Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Walla Walla Public Library program makes new effort to attract Whitman students

Despite new efforts to reach out to Whitman students, such as advertising on Whitman’s campus and including a Whitman professor on this year’s line-up of speakers, the Walla Walla Public Library’s 14-year-old “Booked for Winter” series drew only a handful of young people, and no Whitman students to its first event, held Thursday, Jan. 21.

“I think the audience was fairly representative of what we usually get at the library,” said Alexis Rodegerdts, the library’s public service specialist, who helped to organize the series for the first time this year. “There were a lot of older, probably retired people, who maybe have more leisure time to spend at the library, attending events in the evening. I know students are often really busy with school and events on campus, so maybe that’s part of the reason. But it would be really nice to get more young people, and especially Whitman students to these events.”

“‘Booked for Winter’ is an adult reading program designed to mirror what we do in the summer for kids,” explained Martha Van Pelt, the library’s director. “The whole idea is to have adults rediscover the pleasure of reading.”

At the first of four events in this year’s series, Walla Walla Community College English Instructor Brad LaFran read from and presented on “About Love and Other Stories,” a collection of short stories by Anton Chekhov.

“A lot of young people are very busy, of course, but I’d like to see more of them here,” he said about the poor turnout among Whitman students.

“I don’t know how the library could have gotten the word out any better than they already did. I know, for example, that they sent out a notice on the Whitman network. I also had the opportunity to invite my students at the community college, but I did tell them that there wouldn’t be any extra credit or anything, so maybe that’s why they didn’t come,” LaFran said with a laugh.

“At a typical event, a majority of the audience is probably 30 and up,” said Van Pelt. “It’s usually an older group of people, although sometimes there are a handful of college-aged students.”

But while recognizing the difficulty in attracting Whitman students to events such as the “Booked for Winter” series, she is happy to see that they are frequently making use of the library itself.

“I think a lot of Whitman students are coming in here to the library these days,” she said. “Whitman has a fabulous library, but it doesn’t have a lot of things that we offer; it doesn’t have the magazines you want, it doesn’t have the DVDs you want, and it often doesn’t have the fiction you want. We’re really more of a pop culture library, and that’s not really what Whitman does: they’re really more academic.”

Perhaps because of this increased usage, both she and Rodegerdts remain optimistic about the series’ potential to attract Whitman students in the future.

“Hopefully as the series goes on this year, we’ll see more people showing up,” said Rodegerdts. “I think the first one is always tough. I’m particularly excited for the next event, which is going to be with a Walla Walla Community College Pastry Chef, Greg Schnorr.”

Schnorr will speak Thursday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m. on Isabel Allende’s “Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses”: a “journal of food experiences” as he writes in his preview of the event.

For more information on the series, visit wallawallapubliclibrary.org.

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