One Book, One Sioux County is a program that helps connect people with one another through their joint exposure to the adventure of books. It is a county-wide initiative put in place to get as many people as possible in the county to read the same book at the same time. However, this not a new concept. There are many cities and states with similar programs, even the First Year Seminar slightly mirrors its goal of fostering a common conversation.
Greta Grond, one of the board members of the One Book, One Sioux County, explained that the program is organized by all the libraries in Sioux County; eight public and three academic libraries owned by Northwestern, Dordt and Northwest Iowa Community College, and is encouraged in local book clubs.
The One Book, One Sioux County program is in its third iteration. In the previous years, books such as Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger and The Boys in the Bunkhouse by Dan Barry have been exposed to the public to foster a common conversation in the community.
This year, the book that has found its way into the hands of the community through the program is “The Witness of Combines,” a memoir by southern Minnesota native, Kent Meyer. The book consists of a series of essays that give insight into Meyer’s memories of life before and after his father’s death and illustrates the role of family, neighbors, farms and rural life in the Midwest.
The program is structured so that everyone reads the book through the year and then towardsits end, there is a big event where the author is present to share and discuss with the community.
In the past years, about 150 people have been in attendance, taking the opportunity to listen to successful authors who have interesting takes on life. This year, Meyer will be present at NCC on November 8, to do so with members of the community.
Aside from the big event at the end of the year, there are a series of other library sponsored events the program tries to incorporate, including events that carry themes relating to topics mentioned in the book. Events featured for this year’s book include a quilt throw event at Rock Valley Public Library, a discussion on agriculture and farm life, a memoir writing workshop at Sioux Center Public Library and Heritage Village, and a few others spread across the various towns.
Grond, who is also the NW Library Director said one piece she has been able to take out the experience of being a part of the program and reading the books throughout the years is the theme of neighbors and community. “It challenges you to read things you might not always read on your own time,” she said.
Programs such as One Book, One Sioux County have assisted in encouraging the continued push for community in the Sioux County. With books in hand and community at heart, One Book, One Sioux County is a program open and here to stay for all community members.