Kansas State University


K-State Parents and Family Association

K-State Book Network: And the winner is…

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Tara Coleman, K-State Book Network Chair, with Wes Moore, author of KSBN’s 2015 book, “The Other Wes Moore”.

The motto of the K-State Book Network (KSBN) is “A campus on the same page.” It is designed to provide a common experience to help first year students transition from high school to college, grow academically and socially, and share something with all other first year students.

The university acknowledges that transitioning from high school to college can be a challenge for first year students. The purpose of the K-State First program, and KSBN, is to help guide that transition by giving students a common experience with the book and guided academic and social activities. It also sends the message that people in college read books, even ones that are not in their area of study, and that college is fun.

The events that go along with the books are geared to help students bond over their common reading experience, and learn new things about the book, related themes, K-State and the Manhattan community. It can be a great way for first year students to find common ground and start a conversation both inside and outside the classroom.

Director of Parent & Family Relations Mindy Weixelman recently visited with K-State Book Network Chair Tara Coleman to learn more about KSBN.

Mindy:  Hi Tara!  I’m eager for parents and families to learn more about the K-State Book Network.  I know you currently serve as chair of the KSBN. Who else is involved?Tara:  The KSBN has a book selection committee made up of students, staff, and faculty from the K-State Manhattan and Polytechnic campuses.  Altogether, the committee has about 45 members.

Mindy:  Tell me about your role as chair, and how you got involved.

Tara:  As chair of the KSBN program, I lead the book selection efforts. I was invited to be part of the program by K-State’s Donnelly Professor of English and University Distinguished Teaching Scholar Dr. Greg Eiselein in 2008-2009. The work I do for KSBN fits well with the work I do at the K-State Libraries Office of Web Services.

Mindy:  What are the desired outcomes from having the K-State Book Network?

Tara:  The KSBN has several desired outcomes for students. We want to help students transition from high school to college by giving them a common experience around a book. We also want to introduce them to new ideas, give them opportunities to express themselves respectfully around a common subject, and build community.

Mindy:  What are your expectations for students participating in the K-State Book Network?

Tara:  We expect students to read the provided book each summer, to reflect on the themes, and to come to campus in the fall ready with questions and comments about the messages included in the books. We also want students to attend the free events connected to the books.

Mindy:  Tell me more about how faculty and staff are involved in the K-State Book Network?

Tara:  Faculty and staff are involved in the program in two big ways. First, a large portion of the book selection committee is made up of faculty and staff. They read books, have hours of discussions, and suggest ways the book can be used on campus. The second way they are involved is by using the book. That can range from having a book related assignment in class, creating a week of welcome activity in a residence hall, giving a campus lecture, or a choreographing ballet inspired by events that took place in the book.

Mindy:  Tell parents two ways that the K-State Book Network helps students be successful.

Tara:  KSBN helps introduce students to college level work. We give each student the book during the summer and ask them to read it and be prepared to discuss it in their different courses or groups they belong in. College students read all the time and it’s good to get in that mindset early on.  The program also gets students out of their comfort zone. It gives students the opportunity to learn to articulate a viewpoint to others and hopefully learn why someone else feels differently.

Mindy:  If a student or parent has a question or maybe even a recommendation for the K-State Book Network, what is the best way to connect with you?

Tara:  Any question can be asked by emailing me at ksbn@ksu.edu. I’d be happy to provide more information. We also invite everyone to visit our website.

Mindy:  Here’s one of my favorite questions to ask.  What is the best kept secret about the K-State Book Network?

Tara:  People always ask what they need to do to join the committee and help pick the book. If a student, faculty or staff member feels invested in the success of first year students, they are invited to join the committee.  It’s that easy!

Mindy:  Is there anything else you want parents and families to know about the K-State Book Network?

Tara:  KSBN is not just for students. We want parents to read the book and talk about the issues with their students, in book clubs, with everyone. I love it when parents tell me they read the book as a family and discussed it at the dinner table.

Mindy:  Tara, you provide tremendous leadership throughout the K-State community.  I first met you when you served as co-chair for the All University Campaign, the annual fundraising effort led by faculty and staff.  With all that you do for the university, I’m curious what you enjoy most about working at K-State?

Tara:  K-State is a truly friendly campus. People are invested in each other and want to do their best to help improve the lives of students and the community. It’s a great place to work!

Mindy:  Agreed!  Now for the last, and definitely most important question.  Can you tell parents the name of the 2016 book?!  Drum roll, please.

Tara:  Yes! The K-State Book Network, or KSBN, announces the book selection for 2016: “Spare Parts: Four Undocumented Teenagers, One Ugly Robot, and the Battle for the American Dream” by Joshua Davis.  I hope parents and families will check out the link to the news release that includes more details about the book, and plans for the author to visit campus!

Mindy:  I’m literally heading home now to download the book.  I can’t wait to start reading it!  Thank you so much for all you do for K-State.  Enjoy the beautiful spring weather, and GO CATS!