Phyllis Bernt

Phyllis Bernt

March will be a busy month at the library, with four events open to everyone in the community. The first event is the March installment of the World of Haystack Rock Library Lecture Series, which is sponsored by the Friends of Haystack Rock. The lecture will begin at 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 8.

Josh McInnes, a marine mammal scientist and graduate student at the University of British Columbia’s Institute for the Oceans and Fisheries Marine Mammal Research Unit, will present “Ecological Aspects of Transient Killer Whales off the California and Oregon Coast.”

Transient killer whales are important predators in the marine ecosystems along the Pacific coast. McInnes will discuss the latest findings regarding their numbers, ecology, distribution and community structure along the outer coast and offshore waters of Oregon and California.

McInnes, a native of Vancouver, British Columbia, conducts research on the ecology and behavior of marine mammals in British Columbia and Monterey Bay, California. His studies focus on the foraging behavior, diet and ecology of transient Bigg’s killer whales and Risso’s dolphins.

This is both an in-person and virtual event. Participants can enjoy the program at the library, at 131 N. Hemlock in downtown Cannon Beach, or view the talk virtually by accessing the Friends of Haystack Rock website at

The World of Haystack Rock Library Lecture Series meets on the second Wednesday of each month from November through April. This year’s lecture series is dedicated to the memory of Sandi Lundy, a long-time member of both the Friends of Haystack Rock and the Cannon Beach Library.

Two evenings later, on Friday at 7 p.m., March 10, writers will read their work during the library’s annual Writers Read Celebration. Because of the pandemic, the last two Writers Read Celebrations were conducted on Zoom. This year’s Celebration will be a hybrid event, with writers and viewers having the option of meeting at the library, or participating virtually through the library’s website at

This is the fifth year the library’s NW Authors Speaker Series committee has asked authors to write about a specific theme. Past themes were general topics like life on the north coast or the pandemic. This year, the committee tried something different. Authors were asked to consider the question, “Hemingway at the Beach: What Would He Say?”

With its plain prose, short sentences and hyper-masculine subject matter, Hemingway’s writing style has been widely copied by admirers and often parodied by detractors.  Whether admirers or detractors, writers were asked for short stories, essays, poems or scripts that explored some aspect of Hemingway’s life, works or writing style, in the context of the beach.

Thirty-one authors responded by submitting 47 entries, along with comments that this task was “a fun challenge,” “a great experience” and “an intriguing exercise.” A volunteer panel of judges selected 13 writers from Oregon and Washington to read their works on the evening of March 10.

The following week, members of the Cannon Beach Reads book club will meet at 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 15, to discuss “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains,” by Nicholas Carr. This is a hybrid meeting; participants can join in person in the library or online through use of Zoom and a webcam conferencing system.

In “The Shallows,” Carr expands on arguments he made in an Atlantic Monthly cover story, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” Carr argues that, because the brain changes in response to experiences (a concept known as ‘neuroplasticity’), the use of technologies to find, store and share information can literally reroute the pathways in the brain and thus change the way we process information.

According to Carr every intellectual tool—a map, a book, a search engine—carries with it a set of assumptions about the nature of knowledge and intelligence. He argues that, while the printed book focuses attention and promotes deep and creative thought, the Internet encourages the rapid sampling of small bits of information from many sources.

As a result, says Carr, people are becoming proficient at scanning and skimming information quickly and efficiently, but are losing the mental capacity for concentration, contemplation and reflection, a development Carr finds disturbing.

Nicholas Carr is an American author who writes thought-provoking, often-controversial books and essays about technology, business and culture. In addition to “The Shallows,” his other books include “Does IT Matter?” “The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google,” “The Glass Cage: Automation and Us” and “Utopia is Creepy: and Other Provocations.”

Darrell Clukey will lead the discussion of “The Shallows” which will begin at 7 p.m. on Wednesday evening, March 15, at the library. The Zoom link for those who cannot participate in person, is available from Joe Bernt at Coffee and cookies will be provided. New members are always welcome.

And finally, during the last weekend of the month, the library’s NW Authors Speaker Series will welcome historian Annelise Heinz to the library at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 25. This will also be a hybrid event; participants can join Heinz at the library or enjoy her presentation remotely through the library’s website (

Heinz will discuss her award-winning book, “Mahjong: A Chinese Game and the Making of Modern American Culture.”  The book is a history of a game that became an important feature of several American ethnic and social groups during the twentieth century.

For American expatriates in Shanghai, white Americans during the Jazz Age, urban Chinese Americans in the 1930s, Jewish American suburban mothers and the wives of Air Force officers post-WWII, mahjong was more than just a way to pass the time. Heinz argues that mahjong was an important part of each group’s cultural identity, and that these cultural identities helped build what we think of as modern American culture.

“Mahjong” was awarded the Pacific Coast Branch Book Award for outstanding first book on a historical subject and was a Finalist for the Oregon Book Award for general nonfiction and the Huntington Library’s Shapiro Book Award for outstanding first book in American history

Annelise Heinz is an associate professor of modern American history whose work has been featured by NPR, the Wall Street Journal and the South China Morning Post. A native of Southern California, Heinz received her undergraduate degree from Whitman College and her doctorate from Stanford. She has taught English at Yunnan University in China and was on the faculty at the University of Texas at Dallas, before becoming an associate professor and director of graduate studies in history at the University of Oregon.


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