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Sign up for the Book Sale! Today!

May 20th, 2015

book sale photo

WOW! People sure LOVE the Curtis Friends Book Sale and are chomping at the bit to sign up. I was going to wait until next week to release the online sign up, but what better day than today!

We’re using VolunteerSpot (the leading online Sign-up and reminder tool) to organize our upcoming Sign-ups.

Here’s how it works in 4 easy steps:

1) Click this link to see our Sign-Up on VolunteerSpot: (this will redirect you to the VolunteerSpot website).

2) You will be asked to enter your email address. This is simply so the system can send automated email to confirm your spots as well as a reminder email before your shift.

3) Review the options listed and choose the spot(s) you like.

4) Sign up! It’s Easy – you will NOT need to register an account or keep a password on VolunteerSpot.

Note: VolunteerSpot does not share your email address with anyone. If you prefer not to use your email address, please contact me and I can sign you up manually.

Additionally, we will begin calling past volunteers beginning June 1, so if you are uncomfortable with the electronic sign up and have volunteered in the past, you can expect a call!

Preview: Book Sale Volunteer Opportunities

May 13th, 2015

booksale-volunteersIt is that time of year again! The time I know many of you have been waiting for, I know I have! The Book Sale!! The calls have begun to pour in with people curious about volunteer opportunities and I wanted to take a minute to give you all a preview.

There are 378 volunteer slots over the course of the week. Here is a breakdown of the options:

  •  Sunday, June 21 – volunteers can assist the Curtis Friends load tables onto trucks;
  • Monday, June 22 – as soon as school is released at noon, volunteers at the Junior High will begin setting up the tables;
  • Tuesday, June 23 – volunteers will help move boxes of books from trucks into their designated sections in the junior high;
  • Wednesday, June 24 – the thousands of boxes of tens of thousands of books we moved on Tuesday now need to be unpacked;
  • Thursday, June 25 – the unpacking continues into Thursday, then a group of ingenious teens will count the books through a unique methods involving measuring sicks and math!
  • Friday, June 26 – Sunday, June 28 – volunteers will work as floor monitors, door guards and cashiers to help visitors to the sale have a great experience;
  • Sunday, June 28 – After the dust settles, we need volunteers to help us repack any unsold books destined for donation and then clean the junior high; finally,
  • Monday, June 29 – the final volunteers will help return the borrowed tables.

I am exhausted just typing all of that! That is why we need YOUR help! This year we will be using an online sign up to supplement our volunteer callers. Beginning Tuesday, May 26, I will post the online sign up link here as well as on Facebook and sent out via an email blast. On Monday, June 1, volunteer callers will begin calling people who have volunteered in the past but have not signed up through other means.

Mark your calendars and save the dates you want to volunteer! Volunteers make this sale happen!

Books in Honor Selections

April 29th, 2015


Every year, the Curtis Friends honor volunteers who have given 50 hours of their time or more to the library in the prior calendar year. We ask each volunteer to choose a book or or genre and then ask the librarians to purchase that book to add to the Curtis collection in honor of the volunteer.

It shouldn’t surprise me what a varied list of books we added to our collection for our 37 2014 honorees! Take a look! The list of titles is below. If you are interested in the books, check them out in the New Book Room! For your convenience, I have shared the link, when available, to our catalog!

City Beasts: 14 stories  by Mark Kurlansky pt
Pagan Spring by GM Malliet and Murder on the Half Shell by Lorna Barrett
Eyewitness Pond & River
Retribution of Mara Dyer
3 vols Walkng Dead
Team Dog: How to Train Your Dog
Chessmen/Peter May
Coming Home
Jane Austen’s England
Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson
Murder of Magpies / Judith Flanders
God in ruins by Kate Atkinson  – ordered, not in yet!
Fire and Ice: soot, solidarity…/jonathan mingle
Knowleledgeable Knitter – ordered, not in yet!
Murder in the Queen’s Wardrobe
Hell’s Angels : the true sory of the 303rd
If you plant a seed
Historical atlas of Maine – ordered, but not in yet!
Scandal in the secret city by diane fanning
Double fudge brownie murder
Singular Mission/Judith Campbell
Sometimes an Art
Gardener’s Garden
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
Death of Caesar
Vision in Silver
Nourishing traditions cookbook – ordered but not in yet!
In these times: living in Britain thru Napoleon’s wars
Listening to Stone: The art and life of Isamu Nogochiby Hayden Herrera
Eleanor Marx
Pure Grit: How Am. WWII Nurses…
Apocalyptic planet
Cooking Class
Driving the King
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee, due in July
An ambush of tigers

Curtis Friends Spring Outdoor Clean Up

April 6th, 2015


Spring is finally in the air and I can (almost) say with (some) confidence that the snow will fully melt and we can all begin to ready our gardens for the summer season.

I am excited to welcome everyone to sign up to join us for the Curtis Friends Spring Outdoor Clean Up taking place on Saturday, May 2 from 9am to 12pm. Lunch will be provided following your efforts thanks to the Curtis Friends.

Tasks will include weeding, raking, replanting, pruning and other tasks as we discover what is hidden under the snow!

We’re using VolunteerSpot (the leading online Sign-up and reminder tool) to organize our upcoming Sign-ups.

Here’s how it works in 3 easy steps:

1) Click this link to see our Sign-Up on VolunteerSpot:
2) Review the option listed and choose the spot you like.
3) Sign up! It’s Easy – you will NOT need to register an account or keep a password on VolunteerSpot.

Note: VolunteerSpot does not share your email address with anyone. If you prefer not to use your email address, please contact me and I can sign you up manually. The system will even send you a reminder two days before the event!

A huge thank you is owed to local company We Compost It! ( They are donating 100 pounds of compost to be used to get our gardens started. For a small monthly fee, they will deliver you a bag of compost at the beginning and end of the season as well as your first bucket. Each week, you place your bucket on your curb, they pick it up and leave you a new bucket. They estimate that half of your garbage is made up of compostable materials. After finding success in southern Maine, they are here in Brunswick. What an awesome service and we are grateful to be working with them to put locally sourced compost into our gardens. Check them out!


Books in Honor

March 30th, 2015


Every year, we reflect on the volunteers who have gone above and beyond the call of duty. We honor volunteers from the prior calendar year who volunteered 50 hours or more! This year, we are lucky to have 36 individuals who dedicated so much time to make this library great.

As a small token of our gratitude, the Curtis Friends purchase a book in honor of the volunteer. Over the past month, I have been gathering the requested genres and titles from volunteers. The interests of our community is wide reaching. Some people chose books in the collection where they shelve and spend time. Others chose something of personal interest. Books will be added to all of our collections – children’s, teen, non-fiction, fiction, mystery and large print!

Each book contains a book plate noting the volunteer and their service. One of the perks of having a book added to the collection is getting to be the first person to take the book out!

The books will be on display at the annual Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast, where we invite anyone who gave time in 2014 to join us for a lovely breakfast from Wild Oats. There, we honor the volunteer of the year, who is someone who has gone above and beyond. Plus, door prizes and a chance to spend some quality time with fellow volunteers, library staff and board members.

Do you want to be part of our volunteer community in 2015? Why not set a goal to be among the honored at the next breakfast! Click here to sign up online!


Spring is Coming!

March 12th, 2015


As hard as it is to believe, spring truly is coming! After the winter we have had, we deserve months of blue skies, warm weather and gentle breezes.

With the spring, comes a host exciting volunteer opportunities to look forward to. Keep an eye out on this space, facebook, as well as the newsletter for more information about each event and how you sign up. As our spring and summer calendars quickly fill up, I wanted everyone to have the dates of popular events well in advance!

First, a newly formed opportunity! Melissa Hall, Operations Manager and I will be hosting an informational meeting on Friday, April 3 at 3:30pm in the Morrell Meeting Room at Curtis Memorial Library to discuss the formalization of the Curtis Volunteer Gardening Collective. We expect to discuss preliminary plans, establish potential volunteer roles, create expectations and seek volunteer leadership. No rsvp required. Please join us if you are interested in gardening.

The Annual Volunteer Appreciation Breakfast is scheduled for Saturday, April 25 at 9:30am in the Morrell Meeting Room at Curtis Memorial Library. Each year, we honor the volunteers who have contributed 50 hours or more the prior year by adding a book in their honor to our collection. We also announce the Volunteer of the Year award.

So long as the snow continues to melt, the Curtis Friends Outdoor Cleanup will take place Saturday, May 2 from 9am – 12pm. During the spring clean up, volunteers can expect to rake, prune, bag and plant, all to get the gardens ready for the summer. The Curtis Volunteer Gardening Collective will likely hold their second meeting, this time outside, to identify more specific tasks to be assigned. Sign ups will take place online in an easy to use format. Once available, look for a brief tutorial blog post.

Finally, the jewel in the Curtis community’s volunteer schedule, the Curtis Friends Book Sale. Set up opportunities begin Sunday, June 21 and continue through Thursday, June 25. Working at the sale shifts will take place Friday, June 26 through Sunday, June 28. And a few tired souls will be needed Monday, June 29 to help return any final borrowed items in the morning. Sign ups will take place online in an easy to use format. Once available, look for a brief tutorial blog post.

There is so much to look forward to! I hope it is enough to get through the final assaults by this winter.

Together in service,


Mea Culpa!

February 23rd, 2015

love volunteers

I have been extremely delinquent in my volunteer blog posting. My apologies! I promise there is a good reason. It does not mean, however, that I haven’t noticed all the hard work our volunteers put in each day!

My role at the library as Volunteer Coordinator is part time. I dedicate 18 hours a week to recruiting, screening and managing volunteers. Additionally, I work with the Curtis Friends to help staff their book sale and the Books on Wheels program. I love working with the volunteers here at Curtis. Everyone is so dedicated to the mission of the library. People step up and help wherever they are needed. I truly believe that Curtis wouldn’t be nearly as vibrant and successful without the combined efforts of our hundreds of volunteers.

Have you heard that Curtis received an amazing $92,000 grant to put on a year – long program entitled Making It in Maine: Living the Good Life program, which is made possible by a grant from the FINRA Investor Education Foundation through Smart investing@your library®, a partnership with the American Library Association? This is an amazing opportunity for the community and we are looking forward to bringing programming to both community partners as well as hosting events here at the library.

As part of this grant, the library wanted to hire someone to act as the Financial Literacy Grant Manager. Given my skills, knowledge and abilities, I was asked to step into this role and I eagerly accepted! My new responsibilities will include developing and planning programming, compiling community resources, assessment and project management. I will work closely with Sarah Brown, the Adult Services Manager, who will serve as the Project Principal, over the next 18 months.

The grant was announced a few weeks ago and since then, Sarah and I have attended a training in Chicago and we have begun meeting with key community partners, such as United Way and MidCoast Hunger Prevention Program. It has been a whirlwind but really exciting.

As a result, you will be seeing me around the library more. And I will have more variety when I can meet with current and prospective volunteers.  Needless to say, I am extremely excited about this new role and how. It won’t, however, impact my role as volunteer coordinator. I am here for you so you can be here for the library!

Crafting Opportunities – Thursday, Jan. 22 & Friday Jan. 23

January 13th, 2015


Have you heard about the Curtis Collaboratory? It is our newest innovation – an interactive space where patrons can engage with literature and our wider community. Past topics have focused on Misfits and Mavericks as part of the wider TEDx Dirigo talks as well as the current display on Cause and Effect: Kinetic Contraptions. For more information please visit:
I am very excited about the theme for February – “It’s All About The Book.” With a take on Valentine’s Day, the Collaboratory will be matching you with your book. From Blind Dates with a book (books wrapped in brown paper wrapping) to discovering what library staff are reading. It is going to be a great way to engage with books and maybe pick up a book you never knew you needed!
That is where you come in. We need your help creating the crafts for the space. This includes:

* cutting out hearts (100+) and snowflakes (50+) from book pages and cardstock;

* Creating 3-d snowflakes (~40) (pattern provided);

* Wrapping books in plain brown paper for “blind date with a book;”

* Cutting cardstock into bookmark size (with papercutter) for “bookmark challenge;”

*Assembling quote/author book pockets for “match me if you can;”

* Cutting and gluing/taping quotes and book titles onto cardstock for “famous first lines;”

* Creating a multitude of mini books for book takeaway.

Does this sound like something you would be interested in? If so, we would love to have you join us. We will be hosting drop in sessions Thursday, January 22 between 10am and 12pm and Friday, January 23 between 10am and 12pm in the second floor conference room (adjacent to the travel & language neighborhood). You can stay for as long as you would like. To sign up, please click here:

Board Presentation

December 15th, 2014

Each year, the Curtis Memorial Library Boards and the Curtis Friends Board come together for a joint meeting. They use their time together to welcome new members and align their interests for the coming year. In addition to these tasks, they welcome a member of the library staff to present on their department. I was honored to be invited to present.

As there were new board members present, I took a few minutes to introduce myself. One such tidbit I shared was about my extensive travels in East Africa. During college I was fortunate enough to study abroad in Kenya. This fueled what has since become a life long passion of mine. I have returned to Kenya and then Tanzania. I went to law school in Nairobi, worked at a Children’s Village in Tanzania, clerked for a United Nations tribunal and traveled to Rwanda as part of that position. I mentioned these trips partly because they are a large part of who I am today but also because while I work coordinating volunteers, I am also a volunteer myself. I understand the challenges and benefits. I get great joy in volunteering in both my local community as well as abroad.

I wanted to share the accomplishments of volunteers over the past six months. I talked about this blog! I really wanted to make the volunteer webpage dynamic. I wanted a reason for people to visit it more than once. I wanted the site to be a destination. Apparently more than a few people read this blog, so success! I added the option to apply online as well as introducing online sign ups for events using VolunteerSpot.

Following this discussion, I went into talking about my goals for the volunteer program for 2015.

  • In 2015, I would love to find ways to increase the diversity among our volunteers. This will take being creative in our volunteer opportunities as well as addressing common impediments that stop people from volunteering, including lack of time, child care, lack of transportation and misconceptions about volunteering.
  • Volunteers under the age of 18 can bring so much to our community. They have energy and enthusiasm. And we have a huge advantage, they are required to volunteer 30 hours for graduation. However, it can be challenging to work within their schedules and other commitments. I want to find ways to engage this population. This will involve being innovative on how we engage with teenagers and what volunteer opportunities we offer.
  • Having Bowdoin and SMCC in our own town, we have the fabulous opportunity to  work with motivated volunteers who inherently have experience and motivation to join our community. One hurdle is introducing them to Curtis. Another is working within their ever changing schedules, and school breaks. This age group needs meaningful tasks and want to feel that they have contributed something. This is not a group to give mindless tasks to, so it will take revisiting our volunteer opportunities to attack new volunteers.
  • I have researched a number of technological options available to help streamline the application, schedule and sign up process.  Unfortunately, we were not selected to receive a grant to fund the purchase of the product I selected. This means I will be working closely with Development in the coming year to find ways to acquire and maintain a system. I feel strongly that this resource will free up my time presently spent managing multiple sources of information in order to work on other projects.
  • Finally, there is room for growth and development in the area of recruiting professional volunteers. This means finding volunteers with unique professional skills who are interested in providing those skills to the library in lieu of us paying someone else. Areas of interest might be legal, financial / accounting, web and design skills.

I have greatly enjoyed my first six months here at Curtis. I am truly excited about all these rooms for growth in the coming year. I am so proud of our volunteer community. Last fiscal year we had 280 unique volunteers who contributed 8,708 hours to Curtis Memorial Library. How amazing is that?! Thank to everyone and I look forward to the exciting opportunities that 2015 has in store!



November 26th, 2014

pooh and piglet gratitudeIt is common this time of year to look back and share what we are grateful for. As we all prepare to come together around tables with friends and family, I want to take a minute and do just that. I want to share what I am grateful for this year.

I am grateful for a job that I love. I am so fortunate to get to come to work every day at a place I enjoy, with people who challenge me, supervisors who support me and in a building that is peaceful and beautiful.

I am grateful for our volunteers. Over the past six months, I am continually in awe of the Curtis Volunteers. No matter the tasks, big or small, volunteers consistently step up. Whether it is weekly shelving, book sales, out door clean up, delivering books to the home bound, volunteers are there to complete these tasks. That leads nicely to my next point.

I am grateful for the strong support for Curtis Memorial Library. The Brunswick and Harpswell communities truly love this place. This love and support is exactly the reason people continually step up to help when asked. Countless people recount that the library does so much for them that they are happy to help out.

I am grateful for all I have learned in my six months here. It is fascinating to discover how Curtis stays so popular. By fulfilling our mission, we offer more than just books. We are a community center offering a wide array of programming, services and educational opportunities that keep people coming back.

Thank you all for being part of the Curtis Community. Happy Thanksgiving to you all and may you have countless things to be grateful for this season.

Books on Wheels

November 20th, 2014

Books on Wheels is one of my favorite volunteer supported programs here at the library. Run by the Curtis Friends, Books on Wheels delivers books to home bound Curtis Memorial Library patrons. Presently, there are 30 Brunswick residents who receive books.

Volunteers visit monthly bringing with them new books and returning the old books. Some volunteers and patrons form a life long bond. Many volunteers report that they really enjoy their time with the patron, often staying for hours to talk. When one patron was recovering from eye surgery, the volunteer stayed and read from the selected books. The benefits of this program go beyond “just” delivering books.

For the bibliophiles among us, forming a connection with the book – the characters, the themes, the scenery – has always been part of our lives. Books on Wheels allows community members to maintain that relationship. CS Lewis said “We read to know we are not alone.” This program proves this to be true. Books on Wheels volunteers give patrons back their reading independence by selecting books and media from the library for their enjoyment.

As we approach Thanksgiving, I wanted to take a moment to be thankful for the Books on Wheels volunteers for taking Curtis Memorial Library resources to members of our community who cannot join us in person. By sharing your love of reading, your careful selection of books and spending time with your patron, you embody the Curtis mission: To enhance the quality of life in our towns by advancing knowledge, fostering creativity, encouraging the exchange of ideas, and building community. Thank you!

Could you or a loved one benefit from Books on Wheels? For more information:

My Passion!

November 4th, 2014

Those who know me know that I have am a crazy dog person! I have always had the pleasure of having dogs in my life and that has continued into adulthood. I got my first dog while living in New Jersey. His name is Dash and he is a little mutt! We adore him, but whatever makes up his mutt-ness can be extremely frustrating! Maybe a bit of terrier, we aren’t sure and he isn’t telling! We joke that he has a old soul. An old grumpy soul.

Several years later, along came Graeme. He is the apple of my eye, my raison d’etre! I blame Graeme for my crazy dog person status. Graeme is special! He is a Portuguese Water Dog and I co-own him with his breeder. As part of this co-ownership, he participates in dog shows. Yup! Have you seen Best in Show? That is not far from reality! In a very short amount of time, Graeme earned his American and Canadian championships giving him a very fancy title: Am. Can. Ch. DownEast Man of the Match CGC AWD. No kidding! His name is more impressive than mine.

Due in large part to his breeder being heavily involved in the dog world, I felt compelled to train Graeme, mostly in an effort to make them proud. I quickly learned that Graeme loves to work and I don’t mind training him. It is actually a lot of fun. I love training him in water work, which is made up of tests the replicate what the breed would have done in Portugal for the fishermen – fetch items overboard, retrieve things under water, board and ride boats. It is a true working team. And it means I get to be in the water all summer. I also worked hard and got Graeme certified as a Therapy Dog. Every week we go to our local library, the Lewiston Public Library, to participate in their READ program. Little kids snuggle up to Graeme and read to a non-judgmental listener. Graeme excels in all these areas.

I have learned a lot about patience and communication through my work with Graeme. I have made a lot of friends with similar interests. I happily embrace my crazy dog moniker and would love to chat about our shared passion if you also love dogs!

Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment

October 27th, 2014

volunteering to self sufficiency

Many view volunteering as a one way street – the volunteer provides services to an organization and excepts nothing in return. But, did you know, volunteering can provide you with many added benefits, including being more likely to be hired for future jobs?

The Corporation for National and Community Service conducted extensive research and found the following fascinating facts:

  • Volunteers have a 27 percent higher likelihood of finding a job after being out of work than non-volunteers
  • Volunteers without a high school diploma have a 51 percent higher likelihood of finding employment
  • Volunteers living in rural areas have a 55 percent higher likelihood of finding employment

Volunteering introduces you to new people, helping you network within your community. You have the opportunity to build new skills, gain enhanced knowledge and work experience within a professional setting.

Do you have a section for volunteering on your resume? Do you keep it up to date? If you answered no to either of these questions, you might want to think again. According to a LinkedIn survey, 41% of employers consider volunteer service as much as their employment history. Surprisingly, only half those surveyed included their own volunteer work on their resume. Your volunteer work is a spotlight on your passions and talents that might not otherwise shine through.

Photo credit: United Way Central Indiana

2014 Blaine House Conference on Service and Volunteerism

October 20th, 2014

Last week I had the great pleasure of representing Curtis Memorial Library at the annual Blaine House Conference on Service and Volunteerism. This year’s theme was Service: The Art. The Magic. The Impact.


I attended a number of sessions in hopes of bringing back both the tried and true practices that have had success elsewhere as well as new ways of doing things. The sessions focused on technology as a means of managing volunteers, benefiting from a relationship with a college or university, developing my skills as a new leader of our volunteer cohort and marketing our vibrant volunteer community. In each session, I was able to learn from leaders in their fields. I am confident that over the next few weeks and months, as I digest everything I learned, I will be able to adopt the parts that best suit the Curtis Volunteer Community.

The Key Note Speech  was amazing. Director of the Franklin Project, Jason Mangone, introduced us to his work and how the Franklin Project can help shape generations to come.  “The Franklin Project is an effort to improve citizenship by giving every young person in America the opportunity to do a service year. Sometime between the ages of 18 and 28, the young person would do a fully paid, full-time year of service in one of an array of areas from conservation to education and everything in between. These young people will do good work and solve problems. But the real product is better young Americans.” 

Hearing Jason speak about where American was 100 years ago, where we are now and how we can shift our priorities and focus for the better was inspiring. The Franklin Project aims to make giving back, volunteering, service to a cause attainable to everyone. Not only will the community be better for receiving the service, the participant will have gained, skills, connections and experience. Whether they are going on to high education or embarking on a career, they will be better because of their year of service.

Of course, this is all well and good in theory but not remotely practical without a shift in thinking by students, employers and funding sources. Major changes will need to happen to allow this dream to become a reality, but I am encouraged that influential people are having this conversation; that service is valued and encouraged.

Join us over the next four weeks!

October 13th, 2014

It seems either feast or famine with our volunteer opportunities! Following the large book sale in June, I was taking a waiting list to come on as a regular volunteer. Not the case right now! Over the next four weeks, we have fabulous ways for volunteers to join us for single day events. What better way to get involved despite your busy schedule! We would love to see familiar faces as well as new ones!

  • book foldingCurtis Contemporaries Crafting: Join members of the Curtis Contemporaries Friday, October 17 from 3pm – 4:30pm. Drop in to help create folded book and hanging book decorations to display at Curtis’ BOOKED FOR THE NIGHT fundraising event on Saturday, October 25th.  If you can cut, fold and glue, you can help create these fun and attractive pieces.  Crafty kids of all ages welcome.  Light refreshments.   Click here to sign up!
  • Booked for the Night Event Help: Assist staff, Contemporary members and catering staff to help set up the event on Saturday, October 25 from 3:30pm – 5:30pm. Additionally, we need people from 5:30 – 8pm to help us staff the event, including staff the welcome tables, raffle tables, assist the caterers, aid in the event programs. After 8pm, we welcome volunteers to stay, free of charge and enjoy the festivities until the conclusion of the event as our guests. Due to alcohol being served, we request that volunteers be over the age of 21. Click here to sign up!
  • Annual Fund Mailing: Want something less physical but just as valuable? Join us on Tuesday, October 28 from either 10am – 12pm or 1pm – 3pm to help assemble over 700 letters to help kick off the Annual Fund! Snacks and good company are a given! Click here to sign up!
  • Curtis Friends Fall Clean Up: There is still room to join Curtis Friends for the Fall Clean up on Saturday, November 1 from 9am to 12pm. Lunch to follow! If you haven’t already, click here to sign up!
  • Curtis Friends Children’s Book Sale: Help the Curtis Friends set up the book sale on Friday, November 7 from 11:30am – 3pm and at the sale on Saturday, November 8 in varying shifts from 8:45am – 2:30pm. Click here to sign up!

These events are so different and offer our volunteer community a fabulous way to get involved with library administration and fellow volunteers, while making a huge difference to the library. I am excited to offer these opportunities, that run the spectrum from physical outdoor work cerebral crafting! No matter your skill set, there is something for everyone over the next four weeks.