Richmond Public Library launches One Book, Three Cities program

A new book club launched by Richmond Public Library (RPL) is set to unite readers in B.C. and China this summer.

The One Book, Three Cities program, which kicks off July 4, will bring together readers from Richmond’s sister cities in Qingdao and Xiamen in China.

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Program participants can expect to discuss The Life of Pi by Yann Martel, chosen by RPL, this year.

“The themes for [this book], I think, are super relevant even today,” said Lee Anne Smith, RPL’s coordinator of innovation and learning development, who oversees the program.

“There are themes of growth through adversity, human migration, the difference between truth and belief.”

Smith explained that these are universal themes that any country can relate to, adding that a community reading program gives people the opportunity to learn about each other. 

This two-month program will include an author meet-and-greet, movie night with discussion, walking book club along the river and online discussion forums, which will connect with readers in China.

Extensive research is put into choosing a book for the project. The book has to be available in multiple languages, have a universal theme relevant to all three cities, have a broad appeal and have all three cities agree on it.

The project is a joint initiative between Richmond’s Sister Cities Advisory Committee (SCAC) and the RPL.

SCAC approached the library with a project to create new cultural and learning ideas in May 2018. 

They began to develop a community reading project that invited cities such as Qingdao and Xiamen, China; Wakayama, Japan; and Pierrefonds, Quebec to join the program. Only the two Chinese cities were able to participate in 2019.

“The fact that we're involved in a community-wide read is really, really exciting to the library. We've never done that before,” said Smith.

“We're confident that we're going to be able to bring readers together from the three different cities, but also from all over Richmond to learn from new perspectives and conversations.”

The public launch event will take place from 5 to 6:30 p.m., with the program running from July 4 to Aug. 31. One Book, Three Cities is open to the public for teens and adults.

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