Openly trans City Councilor Belken is speaker for RPL gender identity forum

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City Councilor Palana Belken (Courtesy photo)

There's a lot going on at the Library for families this summer. Our Children's Room has been working overtime to prepare for the great programs and other activities they will be presenting. Plus, there are Summer Reading Programs for everyone from kids to teens to adults! Continuing our celebration of PRIDE Month, Reference Librarian, Beth, will be presenting a virtual chat about Gender Identity.

Gender Identity Virtual Event

Join the Rochester Public Library on June 30th at 6 p.m. for a virtual chat about gender identity. Librarian Beth Nerbonne will be talking with trans and gender non-conforming guests, including Rochester City Councilor, Palana Belken, the first openly-trans councilor in New Hampshire. Belken's extensive LGBTQ-centric work has included organizing trans and gender non-conforming folks with the ACLU of New Hampshire, managing cafe-turned-queer-oasis, Teatotaller, and being one of many co-founders of the Affirming Spaces Project, a new non-profit organization aiming to make New Hampshire a more affirming place for folks of all gender identities.

This virtual chat will take place via WebEx Meetings and will run for about an hour and a half. There will be time and space for questions from attendees (questions are encouraged), which will be submitted through the chat function.

Registration is required. You can register by emailing The link to the virtual event and instructions on how to use WebEx (it's just like Zoom) will be sent to everyone who registers. Space is unlimited so tell your friends. We hope to see you there.

Virtual Art Show

Main desk librarian, Melissa, shares, "The Rochester Public Library is pleased to present the artwork of the students of artstream studios as a virtual exhibit. On display is a diverse collection of paintings, sculptures, and mixed-media pieces representing the talent of students with a broad range of ages and artistic experience. To see the exhibit online, go to:

artstream offers art classes for children and adults. Susan Schwake has been teaching in the Greater Seacoast area for the past 20 years in her own school, in community settings and residencies in public/private schools. She has been a guest instructor in places such as Teahouse in Berkley, CA, The Eric Carle Museum, Plymouth State University and many libraries and children's museums in the North East. Her passion for teaching art in a nurturing, explorative manner has driven her work with all ages and abilities.

For more information about artstream studios please visit

Adult Summer Reading

Reference Librarian, Beth says: "All you need to do to participate in this year's Adult Summer Reading Program is read! Read anything you want: read for fun, for comfort, to explore new genres, or to learn something new. You can read novels, nonfiction, graphic novels, YA, middle grade, picture books, magazines, articles, essays, it doesn't matter. Reading is great for your brain, and we want to reward you for doing it! Track your reading using the Beanstack app (or website). All you have to do is keep track of how many minutes you've read (paper logs will also be made available in the Library and on our website). The Beanstack app has a built in stopwatch, but you can also use any form of timekeeping and then enter that number of minutes into your Beanstack account. In the app you will win badges, prizes, and raffle tickets as you go. Some examples of possible prizes include Friends of the Library tote bags, protective book sleeves, a super soft and cozy reading cushion, and the grand raffle prize of a Samsung tablet (compatible with both Overdrive/Libby and hoopla).

For more information and to register, head on over to the Library's website: We are hoping to see you all summer long!"

Children's Room

Summer Reading

All our programming will be done outside on the lawn. We will be following NH Best Practices guidelines. Our programs will depend on the weather, so we will announce our events by 9:15 a.m. on our Facebook page, or you can sign up for email notifications:

StoryWalks: The next StoryWalk® in our Summer series will be hosted by the Rochester Farmer's Market on Tuesday, June 29th from 3:00-6:00pm. The STORYWALK® will be posted on signs round the loop at the Common providing an opportunity for physical activity while nurturing a child's interest in books.

Could You Survive in the Wilderness?:We will read a "You Choose" book and see if we can survive! This program is for kids aged 8 and up.

Shadow Puppet Show: Watch a shadow puppet show on our YouTube channel! Find out How the Bear Lost His Tail followed by a short tutorial on how to make your own shadow puppets.

ASL (American Sign Language) Workshop: an informal program where we will learn the ABCs and 123s of American Sign Language. We will start with the manual alphabet (fingerspelling) and numbers.

Crafts: Playdough Porcupine: for ages 2 and up.

Woodland animal masks: for ages 2 and up.

Fluffy Skunk picture: for ages 2 and up.

*Children can drop by for crafts. Older children may attend independently, but younger children under 10 should be accompanied by an adult.

Drop-in Story Times: We will offer drop-in story times geared for children age 2 through 6, but all families are welcome! Bring a blanket and meet on the lawn.


Teen Summer Reading Program

The Teen SRP, Tails & Tales, will run through August 6 and is free for any teens entering Grades 6-12. Pick up a reading log in the library or on our website. Read at least 2 hours a week for a small prize and a chance to win the weekly raffle. You can read anything including books, magazines, newspapers, and graphic novels. Read to yourself or read aloud to someone. You can even listen to an audio book. And do not forget, there are PRIZES! Answer Trivia questions and do book reviews for candy. Reading logs are entered into a raffle at the end of the program. The more weeks you participate, the greater your chances of winning!

Tech Help

Anyone needing help with Library related technology can call the Library to schedule an appointment.


The Rochester Public Library is now open for browsing without needing an appointment. We are open Mon-Wed 9:00-8:00, Thur.-Fri 9:00-5:00.

Contacting RPL

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This column was compiled and edited by RPL main desk assistant Stephanie Piro

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