Thursday, December 6, 2012

Smart Shopping and Grass Roots Activism Encouraged at GMO Free Director's College Event

We had a fantastic turnout for the showing of last night's documentary film, Genetic Roulette. As many of our audience members attested, people generally do not know what the harmful effects of GMOs are nor how much they infiltrate our food supply -- as stated in the movie, these organisms are in upwards of 70% of what we eat, leading to an alleged increase in widespread illness and food allergies in our country and abroad.

GMO stands for "genetically modified organism" and is the result of a laboratory process where genes from the DNA of one species are extracted and artificially forced into the genes of an unrelated plant or animal. According to the Institute for Responsible Technology, "Genetically modified foods have been linked to toxic and allergic reactions, sick, sterile, and dead livestock, and damage to virtually every organ studied in lab animals. The effects on humans of consuming these new combinations of proteins produced in GMOs are unknown and have not been studied." But there is enough emerging evidence to concern scientists and to make the information in Genetic Roulette very powerful, eye-opening, and disturbing.

There are a number of organizations around the country working to educate the public and organize a movement to institute measures to protect the consumer, including the proposal of a labeling law that has so far been defeated in the nineteen states that have proposed it. (Connecticut's own attempt was defeated in Spring 2012, but organizations such as GMO Free CT, and GMO Free Hartford are still working with legislators on education and awareness.)

In attendance last night were state rep Brian Becker and state rep-elect Mike Demicco, both of whom encouraged members of the audience to contact their legislators with their concerns on this issue as well as to spread the word amongst their friends, neighbors, and colleagues on the importance of it and the information shared in the film. 

Members from GMO Free CT were also in attendance, offering information on how consumers can protect themselves from GMO-infused foods by choosing organic options or brands whose products are GMO-free.  For a list of these companies and products, follow this link.

The following links also offer information on this important topic as well as ways you can get involved:

Institute for Responsible Technology

Non-GMO Shopping Guide

Non-GMO Project

GMO Free CT on Facebook

GMO Free Hartford on Facebook

GMO Free USA on Facebook

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Trim-A-Tree Party

Lots of fun and musical, The Farmington Choral Group sang Christmas carols and then there was a visit from Santa.  It was a great party with treats for the tummy and decorations to make and music to hear. 

Farmington Libraries will open the Main Library on Sunday afternoons January through March, 2013, from 1:00 to 4:00 pm

Executive Director Jay Johnston says “I am looking forward to opening the main library to our community on Sunday afternoons this winter.”  The Library Board wants to give everyone an opportunity to enjoy the library experience on those cold, dreary winter weekends. The Friends of the Library, with the Farmington Heritage Alliance, will present programs on various historic topics on these winter Sundays. The Friends also plan to host a concert, and the library will present a puppet show and an oral history program. In addition the library is launching a new program to collect two minute video history notes from grandparents and parents answering the question, “What do you want your great grandchildren to know about you?”  These video notes will appear on the library web portal for all to see and learn from.

Johnston reminds the community that the Library Board is providing these additional services in the hope that people can have a better quality of life through the many programs and services that the libraries provide for residents of all ages. As The New York Times reported,  a Pew Study on October 23, 2012 reveals that  over 60% of young Americans frequent libraries; this runs contradictory to the popular notion that libraries are not on the under 30 radar.  See you all at the Library on Sunday!

The Farmington Library is part of the Farmington Village Green and Library Association.  Please contact the library with questions: 860-673-6791, or visit our web site:

For additional event notices, please follow the Farmington Libraries on Facebook:, or Twitter:!/FarmlibCT.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Director's College Event - Genetic Roulette: Documentary Film and Discussion on the Dangers of GMOs

On Wednesday, December 5, the Farmington Libraries will show the documentary, “Genetic Roulette,” a film by Jeffrey M. Smith and narrated by Lisa Oz. It is a production of the Institute for Responsible Technology. Following the film, nutritionist Beth Beisel will also be on hand for an informational and intellectual discussion about the dangers of GMOs. The event is sponsored by GMO Free CT.

This event will take place at 7pm at the main library at 6 Monteith Drive. 

When the US government ignored repeated warnings by its own scientists and allowed untested genetically modified (GM) crops into our environment and food supply, it was a gamble of unprecedented proportions. The health of all living things and all future generations were put at risk by an infant technology. After two decades, physicians and scientists have uncovered a grave trend. The same serious health problems found in lab animals, livestock, and pets that have been fed GM foods are now on the rise in the US population. And when people and animals stop eating genetically modified organisms (GMOs), their health improves.

This seminal documentary provides compelling evidence to help explain the deteriorating health of Americans, especially among children, and offers a recipe for protecting ourselves and our future. The main feature film Genetic Roulette is 85 minutes.

Advance registration is required for this program. Please call 860-673-6791 for details or register through the library’s web site by using this link

The Farmington Library is part of the Farmington Village Green and Library Association.  If you have special needs to attend library programs, contact the library in advance.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Holocaust Stories Told from Two Perspectives

 This morning, the Farmington Libraries hosted Henny Markiewicz Simon and Ben Cooper to share their firsthand accounts of their respective experiences with the Nazi Concentration Camps from World War II.  To say they were survivors of their circumstances would not begin to describe their acts of bravery, heroism, and perseverance to overcome the horrors they experienced and witnessed over their prolonged roles in the war. It was an extraordinary opportunity to hear this living history from Henny, a Holocaust survivor, and Ben, a combat medic who took part in the liberation of the Dachau Concentration Camp as assigned with the 45th Infantry Division. Their stories were emotional, humbling, and inspirational and, as intended with this annual Krystallnacht program, commemorated the human spirit's ability to overcome persecution. 

Here are a few photos from the event:
A full house attends in rapt silence as Henny Markiewicz Simon retells her story -- from the day the Nazis came and took her and her mother away to their first ghetto, to her brush with Eduard Roschmann, known as the "Butcher of Riga," to the day when the Russians came and liberated the camp where she had been confined.

Ben Cooper displayed a number of artifacts collected during his tours in Italy, France, and Germany. This memorabilia included some of his standard issue gear: a canteen, meal set, rucksack, helmet (and lining), a German helmet, his own medical bag and a leather medical bag he took off a German medic-turned-prisoner.  Above, Ben wears the medic helmet issued to him. The cross on the front had to be painted off-center: the Germans used the cross as a target. Moving the target off-center was to help decrease the possibility of fatal wounds in the event of a direct hit. His most prized memento: The yellow Jewish star given to him by a Frenchman after the war was over.
State Representative Brian Becker helps Ben unfurl a Nazi flag, which Ben removed from the Nazi Party Headquarters in Munich.  He later learned that Adolph Hitler had kept an apartment in this building.

Attendees surround Ben Cooper at the end of his talk.  The picture imposed on the screen in the background is of a young Private Cooper, packed and ready to go home after four years of fighting a long, ugly, evil war across Europe.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

6th Annual Kristallnacht Lecture With Ben Cooper and Henny Markiewicz Simon

On Monday, November 19, 2012, at 10:00 a.m., the Farmington Libraries will host its sixth annual Kristallnacht lecture with speakers Ben Cooper and Henny Markiewicz Simon. This year the program features the dual telling of stories from World War II and the Nazi concentration camps—one from the perspective of a German Holocaust survivor and one from an American combat medic who helped in the liberation of the Dachau Concentration Camp.

Henny Markiewicz Simon was born and raised in Hanover, Germany, and is a Holocaust survivor. Her father was able to immigrate to Shanghai, China, but she and her mother were not allowed to follow. Her mother was eventually murdered by the Nazis. Mrs. Simon was imprisoned and later liberated in Poland, where she met her future husband. They were married in August 1945 and on Thanksgiving 1949, she and her family moved to the United States where they bought a farm in Colchester, CT. In 1976, her husband passed away and she went back to school to obtain her GED, a level of schooling denied to her as a Jew in Nazi Germany. She remarried in 1981 and helped her husband run his manufacturing business. He passed away in 2001. Since 1986 she has been speaking at schools and other facilities about her life before, during, and after the Holocaust. 

Ben Cooper was born in Avon, CT and is a lifelong resident of West Hartford. He was drafted into the army in September 1942, at which time he was sent to Camp Barkeley, TX, for medical training.  In 1944, he married Dorothy Zaitlin and was shipped out to Naples, Italy in September of that year, where he was assigned to the 45th infantry division as a combat medic. He served in France and Germany and took part in the liberation of Dachau Concentration Camp with his outfit. Since 1990 he has been speaking to high school and college students as well as civic groups. He lost his wife in 2009 after sixty-five years of marriage.

Kristallnacht, also referred to as the Night of Broken Glass, was a series of coordinated attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria on November 9-10, 1938. German authorities looked on as SA paramilitary and civilians carried out these attacks and covered the streets with broken glass from the windows of Jewish-owned stores, buildings, and synagogues. At least 91 Jews were killed in the attacks, and a further 30,000 arrested and incarcerated in concentration camps. Jewish homes, hospitals, and schools were ransacked, over 1,000 synagogues were burned, and over 7,000 Jewish businesses were destroyed or damaged. This annual event at the Farmington Libraries commemorates the human spirit’s ability to overcome such persecution.  

This program is free and open to the public and will take place at 10:00 a.m. at the Farmington main library located at 6 Monteith Drive.  Please contact the library to pre-register: 860-673-6791, or visit our web site:

If you have special needs in order to attend this program please contact the library in advance. The Farmington Library is part of the Farmington Village Green and Library Association. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Director’s College Event: The War of 1812 in Connecticut

On Saturday, November 17, Dr. Glenn S. Gordinier, Robert G. Albion Historian & Co-Director of the Munson Institute at the Mystic Seaport and Visiting Professor of History at the University of Connecticut, will speak at the Farmington Libraries. This event is sponsored by the Sarah Whitman Hooker DAR, the Farmington Historical Society, and the Farmington Libraries.  The topic of his talk is The War of 1812 in Connecticut. A reception sponsored by the Farmington Historical Society will immediately follow the lecture. Copies of the book, The Rockets’ Red Glare: The War of 1812 and Connecticut will be available for purchase for $18 each with Dr. Gordinier available for signing. 

The war that inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the poem that later became our national anthem is not one that lives vividly in public memory. To remind us why this war mattered—and why Connecticut residents initially objected to what they saw as an unconstitutional act of military aggression by the US against Great Britain—five museums and historical societies have collaborated on “The Rockets’ Red Glare,” Connecticut and the War of 1812. The companion volume to the exhibition, The Rockets’ Red Glare: The War of 1812 and Connecticut (New London County Historical Society, 2012) by Glenn Gordinier et al., provides a broader focus than the exhibit by placing Connecticut’s involvement within the larger framework of the war and international affairs.

Supported in part by a major grant from Connecticut Humanities, the exhibition draws together artifacts from each of the partners: the Stonington Historical Society, Mystic Seaport, the New London County Historical Society, the New London Maritime Society, and the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, as well as items from other museums and private collections. “The Rockets’ Red Glare,” Connecticut and the War of 1812 will be on view at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum from July 6, 2012 through December 2012.

Advance registration is required for this program. Please call 860-673-6791 for details or register through the library’s web site at The event will take place at 1:00 p.m. in the Hoppin Gallery of the Barney Library at 71 Main Street.

The Farmington Library is part of the Farmington Village Green and Library Association.  If you have special needs to attend library programs, contact the library in advance.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Director's College Event: Witchcraft in Colonial America

On Wednesday, October 24, Dr. Richard S. Ross, College Librarian at Trinity College, will speak at the Farmington Libraries. The topic of his talk is Witchcraft in Colonial America

Witchcraft in colonial America is often associated with the hysteria of the Salem Witch Trials, but the first witch trial and execution in colonial America actually took place in Connecticut in the mid-17th century. In this talk, Dr. Ross will discuss the origin and background of witchcraft beliefs on the continent (sometimes called diabolical witchcraft) and its influence in England and later in New England. These beliefs helped to precipitate what has been called the “Hartford Witch Panic” that took place in 1662/1663 and led to the trials and hangings of three witches in Hartford, Connecticut, including Mary Barnes of Farmington. 

Richard S. Ross is College Librarian and Professor at Trinity College, in Hartford Connecticut. He holds a PhD in history from Boston College and a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science from Simmons College. His areas of scholarly interest include 19th and 20th century German history; 19th century Prussian administrative history and public health with special emphasis on the pre-March era, epidemic disease in history, European economic and social history from the early modern period, and European and Colonial American witchcraft with special emphasis on continental European and English demonological tracts.

The Director’s College is a relatively new series at the Farmington Libraries, the aim of which is to present interesting and intellectual programs for our community. These events strive to cover a wide range of areas including, but not limited to, professorial lectures with audience participation, performing arts with give-and-take, travelogues, and music series.

 Advance registration is required for this program. Please call 860-673-6791 for details or register online. For more information, please view library’s web site at The event will take place at 7:00 p.m. in the Community Room of the main library at 6 Monteith Drive. 

The Farmington Library is part of the Farmington Village Green and Library Association.  If you have special needs to attend library programs, contact the library in advance