WALLINGFORD — The Wallingford Public Library is holding its fifth annual One Book, One Wallingford book reveal at 7 p.m. Wednesday across from the information desk.
The library held its first One Book, One Wallingford program in 2018. Cindy Haiken, readers’ advisory librarian, said the idea is based on one that came from a Seattle-based librarian named Nancy Pearl.
“She had this idea, what if all of Seattle read the same book and then got together to talk about it?” Haiken said. “That, of course, became an idea that everyone in cities and towns across the country ran with because it is a great idea. It’s a way to build community and connection and also to get people to share the different perspectives they bring to the same thing, which is super relevant these days. So we brought it to Wallingford.”
The first book the Wallingford Public Library used for the program in 2018 was Matthew Quick’s “The Reason You’re Alive.” The author made a “cheeky video,” Haiken said, to reveal that he was the author of the selected book.
“Everyone around town was reading it and talking about it and we did a series of programs around the themes of the book and hosted a bunch of book discussions and also went to different locations,” Haiken said.
Haiken said, for example, they did a book discussion at Ashlar Village and then a few months later, Quick came to Wallingford to do a discussion at the Paul Mellon Arts Center at Choate Rosemary Hall.
“It was amazing, so then we thought why wouldn’t we do this every year?” Haiken said.
In 2020, however, programming was interrupted, so in 2021, the library held its remaining events and author visit virtually.
In 2021, the program was canceled, so it picked back up again last year.
“It was incredible and so good to be back,” said Leah Farrell, head of adult programming and community service. “But we’re really excited about this year’s.” Suspense builds
Haiken and Farrell said community members are “very curious” about this year’s book selection. Through social media and a display in the library, librarians are sharing hints and clues about the book.
“We had fun with clues this year and we’ve gotten some guesses and some fun comments about the clues, but I think people are enjoying using the different social media platforms to guess,” Haiken said. “We also have a big display in the center of the library that Leah put together. The books are wrapped in plain brown paper. People have been picking them up and feeling them.”
Authors typically like to promote their new books, so Haiken said each year for the program, she looks up books that are going to be released. She locks in the book and author months in advance to the program. This year’s book was picked out last summer.
“And our next one we will start working on as soon as this one is over,” Farrell said.
This is because the library needs to have a book and the date the author is going to visit the town before the librarians can plan anything else.
“Then you start brainstorming programming and sitting with a big calendar and working backwards,” Haiken said. “The sooner we have it locked in, the better.”
The librarians pick a book that isn’t too long and one that all types of people can enjoy.
“And has enough themes in it for programming and for meaningful thoughtful book discussions,” Haiken said.
At the reveal party on Wednesday, participants can pick up a brochure that will include information about all of the One Book, One Wallingford upcoming programs, including the annual author visit.
“Whoever comes on Wednesday in-person, we are not streaming it this year, it wasn’t really feasible, not only will they get cake, but they will be the first to know what the book is and the first to sign up for the author event, but also all of the programs,” Farrell said. “We really want people to be there and celebrate with them on this hard work that we’ve done.”
Jane Fisher, library director, said all of the programs related to the selected book have to do with the book’s theme.
“There will be a lot of opportunity for people in the community to participate in thematic programs, in book discussions, to come out to read an amazing book and then come out to hear an author who we’re just thrilled to be welcoming to Wallingford,” Fisher said.
People who attend can also check out the book or buy a copy.
Fisher said they do not pressure people to buy the book, so the library gets as many copies as they can for check out.
“After we show the video, we have a video from our author, everyone can rip open the paper (wrapped around the books) like it’s Christmas morning and reveal the book in their hands,” Farrell said.