Busy month planned for One Book One Community


Maps have fascinated people since cartographers began to record how to get from one location to another. E. Forbes Smiley III was one of those people.

map thief coverAn antiquarian map dealer, Smiley’s love of maps led him to steal priceless maps across the country for years. Author and investigative journalist Michael Blanding has tracked Smiley’s story in the nonfiction book The Map Thief — this year’s “One Book One Community” selection sponsored by the Friends of the Canton Public Library. Several events related to the book will be held at the library during the month of October.

Linda Berman, a member of the Friends and the head of the planning committee for One Book One Community, explained that the group began discussing the project in April. They suggested many titles before ultimately settling on The Map Thief, which was released in June by Gotham Books.

That month, Blanding gave a talk at the Canton library — his very first speaking engagement on The Map Thief — and he agreed to return if the book was chosen for One Book One Community.

“It was fascinating,” Berman said of the book. “It has an awful lot of information about maps. It’s educational.”

Once the selection was made, the committee began to publicize the events in a variety of ways, including having librarians hand out informational bookmarks that they had made to patrons at the circulation desk. They also held map-themed raffles at the library and printed a series of “wanted” posters in the Citizen featuring various town dignitaries.

“What we are trying to accomplish is to bring the community together [through] reading,” Berman said.

The events begin Monday, October 6, with a visit from Boston Globe columnist and technology writer Hiawatha Bray, who will present a talk on the positives and negatives of using technology entitled “You are here: From the compass to GPS, the history and future of how we find ourselves.” Librarian Carolyn Elkort suggested that he speak. “We all thought it was a good idea,” Berman said.

On Thursday, October 16, Canton historian Jim Roache will visit the library, where he will use the 1918 map of Canton to take a look back at the history of the town in the last century. Berman invited Roache to give a talk after speaking with him about local maps at the Canton Historical Society’s cookout in July. In a case of 21st century technology meeting 20th century mapping skills, Roache will use an application during his presentation that will allow him to zoom in to the tiniest detail on a digital copy of the 1918 map that the library has.

Michael Blanding

Michael Blanding

Smiley stole maps from the Norman B. Leventhal Map Center at the Boston Public Library, and on Tuesday, October 21, Ronald Grim, the curator of the Leventhal Center, will speak on what it feels like to be a victim in his presentation called “In the Footsteps of the Crime.” Grim was hired after the maps were stolen from the Leventhal Center, which Berman said helps him to be more open in speaking about the crime than curators of other museums.

“He’s not embarrassed,” she said of Grim. “He’s very open.”

The library will present the film National Treasures on Friday, October 24. “It has a lot of history,” Berman said. “It’s a mystery. It’s entertaining.”

The events conclude Wednesday, October 29, when Blanding returns for a discussion and closing celebration. All events will take place in the Community Room and begin at 7 p.m.

The library will offer book-related activities for children on three Saturdays: October 11, 18 and 25. Each session will begin with a book about maps being read to the children. The follow-up activities include making a treasure map and creating a three-dimensional city.

In addition to Berman, the members of the planning committee are Cindy Baran, Barbara Carbone, Pam Cattel, Fran Foret, Sylvia Cormier, Mary Jane Mangan, Dori Khoury, Carolyn Elkort, Louise Chandler, Beverly Giblin, Linda Silverstein, Mike Sundin, Joyce Wiseman, and Mark Lague. For more information on the events, go to town.canton.ma.us/library/programs/onebook.

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