1Book 1Community: learning together

It’s no big shock – to anyone who reads my blog or knows me IRL or has interacted with me for more than 6 minutes – that I like my job. I am blessed with the opportunity to create work for myself, in addition, of course, to the everyday tasks of serving patrons, covering desks, attending meetings, leading programs, etc. Some of the work I create for myself is sitting on committees. In the short 2.5 years I have been with LCPL I have saw on the Summer Reading Program committee, New Employee Orientation committee, and the 1Book 1Community committee. It is the last one that I want to tell you about today.

My first experience with LCPL’s 1Book 1Community was back in September, 2011. I had only been with Loudoun for 3 months when I was asked by the manager of the Programming Division if I would accompany her and the 1Book author – Patricia McCormick – to the Juvenile Detention Center and Douglass School. Read about my experience here.

Six months after my day with Patricia I was invited to sit on the first-ever 1Book 1Community committee. Comprised of 9 public and school librarians and teachers, the committee met 3 times to meet and learn about the title-choosing process, discuss possible titles, and vote on the title. That first year I was assigned to read The Lottery by Patricia Wood, The Underneath by Kathi Appelt, The Wave by Todd Strasser, and When the Emperor was Divine by Julia Otsuka. The last one I read was the one that was ultimately given majority votes and chosen to be the 1Book. I find myself thinking of that book – and the shameful thing we did to Japanese-Americans and Japanese immigrants during World War II – often. It has true staying power, and I continue to recommend that title to teens and adults.

My second year as committee member began in March of this year. I recommended the titles Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz and Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Septys. Neither of my titles was chosen, but I simply adored the one that was – The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba.

William is from Malawi, and just knew there was a way he could help save his family’s farm from suffering through another drought season.

I looked at my father and looked at those dry fields [in Malawi]. It was the future I couldn’t accept.

Using English-language library books and items found in the local dump, William built a windmill that successfully brought electricity to his village. You can see his TED Talk here:

I had the honor of dining with William prior to the 1Book program. He was so pleasant, so smart, and so willing to answer the questions of the 11 women who dined with him, some of whom are teachers who said William’s story inspired some of their students in ways they had never seen. In his modest manner, he simply smiled and continued talking about his studies, his experience on the farm in Malawi, his family, and his future. There were nearly 400 people in attendance at his talk. Elementary school children, seniors, families, and groups of high school students listened intently as William shared his experience, inspiration, and goals.


Afterwards, William signed books (and even a Kindle cover! What a great idea!)


We were very honored to welcome William to our library, schools, and community. I was honored to be a part of the 1Book 1 Community committee for 2 years. A big thank you to my mentor and friend Linda (in the picture below) for asking me to be a part of that team and passionate readers.


My 2-year term is up, but I am already making a list of books for next year’s committee to consider. Any suggestions?


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