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Library highlights diversity
By Julie A. VarugheseNorwich Bulletin, April 30, 2007

NORWICH --Brown was the word of the day at Otis Library.

And laughter was the response to some of the plays-on-words recited at a poetry reading Sunday at the newly renovated Otis Library.

"There were so many educated liberal browns, I thought that there had been some kind of going out of business clearance sale on diplomas for browns," poet Jose Gonzalez recited from his poem, "Autobrownography."

The poem recounts his experience as a Latino who is misunderstood as he goes through different stages in life.

The event, "Poems: A Celebration of Diversity," drew community leaders, poetry fans and winners of the Otis Library 2007 Poetry Contest who recited poems written by famous poets of color, including Langston Hughes, Martin Espada, and others.

Montville resident John Deveau, in the context of the event's message, said he is concerned about the attitudes toward people of different backgrounds expressed by some who are native to the region.

"I find that there's still a long way to go," he said. "People have a hard time accepting where we're at, but we're on the right track.

The event was the final one held at the library before it opened its doors this morning to the city's book lovers. For two years, the library was housed across the way on Cliff Street while the current site underwent renovations.

One of the biggest changes to the library is the size of the children's department on the second floor, which features a large storytime and crafts room, equipped with a patterned carpet, child-size chairs and puppets.

City Alderman Jacqueline Caron, who recited two poems by Hughes, said a library encompasses the diversity of a city.

"A library, I think, is a community for everybody and anybody. For people to be able to come and learn about the world," she said. "They say Norwich is the rose of New England, and if that's the case, Otis Library is a bouquet of flowers, so to speak."

 

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