At the top of a heap of bestsellers and book club favorites, the Kansas City Public Library's 2011 reports that the most checked out item in its collection was the 135-year-old literary classic The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which circulated 800 times. The Mark Twain classic was the subject of a Big Read celebration, funded in part by a $17,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and coordinated by the Library (in partnership with Kansas City Ballet) from September through November this past year.
Twain's classic novel of remarkable boyhood adventures in Missouri was the subject of 30 book discussion groups - seven hosted at Library locations, five in private homes, and 18 more in the offices of local businesses as part of the Library's signature Big Read: Corporate Edition - as well as the inspiration for a handful of public events that energized readers, including a book tour stop featuring actor Hal Holbrook discussing his autobiography, Harold: The Boy Who Became Mark Twain.
This far out-paced circulation traffic for other top 10 titles, including: The Help by Kathryn Stockett (599); The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson (415); Freedom by Jonathan Franzen (375); The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (362); The Confession by John Grisham (330); Sizzling Sixteen by Janet Evanovich (330); Cross Fire by James Patterson (313); Port Mortuary by Patricia Cornwell (296); and Tick Tock by James Patterson (278).
"The Big Read has a demonstrable impact on readers in Kansas City," said Crosby Kemper III, director of the Kansas City Public Library, "and we are proud to contribute to the NEA's proven track record of inspiring literary reading. The Library has added its stamp to already successful branding from the NEA, and as a result, our patrons look forward to The Big Read every year."
This is the second consecutive year that a Big Read selection promoted by the Library has topped the annual circulation report: in 2010, Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson was the most circulated item throughout the 10-location system.