WILLIAMSTOWN -- The David and Joyce Milne Public Library is promoting literacy in a fiery fashion this year.
The library, in collaboration with the Bennington (Vt.) Free Library, is kicking off a year-long program this week called The Year of the Dragon.
Pat McLeod, director of the Milne Public Library, said Monday that the program is inspired by the Chinese year of the dragon, which began on Jan. 21, and will feature programs throughout the spring and fall.
"The Year of the Dragon is going to highlight everything from dragons in Chinese culture to their mysticism to the Chinese culture, language and calligraphy," she said.
The program will begin with a lecture about the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the library.
"Those attending will be able to figure out what animal they are, the traits associated with each animal, and what the year will mean for them," McLeod said.
The next event will be a visit by Bennington, Vt., author Shawn MacKenzie at 7 p.m. on April 4. MacKenzie will sign books and read excerpts from her book, "The Dragonkeeper's Handbook."
MacKenzie's visit will be followed by a family kite making day and Tai Chi workshop later in the month.
McLeod said the Bennington Free Library and Bennington Chamber of Commerce had originally come up with the idea for the program and approached the Milne Public Library about it.
"We thought it would be fun to offer a program based on the subjects of dragons and China, and a way of getting people to come to the library who normally don't come," she said.
Besides individual events, a display featuring books about China and dragons has been set up in the library's main foyer as part of the program, she said.
"There is a real interest in China, and the books have been flying off the shelves of the display," she said.
Lynne Fonteneau-McCann, director of the Bennington Free Library, said that typically libraries work together to promote literacy and enhance the culture of communities, and the Milne Public Library has been a great partner in that.
"We've collaborated with the Milne in the past with Books Across Borders, and it was very successful," she said.
The dragon is a very powerful zodiac, and it feels natural to have a program based on it because libraries chose to empower people through information literacy, she said.
"Libraries are all about self-empowerment, which is why the dragon is so exciting for us," she said.
While the Bennington Free Library doesn't plan to begin its Year of the Dragon program until National Library Week in April, a two-dimensional dragon made out of paper and tissue paper by Bennington College students already occupies the library, she said.
To reach Meghan Foley, email email@example.com.
What: The Year of the Dragon program
* Animals of the Zodiac at 7 p.m., Wednesday
* Bennington, Vt., author Shawn MacKenzie reads excepts from her book, "The Dragonkeeper's Handbook," at 7 p.m., April 4.
Where: David and Joyce Milne Public Library, 1095 Main St.
Information: 413-458-5369 or www.milnelibrary.org