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'The Things They Carried' is focus of Community Read event

Thanks to the generosity of the Echo Press, the Douglas County Friends of the Library will be partnering with our local newspaper to share information through a column each month.

The Friends greatly appreciate this opportunity to let all Echo Press readers learn more about our organization - what we do to benefit our library, our community and our Friends of the Library members.

This month, we want to share information about upcoming free events at the Douglas County Library, during the month of February, centered around our second annual Community Read - One Community, One Book.

The Community Read project encourages all adults in Alexandria and Douglas County to read and discuss the same book at the same time. The goal of the program is to encourage reading and dialogue by creating a community-wide reading and discussion experience.

This year we've chosen the literary classic The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien as the book around which discussions and events are centered. Watch for information on all events in upcoming editions of the Echo Press or find information on the Douglas County Library homepage at

All events are free. To ensure that no one is unable to attend because they are unable to buy the book, Friends of the Library has purchased 50 books for community members to borrow from the Friend's Used Book Store right inside the Douglas County Library.

Perhaps you are wondering how this community event got its start.

Several years ago, the Library Friends and Foundation Board met to discuss ideas to bring together community members to read and discuss a book that was appealing to a large number of adult readers.

Our goal was to select a great book for all of Alexandria and Douglas County to read and explore through discussion groups. Our committee explored many options including the "Big Read," a national effort with similar goals, but settled on formulating our own plan and events surrounding the book.

When choosing a book, we had three goals. That the book: 1) be of general interest to adults and young adults; 2) addresses universal themes of life and 3) sparks thoughtful discussion.

We moved the process forward by teaming up with Douglas County Library, Alexandria Community Education and Cherry Street Books. Our first annual Community Read was held in February 2011 and focused on the books of Jon Hassler, a Minnesota author, and a book written by Joe Plut entitled Conversations with Jon Hassler.

Our first year's events were a success and we began planning the second annual Community Read shortly after the first was finished!

We hope you'll spend some time during these cold winter evenings curled up with The Things They Carried and join us in February for the events we have planned. We also want to encourage you to become a member of the Douglas County Library Friends and Foundation. Pick up a membership brochure at the Friends Used Book Store or at the circulation desk at the Douglas County Library.