AMESBURY — Expect everyone to be "on the same page" this spring with the Underground Railroad.
Amesbury Public Library picked the secret network of safe houses that led slaves in the 18th century to freedom to be the topic of discussion around town with the help of the program called On the Same Page, a program that has the community read one book.
Along with reading one book, the library is also launching a number of events and programs with other city departments, businesses and nonprofits about the Underground Railroad, which has connections to Amesbury.
The book anchoring the discussion is the novel "Redfield Farm" by historian and author Judith Redline Coopey, who tells the story of a young Quaker woman who befriends a slave who falls ill while making his way through the Underground Railroad in Pennsylvania.
"We have a really rich abolitionist history in Amesbury," said library director Patty DiTullio. "We chose this topic so we could have the shared reading experience. In addition to that, it's the perfect opportunity for us to do programming and events that are related to our own local history."
On May 17, Coopey will visit Amesbury Public Library for a reading and reception.
The author's visit will be one of five events for On the Same Page. Others include a speaker on May 3 about John Greenleaf Whittier and his work with the abolitionist movement, a walking tour of important abolitionist sites in town and a performance about Harriet Tubman, a well-known abolitionist, on June 25 during Amesbury Days.
"Whittier had a very active anti-slavery society that met at the Market Street Baptist Church and also at the Congregational Church. We've been doing research about that and created a walking tour with important sites," DiTullio said.
"Redfield Farm" can be found at the library, local bookstores and online.
If you're lucky, you just might find a free copy of the 280-page novel somewhere around town.
More than 50 gift copies of the novel will be left in public places for citizens to discover, in order to engage residents who may not frequent the library.
Many Massachusetts communities have embarked on providing the "one-book" experience to local residents. Each community has tailored its approach in a somewhat different manner, providing opportunities for its citizenry to engage in thoughtful discussion of the same book.
More about the schedule can be found on the library's website, amesburylibrary.org.
Partners in the series include the Amesbury Council on Aging, Amesbury Youth Services, the John Greenleaf Whittier Home and Museum, Bertram & Oliver's Booksellers and Amesbury Public Schools.
The grant was from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, which is the primary source of federal support for the nation's 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums.
For more information, contact DiTullio at 978-388-8148, ext. 612 or firstname.lastname@example.org.