January 30, 2019
Writer: Virginia Henry

The Madison Library in Rexburg is holding its annual “On the Same Page” community reading event.

“We select a book, this year it’s ‘The Scarlet Pimpernel’ and for a month we have all kinds of different activities and programs, presentations that tie in with that to explore it from a lot of different angles,” said Catherine Stanton, adult services librarian at the Madison Library.

Stanton said this program started out as a national movement 13 years ago. It was called “The Big Read.”

“The National Endowment for the Arts had done some studies and they found that people weren’t reading for pleasure as much as they used to,” Stanton said.

“They also found that there was a really direct correlation between the people who did read for pleasure and the people who did a lot of other things. The people who connected with their neighbors, the people who volunteered, gave service in their community, the people who voted, the people who attended concerts, and went to art galleries and people who got involved in sports just basically the people who were active in their communities. Of course they saw that as a big red trouble spot there,” she explained.

Madison Library was given a grant to fund the program for the first few years. The community responded positively to “The Big Read.” Eventually the library started a program of its own with its own budget.

“On the Same Page” has been going on for about 10 years now. This year it will run from Feb. 1 through Mar. 1.

The library has already started giving out copies of “The Scarlet Pimpernel” by Baroness Emmuska Orczy. “This year we got about 600 copies,” Stanton said. “I think we’ve got about three boxes of books left so they are going pretty fast.”

The library only gives them away for free as long as the supply lasts. If you don’t want a hard copy for free, you can download the eBook from Project Gutenberg. There’s a link on the library’s website. www.madisonlib.org

Now, how do they pick which book to read? “Sometimes the price of the book is the limiting factor,” Stanton explained. She keeps lists of books she can get for a good price and what kind of activities they can do with certain books.

“Last winter, we really didn’t know what we were going to do this coming year so we put out a ballot with about 2 dozen different possibilities and let people vote on them. And The Scarlet Pimpernel was definitely the favorite there,” Stanton said.

Due to the voting they have an idea of what they will do in the years to come.

This month-long activity isn’t just reading the book. Starting Friday, Feb. 1 the book-themed activities start.

“Our leads in the story complicate the action a great deal because they’re keeping secrets from each other as husband and wife,” Stanton explained. “We’ve got a counselor, Jeff Winfrey from CenterPoint

counseling, who will be doing a program on better communication I guess you could say. On Feb. 1, it’s called The Importance of Knowing.”

He has done presentations or programs for the library before. Stanton said, “They have always been really, really fascinating presentations.”

The fun doesn’t stop there, though. The library will also have a “master crafter” come to teach everyone how to make realistic paper flowers. She will show how to make a scarlet pimpernel, of course.

Two professors from the campus of BYU-Idaho will also lend their talents. “The Scarlet Pimpernel” was one of the first heroes in literature. Emily and David Grover from the English Department will talk about the impact this story has had on superheroes in literature.

In addition to those activities, there will also be an activity on secret codes and one where you get to make your own Venetian mask!

To end the month with a bang, the library will host a Masquerade Ball for families.

“All of the events are free,” Stanton said, “you do need to come and get tickets, but like I said, totally free.”

If you’re not sure which activities to go to take a look at the schedule on Madison Library’s website here.

Stanton said of the activities, “I don’t think you can go wrong with any of them really.”