Regret and appreciation: Sad to see Tale for Three Counties go, but organizers should be thanked

Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties have lost something wonderful with the announcement that A Tale for Three Counties will not be back for a 15th year. The community reading program introduced area book lovers to new authors, gave them the opportunity to discuss those books and then treated them to visits from the authors each spring. The program built appreciation of and excitement about the literary arts, in young and old alike. There is nothing like it in these three counties. At least not yet.

Thousands have participated in 14 years of A Tale for Three Counties, looking forward each year to the book selected by librarians. Many have taken part in the book discussions, the essay contests and the review contests, and lucky contest winners have enjoyed lunch with the author when he or she came to visit. Even those who didn’t participate in the group activities would look to the book selection, for they came early to trust the librarians’ judgement.
The lament for A Tale for Three Counties’ passing, however, has to be tinged with gratitude for its founders and the committee members who thought that encouraging people to read was important enough to find the time to make it work. They researched and read, contracted with the authors, recruited sponsors and raised money to pay for the author’s visit, and set up times and places for events. They got no pay. They did all of this out of a love for reading and a desire to foster community.

A Tale for Three Counties satisfied a need in these three counties, and the public response proves it. Richmond Memorial Library’s Community and Adult Services Librarian Leslie DeLooze and co-convener Sandy Gillard issued a statement noting that 2016 had been a great year, “But even more than that, all of our years have been excellent ones, and this has been an amazing run for a one-book project.” The excitement on the faces of Lyndonville schoolchildren when they met this year’s author, Sarah Hulse, also provides proof of success.

With all of its success, however, A Tale for Three Counties committee members are 14 years older than when the program started. Some have retired from their library positions but continue to work on the committee. This spring, Mrs. DeLooze told the committee she needed to step away from the leadership position. No one yet has volunteered to take her place. And meantime, Wyoming County libraries have withdrawn from the program. Perry Public Library Director Jessica Pacciotti said the Wyoming County libraries don’t have the staffing or funding to continue with the program.

That essentially put an end to A Tale for Three Counties. The challenges of finding a new leader, changing the charter and reorganizing were too much for volunteer committee members to overcome.

Lee-Whedon Memorial Library Librarian Catherine Cooper said she hopes a single-county book discussion can be tried out. Maybe Genesee and Orleans could work together. Some have suggested teaming with Niagara County, which is also part of the NIOGA Library System, as are Genesee and Orleans libraries. What needs to happen, however, is that someone takes the lead. This is a program too good to let die.

A round of applause is due committee members representing these organizations:

In Genesee County – Byron-Bergen Public Library, Corfu Free Library, Haxton Memorial Library in Oakfield, Pavilion Pubic Library, Richmond Memorial Library in Batavia and Woodward Memorial Library in Le Roy.

In Orleans County – Community Free Library in Holley, Lee-Whedon Library in Medina, Hoag Library in Albion and Yates Community Library in Lyndonville.

In Wyoming County – Arcade Free Library, Cordelia A. Green Library in Castile, Eagle Free Library in Bliss, Gainesville Public Library in Silver Springs, Perry Public Library, Pike Library, Stevens Memorial Library in Attica, Warsaw Public Library, Wyoming Free Library and Pioneer Library System.

The Daily News.

Genesee Community College – Alfred C. O’Connell Library.

Genesee Valley Educational Partnership library.

Welcome Matt: ‘Tale’ authors a little late in responding – A Tale for Three Counties


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Courtesy of Batavia Newspapers Corporation

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