How One Read Came to Be

One Read co-founders Sally Abromovich, Doyne McKenzie and Melissa Carr standing with author Barbara Ehrenreich
From left to right: Librarian Sally Abromovich, librarian Doyne McKenzie, 2004 One Read author Barbara Ehrenreich and former DBRL director Melissa Carr.

We’re celebrating 20 years of One Read this year, and we wanted to reflect on how it all began, so we got in touch with a couple of the people who were instrumental in getting One Read up and running. Melissa Carr, former DBRL director, and librarian Sally Abromovich, one of the original One Read co-chairs, both shared their remembrances. Librarian Doyne McKenzie also helped establish One Read and served as co-chair.

What was the genesis of One Read?

Melissa: Sally (and maybe also Doyne) told me about Chicago’s Community Read program a few days before I was on David Lile’s show. David asked me if I had heard about Chicago’s Community Reading program and asked if DBRL might consider doing a similar program. I then discussed it further with Elinor Barrett (DBRL associate director), Sally and Doyne and the rest is history! What a great job they did! It is one of my favorite programs and was such a positive service to provide to our community!

Sally: Elinor Barrett talked to the Kansas City Public Library where they were starting this type of program. That first year of One Read, we joined them and read the same book, “Plainsong” by Kent Haruf.

Who came up with the name of the community reading program?

Sally: David Lile came up with the name “One Read.” The committees suggested various names and then voted, and his suggestion was the winner.

What were the most rewarding and challenging parts of getting One Read started?

Sally: The most rewarding part was meeting so many wonderful people and learning so much from each discussion. The most challenging was being sure to provide good programming for all the libraries in the Daniel Boone Regional Library system.

Melissa: I agree with Sally. The most rewarding part for me was hearing people talk about One Read and the library in the grocery store and at restaurants. I loved the buzz the program created about the library and the people that participated in the program that were not regular library users! Fabulous.

What is your favorite memory of One Read from all the years you were involved?

Sally: So many!

Getting a letter from Harper Lee’s sister that I still have.

Listening to Elson Floyd (former president of the University of Missouri) lead a discussion about inclusion and exclusion. He was a born teacher.

Hearing Derrick Chievous (former MU basketball player) leading a bunch of teens in a discussion and bringing in each young person’s view.

Meeting all the interesting people on the One Read committee who were all dedicated to providing our community with a way to come together to discuss literature.

Meeting all the people who had expertise in different fields and took time out of their busy schedules to lead programs and provided us all with interesting and thought-provoking discussions.

Meeting all the wonderful readers who attended the programs and brought interesting ideas and thoughts from their backgrounds to the discussion.

Melissa: All the author visits were amazing! I remember being so very proud when we had 1,300 folks show up to see the movie “To Kill A Mockingbird” at the Missouri Theatre during our second year. I knew then that this was a great program.

Why do you think One Read has been so successful?

Sally: Because of support from the library administration, community leaders and great supporters of Daniel Boone Regional Library. We couldn’t have a One Read without our committed readers.

Melissa: Staff, staff, staff creativity and expertise and our amazing, involved community! The dedication of the One Read Task Force and Reading Panel. These committed people set us apart, and I always felt it made a difference to the community.