When Judith Anderson became Director of the Longmont Library, one of her goals was to find a way to support readers and local writers, while simultaneously showcasing all the library has to offer. As a result of that goal, she and the library staff hosted the first Longmont Library Festival two years ago. Now approaching its third birthday, the Longmont Library Festival is still going strong.

As described by Anderson, the purpose of the festival, which is scheduled for April 6 through 12, is “to support readers and writers in Longmont.” She and the library staff accomplish this by featuring reading and writing activities and events over the course of the week. The emphasis is on readers of all ages, as well as authors, both established and emerging.

Last year, the festival lasted a full two weeks. “This year we’ve shortened it to one week,” Anderson said. “But, we’re doing almost as many events.”

Poet, Bill Keys, writes poems for those willing to wait.

Poet, Bill Keys, writes poems for those willing to wait.

Local Author Support
The festival kicks off on April 6 with the release of the annual anthology. Local authors have been encouraged to submit original works by Feb. 14, including fiction, personal narratives, poetry, essays, children’s stories, illustrations and photographs. The Friends of the Longmont Library review submissions and select works from each genre to be featured in the anthology. The end result is a singularly unique book that highlights local talent in breath-taking fashion.

During the kickoff reception, the anthology is released. Some of the authors will also be present to read selections from their works. This year, the anthology will include a special section featuring submissions related to the natural disaster that impacted Longmont and so much of the surrounding area last fall: Reflections From the 2013 Flood.

David Mason, Poet Laureate of Colorado
David Mason, Poet Laureate of Colorado, will deliver the keynote speech on Monday evening, April 7. In addition to sharing his thoughts on poetry and reading from some of his own works, Mason will also conduct a poetry writing mini-workshop, giving attendees the opportunity to compose their own poems under his guidance. Even if you’ve never written poetry before, this is an excellent opportunity to learn the basics of the craft from a true master.

Write Your Family History
Writing happens at all levels, and one of the goals of the festival is to support emerging professional authors, as well as amateur writers. One valuable form of writing that is often done for personal fulfillment, without any plan for publication, is the creation of a written family history.

Many of us know the verbal history of our families, having grown up hearing stories passed down from grandparents, to parents, and eventually, to us. However, there may be no written account of those narratives. On Wednesday, April 9, the festival will feature a workshop entitled “Writing Your Family History”, hosted by Linda Weaver. During the two-hour workshop, Weaver will walk participants through the basics of penning your own written family history, allowing you to preserve those stories for generations to come.

Stories a la Carte
The following evening, Thursday, April 10, Northern Colorado Storytellers and Longmont Eateries will host a night of storytelling, complete with a variety of delicious foods from around the world. Several storytellers will be present, located throughout the library. Participants will move from one storytelling station to the next, enjoying tasty treats along the way.

The art of storytelling is powerful, making this a night worth attending. Like all festival events, there is no cost for admission, though anyone planning to attend is required to RSVP in order to facilitate food preparation.

Colorado Authors Open House
The final day of the festival includes two exciting events. First, over 70 authors will be on-hand for the Colorado Authors Open House. There will be books for sale and plenty of opportunities to visit with authors from all over the state, as well as some other unique treats, like while-you-wait “typewriter poetry” by Bill Keys. Participants will have a short conversation with Keys, who composes a personal poem right there on the spot, making this an uncommon form of a caricature. You don’t want to miss it.

Teens After Dark
The final event of the festival takes place Saturday night, April 12, and is tailored specifically for teen readers. Several Young Adult Fiction authors will be on-site, and there will also be pizza, games and crafts. This is the first year the festival has included an event aimed at teenage fans of young adult fiction. Anderson, along with the rest of the library staff, is exited to offer something designed specifically for younger readers.

Not Just One Week
The Longmont Library Festival looks to be an exciting week for both readers and local writers, but it’s worth noting that the Longmont Library hosts events and activities year-round. For example, the library staff plans to unveil an exciting new program during the festival, itself.

Additionally, the annual Summer Reading Program has undergone a significant change, morphing into the more aptly named Summer Learning Program. Unlike traditional summer reading programs, which typically only emphasis reading, the Summer Learning Program will continue to encourage summer reading while also placing a healthy emphasis on overall learning, following the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) model. The goal will be to facilitate a full learning experience throughout  summer break, making it easier for kids to transition back to school in the fall.

When and Where
The Longmont Library Festival will be held at the Longmont Public Library during the week of April 6 through 12. All events and activities are free of charge, though some do require an RSVP. More information about each event, as well as instructions for reserving a spot if needed, can be found on the library’s website at ci.longmont.co.us/library/adult/YouBelong.htm.

– By Adam Martin