“One Book” style programs are in place around the country, but for smaller libraries it’s often a challenge to participate, because of workload and cost.
How did Cortez Public Library lead the way in starting the collaborative Four Corners/One Book program?
The short answer is a lot of collaboration and local support. A longer answer involves six libraries, a publisher and a local author who is generous with his time and knowledge.
C. Joseph Greaves, known locally as Chuck Greaves, spent 25 years as a trial lawyer in Los Angeles and served as president of the Pasadena Public Library Foundation before moving to the Cortez area. While in LA, he helped start the One City/One Book program at the Pasadena Public Library. Greaves reported that the program was a “great success” and was “still going strong.”
Making a career change in 2006, Greaves moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and began writing novels. When he moved to the Cortez area in 2012, he was encouraged by friends to write a book set in Southwest Colorado. That effort became “Church of the Graveyard Saints.”
By giving author talks and interviewing visiting authors, Greaves developed a relationship with the Cortez Public Library. The idea of starting a One Book program in Cortez came up between Greaves and Kathy Berg, adult programming librarian, during the Cortez Literary Festival in June.
Berg had heard about this type of program from her friend and author Kent Haruf. Haruf has since passed away, but Berg kept the idea tucked away for later. The expense of purchasing books and paying author speaking fees were steep barriers to making the program happen at that time.
When Kathy Berg read a galley copy of “Church of the Graveyard Saints,” sent to the library by Torrey House Press, she wanted to use the book for a community reading program. She loved that the book was set locally and discussed issues important to the local community and region. “And who doesn’t love a good romance?” Berg said in an email.
When Berg presented the idea to Cortez Public Library Director Eric Ikenouye, he was enthusiastic from the start, thanks in part to the success of the literary festival and community support of library events. However, there was still the financial aspect of purchasing books and paying author fees.
Both challenges of were overcome when Greaves offered to attend events related to the program free of charge and Torrey House Press offered to send copies of the book to each participating library.
The next challenge was finding more libraries interested in participating.
Cortez library staff began reaching out to other libraries. Durango, Bayfield and Farmington libraries already were participating in similar programs, but they didn’t stop there, said marketing assistant Cassandra Leoncini.
Andrew Hutchinson, adult services specialist at Ignacio Community Library, said that when Kathy Berg reached out to him about participating, he was immediately interested. As a former teacher, Hutchinson was excited by the thought of collaborating on a locally written book that dealt with local issues.
Getting Ignacio on board helped recruit Mancos Public Library. Midge Kirk, generalist librarian in charge of adult programming, was reluctant at first because of the library’s tight budget and the heavy workload. A conversation with Hutchinson in Ignacio changed things.
Hutchinson’s excitement and plans for community events “lit my spark,” Kirk said. Local issues discussed in the book, books gifted by Torrey House and the chance to work with the other libraries eventually persuaded Kirk to participate. “It’s been an awesome experience so far,” Kirk said.
Montrose Regional Library was eager to join the program, in part because of assistant director Tania Hajjar’s relationship with the Cortez library and its programming. She also was excited about the book’s relevance to her community.
Torrey House reached out to Grand County Public Library in Moab, Utah. Meghan Flynn, head of adult services, said they had an existing relationship with the Salt Lake City-based nonprofit publisher and often received galleys and participated in events. The independent Back of Beyond Book Store plans to host a book signing, and Moab’s local radio station KZMU interviewed Greaves on its Radio Book Club program.
Dolores Public Library was unavailable for comment, but it plans a visit by an author Oct. 4.
All the libraries contacted reported strong reader interest in the program. Copies of the book put into circulation are being checked out by patrons, several book clubs are reading “Church of the Graveyard Saints,” local bookstores like Maria’s Bookshop in Durango are stocking the book, and participating libraries are reaching out to high school English classes to enlist their participation as well.
With the program going well so far, Cortez and other libraries are considering another program next year. Leoncini said she would like to involve even more libraries next year.
Ikenouye, encouraged by community support, said it might be easier to enlist local authors in the future. Southwest Colorado has a strong writing community with a wide variety of authors, and Ikenouye hopes the program will build more connections between libraries and local authors for future events.
Follow the program on Facebook at bit.ly/2m56l1I.