Libraries Read: 1 Book 2017

Libraries Read: 1 Book 2017

"You will not read a more important book about America this year."—The Economist hillbilly elegy.jpg

Hillbilly Elegy, a memoir by J.D. Vance, was selected as the title for Libraries Read: 1 Book 2017, capturing 40% of the votes. MCLS invited library staff across Indiana and Michigan to submit titles for consideration, then to place votes for one of four titles to select the book that we would all read and discuss together for professional development. Vance’s book captured the most votes.

One of the two librarians who submitted the title suggested that it be our 1 Book choice because, “This book covers issues that would appeal to public, school, and university libraries. It would be interesting to discuss these problems and problem-solve how the library community could help.” The second librarian submitting this book added, “Many of the (residents of Indiana and Michigan) are descendants of those who migrated to the Midwest from Appalachia and southern poverty for the promise of industrial jobs, which have since disappeared. Gaining a better understanding of their story will give insight into issues that are currently occurring in the states, such as the heroin epidemic, rural poverty, changes in political identity over the past 30 years, etc. By gaining a better understanding of this population, libraries can design services and programs that better speak to their needs and interests, ultimately building stronger connections to their community.”

MCLS encouraged library staff to read the book throughout the summer, then join us in a Twitter chat and regional discussions about the book.

This was the third year of the Libraries Read: 1 Book program. By reading one book together, across library types and state lines, our goal was to create deeper connections among libraries that span geographic and other boundaries.


Book Discussions

Book discussions took place online, and in both Michigan and Indiana, in July and August 2017. Dates and locations of the discussions are below:
  • July 20, 2 pm Eastern, Twitter Chat
    Read the archived chat here

  • Michigan Discussion
    August 8, Lansing Brewing Company, Lansing, MI: This discussion was led by Kevin King, Head, Branch and IT Services, Kalamazoo Public Library
  • Indiana Discussion
    August 16, Lake County Public Library, Merrillville, IN

  • Libraries were encouraged to host their own discussions as well, and MCLS provided questions on request. Interested libraries can still request these discussion questions by emailing Jan at

Questions regarding Libraries Read: 1 Book or the discussions should be sent to Michelle Bradley, MCLS Manager, Member Engagement, at or 800-530-9019 ext. 125.