Monday, April 30, 2007

Thinking about starting a One Book, One Campus Program? Part 1, Choosing a title and summer planning

One Book, One Campus programs can be an excellent way to raise your library’s profile on campus while getting to know students, faculty, and staff through discussing an excellent read—but they can also be time consuming and require patience and diplomacy. Here are a few suggestions for anyone thinking of starting a One Book, One Campus program:

Choosing a title
Visit Barbara Fister’s One Book, One College Common Reading Program’s page: This collection of links to college reading programs across the country is an excellent place to begin getting an idea of the possibilities of such a program

Contact some of the colleges from Fister’s page that you find interesting—your fellow librarians will have a lot of excellent ideas and solutions to any problems you may encounter—and they are happy to help—don’t be shy!

When selecting a title—try to keep it to under 350 pages—students already have a lot to read, and will be more likely to get involved if they are not being asked to read a War and Peace length tome.

Seek student and faculty input—if you have a committee for the program, be sure to get faculty and student involvement. Encourage student suggestions for titles. And encourage a wide variety of suggestions, from non-fiction to science fiction to plays to graphic novels—if students see you are open to anything, they will be less shy to make suggestions. Does your campus have an annual campus theme (such as diversity, sustainability, identity, etc.) if so, try to tie the title in with it. Also, be sure to contact students and faculty from all disciplines on campus, as the variety of perspectives can keep the conversation fresh throughout the year.

Consider opening up the selection to a campus-wide vote. A campus wide vote for the title can create buzz for the program, and gives students and faculty a sense of ownership in the process. Ask your campus IT department to help you set up an online voting system requiring login, to avoid complaints of ballot stuffing.

Summer Planning
Recruit students to make a study guide for the book—this can be a lot of fun—get 4-5 students to read the book, then order a few pizzas and have them come up with questions about the book—you will be surprised with what they come up with as they often delve deeply into the work to come up with more than just plot questions (one example: and by having a reading guide already created, it is much easier to recruit groups to have book discussions throughout the school year.

Contact student groups on campus about leading book discussions and meet with your campus’ club council and student government association to encourage involvement. (This should actually be done during the title selection process, as it is a great way to find students interested in being on the planning committee).

Send a press release about the program to your student newspaper. Alternative paper on your campus? Send it to them as well.

Contact area high schools and public libraries to see if they would like to be involved.

Meet with your campus bookstore manager—ask if they will sell the title at a discount. The manager may also be willing to give you display space or to hold book discussions throughout the semester.

Contact area bookstores about holding book discussions at their stores.

Meet with interested faculty on campus for further ideas on how to promote and implement project

Work on your One Book web page--be sure to provide links to supplementary library materials which could be useful to students and faculty reading the book (links to articles, call numbers and descriptions of related reading, etc.)

In my future postings, I will look at bringing in the author, implementing the program, and learning from set-backs (aka “lessons in diplomacy”). Do you have a One Book, One Campus program? If you do and you have further suggestions for librarians thinking of starting one, please comment below.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Ghostwalk by Rebecca Stott

Lydia Brooks is drawn into mysteries both present and past in this haunting, atmospheric thriller. Sir Isaac Newton, alchemy, a missing manuscript, the supernatural, neuroscience and a doomed love affair will draw the reader who loves literary thrillers into this compelling debut.