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Volunteers keep the Festival of Books going

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Tucson Festival of Books volunteers after a training session on Feb. 26.

The Tucson Festival of Books has been a staple event in Tucson since its debut in 2009. The festival relies on the support of volunteers to help it run smoothly and successfully.

Festival of Books executive director Marcy Euler is the only paid employee, and a team of hundreds of volunteers help out with the event, according to Hannah Isaac, an English, creative writing and French sophomore who began volunteering with the festival in Nov. 2016. Her volunteering began when she received an email from the department of English saying they needed volunteers.

“I figured a ginormous party celebrating books—I’m in,” Isaac said.

Isaac is an AmeriCorps volunteer, which is a national service program network. She was assigned to the Tucson Festival of Books by AmeriCorps. and at the end of this year will have volunteered over 750 hours with the TFOB.

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“It’s kind of amazing; last year was my first year, but it was also my first year going to the festival, so I had never seen what it looked like to have so many people packed on the UA Mall with all the tents,” Isaac said. “It’s so rewarding to see all my volunteer effort come to fruition.”

Isaac said she attended three volunteer training sessions where volunteers learn about common questions from festival goers, from training the general public on how to use the app to letting the volunteers know where things are located on campus and how to get to them.

Isaac, along with four other AmeriCorps students, work under Euler on tasks such as content creation for the website, copy editing and making name tags. The UA Bookstore is also a big part of the festival since they supply books sold for the festival for authors who attend.

Perhaps students have noticed that the bookstore has had a slew of bookmarks advertising the festival, but those bookmarks didn’t magically appear out of nowhere. Volunteers like Isaac go into the bookstore and stuff the books of authors attending the festival.

Since 2009, the festival has donated over $1,450,000 to agencies to improve literacy in Tucson, according to the festival website. Isaac believes deeply in the cause and is both amazed and proud with the amount donated.

“I love volunteering my time for something as worthwhile as literacy, and you don’t think about how fortunate you are to be able to read,” Isaac said. “It’s so meaningful to hear the stories of people who have been helped by the Tucson Festival of Books and by the literacy organization that we support.”

Isaac sees herself continuing to volunteer in the future with the Festival of Books.

“I’ve gotten to sort of familiarize myself with a lot of authors that I don’t think I would’ve ever come across without the festival, and that’s kind of what those who attend can expect,” Isaac said.

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She will volunteer on Sunday as a campus escort for writer Peter Hayes who mainly writes on Germany and the history on World War II and the Holocaust.

While she said this may not have been a genre she would have explored on her own, Isaac believes the subject is important to talk about with the broad range of issues discussed during the festival.

Isaac believes there is something for everyone to enjoy at the festival because of the widespread variety and diversity at the festival.

“There are tons of things that you can do with little to no money at the festival, but I’ll spend a lot of it on books that I’ll then carry around with me,” Isaac said.

This entire festival is held up on the basis of volunteers coming together to support the love of reading for readers old and new. Whether your love of reading is a new flame or an old friend, the Festival of Books has something for everyone and that is made possible by volunteers like Isaac.


Follow David Pujol on Twitter.



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