means? How did it operate? Who was the man whose name lives on in infamy?

 Bob Ainsworth, based on the research for his soon to be released mystery novel, will track and describe the meteoric rise and fall of Charles Ponzi from Italy through Boston to his penniless demise.  Last fall Bob presented the very popular Learning Series program, “The Heist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.”    He has a BS in Accounting from Boston College, an MBA in Finance from Northeastern University and is a CPA. He worked in corporate accounting as a CFO and Controller and has taught accounting.


The Cape Cod Shakespeare Festival in Chatham

ONE SESSION: 1:30 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.  Monday June 3 

The Cape Cod Shakespeare Festival in Chatham is heading into its third season in Kate Gould Park this summer, featuring the world's most enduring love story, ROMEO AND JULIET, and one of the most magical comedies, THE TEMPEST.  The company with include many of the Festival's favorite actors from past seasons, along with exciting new talent.  The trio of Alan Rust, Terry Layman and Bernard Cornwell will go behind the scenes, sharing their backstage preparations and skills needed to produce the Festival, which has already become a beloved Chatham summer tradition.

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 On Broadway, Off -Broadway, and at theatres from Florida to Alaska. He has also appeared on both daytime and nighttime TV shows. He acted and directed at the Monomoy Theatre in Chatham for 20 summers. Bernard Cornwell appeared on the Monomoy Theatre stage in Chatham for over a decade. Born in London, he had a career in British television. He began writing and is now the author of over fifty novels. He performed a cameo role in the third season of The Last Kingdom,​a Netflix Original series based on his books.


The Future of Our Democracy

TWO SESSIONS: 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Wednesday June 5 and Monday June 10

 The Status of Democracy and the Rule of Law in 2024   Wednesday June 5, 10:30 a.m. - 12 p.m

Former Attorney General Scott Harshbarger will lead a discussion of the strength and fragility of American democracy and the rule of law in this year of presidential and congressional elections. He will consider the impact of the Republican-led House, a divided Congress, the economy and inflation, the multiple pending trials of the former president (but likely Republican Nominee), the wars in Ukraine and Gaza, and the Border issues and Culture Wars. He will also consider recent and pending decisions of the Supreme Court, the resurgence of focus on state and local government, and the impact of social media.  The Bottom Line/penultimate question is: Are we confident that we can weather the storm and that “It Can’t Happen Here”? Or will “things fall apart; the Center cannot hold” (W.B. Yeats)?

Scott Harshbarger served as Attorney General of Massachusetts from 1991 to 1998. In 1998 he was the Democratic nominee for Governor of Massachusetts and lost a close race to Acting Governor Paul Cellucci. He was the national president of Common Cause and is now Senior Counsel at Casner and Edwards in Boston and co-founder and chair of Lawyers Defending American Democracy. (LDAD.org)

Parliamentary Democracy    Monday June 10, 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Americans face increasingly stark choices each presidential election and a growing sense that our government can't solve the nation's most urgent challenges. Our eighteenth-century system is ill suited to our twenty-first-century world. Information-age technology has undermined our capacity to face common problems together and turned our democracy upside down, with gerrymanders letting representatives choose voters rather than voters choosing them. In Parliamentary America, Maxwell L. Stearns argues that the solution to these complex problems is a parliamentary democracy. He proposes three amendments--expanding the House of Representatives, having House party coalitions choose the president, and letting the House end a failing presidency based on no confidence—that will produce a robust multiparty democracy.

Maxwell L. Stearns is the Venable, Baetjer & Howard Professor of Law at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law. He has authored dozens of articles and several books on the Constitution, the Supreme Court, and the economic analysis of law.