by Stan Cutler

The Friends of the Chestnut Hill Library have organized a series of presentations for your edification and enjoyment; our schedule is at the end of this column. It’s a varied and unique lineup of thoughtful, local presenters. We hope you were there for the first one, when our neighbor, arborist author Ned Barnard, delivered a presentation on Philadelphia trees. There will be three more in the winter series, and you should come. You should also consider proposing a presentation, a workshop, an exhibition or a course of your own.

We have two assets: a spacious public room with presentation technology and a population of highly educated people, many of them experts with a lot on their minds. You may be one of those people. There are time slots still available on the Spring program calendar. Go to our website’s Contact page at and explain your idea.

We are open to more than presentation suggestions. Would you like to run a workshop? Would you like to teach a course for adults? Would you like to host a panel discussion or demonstrate your talent or deliver podcasts? Be creative. We’re in an early phase of a project to establish the library as an outstanding center for lifelong learning. We would like to hear your ideas.

When the most advanced medium of communication was print on paper, public media centers (PMCs) were called libraries (from “libros,” Latin for “book”). Societies change when new forms of communication come into use. The media revolution we are now experiencing is a challenge and an opportunity for public libraries.

The challenge is that people rely less on paper books and more on electronic devices and the internet. The opportunity is to use a public space that exists, as stated in the Free Library of Philadelphia’s mission statement, “To advance literacy, guide learning and inspire curiosity. Its vision is to build an enlightened community devoted to lifelong learning.” These are lofty aims that the Chestnut Hill community is well-suited to achieve. If you want that kind of resource in Chestnut Hill, get involved.

Upcoming presentations are all at 1:30 p.m., Tuesday afternoons at the library on 8711 Germantown Ave.

Jan. 22. Cyber Age Politics: News Industry Reform

Political communication is theater and rhetoric through media. In this entertaining slideshow, local author Stan Cutler (yours truly) explores our polarized condition, the commercialized news industry and federal regulation.

Jan. 29. Civil War Medicine: What Went Right

The extraordinary levels of battlefield carnage during the Civil War demanded a new, scientific approach to medicine – previously an art. Documentary filmmaker Carole Adrienne presents a compelling slideshow from the four-part series she is developing for PBS to premier on WHYY.

Feb. 5. Chimpanzees, Jane and Me

Scientist Bill Konstant tells stories about training chimpanzees in America, being inspired by the work of Dr. Jane Goodall and helping to ensure the survival of chimpanzees in their native home of Africa. He shares insights from a 40-year career as a wildlife preservationist on four continents and of personal experiences with the world’s most endangered and interesting animals.

Stan Cutler is a board member of the Friends of the Chestnut Hill Library.