Fifteen years ago I was in charge of starting a winter reading program in Walla Walla for adults called "Booked for Winter." It had a painfully embarrassing start as my expectations for attendance far exceeded the reality.
I remember reserving the Walla Walla High School auditorium for a speaker about new discoveries in African history. The 12 people -- including friends and family -- were a clear sign I needed to rethink this adult programming thing.
Over time I have had other misses but many more times we've enjoyed "hits" at the city library. We've had community reads where everyone reads the same book by authors such as Craig Lesley and David Duncan. We've had local speakers and teachers. We've read books from chosen eras, or focused on a genre, and recently we've evolved into theme-driven programs with multiple books and speakers.
A few years ago, I turned this responsibility over to Alexis Rodegerdts when I moved into other library positions. Alexis' successful Booked for Winter program in 2010, called "Expressions of Love," brought patrons into the library this past winter ready for the 2011 offering. But Alexis was at home for three months taking care of her new baby, and the program was on hiatus, too.
I didn't want to lose any of those enthusiastic participants, so we brainstormed a summer program for adults -- "Summer Reads: Then and Now."
The idea came from wanting to know more about people's personal reading habits, specifically how early encounters with books influenced later reading habits and book choices. Will the Nancy Drew lover still pick mysteries as an adult? Not true for me but maybe for others. Summer Reads just might reveal that answer.
Here's how it works: Pick up a bookmark at the library, on which you'll record your childhood favorites and books you enjoy this summer. Under childhood favorites, list the book you loved to have read aloud, favorites you read in elementary school, a teen favorite and an adult favorite. Keep the bookmark to record your 2011 summer reading, too. Drop off the completed bookmark by Aug. 31. We'll then have a drawing from those bookmarks for a gift from Friends of the Library.
But the most fun part of this program is the posters. We're making a Summer Reads: Then and Now poster for you, to include your baby or childhood photo and titles of your favorite books.
It has been fun for all of us to watch people speculating on identities of people displayed in posters. So find a photo - everyone knows they were a cute baby - and bring it in for us to scan. You'll fill out the poster form and we'll get it made for you.
Meanwhile see if you can identify the childhood photos of one of our police officers, one of our city attorneys, someone you see when you pay your water bill at City Hall, and a couple people you see at the library.
Call or email for more details: 527-4550 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Beth Hudson is interim director of the Walla Walla Public Library.