The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

71° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Student union, U of A Bookstore employees prepare for Tucson Festival of Books

TFOB2012-p285:: Authors Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry took questions during the 2012 Tucson Festival of Books held on the University of Arizona Campus, Saturday March 10, 2012 in Tucson, AZ.
The Tucson Festival of Books is the four largest book festival in the United States.
3-10-12 Photo by James S. Wood www.jswoodphoto.com 520-247-9387
James S. Wood
TFOB2012-p285:: Authors Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry took questions during the 2012 Tucson Festival of Books held on the University of Arizona Campus, Saturday March 10, 2012 in Tucson, AZ. The Tucson Festival of Books is the four largest book festival in the United States. 3-10-12 Photo by James S. Wood www.jswoodphoto.com 520-247-9387

The UA campus is preparing for the fifth annual Tucson Festival of Books this weekend with new signage and an abundance of employees.

The Tucson Festival of Books debuted on the UA campus in March 2009, and featured 450 authors and presenters. The Tucson Festival of Books Foundation is a nonprofit organization and the festival is a free, public celebration of reading and literacy.

Last year alone, the foundation donated $200,000 to literacy programs, including Literacy Connects, Reading Seed Children’s Literacy Program and UA literacy outreach programs.

“We’ve been able to put a lot back in the community in the last few years in regards to education centered around literacy,” said Bill Viner, chairman of the festival.

In the past four years, the Festival of Books has grown from 50,000 attendees to more than 100,000 last year, said UA BookStores director Debby Shively, in an email interview. Shively said 58 staff members and more than 150 students from the UA BookStores work the festival each year.

“All staff and students are asked to work the Festival knowing it takes every employee to deliver the services expected of us during such a large event,” Shively said. “I commend the students from all areas on campus who stay and work the event as they truly are amazing to give up the beginning of their spring break to work the event. The students are very supportive knowing that the event is truly about giving back.”

Along with the UA BookStores’ preparation, the Student Union Memorial Center is preparing for the onslaught of visitors by installing new signage around the student union to help visitors find their way around campus, according to Todd Millay, Arizona Student Unions marketing manager.

“It’s a big project for us to make sure that our guests and people that are new to campus … have an opportunity to easily find an ATM machine … know their way to the Gallagher Theater, the [UofA Bookstore] … and important things to a guest,” Millay said. “That’s a pretty big thing we’ve been working on preparing for the Festival of Books.”

he total cost of the new signage is less than $8,000, according to Millay. The installments are expected to be finished by the weekend so they are in place to help incoming freshmen and visitors, Millay added.

“[The signs] will always stay in place after this, but the Festival of Books has really been driving it for us,” Millay said. “We wanted to create a little bit better experience for all our guests.”

The Tucson Festival of Books is one of the largest community events in southern Arizona, according to Shively. The bookstore is a major contributor to the festival and does much more than sell merchandise; employees look at the festival as an “investment into the community,” Shively said.

The Tucson Festival of Books will be held on the UA Mall along East University Boulevard, stretching from the area around Old Main to just east of Cherry Avenue.

Helene Woodhams, literary arts librarian for Pima County and head of the author committee for the festival, said all visitors will be able to find something that suits them.

“There is something there for all different ages,” Woodhams said. “One of the things I think is fabulous about the festival, is there is so much diversity and selection and hopefully the attendees will go listen to an author that they wouldn’t listen to otherwise. I hope people leave excited about books, reading and authors and look forward to the next great book.”

Some students are excited about the opportunity to get the community interested in literature.

“I think it’s important to showcase literature and showcase it to the community,” said Eric Klump, a journalism junior. “It allows people to get interested in books and reading. There are places where you can buy a lot of books for lower prices, which makes it accessible to everyone.”

Bill Viner, president and co-founder of The Tucson Festival of Books Foundation, said the college demographic will likely be interested in authors Chuck Klosterman, Jen Lancaster, Adam Mansbach, John Sayles and many others at the festival this year.

“[The festival] will be a huge surprise for people who have never been before,” Viner said. “The UA Mall is the spine for the entire event. It really is a festival in every sense of the word, for every age and genre.”

More to Discover
Activate Search