PA Forward: NaNoWriMo | Compendium
Michelle Muro

Michelle Georgetti


by Michelle Georgetti

First, a Word on Acronyms
It has occurred to me that librarians love acronyms. However, I find it important to stress that we should perhaps limit (and define) our acronyms for events and programs. As a student of Pennsylvania Academy of Leadership Studies (PALS), I discussed with other colleagues our hastiness in using acronyms, not realizing that others might not know what we are discussing. This happened to me during a Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA) meeting I attended last year. The topic of “NaNoWriMo” came about and two things happened: 1) I had no idea if NaNoWriMo was a word, and 2) I had no idea what they were talking about. It seems silly now, but I missed what may have been an important conversation just because I didn’t understand the acronym.

Since then, I have found that NaNoWriMo is not only a fun thing to say, it is actually a fun event held during the month of November! So what is it? NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month which takes place every year in November. Aspiring authors are encouraged to write a novel of 50,000 words or more in a one-month period (November 1-30). National Novel Writing Month is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with the following mission statement: National Novel Writing Month believes in the transformational power of creativity. We provide the structure, community, and encouragement to help people find their voices, achieve creative goals, and build new worlds—on and off the page.

Understanding the importance of writing and creativity, many librarians have held “write-ins” at their libraries during NaNoWriMo. The East Brunswick Public Library (EBPL) in New Jersey will be celebrating NaNoWriMo for its second year with multiple events. Melissa Hozik, Adult Programming Librarian of the EBPL, shared the press release about these programs. Her library will be hosting weekly write-in sessions every Monday in the evening throughout the month in their group study rooms. EBPL emphasizes that writers will have the opportunity to “work in a quiet space away from home, surrounded by others also taking the challenge.” The Municipal Liaisons, who are official NaNoWriMo volunteers, hosted an information session for the Central NJ region. They discussed the project, answered questions, and cheered them on throughout the process.

At the Albright Memorial Library in Scranton, Elizabeth Davis, Head of Digital Services, said they are hosting the kickoff party, doing weekly write-ins, and doing a wrap party for their region. “This is our third year of working with the NaNoWriMo folks and they really seem to like our space,” she said. “I reached out to the group leader a few years ago as a way to spread the word that we have space and free Wi-Fi. They are pretty quiet and we sometimes don’t even know that they are there.” Ms. Davis believes the group is slowly growing in interest. The Municipal Liaison of her region does all of the coordinating for the group and sets up the meetings for them. The Library promotes the events on their website and in local media, but Ms. Davis states, “It’s really low impact programming and at the most we just provide the room and some surge protectors. We usually try to have print material on writing at the sessions, but they mostly come in and work on their projects.”

Feeling overwhelmed by hosting an official write-in? No problem! Some libraries are simply putting an emphasis on local authors they have worked in conjunction with already. Consider having some local authors talk about their books at your library. The EBPL will be hosting an author panel entitled, “From Book Draft to Book Deal” in November in which authors Melanie Conklin, Val Emmich, Holly Schindler, and Chelle Martin will discuss the challenging road to publication. The panel will be moderated by local award-winning author Jennifer Salvato Doktorksi. EBPL will offer raffle prizes a book signing following the program.

Carrie-Ann Pierson, Teen and Adult Services Librarian at the Orange Grove Public Library (OGPL) in Gulfport, Mississippi, is facilitating a series of NaNoWriMo programs. OGPL is having a pre-writing event with a local author, character development work, four write-ins, and a final event during the month of November. Ms. Pierson states, “If an author completes their book while participating in our program series, then we’re going to print it, barcode it, and put it in our local authors section so it can be circulated in our system.”PA Forward Logo of Five Literacies

What You Can Emphasize
In your press release, let your community know what you can offer them, not only in terms of space, but all of those small services you don’t think about. Does your library have WiFi? Power outlets? Study rooms? Comfortable seating areas? In their press release, the EBPL highlights some of their amenities. “The [EBPL] library has WiFi, outlets, vending machines, comfortable seating, and plenty of books to read for inspiration.” Your library might not have the fastest computers or the most up-to-date books for beginning writers, but highlight what you DO have. Show what you CAN provide to make a comfortable and convenient place for aspiring writers to work.

For more ideas on how to promote the PA Forward Literacies in your library, visit the PA Forward Commons and be sure to add your programs to the database by completing the PA Forward Commons Submission Form!

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