Elizabeth Berg, who was the last program of this year's Fox Cities Book Festival, is finishing up in our program area. She drew a crowd of 183 people and we had to scramble to set up additional chairs. A whole bunch of volunteers and Book Festival Board members quickly materialized to help get the chairs out.
That's just the way the whole thing has been -- all sorts of people, from all over the Fox Cities, pitching in together to promote authors, books and reading. It'll be awhile before all the heads are counted and all the evaluations are read, but I'd say it was a howling success. Our library had almost 1,100 people attending programs over the past four days. Michael Perry, our community read author, drew about 1,500 people speaking at every public library in the Fox Cities, plus the UW-Fox campus and in concert at the Performing Arts Center. Our National Library Week door count was 1,868 people a day coming to our building.
But numbers hardly tell the story. The real news was in all the conversations that sprang up, all the connections that developed, all the people exposed to authors and ideas they didn't know before. You get a lot of laughs hearing Sherman Alexie describe his appearance on the Colbert Report, or watching Nikola-Lisa wearing shades, playing the blues harp and doing a rap version of "Brown Bear, Brown Bear" -- and then you can talk to people about it.
It took a lot of work, a lot of donations and a lot of hours of volunteer time by a lot of people. Every public library, and a lot of the school and university libraries, in the Fox Cities has been involved, along with many other community-minded folks who work for the joys of books, readers and writers. I'm betting we'll do it again!
photo: Michael Perry @ APL. Photo by Michael Kenney