The Big Read Blog (Archive)

Read Between the Lines: A Q&A with Irving Public Library

Irving, Texas

Teens at the Lively Recreation Center create their own greeting cards inspired by The Call of the Wild book covers, scenes from the book, or the Alaskan setting for the Wild Card: Design-a-Card Contest. Photo courtesy of Irving Public Library

One of the most important aspects of The Big Read is that it cannot be carried out alone. Whether it?s a an arts organization partnering with a library or, in Irving, Texas, a library partnering with an animal care organization, these partnerships are an integral part to putting the ?community? in community-wide reading program. For its third Big Read program, the Irving Public Library chose Jack London?s The Call of the Wild, a decision that resulted in partnerships with the city?s Parks and Recreation Department, as well as the Irving Animal Care Campus, which hosted the kickoff event. Jan Bodnar, Big Read coordinator and Adult Services Supervisor for Irving Public Library, explained that not only did this partnership bring people to the new campus, but it also encouraged local animal lovers to participate in The Big Read. Read on to learn more about Irving?s 2010 Big Read.

NEA: This is the third time Irving Public Library has participated in The Big Read. What is it about this program that makes you want to return to it year after year?

JAN BODNAR: We returned to The Big Read because the added grant money enabled us to bring authors to Irving and offer a variety of exciting programming to expand our events all over the city. Also, the added Big Read publicity and materials help to promote the program and reach participants outside the library setting.

NEA: What was it about The Call of the Wild that you thought would appeal to your community?

BODNAR: We selected The Call of the Wild because of its appeal to the young male population and we knew dog lovers would adopt this book. We also thought we could extend The Big Read to middle school readers. This selection also afforded us an opportunity to further extend to elementary and preschoolers by adding companion titles, Balto, Togo, and Unlovable. So far this year the program has been wildly successful for all ages.

Elementary school children at Senter Park?s after-school program read Balto as part of Irving's Big Read. Photo courtesy of Irving Public Library

NEA: What event were you most looking forward to?

BODNAR: We held a Gold Rush kick-off event attended by 360 family members. Children searched for gold nuggets and returned them for books and prizes. We are looking forward to our weekend finale, featuring a Pet Parade and Howling Howl-o-ween program.

NEA: What has been your favorite Big Read moment?

BODNAR: We held a book discussion on the patio of a coffee shop connected to one of our branches. It was called Wild on the Patio. It was a beautiful fall afternoon, and people could bring a dog or two and sit outside snacking and discussing books. Two guest dogs entertained with tricks. There was a moment when I observed a group of readers enthusiastically sharing book titles with each other. For me, this is the purpose of our community read.

Irving?s Big Read will continue through the end of October. Visit Irving Public Library?s website for more information on how to participate in the Pet Parade, Howling Howl-o-ween program, and other Big Read events.

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