By Barbara Theroux, President of Friends of the Library
The Nobel Peace Prize was announced on October 9th. It was fascinating to see the live broadcast in the Kista Bibliotek, where there were two viewing screens—one in the main entrance of the library and another in the viewing theater. After the announcement, when the minister was talking about the Tunisia coalition, National Dialogue Quartet, several people stopped to confirm the winner. The Swedes knew the exact time of the press conferences–1 p.m. for the literature prize and 11 a.m. for the peace prize. In the United States, we wake up to the news on NPR, so what a difference the time zone makes.
When the Nobel Prize for Literature was announced, Swedish libraries scheduled live broadcasts or at least had viewing areas where staff members were on stand-by, ready to post the winner and display his or her books. The young librarian in Kista was pleased that his favorite had won and confirmed that all books were immediately checked out. Posters were on display in Harnosand within minutes of the announcement and the main entrance display at Kista had changing screens for Henning Mankell and Svetlana Alexievitch along with welcoming information about the library’s services and programs.
Svetlana Alexievitch was the first journalist and only the third person writing non-fiction to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Print-on-demand copies of Voices from Chernobyl, first published in 2006 by Dalkey Archives, will soon be arriving at bookstores and libraries in the U.S.