A Tale for Three Counties is a one-book, community-reads project for Genesee, Orleans, and Wyoming Counties in western New York State. Participants include the nineteen public libraries as well as Genesee Community College; partners include The Daily News (Batavia, NY) and Genesee Valley Educational Partnership School Library System. Readers of all ages are encouraged to read, discuss and hear the author of a selected title each year.
How ” A Tale for Three Counties ” Started
Leslie DeLooze, Community Services Librarian
Richmond Memorial Library
Batavia, New York
In February 2002, public librarians from Genesee, Orleans, and Wyoming counties met to discuss the idea of an area-wide book discussion program. The goal was to encourage people to read a chosen book, discuss it with friends and neighbors at local libraries or in chance meetings on the street, and then meet the author at the conclusion of the program.
The committee, joined by Lifestyles Editor Ben Beagle of Batavia’s Daily News and Genesee Valley BOCES School Library System Coordinator Diana Wyrwa, enthusiastically embraced the idea of sharing a good book in a fun community event. The name of the program, with the logo of a running horse atop an open book, reflected both our rural location and our shared interest in reading.
The committee discussed criteria for choosing a book for the first event, scheduled for March 2003. The selected title must:
- Be a work of fiction
- Have appeal to both adult and teen readers
- Have literary merit as evidenced by professional reviews and/or awards
- Present the theme of rural family life or local history
- Have issues or topics to discuss
- Introduce a new or relatively unknown author to our readers
- In addition, the author of the book would have to be available to visit the area and present some talks.
After considering almost 20 books, the committee chose Peace Like a River by Leif Enger.
Twelve of the public libraries in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming Counties hosted book discussions during February and March 2003. The Daily News published numerous articles on the program and introduced readers to Leif Enger, who came to visit with his wife at the end of March. Three programs were held-one in each county-where Leif discussed his “reading history,” his method of writing, and his inspiration for this book. The audiences were captivated by him and also enjoyed meeting his wife, Robin, who joined him on this trip from their home in Minnesota. Leif signed books for many readers after each program.
“A Tale for Three Counties” in 2003 was made possible by sponsorships from numerous organizations and institutions. Both the Genesee Orleans Regional Arts Council and the Arts Council for Wyoming County provided decentralization grants for the program. The Batavia Daily News, the Bank of Castile, and Wal-Mart were program sponsors. Time Warner Cable assisted with sound and video for transmission of the program into an overflow auditorium. The program was also assisted by the Friends of the Richmond Memorial Library, Friends of Perry Public Library, Friends of Lee-Whedon Memorial Library, Friends of Swan Library, the NIOGA Library System, the Pioneer Library System, Genesee Valley BOCES School Library System, and Niagara Orleans School Library System.
A Tale for Three for Three Counties has made some notable changes to this one-book program through the years. A major development was the introduction of Genesee Community College to the project in 2005, and several hundred students and staff participate each year. A Review Contest was added in 2004, and related programs have been held for many years.
Several Tale authors have returned to the area to help with fundraising events or to speak about their new books, and we are proud of our complete line-up of authors who have been our featured guests. They are:
2003 – Leif Enger
2004 – Howard Frank Mosher
2005 – Julia Spencer-Fleming
2006 – Jennifer Donnelly
2007 – Mark Spragg
2008 – Thomas Mullen
2009 – P.L. Gaus
2010 – Garth Stein
2011 – Hillary Jordan
2012 – Yannick Murphy
2013 – Peter Troy
2014 – Karen Thompson Walke
2015 – Laura McBride
This project would not be possible without the financial support of businesses, individuals, and Friends of Library groups along with grants from GoArt!, Arts Council for Wyoming County, and Wal-Mart. A complete list is on our Sponsors page.