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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Now that's what I'm talk'in about!

Okay, let's get it in the open and keep it there for awhile... atmosphere IS everything. And one of the toughest battles for libraries that want to bring in authors or musicians is the atmosphere. The LA Times has a great article about how the Land of Oz is bringing a new twist to literacy,including literary salons.

"It has also produced a literary scene entirely unique to L.A., where the more homely book clubs of the '90s and glaring lights of bookstore events have morphed into a new twist on the literary salon -- club-like and often celeb-studded affairs. Like the ones organized by Wendy C. Ortiz and Andrea Quaid, Antioch alumni and producers of the Rhapsodomancy reading series, who hold bimonthly evenings at Hollywood's Good Luck Bar. "Andrea and I were sitting in a restaurant talking about all the things we hated about author appearances in bookstores," remembers Ortiz. "They're overlit, they're not comfortable, they're so obviously geared toward moving units. We made a few attempts at holding salons in peoples' houses, but it was always too hard for people to find parking. So we started fantasizing about having a reading series in a bar. We both lived near Good Luck at that time, and we loved the atmosphere, the jukebox, the character."

On a recent Sunday night, an enthusiastic throng has crammed into the M Bar in Hollywood for another group's literary event. WordTheatre features marquee-name actors reading the work of well-known writers. This particular evening's theme was "Novel Beginnings," and its lineup included actor James Franco ("Spider-Man 3"), reading a chapter from "Five Skies," Ron Carlson's first novel in 25 years.

Okay, so libraries aren't bars and we aren't all in LA or have libraries that designed rooms that radiate atmosphere.... but a little imagination can go a long away. I was listening to an author the other night that was talking about book groups. Her first was actually a quilting club where the ladies quilted while a person read Pride and Prejudice. I loved that idea. There was something extraordinarily soothing in my mind's eye about working with my hands and listening to someone reading. Adult story hours would be wonderful if they could be held amongst the stacks. We hold fund raisers in our libraries that serve champagne or wine, why are we bringing in wine for events featuring authors reading or summer evening sunset reads? Not that I am encouraging alcohol use but what I am suggesting is that we think in terms of atmosphere and ask ourselves what kind if environment would be conducive to an incredible experience while listening to a story. What ideas come to mind of the most romantic, exciting, or adventurous way to hear a story told? I'm a camper so of course sitting around a campfire works for me. We have a fire pit on our patio... why not on the patio of a library for an evening of stories? Many libraries have fireplaces.... are they hosting fireside chats? And the beauty of readings is that small groups work so there is plenty of opportunity to grow... and they are ongoing. So in addition to community centers we may want to think in terms of creating an experience....

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