FLYER Q&A: Fayetteville Public Library’s Joel Bunch the perfect choice for events

Joel Bunch (Courtesy photo)

It’s common knowledge that the Fayetteville Public Library is the best library in America. But did you also know that their staff was voted The Best Library Staff Of All Time (by me, just now)? It was no contest.

When Joel Bunch was hired as a Reference Librarian at the Fayetteville Public Library – it was an obvious choice. Besides studying Library Science, Joel has worked at Nightbird Books and the Dickson Street Bookshop. He’s been in book clubs for years, and is the perfect person to facilitate clubs at the library.

When Joel started booking the Mountain Street Stage series, I knew it was in capable hands because he’s also booked shows at almost every venue and former DIY spot in Fayetteville, starting with house shows.

Don’t miss any of the upcoming events at the FPL, including recently announced events with Henry Rollins and Will Johnson. I’m looking forward to future announcements as well.

I talked to Joel about all this stuff and here it goes…

Hi Joel. The FPL expansion has been a game changer, what’s your favorite part? Is there anything that hasn’t caught on yet that you feel deserves a mention?

I think the Event Center might be my favorite part, though it is difficult to choose. We are learning so much about what we can do in these spaces and what the community wants from them. The Ziegler Reception Room is a space I hope to utilize a lot more for smaller events. It’s already set up for refreshments and the feeling is more intimate.

You’re a part of the book club series – how’s it going? What makes a book a good selection to book club?

I do two book clubs for the library. Sleuth or Consequences is in its second year and thriving. We read a variety of mystery and true crime books, so most readers end up reading something they would never choose on their own. The second club is Book Chatter, that meets online the first and third Wednesdays of the month. Members of this group talk about what they’ve been reading on their own. It’s great for finding new books and authors. Sometimes, the best book club conversations occur when discussing something everyone hated. There’s just more to talk about.

What have you been reading lately? And what’s your favorite reading material?

On top of book club selections, I’ve been reading all sorts of random things. Haha! I’m reading “Jane Eyre” so I can compare it to “The Wife Upstairs,” the July selection for Sleuth or Consequences, and I love that it is forcing me to slow down and really savor the language. I’m listening to “We Were Eight Years in Power,” narrated by the author, Ta-Nehisi Coates. I enjoy reading fiction, but I have always had an easier time sliding into a non-fiction book. The lessons are more on the surface, and I can usually find more to read in the notes section or bibliography. I just finished two collections of “Spy Vs. Spy” comic strips. Before I could read, I enjoyed flipping through Mad magazine and reading “Spy Vs. Spy.” The strips rarely had words, and if they did, they were onomatopoeias like boom or pow! I’ve been reading comics ever since.

You’ve been organizing the Mountain Street Stage series – what shows do you have coming up?

We have two shows left in our summer series, The Western Swing Rules Band on July 24 and Will Johnson on July 31.

You just announced a Henry Rollins show that’s on Friday, Aug. 12 – that’s huge! What’s your favorite Rollins book? How can people get tickets?

“Black Coffee Blues” is probably my favorite, but “Get In The Van” is a close second. Each tells the story of a young man discovering the world, working hard, and figuring things out. This is not a ticketed event. People are free to just show up, though I would encourage showing up early to secure parking and a good seat.

The FPL is hosting events at the upcoming Roots Festival. What are those dates and how can people get tickets?

Starting Thursday, Aug. 25, the 2022 Roots Fest will feature culinary and live music events at the library each day of the festival, concluding on Saturday, Aug. 27. Tickets can be purchased through the Roots Fest website.

What’s the best way to keep track of events at the FPL?

Following us on Facebook or Instagram, but looking at our online calendar a month or two in advance is probably the best way to find our events and get on registration lists, which traditionally open three weeks before the event date.

Everything in Fayetteville is expanding. What’s your favorite spot that hasn’t changed?

Dickson Street Bookshop! The fact that the shop feels untouched by all the changes of the past 20 years is but one reason I think it is made of magic.