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MATTOON (JG-TC) -- New book discussions, refreshments, tours, local history room information and social activities are among the plans for a pair of upcoming Discovery Days at the Mattoon Public Library.

The first Discovery Day is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Thursday at the library, 1600 Charleston Ave.

“The purpose is to welcome people to the library, engage them and find ways to meet people’s varied interests,” said library director Carl Walworth in a press release. The library will offer coffee, light refreshments, and tours. Crossword and Sudoku puzzles will be among the activities.

The library will showcase its local history room, which has a collection of items about Mattoon and the area. The library also will spotlight its periodicals collection, including the daily Journal Gazette & Times-Courier, Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette, Decatur Herald & Review, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today; the weekly Barron’s; and the Sunday New York Times and Chicago Tribune.

Tours will include the historic Grant flagpole, new additions in the children’s areas, and the library’s meeting rooms. On display at the event will be 18 favorite books from local readers, along with a note from each on why their books were meaningful to them. All of the 18 books are or soon will be in the library collection.

The library also will roll out its new discussion program. The library has or soon will have 10 or more copies of "A Handmaid’s Tale" and "Midnight In the Pacific." Those who check out one of the copies agree to return for a group discussion about the book. Participants also may check out an e-reader version of the book.

Marilyn Thompson, a retired division chair at Lake Land College, will lead the discussion of "A Handmaid’s Tale" at 10 a.m. Dec. 14, during the second Discovery Day. Chris Suerdieck, a longtime library board member, will facilitate the "Midnight In The Pacific" discussion at 1:30 p.m. on Dec. 14.

Published in 1986 by Canadian author Margaret Atwood, "The Handmaid’s Tale" is a dystopian novel that explores ways women gain individualism in a patriarchal society. The book has been adopted into a film, an opera and television series. "Midnight In the Pacific" is a new account of America’s first major battle in World War II, the battle for the Japanese-occupied Guadalcanal.

Walworth said the discussion program promotes enjoying a book in multiple ways.

"This is an idea we picked up from other communities who have found that people enjoy both the reading of a book and then the opportunity to meet others from their community in a relaxed setting. It’s a good way to meet and interact with people you may not otherwise know," Walworth said. “Both Marilyn and Chris selected books in which they have an interest and that cover timely topics."



Rob Stroud is a reporter for the JG-TC, covering the city of Mattoon, Lake Land College, Cumberland County and areas including Oakland, Casey and Martinsville.

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