One Book…for 2,500 Kids
Youth Services Librarian Assistant
Lawrence Public Library, KS
Bachelor of General Studies, University of Kansas, 2005
Photo by Ron Wurzer/Getty Images for Library Journal
For a decade, the Lawrence Public Library (LPL) has gotten the city’s adult community reading the same book with its Read Across Lawrence program. Thanks to youth services assistant Rebecca Z. Dunn, some 2,500 Lawrence kids got their own One Book, One Community event last year, delving into Marie Rutkoski’s fantasy Cabinet of Wonders at the library, in the classroom, and at home during the inaugural Read Across Lawrence for kids.
“I had to get the school librarians and teachers behind it,” says Dunn, who learned the art of promotion at a previous job as a PR account manager and has a Nancy Pearl action figure for inspiration. Dunn wisely reached out to school librarians at the outset; they passed the word on to teachers, who included the book in their curriculum. She provided schools with weekly updates on library events (and suggestions for reading resources). With help from the Friends of the Lawrence Public Library, she distributed 600 free copies.
“Getting 2,500-plus kids to read the same book in a city of 90,000 is a significant achievement,” says library director Brad Allen, who also praised Dunn’s ingenuity in bringing “the author all the way from Paris for the kids to see and talk with,” via Skype.
Another rousing success: since Lawrence “lives and breathes basketball,” Dunn timed a best books competition, Tournament of Kids Books, to coincide with the NCAA’s March Madness; players from the University of Kansas Jayhawks announced the winners at the library. Also a hit: a Detectives in Training program, a collaboration with the Lawrence Police Department.
“To Rebecca, the library is the very thread by which everything in the community is connected,” says Allen.