Monday, November 27, 2006

Cornerstones of Science Receives $700K Gift

Curtis Memorial Library has received a major gift of $700,000 from Lee and Lulu Grodzins to be used to support the Library’s Cornerstones of Science Program (COS). A reception to formally announce the gift was held at the library on Friday, November 17.

The gift of $700,000 will fund a $500,000 endowment, and operating expenses for COS programming at the library and throughout the Brunswick/Harpswell community. The Grodzins’s gift also marks the beginning of a development campaign in which they will work with the library to increase the COS endowment to at least $2,000,000. Although COS is a Curtis initiative, the program is funded entirely through donations and grants, not from the library’s or Town’s budget or appropriations.

COS began as Lee Grodzins’s brainchild in 1999 when he brought, to then director, Stephen Podgajny, the vision of a library-based program to make science and technology more accessible. COS has since become an award-winning, national initiative, winning the prestigious Highsmith Library Innovation Award earlier this year.

The mission of COS is to connect children and adults to science and technology through superb reads that are especially informative and stimulating. The books are the foundations for programs and opportunities for community involvement in current scientific issues. In just this last fiscal year, COS has circulated over 8,000 books, held 69 programs with over 2,000 in total attendance, and had over 125,000 web pages loaded from the website, Though most of the web visitors are from the United States, visitors routinely log in from around the world: Morocco, the Netherlands, Japan, Indonesia, Estonia, Finland, and China to name a few. The website includes book lists and reviews, a calendar of programs for all ages, links to recommended science websites, and opportunities to become involved in citizen science.

What started at Curtis Memorial Library is now being replicated across the country through the expansion of the initiative to national partners: George and Laura Brown Library, NC; Lewiston Public Library, ME; Little Elm Public Library, TX; Tempe Public Library, AZ, and Wareham Free Library, MA. The partners receive a COS book display kiosk and COS designated books, science program curriculum and program development support. In 2007 they will all be participating in the COS Read, Write & Win book review writing contest for youth, and the Monarch Tagging research program, plus working to further develop their own science programs, such as the Wildlife Film Festival Lewiston Public Library held in October.

“Cornerstones of Science has become a most important and integral part of the library. This incredibly generous gift helps to ensure the vitality of Cornerstones of Science at the library and throughout the Brunswick/Harpswell communities,” said Jamie Kaplan, immediate past President of the library board of directors, who accepted the gift on behalf of the library. “To say that we are most grateful to the Grodzins for their ongoing support of this innovative initiative is truly an understatement.”

“Lee and Lulu Grodzins are amazing people. They work hard, live their dreams, and give back to their community. I am not surprised by their generosity,” said Jocelyn Hubbell, Executive Director of Cornerstones of Science, “because that is the essence of who they are. I have the utmost respect for what they have accomplished with their lives and the example in giving back they have set for all of us. They are so inspiring. I am thrilled by their gift in support of Cornerstones, and honored to be a part of this unique science literacy initiative.”

Both Lee and Lulu Grodzins came from modest beginnings. Lulu (Anderson) grew up on the gulf coast of Texas in the town of Beaumont where she sometimes fished with her father for the family dinner. Lee, raised in Manchester, New Hampshire, (and is an UNH alum) augmented his family’s income after his father’s death, when Lee was still a young boy, through a paper route which he grew into a successful enterprise, subcontracting other boys to run papers as the route grew. Lulu pursued her love of nature and science in college and became a biologist. Lee followed his passion for physics. During his 40 years as professor of physics at MIT, he and Lulu raised a family, founded a successful high-tech business in the Boston area, and, in 1975, became part-time Brunswick residents.

“Cornerstones of Science is making the wonders and the richness of science and technology more approachable,” said Lee Grodzins. “The programs are helping us understand how our lives and the lives of our children are being affected by science’s constant impact and continuing evolution. Cornerstones of Science fills a need. Its success is a testament to the strong support of the library staff, the library board, and the active involvement of many members of the community. Lulu and I hope everyone in the community will find value in the program, participate in it and support it. If each of us gives only what we can afford, we will assure a legacy of up-to-date and engaging science books for all ages, scientist and author lectures, hands-on science programs, and facilitated book discussions for children, youth and adults. With your support, we can make a difference here and throughout the country.”

For more information about how you can get involved with Cornerstones of Science or make a contribution, please call Jocelyn Hubbell at (207) 725-5242 ext. 238 or e-mail her at

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Tree Houses and Creativity

For those of you who enjoyed the Cornerstones of Science program Treehouse Chronicles: One Man’s Dream of Life Aloft with award-winning author & photographer S. Peter Lewis and illustrator T.B.R. Walsh, of the book of by the same name, you will be happy to hear that they have both created blog sites. Peter's blog features the treehouse,

Ted's blog, explores the creative process and spirit through his adventures refinishing and sailing a Friendship Sloop, designing and building a Celtic Wheelhouse, and carving a totem pole - just to name a few.

These sites are sure to inspire and get your creativity flowing.