Advanced registration is encouraged and guarantees your free seat at Live! from the Library programs. For special accommodations, please contact the Walnut Creek Library Foundation with 72 hours notice

Little Women: The 150th Anniversary of an American Classic

Wednesday, May 23, 2018  | 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Oak View Room | Walnut Creek Library – Register Now!

BBC One, Masterpiece

Scholars of Louisa May Alcott will share their perspectives on the importance of Little Women, which celebrates its 150th anniversary this year.  Discussion will include the novel’s historical and cultural context, reflect on its influence, and its impact on 21st century popular culture. The panel will  also engage the audience in a discussion about why Alcott’s novel endures. A lively time will be had by all! A three-part television adaptation of Little Women premieres on Sunday, May 13 on PBS Masterpiece.

Gregory Eiselein and Anne Phillips are both Professors of English at Kansas State University. They have edited four books on Alcott: The Louisa May Alcott Encyclopedia, the Norton Critical Edition of Little Women, and two Alcott-focused volumes for Salem Press’ Critical Insights Series. They will team-teach an upper-level literature course on Alcott’s life and works for Kansas State University in Fall 2018.

Sandra Harbert Petrulionis is Distinguished Professor of English and American Studies at Penn State University, Altoona. She teaches 19th-century American literature classes and has published several works on the Transcendentalist neighbors and community of Louisa May Alcott’s Concord.

Marlowe Daly-Galeano teaches American literature and humanities at Lewis-Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho. In addition to all things Alcott, her scholarly interests include nineteenth-century American women, regionalism, the pedagogy of social justice, and exploring and teaching about Hells Canyon, North America’s deepest gorge. 

Christine Doyle is a Professor of English at Central Connecticut State University and the author of Louisa May Alcott and Charlotte Bronte: Transatlantic Translations.

Melissa McFarland Pennell is a professor of English at University of Massachusetts Lowell.  She specializes in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American literature and regularly teaches work by Louisa May Alcott in her courses.

A Sneak Peek: For Singing Outloud! 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018  | 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Oak View Room | Walnut Creek Library  – Register Now!

Can you sing a story? Can you get to the heart of an emotion with just your voice? All this happens in opera. Using the wide range of qualities in the human voice, the story unfolds, the character’s feelings are revealed, and we are drawn in to the story. Opera has it all: love, loss, laughter and redemption.

Opera today is still mysterious to many people. Festival Opera wants to change that. Join us at the library when Festival Opera’s artists and musicians present a quick history of opera and preview of what we are presenting in Walnut Creek in Summer 2018. We will feature highlights of some of the most famous, and infamous, scenes in opera and explain how these amazing artists put it all together– without microphones! 

The WWI Armistice Centennial – A Commemoration in Poetry and Song 

Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018  | 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Oak View Room | Walnut Creek Library – Registration opens Sept. 27th

World War One saw an unprecedented outpouring of literature responding to the war, particularly in poetry, each side creating its own unique style and voice.  This presentation will include, within an overview of the conflict, performance of poetry written by soldiers from the British Empire, Ireland, France, Germany, Eastern Europe and America.  The words of those at home, particularly the women, will also be represented, as will songs relating to the impact of the war.  This is a fitting tribute to the 100th anniversary of the Armistice, of the “war to end all wars.”

A long-time Walnut Creek resident, Jordan is an experienced actor, teacher, and avid history and literature buff. He has lectured on the Lewis and Clark Expedition at the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation’s annual meeting, at the Library and for the San Ramon Historical Society.  He recently taught on this subject at the Osher Life Long Learning Institute at Cal State East Bay, and will be teaching the Expedition at the University of South Carolina Beaufort campus for their OLLI Program.  He trained at several leading arts institutions based in London, including the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He has portrayed more than two dozen different Shakespeare characters on stage, as well playing other key roles in many American and British plays.  He has performed in one man shows he has created on both the Expedition and Shakespeare.  He teaches Shakespeare at the Osher Life Long Learning Institute at Cal State East Bay.   

An Evening of Music with Charged Particles

Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018  | 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Oak View Room | Walnut Creek Library –  Registration opens Nov. 8th

Fresh from touring the world accompanying Grammy-winning jazz reed player Paul McCandless, the 26-year-old jazz trio Charged Particles plays a fresh blend of original funky, swinging Latin jazz, with splashes of delicate romance.  Downbeat magazine recently called their performance at Birdland in New York City “something special” and described the music as “inventive, invigorating, mesmerizing, hard-hitting, beautiful, virtuosic, and lyrical.”  The Washington City Paper called it “serious jazz”, and Jazz Times magazine described the band as “a tight and enormously talented trio”.  Don’t miss this performance at the Walnut Creek Library, which will feature some fun Christmas music.

2017-18 Past  Events 

In Conversation with Donia Bijan, author of The Last Days of Cafe Leila

Wednesday, January 10, 2018 | 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Oak View Room | Walnut Creek Library 

Filled with sumptuous descriptions of food and set against the backdrop of Iran’s rich and tragic history, Bay Area author Donia Bijan weaves together a story of homecoming and identity in her new novel The Last Days of Cafe Leila. Bijan will take to the Live! from the Library stage in conversation with Persis Karim, professor and scholar of Iranian diaspora culture. The evening will also include a wine reception with books available for purchase and signing. 

The Last Days of Café Leila is inspired by Bijan’s return to Tehran following decades of exile. Bijan left her native Iran in 1978 during the Islamic Revolution. She settled in California and graduated from UC Berkeley and Le Cordon Bleu. After presiding over many of San Francisco’s acclaimed restaurants and earning awards for her French-inspired cuisine, she opened her own restaurant, L’amie Donia, in Palo Alto in 1994. She now divides her days between teaching and writing. Her memoir, Maman’s Homesick Pie, was published in 2011.   

Photo Credit: David Schmitz

Persis Karim is a professor of world and comparative literature and the Neda Nobari Inaugural Chair of the newly-established Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies at San Francisco State University. She is the editor of three anthologies of Iranian diaspora literature compiled over the last two decades. She has published numerous articles on literature and culture of the Iranian diaspora for academic and popular journals such as Iranian StudiesWorld Literature Today, and Ms. Magazine and her poetry has appeared in numerous national literary journals.


The Japanese Tea Ceremony

Wednesday, February, 7 2018  | 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Oak View Room | Walnut Creek Library   

Explore the history, mystery, and meaning of the Japanese Tea Ceremony. Practiced by millions in Japan and around the world, tea expert Ikuko Thomas will offer a brief demonstration of this cultural tradition and explain its enduring importance. Tea will also be served. Space is limited.  

Ikuko Kubo Thomas (tea name Kubo Ikusen) is a certified Tea Teacher of the Dai Nippon Chado Gakkai school. She has been studying tea ceremony since the age of 15. Formerly a school teacher, she lives in Walnut Creek with her husband Rick Thomas and teaches the Way of Tea in a teahouse he built for their home. 

Divided We Stand: Testing the Resilience of Our Democracy

Wednesday, March 14, 2018  | 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Oak View Room | Walnut Creek Library  – 

Distinguished scholars and student leaders are the featured panelists for a discussion on the state of American government when Live! from the Library presents “Divided We Stand: Testing the Resilience of Our Democracy.”  

Saint Mary’s College of California (SMC) professors Meg Honey, Steve Woolpert, and Monica Fitzgerald will talk about the endurance of the U.S. Constitution, historical crises, present-day challenges, and the state the Union. Student leaders Matthew Fitzgerald and Kavya Maddali, who represent both sides of the political aisle, will discuss the current state of civics and history education in today’s classrooms and share what inspired their political activism.

Meg Honey is a Humanities and Literacy Curriculum Specialist with Pearson Education. She taught Social Studies at the middle school and high school levels for sixteen years and currently serves as a Lecturer in the Kalmanovitz School of Education at Saint Mary’s College of California where she teaches in the Master of Arts in Teaching Leadership program. Meg works with local civil rights groups and is a regular moderator of the Newsmakers: Lesher Speaker Series. She was was honored as the 2017 Mount Diablo Unified School District Teacher of the Year. 

Stephen Woolpert, PhD, teaches politics at SMC and specializes in the U.S. Constitution, the Supreme Court, civil rights, and California politics.

Monica Fitzgerald, PhD, is an associate professor in SMC’s Justice, Community and Leadership department, and has been appointed to the California Children and Families Commission also known as First 5 California by the state Senate Rules Committee.

Matthew Fitzgerald is president of the Young Democrats at Saint Mary’s College of California.

Kavya Maddali is president of the College Republicans at Saint Mary’s College of California.

California Symphony – Fresh Ink: New Music

Wednesday, May 2, 2018 | 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Oak View Room | Walnut Creek Library  

 A first look into the making of like a broken clock, California Symphony’s commissioned work by rising Young American Composer-in-Residence Katherine Balch. California Symphony Music Director Donato Cabrera will join Balch to discuss the composition and their collaborative process to bring it to performance. The California Symphony will present the world premiere of like a broken clock on Sunday, May 6 at the Lesher Center for the Arts. in Walnut Creek.

Cabrera is Music Director for California Symphony and Las Vegas Philharmonic, and former resident conductor of San Francisco Symphony. Balch is a multiple award winner, a recipient of the esteemed Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and is the first female resident composer of the California Symphony. 

Musica Vera Duo 

bailey-sherwin-newWednesday, January 11, 2017 | 7:00-8:00 p.m.
Oak View Room | Walnut Creek Library 

Enjoy an evening of classical, folk and original compositions performed by the Musica Vera Duo, which features Baroque violist Mark Bailey and classical guitarist Kevin Sherwin. This program will feature beloved Ukrainian folk songs, 18th century Russian Court songs, 19th century Italian sonatas and Romantic-era melodies.  

Violist Mark Bailey is the artistic director of the American Baroque Orchestra. Additionally, he oversees Yale’s renowned collection of Historical Sound Recordings. He conducts ensembles around the world and is an active composer.

Classical guitarist Kevin Sherwin is the Associate Artistic Director of the American Baroque Orchestra and the Yale Russian chorus. He has conducted and performed across the United States and is an apprentice conductor to Bailey at Yale.

“Coco Chanel, Marlene Dietrich and the Power of Fame” with C.W. Gortner

cw-gortner-and-book-coversWednesday, February 8, 2017 | 7:00-8:30 p.m. 
Oak View Room | Walnut Creek Library

Bestselling author C.W. Gortner presents a look at his two recent heroines in historical fiction, examining how Hollywood leading lady Marlene Dietrich and iconic fashion designer Coco Chanel reacted to the changing mores of their times, the pursuit and price of fame, and their individual reactions to the perils of World War II. Marlene and Mademoiselle Chanel, will be available for purchase and signing.

Gortner’s novels have enjoyed international success and have been translated into twenty-one languages, with over 400-thousand copies sold. He began writing full-time in 2012, following an eleven year career in fashion and a twelve years in the public health sector. Half-Spanish by birth and raised in southern Spain, Gortner now lives in Northern California.

Fresh Ink: New Music

Wednesday, May 3, 2017 | 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Oak View Room | Walnut Creek Library

Hear it here first! An exclusive sneak peek into the making of a newly composed work for cello, Tangle Eye. California Symphony Music Director Donato Cabrera and current Young American Composer-in-Residence, Dan Visconti, will introduce and discuss the music and collaborative process along with Israeli-American cellist Inbal Segev, who will perform short excerpts to illustrate the musical concepts. The California Symphony will present the world premiere of “Tangle Eye” on Sunday, May 7 at the Lesher Center for the Arts. in Walnut Creek.

Cabrera is Music Director for California Symphony, Las Vegas Philharmonic and former resident conductor of San Francisco Symphony. Visconti is a TED Fellow and Rome Prize winner, and is finishing his final season with the California Symphony as the Young American Composer-in-Residence. Segev began playing cello at age five and has performed as soloist with top orchestras around the world. 


Live! with Kevin Smokler, Author of “Brat Pack America”

Wednesday, May 10, 2017 | 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Oak View Room | Walnut Creek Library 

Kevin Smokler will discuss his new book, Brat Pack America,” with Diablo magazine’s Pete Crooks. Brat Pack America pays homage to more than 40 of your favorite movies from the 1980s, including The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Pretty in Pink, Heathers and Dirty Dancing. Smokler will talk about where these movies were made, how they reflected American pop culture at the time, and why these movies continue to be so loved today. Evening will include wine reception with books for sale and signing.

Smokler is also the author of “Practical Classics: 50 Reasons to Reread 50 Books You Haven’t Touched Since High School.” His essays and criticism have appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Salon, Buzzfeed, Fast Company and NPR. He lives in San Francisco. 

Pete Crooks is the Senior Editor/Senior Writer at Diablo magazine, where he has worked since 1998. A native of Lafayette, he is also a major film buff. You can read his movie blog, Pete’s Popcorn Picks,  at

“The Lewis and Clark Expedition: Key Decision Points” with Mark Jordan 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017 | 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Oak View Room | Walnut Creek Library – Registration is full. 

Join us for a dynamic exploration of The Lewis and Clark Expedition, one of America’s boldest endeavors. Mark Jordan will examine crucial moments along this epic journey of the uncharted West in his presentation The Lewis and Clark Expedition: Key Decision Points 
Leading a group of U.S. Army volunteers, a slave, a teenage girl and her baby, and a remarkably skilled French-Indian scout, Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark set off from Missouri in May of 1804 on a mission to explore the Northwest from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean. The group traveled up the Missouri River and crossed the Continental Divide before eventually reaching the Pacific Ocean. After a winter near Astoria, Oregon, they returned to St. Louis after two years and four months and many legendary adventures 
A long-time Walnut Creek resident, Jordan is an experienced actor, teacher, and avid Lewis and Clark buff. He has traveled most of the Lewis and Clark Trail, by car, in a canoe, and on foot. He has written articles on this historic expedition, and has lectured at the Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation’s annual meeting. He recently taught on this subject at the Osher Life Long Learning Institute at Cal State East Bay.

 “Imagining Jane: Commemorating 200 Years of Jane Austen” with Dr. Kirsten T. Saxton

Wednesday, July 19, 2017 | 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Oak View Room | Walnut Creek Library  

A lively presentation about Jane Austen’s life, works and fame, presented by Mills College professor Dr. Kirsten T. Saxton. How has Jane been imagined in the 200 years since her death? How and why does her work capture our imaginations?  Dr. Kirsten T. Saxton is an award winning teacher and scholar; she teaches at Mills College, where she directs the MA Program in Literature. She publishes on 18th-century literature and culture, women writers (including Jane Austen), crime fiction, and the history of the novel. Watch video below.



A Sneak Peek of “The Liar” by Center Rep

Wednesday, October 11, 2017 | 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Oak View Room | Walnut Creek Library- 

The charming and charismatic Dorante has but a single flaw: he cannot tell the truth. Cliton, his manservant cannot tell a lie. Together they bring us one of the Western world’s greatest comedies. A sparkling urban romance as fresh and hilarious as the day Pierre Corneille wrote it, brilliantly adapted for today by David Ives.

Center Repertory Artistic Director Michael Butler and cast members will read a scene from The Liar and answer audience questions. The Liar will run from October 20-November 18 at the Lesher Center for the Arts

Classical Guitarist Kevin Ayers in Concert

Wednesday, December 6, 2017 | 7:00-8:00 p.m.
Oak View Room | Walnut Creek Library

Live! from the Library will feature classical guitarist Kevin Ayers, who will showcase a range of classical guitar selections, including Bach, Villa-Lobos, and Tarrega, along with arrangements from The Beatles repertoire and other popular songs. The evening will include a wine reception.

Ayers is an accomplished performer and teacher of classical guitar. He holds a Master’s degree in Guitar from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and a bachelor’s degree in Classical Guitar performance from USC.  His work with the Commonwealth Guitar Trio has brought masterful performances to venues throughout Southern California, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Kevin has studied and worked with world-renowned guitarists including Shingo Fujii, Scott Tennant, Pepe Romero and David Tanenbaum.

Cheryl Dumesnil and Kim Addonizio

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 | 7:00-8:30 p.m.
Oak View Room | Walnut Creek Library

Prolific East Bay writers Cheryl Dumesnil and Kim Addonizio read selections from their new books. The evening discussion begins with a wine reception, and concludes with book sales and signings.

cheryl-d-and-book-coverCheryl Dumesnil is the author of two poetry collections. Her just-published Showtime at the Ministry of Lost Causes is a powerful collection of “survival songs,” those tunes people whistle to keep fears at bay and spirits awake. She writes of odes to October, air guitar, Pink Floyd, and drag queens—even a memoir on tampons. Dumesnil is also the author of In Praise of Falling, winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize. A freelance editor, writer, and writing coach, she is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and

kim-and-book-coversKim Addonizio is the author of twelve books. Her latest, a collection of poems titled Mortal Trash, is described by the Washington Post as “a brash, irreverent look at the physical and emotional refuse produced in our self-absorbed culture.” Addonizio also recently released her laugh-out-loud memoir, Bukowsi in a Sundress: Confessions from a Writing Life, which reflects on writing, drinking, dating and more.

This event is supported in part by Poets & Writers through grants it has received from the James Irvine Foundation and the Hearst Foundations.

LiveLive from the Library! from the Library, produced by the Walnut Creek Library Foundation, features free public lectures, literary events, and cultural programs at the Walnut Creek and Ygnacio Valley libraries. Program sponsors are the East Bay Times, Friends of the Walnut Creek Library, and Minuteman Press, Lafayette. Programming is also made possible by donations to the Foundation’s Annual Fund. View past programs on our Video page.  Contra Costa TV airs past programs Sundays at 8 p.m. Visit their website for channel info.  

The views and opinions expressed in any program are those of the speaker/persons and do not reflect the views of the Walnut Creek Library Foundation.

Thank you to our 2017 sponsors:



Visit our video page for past Live! from the Library videos.

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