Venue Interview: Kitsap Regional Library

krllogoChapple Langemack answered questions for Books In Common about Kitsap Regional Library in Washington. She discusses their Community Reads event and how they work with the local community.

Would you tell us a bit about your program?  For instance how long has the Kitsap Regional Library System hosted a Community Reads event, how did it get started, and how has it changed over the years?

One Book, One Community started in 2008 with To Kill a Mockingbird.  The idea was to gather the community to celebrate National Book Month.  We have refined our criteria over the year and now alternate between fiction and nonfiction titles.  We like a Pacific Northwest connection though that’s not written in stone.  We have a much better response from patrons when we choose a live author who visits the community.  We have also started fine tuning our programming, focusing more on the opportunity to actually discuss the book and hear the author and not so much on tangential thematic programming.

What did you learn from last year’s program that is helping you this year?  What are you changing, what worked well?

We began a new marketing campaign last year (for which we just won a John Cotton Dana award).  We filmed a commercial emphasizing the power of story and community and ‘released’ hundreds of free copies of the book for residents to find in unexpected places.

What advice or tips can you share with us about hosting a community reads program?

As mentioned earlier, a live, present author tends to get a better response.  It’s also important for staff to be involved with the book.  We gave each staff member a copy of the book to read and give away to someone else.

What titles have worked best for your community, and why?

Tim Egan’s charisma and exemplary writing attracted big crowds for The Big Burn, Jamie Ford’s Hotel at the Corner of Bitter & Sweet had huge resonance because of the Seattle setting and large Asian community, which helped bridge diversity in our community.

What are some of your fondest or most notable memories from past events?

Tales are still told about Teddy Roosevelt striding around a local mall in a program for The Big Burn.


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