NEWINGTON - Library staff are expecting hundreds to attend their annual meeting on Sunday,Sept. 22, thanks to a special guest speaker.
Award-winning columnist and humorist Gina Barreca will be the honored guest at the Lucy Robbins Welles Library Board’s 80th annual meeting. The program is scheduled to take place in the atrium from 1-4 p.m. Doors open at 12:30 p.m. and the business meeting will occur before the speaker takes the stage. As of this week, more than 200 people had already registered.
Dr. Barreca is a professor of English at the University of Connecticut, a longtime Hartford Courant columnist, and a bestselling author of more than a dozen books, including “They Used to Call Me Snow White But I Drifted” and “It’s Not That I’m Bitter: How I Learned to Stop Worrying about Visible Panty Lines and Conquer the World.” She has appeared on 20/20, The Today Show, CNN, the BBC, NPR and Oprah to discuss gender, power, politics and humor.
Twenty-five people participated in a book discussion at the library about her most recent title, “If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?”
“I’ve followed her for years; I’m a big fan,” Marlene Patterson said of Barreca. “She’s very relatable in my opinion.”
“I think some of the best comedians are those that are self-effacing,” added Ellen Murthal, another attendee. “That strikes a chord with us. It’s not something you can learn in school; it’s something that comes with life.”
Several readers who attended appeared to be in their twenties or younger, a point raised by one of the older attendees. It sparked some discussion about the relevance of humor to all ages and female mentors.
“It’s interesting that this author can bridge the gap between generations,” said Katie Gantarz, a library staff member.
Continued dialogue teetered between funny excerpts from the book to modern-day politics and feminism.
“If it’s worth crying over, it’s worth laughing at, she says, and that’s a good mindset to have,” pointed out Victoria Buttaro.
Rocky Hill resident Gail Tine noted that “her humor is not putting other people down. She’s not vindictive or mean. That’s what I like.”
Barreca’s upcoming visit is sponsored by the George G. Hanel Fine Arts Series, a LRWL endowment that allows the public to experience special arts programming for free a few times yearly.
The library board usually features a speaker at its annual meeting and Barreca happens to be a strong library supporter. Her visit was booked a year and a half ago.
“It was someone on our board of trustees who reached out to her to see if she’d be interested and she immediately responded favorably, so we were really thrilled about that,” Assistant Library Director Karen Benner explained. “I feel like we’re just so lucky to get her; we’re pretty excited.”
Barreca’s books will be for sale during the program. Call the library at 860-665-8700 to register.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.