Library bringing community together
over pages of classic Austen novel
Getting local residents on the same page is the aim of the staff at Batavia Public Library staff, with the 11th annual community-wide reading program, One Book, One Batavia. The goal is to encourage people to read the same book, and then come together to discuss the experience. This year, hundreds are expected to enjoy one of the original romantic comedies, Jane Austen’s classic novel of manners and relationships, Pride and Prejudice.
“This happens to be the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice being published, so that fed into our decision to use it this year,” says Stacey Peterson, adult services manager for the library. “I think the depictions of human nature are spot-on in the novel, and we recognize the people in the book in the people that we know today,” she said.
Peterson also believes the development of the story is very satisfying to readers.
“There’s conflict, there are issues of family, and a beautiful romance happening, making it a very appealing book.”
Even residents who aren't big readers, or who like to mix reading with other creative pursuits, can take part in the One Book, One Batavia experience. During the month of March, there are a number of other related events to enjoy.
• Author Kim Wilson will present, “In the Garden with Jane Austen,” an illustrated tour of English gardens.
• Eileen Shafer will guide participants through a favorite ritual of the era in, “Taking Tea with Jane Austen,” and yes, there will be samples.
• Speaker Diane Capitani of the Jane Austen Society will discuss the idea that money, not love, is central to the plot of Pride and Prejudice.
• The main event, “Jane Austen Speaks,” will feature the actress Debra Ann Miller portraying Jane Austen in the prime of her life and peak of her writing career.
Most events require registration and library staff members encourage residents to sign up early for the ones that interest them.
“If you’re a regular library user, you not only check out materials, you also come here for the educational and entertaining programs,” says Michele Martzel, the library’s promotional services manager. Martzel gets the word out about the One Book, One Batavia program’s upcoming events through online calendars, newspapers and in the library with posters, flyers and displays.
The One Book, One Batavia program has been keeping residents turning pages for over a decade, mixing different book genres from year to year. Books are selected by a committee of library staff members, a representative or two from Batavia High School and the Friends of the Library, who all bring ideas to the table to reach a decision.
For enthusiastic program participant Chris Wedell of Batavia, Pride and Prejudice is just as fresh and relevant today as it was when published two centuries ago.
“It’s one of my favorite books of all time. It just made me want to read it all over again knowing that all these events were coming up,” she said.
For more information on One Book, One Batavia 2013, or any of the upcoming events, contact the Batavia Public Library at 630-879-1393.
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