Stark County One Book Shares Industry Tips

Stark County Library’s Literacy Coordinator Julia Shaheen shares some valuable insights about Stark County’s One Book One Community program:

Stark County Library, One Book One CommunityWould you tell us a bit about the Stark County One Book One Community program? How did it get started?

Each year Stark County residents of all ages join together in reading a common book and sharing ideas through community conversation. One Book, One Community Stark County has been in our community for over 12 years originally sponsored by the Canton Mayor’s Literacy Commission. In 2014, the Mayor’s Literacy Commission dissolved and the Stark County District Library absorbed the One Book program into its event and activities model. That year it expanded to include most of the libraries in Stark County, which includes 10 Stark County District Library locations and 5 independent libraries. Several new community organizations also joined the committee.


What advice or tips can you share with us about starting and hosting a Community Reads program?

If someone is looking to start a Community Reads program, it is important to work with local organizations. We have expanded our program to include representatives from our county educational service center, the independent libraries in our county, the arts community, as well as avid readers who are interested in volunteering. This really helps with promotion and marketing across the county.  It is also important to choose books that appeal to a wide variety of people including students, families, book club attendees, library and non-library users, etc. (or choose a companion book which appeals to the younger audiences).

Books In Common has really helped with the event planning piece for the author visit. We like to host several programs beyond the book discussions to make the community more aware of the selection and our community reads program. We have hosted programs like roundtable and panel discussions, history-based informational sessions, children’s storytimes, entertainment events with children’s choirs, theater groups, and bands, as well as a dramatization of the book.

How has your relationship with Books In Common during the past two years been beneficial?

Working with Books In Common has been a great experience. Christie gives us great suggestions and makes the author visit planning process so easy. We have found some great authors for our One Book, One Community Stark County selections, and our Speaking of Books author series as well. BIC makes it easy to set up the itinerary.

What are some of your fondest or most notable memories from last year’s events?

We really enjoyed our visits from Michael Hingson and Forrest Pritchard. With every author event, we are reaching new demographics and people who may not have used the library in years. We have been able to start new conversations and add an extra piece to the typical book discussion. Most of the authors have been so gracious to schedule more than one big presentation. They have offered their time to school groups, too—elementary, high school, and college.

With Michael Hingson we were able to schedule a visit with one of our local elementary schools. He spoke to them about his experiences in life, and they asked some great questions. The interactions between the students and Michael were so fun.

With Forrest Pritchard, we were approached by a local high school and their culinary students to schedule a visit and discuss sustainability and where our food comes from. The students prepared a wonderful meal and had the opportunity to talk with Forrest in a small group setting. It was so different from anything we had done with our previous authors, and it gave students a new experience.

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