NEW MILFORD -- The local library is his haunt of choice in the small New Hampshire town Ken Burns calls home.

So when this renowned documentary filmmaker was asked by the New Milford Public Library staff to speak in this town, he says he happily said "yes."

"I live in a small town, and my children and I use the library there," Burns said. "These small-town libraries are the DNA of our civilization."

Burns has been making films for more than 30 years. His May 17 talk in New Milford, "Sharing The American Experience," will draw on three of his epic documentaries -- "The Civil War," "Baseball" and "Jazz." Those films first ran, respectively, as series on PBS in 1990, 1994 and 2001.

"When people look at these three, they often see three utterly disconnected subjects," Burns said. "But I see an interweaving that makes for a more organic understanding of history.

"Quite often when history is taught," he noted, "it's presented as a series of American presidents' administrations punctuated by wars. But through an interweaving, we learn what the American experience is all about -- immigration, race, labor and more."

Tickets will go on sale Monday for "Sharing The American Experience" for New Milford residents only. On March 18, ticket sales will open to the general public. A total of 650 tickets are available through the library at $10 per person, with a limit of four per family. For tickets, call 860-355-1191, ext. 203.

Burns' talk will be part of a three-week celebration of history with a variety of library-sponsored programs.

"We wanted to get someone for this project who would make a major impact," said Carl DeMilia, director of New Milford Public Library. "It took four months of working with Mr. Burns' people to get him here. I know he's happy to do this. This is a real coup."

Born in 1953 in Brooklyn, N.Y., Burns studied film making at Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass., graduating in 1975. Burns' documentaries have garnered Emmys and other awards.

Burns said learning what the American experience is all about has been a goal as long as he can remember.

"If I live for 1,000 years, I'll never run out of questions to ask," he said.

He directs, produces, co-writes and is chief cinematographer on his films.

Burns' most recent film, "The Central Park Five," is slated for broadcast in April on PBS. It is a two-hour film about the teenagers wrongly convicted of a Central Park jogger rape.; 860-355-7322