Laura Brown
 Cornell Vice Provost Laura Brown
At the August 17 meeting, Tompkins County Public Library Director Susan Currie introduced a presentation about the 2011 Community Read Program with featured speakers, Cornell Vice Provost Laura Brown and Tompkins Library administrator and Community Read coordinator Sarah Glogowski. This year's book, selected with Ms. Brown's guidance, is E.L. Doctorow's "Homer and Langley."
The book is based on the real-life Collyer brothers, recluses and hoarders who were found in their Fifth Avenue apartment upon their deaths to have "collected" 130 tons of stuff. The book covers much of the history of 20th century America, and Doctorow strives to generate empathy for the brothers, who suffered from mental illness.

 Tompkins Library administrator and Community Read coordinator Sarah Glogowski
Each year for the past 11 years, Cornell has selected a common book for its incoming class to read before coming to Ithaca. A couple of years after the program's inception, Cornell partnered with the Tompkins County Library to include the greater community. The University makes 2,000 free copies of the book available to the library, which then gives way about half to the Ithaca schools, places 300–400 into library circulation, and passes about 600 on to local organizations. Residents with a TCPL library card may also download the book free to read on their smartphone and other MP3 players.

In preparation for the arrival of 3,500 new students, Cornell organizes hundreds of small group discussions utilizing faculty and staff volunteers, and orchestrates a number of lectures about the common read book. Community members are invited to sit in on many. CU utilizes the New Student Reading Project to introduce freshmen to the Cornell learning community. They have solid data that indicates that students who participate in a shared academic/intellectual learning experience during college orientation learn better in a complex classroom environment and have a more positive college experience overall. Extending the shared experience beyond the university enforces the message that CU is part of a larger community.

Vice Provost Brown spoke of the difficulty and tension that comes with selecting a book for the reading project that will appeal to all involved constituents, including the incoming students, participating faculty, and the community population. She said that in the coming years the project may target non-literature works, such as visual or dramatic works of art.

Learn more at: Video of the lectures that were presented on August 21 may be accessed by clicking the "Lectures" link on this site.