#OneBookWednesday: A Neighborhood Library Perspective

By Deborah A. Wed, January 11, 2017

Why do I so enjoy working with One Book, One Philadelphia each year? Let me count the ways!

For me, this program combines many of the components that I consider to be critical to contemporary librarianship (and why I changed careers back in the mid-1990s to become a librarian):

  • READING and discussing a book, the selection of which has been carefully curated by fellow readers;
  • CREATING DYNAMIC PROGRAMMING for the public and promoting it through social media, flyers, and – gasp! – face-to-face interactions;
  • CIVIC ENGAGEMENT, which promotes the quality of life in a community – in my case, for the past eight and a half years, East Oak Lane and the Oak Lane Library.

A critical component to the success of the Free Library’s One Book program is the Director of Programming, our colleague Kalela Williams. Her organization, intelligence, humor, and dedication to making this effort come alive for the City of Philadelphia are superb. Upholding the Free Library’s mission to "inspire curiosity," she has always worked with me to not only utilize the One Book programs offered through the committee in my library, but also to seek out complementary options and supplemental reading materials.

For example, in regards to the Civil War-related title Cold Mountain, I read in the Philadelphia Inquirer about a Villanova University professor who worked with a team of students to transcribe and annotate the diaries of Civil War-era Emilie Davis, which had been stored in the archives of The Historical Society of Pennsylvania. The resultant book, published in June 2014 by the Penn State University Press, seemed a perfect tie-in to the 2016 One Book selection. So, I invited Judith Giesberg to meet with interested readers to discuss Emilie Davis’s Civil War: The Diaries of a Free Black Woman in Philadelphia, 1863-1865. This program was unique to our city and one of the most well-attended, dynamic book discussions I’ve held during all my years as a library manager.

I enjoy thoughtful programming for curious people, and I see humanities-based programming as opportunities to bring people together in conversations that cross social, economic, and cultural barriers.

Vive la One Book, One Philadelphia!

**Check back every #OneBookWednesday during the Reading Period for some more One Book food-for-thought!**

Oak Lane Library
Oak Lane Library

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