College Library Part of 'One Book, One County' Reading Program

Published 01.13.2005


Pennsylvania author's memoir first choice for 'One Book, One County' programWith more than a quarter of a million titles in their combined inventories, why are the libraries in Lycoming County all urging county residents to read the same book?

As part of the "One Book, One County" program, public and academic libraries are creating the framework for a community discussion about the values and message of a single great book: "Riding the Bus With My Sister" by Rachel Simon.

The goal of the program is to have as many residents as possible read this award-winning true story and bring people together in a common topic of conversation. Beginning next month, county libraries will host a variety of events to help bring the book to life, culminating with a visit from the author in March.

The One Book concept is a national initiative to encourage residents to rediscover the power of the printed word. Across the country, communities large and small sponsor these programs to pull together people who may never have met into discussions about how a book reflects their own community and their own lives and values.

While many One Book programs focus on a classic title, others select titles that have local significance. The Lycoming County One Book program selected Simon's book for several reasons.

"We wanted to start out with a book by a Pennsylvania author and a book that 'matched' our community in terms of its story and themes," says Tricia Haas, program coordinator.

The heroine of Simon's memoir is her sister, Beth, who has mental retardation. The heroes are the bus drivers with whom she spends her days and her fellow passengers who are her community. The story contrasts the life of Rachel Simon a successful writer and college teacher whose hyper-busy life hides her loneliness with the life of her sister, who forms connections and friendships on her daily rides.

"With Hope Enterprises and City Bus both strong forces in our county, we felt this book was the one we wanted for our first One Book program," Haas said.

What she and the planning group want to get across is this is not just a program for avid readers: "It's a program for everyone even those people who don't find time to read. This book is a special story about people trying to be decent during trying times and there are life lessons from which all readers can profit: how to live in the moment, how to pay attention to what really matters and how to slow down and enjoy the ride."

During January, multiple copies of the book will be available in libraries and other places in the community. Programs in February and March will include book discussions, book-review luncheons, dramatic readings from the book, film showings and book-discussion parties.

The program highlight will be the visit from author Simon to Williamsport on March 17-18, when she will present a program describing the experiences that led to her book. Simon also will do programs on City Bus t rolleys.

Her book is being filmed and will debut on the HallmarkChannel in April.

The "One Book, One County" program here will conclude with a "page-to-screen" discussion program about how successfully the book was translated into film.

Libraries in the One Book program include the six members of the Lycoming County Library System and the libraries of Lycoming College and Pennsylvania College of Technology.