The Oliver & Friends Bookshop and Reading Room at 87 Main St. in Belgrade Lakes is partnering with the Belgrade Public Library to host a three-part discussion series on race relations. Photo courtesy of Renee Cunningham

BELGRADE — Megan Aube sees a library as more than a building filled with books. She sees it as a place for intellectual discussion and an extension of what goes on in the community.

Aube, 25, director of the Belgrade Public Library at 124 Depot Road said she embraces her role as a community leader as she puts together the final plan for the first of a three-part discussion series on race relations.

The talks are being held in partnership with the library and Oliver & Friends Bookshop and Reading Room at 87 Main St.

“It’s about figuring out what we can do for our community,” Aube said.

The series is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Thursday on Zoom with a talk on the best-selling novel and movie “The Hate U Give.” The series is to include three discussions, moderated by Aube and other community members.

“‘The Hate U Give’ essentially discusses the relationship between Black people and police officers, which is a very hot-button topic right now,” Aube said. “We hope that people share their own ideas, thoughts and perspectives.”

Aube and the library staff approached Renee Cunningham, owner of Oliver & Friends Bookshop and Reading Room, in the second week of June to collaborate on the efforts.

Their partnership partnered resulted in an antiracist reading list featuring more than 20 books, all written by authors of color.

Cunningham, who has lived in Belgrade for 2 1/2 years with her husband, Scott, provided an extra set of eyes and expertise on the list.

“Our community isn’t very diverse, but that makes it even more important,” said Cunningham, 44. “I think it would be easy for the discussion to be out of sight, out of mind, but our community isn’t taking it that way at all. They very much want to be a part of the discussions.”

All of the books on the list are available at the library or Cunningham’s Oliver & Friends Bookshop, which opened in early June. Being a part of the discussion planning allowed her to realize on of her first dreams about being a bookstore owner.

“When I started thinking of opening a bookstore, this was what I saw as being a part of it,” Cunningham said. “Before COVID, I envisioned it being a place where people came in and a safe place for discussion, really all-inclusive. Over picking up a book, it leads to healthy discussion.”

To register and receive the Zoom link, call the Belgrade Public Library at 207-495-3508 or email [email protected]


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