Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Williamsburg Library’s new program brings together locals and college students

The Williamsburg Regional Library is introducing a new program this month that aims to bring together the community with students from William & Mary.

Starting this week, the library is kicking off a series of events for the “One Book One Community” program.

The month-long program will feature book groups, scholarly discussions and movie screenings that fit with the program’s main literary feature, There There by Tommy Orange, said Barry Trott, special projects and technical services director for the library.

The novel, which was the freshman common book this past year for William & Mary, traces generations of Native Americans living in Oakland, California and deals with the issues of Native Americans in living in cities, Trott said.

Recently, the novel has been nominated for a number of literary prizes and accolades, including becoming a finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize. 

Tommy Orange, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated author, will be speaking at the Williamsburg Regional Library on Jan. 24 as part of a new month-long program called "One Book One Community." (WYDaily/Courtesy Williamsburg Regional Library)
Tommy Orange, a Pulitzer Prize-nominated author, will be speaking at the Williamsburg Regional Library on Jan. 24 as part of a new month-long program called “One Book One Community.” (WYDaily/Courtesy Williamsburg Regional Library)

The keystone event of the month will be a visit Jan. 24 from the author who will discuss his book, life and experiences as a writer.

The new program is something the library has been wanting to do for a while and now is finally possible through a partnership with the college, Trott said. 

“Libraries do this around the country,” he said. “Building a community of reading is one of the things libraries do.”

The goal to bring William & Mary students and locals together through a series of events that provide interesting discussion and build relationships.

Throughout the month, events will run that relate to Orange’s novel.

Locals can participate Thursday by attending the screening of Alcatraz is Not an Island at 7 p.m. at the Williamsburg location. The film tells the story of the occupation of Alcatraz by Native American activists. In Orange’s book, the event features several characters from the novel.

The library’s book clubs, Turning Pages and Novel Ideas, will also discuss the book at their meetings.

There will also be multiple talks on Native American topics throughout the month, starting with “The History of the American Indian Movement” on Jan. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Williamsburg location. 

A full list of events is as follows:

  • Alcatraz is Not an Island screening, 7 p.m. on Thursday at the Williamsburg location.
  • Novel Ideas group discussion, 2 p.m. on Jan. 13 at the James City County location.
  • Lecture: “The History of the American Indian Movement,” 7 p.m. on Jan. 15 at the Williamsburg location.
  • Turning Pages group discussion, 7 p.m. on Jan. 21 at the Williamsburg location.
  • Lecture: “The Lives of Urban Indians,” 7 p.m. on Jan. 23 at the Williamsburg location.
  • Author visit from Tommy Orange, 7 p.m. on Jan. 24 at the Williamsburg location.
  • Post-author visit book discussion, 7 p.m. on Jan. 27 at the Stryker Center.
  • William & Mary American Indian students speak, 7 p.m. on Jan. 29 at the Williamsburg location.

Trott said while this is the first time the library has done a One Book One Community program, he expects it will be something done annually. Once the program is over, directors at the library will analyze its success by looking at community involvement and listening to the feedback from guests.

But already, Trott said the program is looking to be successful. In preparation for One Book One Community, the library stocked itself with 300 copies of the novel. As of Monday afternoon, all but 13 copies were checked out. 

“This is really exciting for us, we talked about doing it for a while,” Trott said. “So far the response has been great.”

To learn more about One Book One Community, visit the Williamsburg Regional Library online.

Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron
Alexa Doiron is a multimedia reporter for WYDaily. She graduated from Roanoke College and is currently working on a master’s degree in English at Virginia Commonwealth University. Alexa was born and raised in Williamsburg and enjoys writing stories about local flair. She began her career in journalism at the Warhill High School newspaper and, eight years later, still loves it. After working as a news editor in Blacksburg, Va., Alexa missed Williamsburg and decided to come back home. In her free time, she enjoys reading Jane Austen and playing with her puppy, Poe. Alexa can be reached at

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