Alberta books hit the road

Apr 15, 2015

Many fine books are produced by Alberta publishers each year. And there’s no question that Alberta boasts many strong authors—Rudy Wiebe, Fred Stenson, Marina Endicott—we can go on and on. Yet despite an abundance of great books, it can be difficult to find them, especially in rural Alberta.

A few years back, I sat on a committee that was looking for ways to give the rural reading public and library staff an easy way to find and identify home-grown material.  We decided that one of the best ways to promote Alberta books might be to physically bring them into different communities.

Working in partnership with Alberta’s Writers’ Guild and the Book Publishers Association, we initially approached Parkland Regional Library, one of the oldest and biggest library regions, serving over 200,000 residents and 50 libraries spread across central Alberta. We asked if they wanted to work with us to send a collection of Alberta books on a road show to libraries across their region. Parkland was enthusiastic about the project right from day one and from there, the Read Alberta Books project was born.

Today, travelling displays of award-winning Alberta books are touring in three different library regions, covering a huge swath of Alberta’s landscape. Small rural libraries can sign up to display the books in their library for three weeks at a time. Patrons borrow books from the display at their local library, and as they are returned, the books catch up to the mobile collection where ever it is on display next. 

It’s such a win-win project. Authors and publishers are getting more exposure in their home province, and library staff and readers are discovering books they might not otherwise find. We’re hearing great stories of patrons borrowing books from the display, loving them, and then buying copies to give to friends as gifts.

Wouldn’t it be fun if all committee work was this rewarding!   

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