The three books selected for the Clinton-Macomb Public Library’s 2023 1,2,3 Initiative.

The three books selected for the Clinton-Macomb Public Library’s 2023 1,2,3 Initiative.

Photo provided by CMPL

1,2,3 Initiative guides CMPL discussion of timely topics

By: Dean Vaglia | C&G Newspapers | Published January 6, 2023


CLINTON TOWNSHIP — When topics grow so large that no single book or meeting can properly cover them, important topics can become hard to approach.

The Clinton-Macomb Public Library has been figuring out exactly how to face the complex topics of the day, and it will tackle climate change as the subject of its “1,2,3 Initiative” for 2023.

“1,2,3 is a CMPL initiative where at the beginning of each calendar year we will provide intentional programing centering on a timely issue,” said Lisa Mulvenna, CMPL’s head of children’s services.

Running since 2021, the 1,2,3 Initiative is built around using three books — “a picture book, a middle-grade (novel) and adult novel,” according to Mulvenna — to discuss a single issue across the CMPL’s two member communities throughout the first several months of the year. The three books are supported by events and discussions appropriate for various age levels, as well as talks by subject matter experts.

According to Mulvenna, the idea for the 1,2,3 Initiative came from the shortcomings of conventional community reading programs.

“Community reads are geared towards adults, and when you do that, you’re forgetting a big part of our population,” Mulvenna said. “When 2020 hit … it gave us a chance to reevaluate some of our services and take time to think about some of those ideas we had in the back of our heads, and this was one that came back out.”

Having handled the topics of race and mental health, the subject of each 1,2,3 season is chosen about half a year in advance, according to Mulvenna.

“We have a running list of topics that anyone on the staff is able to add to throughout the year,” said Celia Mulder, CMPL’s head of collection management. “We are looking for something that is timely and people have seen in the news or is a topic of conversation. We are not aiming to pick something that is controversial just for controversy’s sake; the goal is really to provide a space for people to talk about a tough topic with other members of their community.”

The ideas are collected and discussed by the librarians, and the group goes with whichever idea has the most persuasive argument for it. Relevance is also measured by the selecting librarians, and Mulder says the release of many climate change books in recent years helped the subject’s relevance.

As for the books 2023’s initiative will be based around, librarians have selected “The Tantrum That Saved the World,” by Megan Herbert and Michael E. Mann for children; “Dry,” by Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman for teens; and “The Story of More: How We Got to Climate Change and Where to Go from Here,” by Hope Jahren for adults.

Several events will take place highlighting various aspects of climate change, such as a Jan. 24 workshop at the main library at 6:30 p.m. about repairing clothes and a Jan. 25 Zoom event with former WJKB Chief Meteorologist Chris Edwards about how climate change affects the local area. More events will be announced as the year goes on.