How does a library manage to keep its Community Reads program relevant and exciting? Celebrating its 17th annual One Read program with David Grann’s Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders the the Birth of the FBI” in September, the Daniel Boone Regional Library (MO) just might have the secret to successful programming.
One Read co-chair Lauren Williams says that the library uses two strategies to immerse the community in a book. The first includes hosting a discussion panel to delve into certain topics that appear in the book. For instance, when Station Eleven was selected in 2015, a theater company director, a professor on contemporary literature, the director of University of Missouri’s Student Health Center, and an English professor knowledgeable in post-apocalyptic fiction dissected these topics outside of the book to make them more relatable to the audience. Additionally, the library hosted an annual art contest and exhibited to encourage local artists to submit work based on the book’s themes.
Williams offers additional tips on how to make an engaging One Read program:
- Recognize it can be a big time commitment. Like planning for summer reading, your entire organization has to be on board.
- Make the program about your community and not just the library. Partner, partner, partner! “We have a task force of community organizations – educational institutions, media outlets, arts organizations – that help us plan programs, promote them, find speakers or provide speakers/performers, venues for programs and exhibits, and even some funding.”
- Work to get your local influencers involved to spread the word and participate. We have the mayor lead a One Read book talk each year, and a local popular radio talk show host moderate a panel discussion each year.
- Give people multiple ways to participate. Consider exploring the themes in the book through programs in unexpected ways like film screenings, writing contests, or art exhibits in addition to book discussions.
- Plan events and programs outside the library, at venues where a different mix of people gather. The location could relate the book, if that is relevant.
Contributed by Ivana Petani