Inside The Library: Discussing communications history over high tea

Does a Saturday afternoon on a patio with an assortment of finger sandwiches and pastries made by pastry chef Melissa Warren; listening to renowned author Merilyn Simonds sound good to you? If it does, get your ticket now to enjoy this literary high tea.

This is another fundraising event in support of the Picton building project brought to you by a generous author, donating their time to the cause. Join us Saturday, Aug. 11 from 3:30-4:30 at the Vic Café (in front of the Picton library) to sip tea and listen to Simonds discuss the future of the book.Enjoy an old-fashioned late tea, as you contemplate the future.

Simonds will be discussing her book Gutenberg’s Fingerprint. It explores the history of human communication and the inventions that have had the most impact on the ways we communicate. The book is in part a history of communication, moving from the invention of writing, the alphabet, mechanical type and the printing press to this modern age of digitization.

The digital age has had a dramatic influence on communication generally, and libraries specifically. While whole walls in a library formerly would be devoted to the reference collection, few public libraries now house print encyclopedias. These days reference materials are provided online. The library can offer more information, readily updated, and available to patrons from their home any time of the day and use the physical space that hard copy reference books once took up in the library in other ways.

Simonds is the author of 18 books, both fiction and non-fiction. She is perhaps best known for The Convict Lover, a story that came into being as the result of the discovery of a cache of old letters in the attic of her Kingston home. Other titles include The Holding, a New York Times Book Review editors’ choice, and The Paradise Project, flash-fiction stories hand-printed on a hand-operated antique press. She is founding artistic director of Kingston’s WritersFest and a past chair of the Writers’ Union of Canada.

When our fundraising chair Alexandra Bake heard that Merilyn was vacationing in the county she asked her if she would do an event in support of Time to Renew. The answer came right back – yes! Alexandra described our idea for an English tea and she responded “That sounds lovely. I did a similar fundraiser for the Rideau Lakes library system in the spring and it was very successful.”

To add to the enjoyment of the afternoon classical guitarist and staff member Aaron Nash will offer his talents for the event. Aaron has been with the library for five years now and as well as managing our web site and providing technical support he also runs a ukulele group for beginning players and offers support to our Musical Instrument Lending Library. With Nash will be other library staff members who will be serving you your tea. Tickets are $25 and space is limited so reserve your seat early. Tickets will be available at the Picton library branch or by calling Tracy at (613) 399-2023.

Another literary treat upcoming is author JDM Stewart. His book On Being Prime Minister is a behind the scenes look at Canadian prime ministers and what it is like for them to serve the country in this capacity. This event on Aug. 14 at 2 p.m. at the Picton library branch is free – but there will be a donation jar!

Remember to check our thermometer at We update it every Friday and thanks to you it continues to rise.

– Barbara Sweet