Library ‘Pushing the Limits’ with new science and literature series

Alpena County Library announces a new program entitled Pushing the Limits. Beginning next week and continuing throughout the summer, the four-part series looks at scientific topics using novels.

“The goal is to incorporate science into book discussions of popular fiction works,” said Library Director Eric Magness-Eubank. “It’s a national program, and the impetus is science literacy.”

Magness-Eubank said many adults enjoy reading works of fiction wrapped around modern science. By incorporating both the literary and the science aspects of each book selected for the discussions, participants will gain a greater understanding of various scientific concepts.

“Someone will be there to talk about the science aspects of the books and someone else to talk about the literary aspects,” he said. “Anything that leads to greater exploration is a good thing.”

The first session is set for May 20 at 7 p.m. at the library and will be on the book, “When the Killing’s Done” by T.C. Boyle.” Retired science teacher Jim Schafer will facilitate the science end of things with the first science topic focusing on invasive species.

Even if people haven’t read the book beforehand, there will be a brief summary of it and a clip of Boyle. Schafer’s daughter, who works with invasive species in Antrim County, also will be on hand to talk about phragmites and other invasives. Magness-Eubank plans to handle discussion of the literary aspects of Boyle’s book.

The series is made possible through a $2,000 competitive grant the library recently was awarded for the Pushing the Limits initiative offered in conjunction with the National Science Foundation. Part of the grant funds will be used to purchase copies of the books being discussed and to augment the library’s collection of science materials.

“It’s hard to keep current and up to date with all the new discoveries being made,” Magness-Eubank said of the library’s scientific-related materials. “We thought we would give this program a shot. It’s an experiment for us, and we will see whether it can be a model for future programs.”

The four-part series is as follows:

* May 20 “When the Killing’s Done” by T.C. Boyle with discussion on the science topic of invasive species. Responses to northern Michigan invasive species will be explored.

* June 19 “Arctic Drift” by Clive Cussler with discussion on the science topic of survival, including survival in challenging weather conditions.

* July 10 “The Land of the Painted Caves” by Jean M. Auel with discussion on the science topic of early life on earth.

* July 24 “Thunderstruck” by Eric Larsen with an informal adult science discussion.

All the programs are free and open to the public. For more information, contact the library at 356-6188.