Everyone has heard of book clubs.  You can find a book club to join at the neighborhood coffee shop, a community center, your church, the local bookstore, and, of course, at a library.  But have you heard of a book club that is being promoted to an entire city?  Maybe it is not a new idea, but it is one I had not heard of.  Until now.

I read a letter from Columbia, South Carolina’s mayor, Steve Benjamin, in the March 14, 2011 edition of midlandsbiz.com in which he outlines an exciting community reading event for the people of the city of Columbia.  Mayor Benjamin writes, “If you’re like me, then you’re always on the lookout for a great book to read.  Imagine for a moment that you and all your neighbors and friends found such a book and were reading it at the same time.  What interesting conversations and discussions might take place in our city!”

 Mayor Benjamin goes on to tell about “One Book, One Columbia”, which is being held in April 2011 and is being jointly promoted by the City of Columbia, the Richland County Public Library, and the Columbia Council of Neighborhoods.  And the big question is “what book is going to be featured?”  The book to be read is “Having Our Say: The Delaney Sisters’ First 100 Years” by Amy Hill Hearth.  The former New York Times bestseller is the story of Sadie and Bessie Delany.  Quoting from Mayor Benjamin’s letter, he says that the sisters were … “two remarkable women who lived groundbreaking and inspiring lives.  Told as a captivating oral history, the story is rich in themes of family, faith, education, and social justice

And how does a city have a community book club?  The Richland County Public Library and other partnering organizations have a full agenda of activities planned for those who are reading the book.  The planned events include a screening of the movie based on the book, a family history workshop, a panel discussion which will include Mayor Steve Benjamin, different events for children, and a program focusing on the first 100 years of the city of Columbia.  Go to www.myRCPL.com/onebook for the full calendar of events.  At that website there will also be blog posts by community readers and additional information.  And not to leave out the Facebook friends, there will be a “One Book, One Columbia” Facebook page for social media interaction on the book.

The Richland County Library has copies of the book available, and arrangements have been made with the Barnes & Noble bookstores in Columbia so that customers can purchase the book at a discounted price. 

This sounds like a great idea to promote reading and to promote community.  Hats off to the City of Columbia and the community of readers who participate in “One Book, One Columbia.”  Let’s hope it is a great success and that this reading promotion will only be the first of many in Columbia, and that other cities will follow Columbia’s lead!  Let’s READ!

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