03/22/04 — Organizers deem 'Wayne County Reads' a success

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Organizers deem 'Wayne County Reads' a success

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on March 22, 2004 1:59 PM

The success of the first "Wayne County Reads" has organizers eager to begin booking next year's events.

More than a thousand people checked out "To Kill A Mockingbird" materials from Wayne County's public libraries between early January and last week. The News-Argus' trivia contest drew more than 250 entries.

Nearly all "Wayne County Reads" events were well-attended, ending with a nearly sold-out run of the play at Wayne Community College.

"It really exceeded my expectations," Library Director Jane Rustin said today. "We had such wonderful cooperation."

She hopes to build on that momentum next year. Within the next few weeks, Mrs. Rustin plans to call together the organizing committee to discuss what went right and wrong in the initial countywide reading project.

That committee will begin planning for next year's event, including a process for the selection of the next book, she said. One suggestion has been to pick a handful of finalists and then allow the public to vote in some way for the books it wants to read.

The committee has already talked about looking at novels written by North Carolinians. That would potentially allow the author to come to meet with the public.

The idea of a countywide read "is a pretty simple premise," Mrs. Rustin said. "What made it work was the energy of all our partners."

Wayne County public schools promoted the book by teaching it this spring to high school students. Representatives of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base were especially involved in the Jan. 12 kickoff event, and airmen collected books for distribution to people needing them.

Mount Olive College and Wayne Community College provided speakers for community events. The Foundation of Wayne Community College sponsored the recent play at the college.

The library, which borrowed 135 copies of the novel for the project, still has copies available to be checked out. And the exhibit, "When the Mockingbird Landed: The Changing World of the Early 1960s," is continuing at the Wayne County Museum through June.