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Sandy Irwin, assistant director of the Durango Public Library, captivates the next generation of readers at storytime last week. The library will celebrate readers and writers with its annual Literary Festival this weekend. Bestselling author Emily Giffin keynotes the event on Sept. 9./ Photo by Stephen Eginoire

Celebrating the written word

Durango’s annual Literary Festival kicks off Sept. 9
by Jen Reeder

Bookworms rejoice: the Durango Public Library’s Literary Festival returns this weekend. The celebration of writing and reading is free and will feature an appearance by Emily Giffin, the bestselling author whose book Something Borrowed was made into a movie starring Kate Hudson.
“We are very excited,” said Abby Lambert, adult, outreach and circulation manager at the Durango Public Library. “She has five bestselling books.
She’s a great writer, really great with character development.”
Lambert said Giffin’s titles have circulated more than 350 times at the library. Her fans will have a chance to meet her at a reception Sept. 9 at 6 p.m. – and enjoy drinks and hor d’oeuvres – before she gives a talk at 7 p.m.

Featuring an author who is a star of the “chick lit” genre is an example of the diversity of writers the library hopes to attract to the festival each year. Last year’s headliner was Craig Childs, who writes about natural sciences, archeology and wilderness adventures.
“We’re not trying to have the same sort of author each year,” Lambert said. “We want a broad spectrum of authors.”

Events continue Saturday with family storytelling with Joe Hayes of Santa Fe, a local authors’ fair and a panel discussion on the future of books.
“The whole slant is going to be e-books and print – where is it all going? It’s changing so fast. What are libraries doing? What are bookstores doing? What are authors doing? It’ll be a good conversation,” Lambert said.

These questions are important to a literate community like Durango. Lambert said circulation numbers continue to grow; the library has had 33,000 more visitors this year so far, and July 2011 had 1,200 more items circulated than July of 2010. More than 1,600 e-books have been checked out this year, and there are more than 27,000 registered patrons from Durango and La Plata County.

Durango City Manager Ron LeBlanc, who will introduce Giffin during the Literary Festival (the library is a city department), said the festival offers a chance “to celebrate the success of literature and everything the library stands for.”

“The library is one of the cornerstones of culture in a community, and we happen to have an outstanding library – not just the building, which is LEED-certified Gold – but our staff and our collections represent the value the community places on learning, reading and knowledge,” he said.
“We have a very highly educated community, a very involved community. So having a library is essential for this community to function.”

The Literary Festival will also kick off Durango’s Showcase of the Arts, a three-week event featuring music; culinary, visual and fine arts; and theater performances throughout town.

“In Durango, we live in such a wealth of art in many forms,” said Anne Beach, coordinator of Showcase of the Arts. “I am super excited for Durango Showcase of the Arts to have a literary arts part.”

The library’s Lambert said she hopes the community and visitors will support the Literary Festival out of a love of reading. “People are reading more and more, people are coming into the library more and more – our circulation is almost double what it was this time last year. So people are reading, contrary to popular belief,” Lambert said. “This town is chock full of readers and writers.”

For more information about the Durango Library’s Literary Festival, visit or call Abby Lambert at 375-3387. For more information about Durango Showcase of the Arts, visit