A couple of weeks ago a plain brown rectangular box landed on my desk when I was not looking. When I noticed it, I wondered what it could be, as it was too narrow for books. Upon opening it, I found fourteen compact discs from the National Endowment for the Arts, one for each book in its The Big Read book discussion program. A questionnaire asking what uses our library would make of the came with the CDs, suggesting that we try to find innovative ways to incorporate them into our collections and programs.
My idea is to load them onto patron iPods. I'm not sure if there will be a big demand, but we might as well add them onto our iPod book collection. I checked with the NEA by email and the organization has no objections. I was told we have full broadcast rights. I guess that we could turn them into podcasts, too.
Being curious, I listened to three programs, each lasting about one half hour. I particularly enjoyed An Introduction to To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, which includes readings by Anne Twomey and comments by author Elizabeth Spencer, justice Sandra Day O'Connor, actor Robert Duvall (who played Boo Radley in the movie), playwright Horton Foote (who adapted the novel for the film), and others. Dana Gioia of the NEA narrated. In the background at points is music from the film. O'Connor tells how small town life in rural Arizona was just like that in rural Alabama. Spencer, Duvall, and Foote had lots of interesting things to say about the characters and setting. After listening, I wanted to read the book again immediately.
The CDs about The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers and The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck were also interesting. The later even has bonus tracks, including a segment from an interview of Steinbeck by Eleanor Roosevelt.
I do not know if all public libraries got these. I may have replied to an offer. I do not remember, a sign of my age I suppose. Whatever, I'm glad we have them.