DeKalb library display entered in contest for author visit

Published: Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014 2:22 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014 11:02 p.m. CDT
(Monica Maschak -
Librarians set up holiday display based on the books of Alexander McCall Smith for a contest to bring the author to DeKalb Library on Thursday, January 2, 2014. The winner will not be announced until February.

DeKALB — With fingers crossed, nine DeKalb Public Library staff members created a display for a holiday contest to win a visit from author Alexander McCall Smith.

The display, that depicts scenes and characters from McCall Smith's popular book series, took six weeks to plan and execute.

McCall Smith has a doctorate in law and is an expert on medical law and bioethics, but became a fiction author after winning a writing contest. He wrote "44 Scotland Street," "Portuguese Irregular Verbs," "Corduroy Mansion," "Max and Maddy," "The Sunday Philosophy Club," "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" and many more titles for adults and children.

Edith Craig, the library's programming and public relations manager, said the display change every few days.

"There are four different scenes and the background is a scroll," Craig said. "Every week, we change the scroll to reflect a scene from a different series."

Library director Dee Coover learned of the Random House contest to win the author visit, and asked Craig to coordinate the local entry.

"I sent out a staff email to get help from anyone interested," Craig said. "About half of those who responded were familiar with the author. We all read one of his books and started brainstorming."

Those brainstorming sessions resulted in a collaborative effort that filled the small, 5-foot-by-2-foot, display space, said one of the co-creators, Kristine Ohman.

"Our staff enjoyed pooling our knowledge of the plots, settings and characters in the McCall Smith books," Ohman said. "We tried to use identifiable features to fashion figures and backgrounds that were representative of his excellent series."

Along with Craig and Ohman, committee members included Darcy Tatlock, Samantha Hathaway, Sally Defauw, Heike Schulze, Jeanine Thurmaier, Diane Tolhurst and Jenny Freeman. Craig said the library should learn by Feb. 3 if it is the contest winner.

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