Magazine article American Libraries

Cashing in on Regional Pride

Magazine article American Libraries

Cashing in on Regional Pride

Article excerpt

Library lovers in Peoria, Illinois, and in Dallas have independently hit on fundraising schemes for their local public libraries that rely on geographical boosterism for their payoffs.

* A baker's dozen of authors living in central Illinois have promised to donate to Peoria Public Library the net proceeds of Naked Came the Farmer (Mayfly Productions, $12.95), a round-robin mystery for which each has written a chapter chock-full of barely veiled references to notable and notorious people, places, and events.

Due to be published in book form in May, the satire debuted in serialized form January 28 when Peoria resident Phillip Jose Farmer's Chapter One appeared in local newspapers, to the delight of library public relations head Maggie Nelson.

"We're trying to get as many preorders as possible," she explained. Nelson told American Libraries that the idea originated with Western Illinois University journalism professor Bill Knight, who became aware of a similar effort by a group of South Florida authors, Naked Came the Manatee, just as he was helping the library promote its "Many Realms of King Arthur" exhibit in late 1995. Unlike the Manatee writers, however, Knight recruited his public library to serve as altruistic bait to lure central Illinois authors, PPL Director Susan Herring told AL.

Nelson anticipates that at least some of the gift moneys generated will fund adult programming - quite appropriate since it was PPL's ongoing (though unbudgeted) roster of author presentations and book signings that made it so easy for Knight to recruit his Naked coauthors.

"Once you build a good relationship with an author, you can network," Nelson said when asked how the library could attract such authors as Dorothy Cannell and Philip Jose Farmer to appear gratis. Her three secrets: Target authors whose books event organizers can genuinely enthuse about during crucial cold calls; detail plans for the presentation; and make the venue seem convenient ("I say to publicisits, 'We're between Chicago and Indianapolis, or between Chicago and St. …

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