Books Alive brings authors, readers together

Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 11:07 AM.

PANAMA CITY — Since 1999, the Bay County Public Library Foundation has been bringing local readers together with nationally-known authors, producers and other writers for the Books Alive festival of reading.

The 14th annual event will be 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Florida State University Panama City. All sessions are free and open to the public.

Books Alive mixes creativity, learning, fun and fellowship into “a weekend brew of inspiration and interaction for those who love the power of words,” according to promotional materials supplied by library public relations specialist Bettina Mead.

“Bettina and the library systems of Bay County have established a beach head for new writers, and given voice to established ones for over a decade now,” said featured author Janis Owens, a Marianna native who resides in Newberry. “It’s a favor that cannot be forgotten.”

Books Alive has grown into one of the most respected events of its kind. Past keynote speakers have included several New York Times bestselling authors, a Pulitzer Prize winner, a former governor, a U.S. Congressman, a presidential candidate, and a “60 Minutes” network producer who is a senior vice president of the Country Music Network.

The keynote speaker for the luncheon Saturday, Dr. Judith Bense, has served at the University of West Florida in Pensacola for 30 years, and became the fifth president of UWF on July 1, 2008. Bense’s books include: “Unearthing Pensacola”(2006), “Presidio Santa María de Galve (1698-1719): Struggle for Survival on the Spanish Frontier” (2003), “Archaeology of Colonial Pensacola 1750-1821: A First Synthesis” (1999), “Archaeology of the Southeastern United States: Paleoindian to World War II”(1994), and “Underground Pensacola” (1989).

Although more than 500 people take part in Books Alive every year, participation surpassed the 1,000-person mark when the 2008 school lecture tour was implemented. Readers and writers travel sometimes hundreds of miles to spend time with others who appreciate books and everything they represent. Participants leave with new ideas and knowledge, as well as new and renewed friendships.

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