Tuesday February 8, 2011

LANESBOROUGH -- It's been 150 years since the first shots that started the Civil War were fired, but its history and effects are just as gripping and relevant today.

"The causes of the Civil War are still with us: states' rights versus federal rights, racism, the role of the president in times of war, violent disagreements between people who are actually related to each other but who hold different values," said Prudy Barton, a trustee of the Lanesborough Public Library and librarian of Lanesborough Elementary School.

The public library and school are hosting the town's first "Lanesborough Reads" program, which focuses on the Pulitzer Prize-winning Civil War-era novel "Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara.

The program is supported, in part, by the Friends of the Lanesborough Library and a grant from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and runs through May 15.

"It's a good way to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the U.S. Civil War. But one of our other main purposes for doing this is to let people know that there's a nice little library in town and we want to bring the community together," said Kacy Westwood, chairwoman of the Lanesborough Public Library Board of Trustees.

February brings screenings from Ken Burns' "The Civil War" television documentary series, and a talk on Civil War and African-American icon the Rev. Samuel Harrison of Pittsfield.

The town library also has about 50 copies of Shaara's book to loan.

"It's also a way to look back at Lanesborough's participation in the war," Barton said. "130 men went to war from Lanesborough out of a population that was only about 1,300."

If you go

What: Lanesborough Reads, a townwide event commemorating the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War, featuring the reading of "Killer Angels," a novel by Michael Shaara. All events are free and open to the public.

Events

* Thursday, Feb. 10: Screening of the first of nine segments of director Ken Burns' "The Civil War," a television documentary series, 6:30 p.m., Community Room, Lanesborough Town Hall, 83 N. Main St./Route 7 North.

* Wednesday, Feb. 16: Book discussion of "Killer Angels," 7 p. m., Lanesborough Public Library, located behind Town Hall.

* Thursday, Feb. 24: Screening of second segment of "The Civil War," 6:30 p.m., Community Room, Lanesborough Town Hall.

* Sunday, Feb. 27: Blayne Whitfield talks at 2 p.m. on Pittsfield's the Rev. Samuel Harrison, chaplain of the Massachusetts 54th Regiment, the first all-black infantry to fight in the Civil War, Lanesborough Public Library. Other upcoming events: A March 20 concert of Civil War-era music by Wintergreen; other talks on related topics, screenings of the Burns series; and a community social and dance on May 15, featuring the band Spare Parts.

Prudy Barton's recommended books for young readers: "Climbing Lincoln's Steps" by Suzanne Slade; "Civil War on Sunday" from the Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborne; "Eyewitness: Civil War" by John E. Stanchak; and "The Civil War for Kids" by Janis Herbert.

For more information: Visit the library. It's open Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 2 to 7 p.m.; Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Also find information online at www.lanesborough-ma.gov and on Facebook, or call (413) 442-0222.