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Author Marjan Kamali
Author Marjan Kamali

Since 1973, the Friends has presented an annual program series to educate and enrich the public and to encourage meaningful civic dialogue. Our programs may include lectures, author readings, demonstrations, performances and recitals. In addition to producing events of interest to adults, we underwrite programs for children that are produced by the library staff.

Each year, a committee of volunteers selects and organizes the adult series, which typically begins in the fall and ends with our annual meeting in June. Many of our programs are videotaped by The Needham Channel and may be seen on the library’s YouTube channel or The Needham Channel’s YouTube channel.

Discussion with creators of the documentary Pony Boys
Discussion with creators of the documentary Pony Boys

Our programs are free and all are welcome. Most take place in the Library’s Community Room from 2-3:30 PM on Sunday afternoons.

Registration is required, but we are happy to seat drop-ins as space permits. Programs are listed below and on the library’s Events Calendar. You can also download a Printable PDF file of the complete schedule.

Click here for directions to the Library.

If you enter the Library through the main entrance from the Rosemary Street parking lot, the Community Room is just inside the doors and to the right.

Videographer Marc Mandel from The Needham Channel
Videographer Marc Mandel from The Needham Channel

If you enter the Library through the Highland Avenue entrance, the Community Room is on the lower level on the opposite side of the building.

We hope you’ll join us!

2023-2024 Programs

Book cover

Sunday, October 29, 2023, 2–3:30 PM
Paul Fisher, PhD, The Grand Affair: John Singer Sargent in His World

A great American artist, John Singer Sargent is also an abiding enigma. While dressing like a businessman and crafting a highly respectable persona, he scandalized viewers on both sides of the Atlantic with the frankness and sensuality of his work. In his recent book The Grand Affair: John Singer Sargent in His World and in this talk, Wellesley College historian Paul Fisher explores the enigmas of fin de siècle sexuality and art, fashioning a biography that grants the man and his paintings new and intense life. Details and registration.

Logo for the Needham Observer

Sunday, November 12, 2023, 2–3:30 PM
Peter O’Neil, Frederica Saylor Lalonde and Jeanne Hopkins,

“News Flash: Needhamites Revive Local Journalism”

The US is losing two newspapers per week, leaving communities without a source of independent local news. Needham became one of those towns when the Needham Times folded in 2022. To fill the gap, a volunteer group of former journalists came together to create the Needham Observer. The team behind Needham’s newest news source tells the story of why and how they launched the free, online, weekly media outlet. Details and registration

Human brain

Sunday, January 14, 2024, 2–3:30 PM
Maureen O’Connor, PsyD, “Successful Brain Aging: Understanding the Latest Science”
(postponed from Jan. 7 due to snow)

Learn from an expert about the latest scientific evidence on lifestyle factors that are important to promoting successful brain aging. The talk includes practical advice and recommendations to individuals and families. Dr. O’Connor explains how the brain changes in normal aging; describes lifestyle factors associated with successful brain aging; and discusses the effectiveness of memory strategies and compensatory techniques. Details and registration

Imari Paris Jeffries sculpture, “Embrace Boston”

Sunday, February 4, 2024, 2–3:30 PM
Imari Paris Jeffries, “Embrace Boston”

The President and CEO of Embrace Boston – the organization responsible for one of the nation’s newest and most powerful memorials to Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King – tells how the sculpture was conceived, created and received. Mr. Jeffries also discusses Embrace Boston’s ongoing work toward a more equitable city at the intersections of arts and culture and research and policy. Details and registration

Author Stephen McCauley

Sunday, March 3, 2024, 2–3:30 PM
Author Stephen McCauley, “Public Libraries, Pseudonyms, and Valley of the Dolls: One Writer’s Journey”

This Boston-based novelist is the author of eight or 10 novels (depending how you count), three of which have been made into feature films including The Object of My Affection with Jennifer Aniston. He’ll speak about his love of libraries, pen names and his new novel, You Only Call When You’re in Trouble. The New York Times Book Review tagged McCauley “the secret love child of Edith Wharton and Woody Allen” and a novelist “You’d Most Like to Drive Across the Country With.” Details and registration

Artist Lisa Rosowsky

Sunday, April 7, 2024, 2–3:30 PMArtist Lisa Rosowsky, “Art as Storytelling”

Ms. Rosowsky, a Needham native and Massachusetts College of Art professor, discusses two of her pieces to show how research can be the gateway to telling visual stories through art. “Levitantells the story of a French department store in occupied Paris that became a “trading post” for looted goods. “Missing” emerged from the discovery of a database of headshots of children orphaned in Europe during World War II and attempts to reunite them with living family members. Details and registration

Thursday, June 6, 2024, 7:30–9 PM
Emily Norton, “The State of the Charles River”

The Charles River flows through Needham and nearby communities, defining and enhancing our lives. What is the state of this once heavily polluted river? Ms. Norton, Executive Di- rector of the Charles River Watershed Association, provides an update on the river’s eco- logical health, climate change resiliency, dam removal, public access and the impact of riverside development. Details and registration

Here’s a look back at our 2022-2023 Programs

Author Catherine Marenghi
Author Catherine Marenghi
  • Sunday, October 23, 2022, 2:00-3:30 p.m. Film Producer/Director Eric Stange and Team, “Pony Boys”.
  • Sunday, November 6, 2022, 2:00-3:30 p.m. Author Marjan Kamali, The Stationery Shop.
  • Sunday, January 8, 2:00-3:30 p.m. Author Catherine Marenghi.
  • Sunday, February 5, 2:00-3:30 p.m. Gilda Barabino, President of Olin College of Engineering, “Engineering for Everyone” (details and registration)
  • Sunday, March 26, 2:00-3:30 p.m. Marsha Bemko, Producer, “The Antiques Roadshow Story” (details and registration)
  • Sunday, June 11, 2:00-4:00 p.m. Annual meeting and program. Author Stephanie Schorow, The Coconut Grove and Other Great Fires of Boston.