GENEVA – The Geneva Public Library started its third year of One Book, One Community and gave away almost 1,000 books.
Information and Reader Services Coordinator Lauren Maxwell on Feb. 5 presented the City Council with copies of “You Are Here” by Karin Lin-Greenberg for adults and the picture book “In the Neighborhood” by Rocio Bonilla for children and families.
“This year, we have selected two books that will explore how many distinct individuals can come together, create a supportive community that celebrates everyone’s dreams and aspirations,” Maxwell said.
“You Are Here” is a debut novel by Lin-Greenberg, but she is recognized as an award-winning short story author, Maxwell said.
“Her debut novel encourages us to reach out to our neighbors and to appreciate what each of us contributes to a supportive and welcoming community,” Maxwell said. “It’s really genuine and thoughtful, very heartwarming. It celebrates the strength in community that celebrates uniqueness of every single person.”
The author will be at the library at 1:30 p.m. March 10.
Bonilla lives in Barcelona, Spain, Maxwell said, so she will not be coming to the library this year.
Bonilla’s picture book features “a whimsical cast of really wonderful and unique characters and they’re all just a little bit nervous about sharing who they truly are with their neighbors,” Maxwell said.
“But then, of course, disaster strikes. The internet goes out and everyone has to come together and they discover that perhaps their uniqueness is what makes their community strong,” Maxwell said. “Geneva’s children and their grown-ups will have a wonderful story that will help them grow their self-confidence and be encouraged to celebrate one another and all of the things that they bring to their community. It’s a perfect picture book for the family to read aloud.”
One Book, One Community kicked off Feb. 10 at the library, 227 S. Seventh St., where 700 copies of the adult book and 224 copies of the picture book were given away.
Through a licensing agreement with the publisher, everyone also can have the same e-book or e-audio book at the same time in order to participate, Maxwell said.
“You bring such excitement and joy to this program,” Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns said. “Without giving away the book ... there’s a topic about a shopping mall in the book. Is that what strikes you as most interesting or is it character development?”
Maxwell said she found “You Are Here” to be a character-driven novel.
“What connects all of these characters is that they have some sort of interaction with their local shopping mall,” Maxwell said. “That’s where they all know each other from. However, that is not what makes them into a community. What makes them into a community is their shared lived experiences in that place.”
Third Ward Alderperson Becky Hruby thanked Maxwell for bringing the book and notice of the program to the City Council.
“I think that it’s an awesome thing that you do for our community,” Hruby said.
“It’s truly my favorite thing that I get to do all year.” Maxwell said.
Also Feb. 10, the public participated in a community art project – tiny art – at the library.
The library gave away paper bags with a kit inside that participants could take home to work on their art projects. Participants can return the finished work later in the month for display.
Library staff also has done some tiny art, Maxwel said.
“Some did 3D, some did a crochet project or embroidered theirs,” she said.
About 50 local artists agreed to participate in the community art exhibit. There will be a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. March 7.
From 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. March 7, the library will present a guided discussion of the One Book, One Community read for adults and teens. A panel including City Administrator Stephanie Dawkins, District 304 Superintendent Andrew Barrett and Geneva Park District Executive Director Nicole Vickers will share their thoughts about the program with residents.
The Friends of the Geneva Public Library donated $12,000 for the library to buy the 924 books that were given away, Maxwell said in an email.
The Geneva Library Foundation donated $5,000 for programming support and are sponsoring Lin-Greenberg’s visit.