NEW CANAAN — Those arriving this February to New Canaan Library will be greeted by a shelf full of book covers bearing the names and faces of some of the world’s most influential black leaders.

The subjects and authors include former President Barack Obama, former First Lady Michelle, athletes Jackie Robinson and Pele, Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., plus the autobiography of poet Maya Angelou and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ award-winning epistle to his son, 2015’s “Between the World and Me,” a first-person account of the psychological and socioeconomic implications of growing up black in American inner-cities.

The topics covered in Coates’ book, as well as in many of the others, are not especially common to New Canaan which, according to the library’s Director of Adult Services Christle Chumney, is all the more reason for the library to highlight them during Black History Month.

“We as a library have the ability to help make material, particularly print books, available on different topics and subjects to the public. And of course we wanted to celebrate Black History Month and focus on the figures who have shaped our country,” Chumney said.

The collection of books, curated by an in-house reader’s advisory committee, celebrating African-American luminaries — expanded compared to years prior, according to Chumney — are one of the ways in which the library is celebrating the month and stir interest in the community.

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For information on the library’s African American Heroines program on Feb. 23 at 6:30 p.m., visit

“We have done some displays in the past, but haven’t dedicated as much space to them as we did this year. We really wanted to dedicate more space and host a program to help pique people’s interest and help them learn about African American history,” Chumney said.

In addition to the book display, the library will host a lecture by the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame in honor of Black History Month on Connecticut’s African American Heroines. The lecture will highlight women whose contributions, on a local and national level, have positively impacted the state but are often downplayed or ignored. Subjects will include women’s rights advocate Marie Miller Stewart, Civil Rights catalyst Marian Anderson, and current State Treasurer Denise L. Nappier.

“I think libraries are one of the last bastions of safety in many communities,” Chumney said. “We want to be able to represent all points of view, including points of view that may be underrepresented in a community.”; @justinjpapp1