Jennifer Lizak, Coordinator of Special Projects, Cultural and Civic Engagement, Chicago Public Library
In 2001, the Chicago Pubic Library posed the question: “what if all of Chicago read the same book at the same time?” and launched the One Book, One Chicago program. Since its inception, One Book, One Chicago has evolved from two annual book selections with related month long programs into a year-long season that focuses on one book and a theme which is meaningful to the lives of all Chicagoans.
The 2015-16 selection was “The Third Coast,” by Thomas Dyja, a Chicago native and the theme was Chicago: The City That Gives. For the first time, related programs were offered in every neighborhood branch library and took the form of book discussions, writing workshops, walking tours, films, musical performances, and history lectures to name a few.
When the Chicago Public Library sought a way to spread the word about One Book, One Chicago, who better to contact than a Chicago -based business like Busy Beaver? “We used Busy Beaver buttons to help promote One Book, One Chicago because,” as Chicago Public Library’s Coordinator of Special Projects and Cultural and Civic Engagement Jennifer Lizak remarked, “everyone loves buttons!”
Button dispensing machines were stationed on first floor of the Harold Washington Library Center and helped draw attention to the program, “not only immediately, when people saw the machines and went to get a free button,” explained Lizak, “but throughout the season.” Busy Beaver’s One Book, One Chicago buttons were such a hit that she noticed that the library would go through “the whole week’s allotment in just a few days.” As the season wore on, Lizak observed that “people would continue to wear the buttons and collect them.”
Next year’s One Book, One Chicago book and theme have yet to be determined, but one thing is for certain: the combined efforts of the Busy Beavers and the Chicago Public Library resulted in a “fun experience” for all this year. It’s a Chicago-themed encounter that Jennifer Lizak, the CPL, and the Beavers all hope to have again.