Library aims to get the community 'On the Same Page'
This fall, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library, along with Heights Community Congress (HCC), the CH-UH City School District, Reaching Heights, Mac’s Backs and Lake Erie Ink, will present “On the Same Page,” a communitywide initiative centered on Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, winner of the 2007 National Book Award.
“The idea is to engage the community around one book and to facilitate conversation about it through programs, book clubs, museum visits, and other community events,” said Sam Lapides, special projects coordinator for the library.
The event will kick off with a free screening of Alexie’s “Smoke Signals” at the Cedar Lee Theatre on Sept. 17 at 7 p.m., supported by HCC. This independent film, like Alexie’s book, is about young life on a contemporary American Indian reservation.
The goal of “On the Same Page” is to revitalize the role of reading in people’s lives by making it a social event. When people have the common ground of having read the same book, the shared experience can be a catalyst for conversations.
“We chose Alexie’s book because we think it will appeal to a wide audience. It’s great for young people and adults alike, and is both funny and moving,” said Lapides. “We are planning lots of programs around the theme of indigenous and Native American cultures, but the book is also a coming-of-age story that addresses universal themes such as identity, race and bullying.”
“A collaboration of this scale hasn’t happened for quite a few years, so it should be interesting to see what people think of the book and how the sentiment works its way into our lives,” said Lapides. “It’s not just about reading the book, but about engaging with history, art, films and other people.”
Community members are invited to get involved, and can start by checking out the book from a Heights Libraries branch, or buying it from a local bookseller, and starting the discussion on their own. More programs can be found in the fall issue of the library's Check Us Out program guide, and at www.heightslibrary.org.
Julia Murphy is the marketing assistant for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library.