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Westport Library Sees Sky High Demand For 'Go Set A Watchman'

Area libraries have long wait lists for Harper Lee's much-anticipated novel "Go Set A Watchman". Photo Credit: Jay Polansky
Area libraries have long wait lists for Harper Lee's much-anticipated novel "Go Set A Watchman". Photo Credit: Jay Polansky

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — Libraries in Westport, Fairfield and Redding can’t seem to keep Harper Lee’s much-anticipated book “Go Set a Watchman” on the shelves.

The book is so popular that the wait lists are in the high double digits. Some libraries are ordering more copies to keep up with demand.

Westport Library Communications Director Marcia Logan said patrons had 56 holds on the book as of Monday — and 15 for the large print book, 13 for the audiobook and two for the ebook.

In nearby Fairfield, it’s three libraries — Pequot Library, Fairfield Main and Fairfield Woods Branch Library — have 79 patrons on its wait list, according to Adair Heitmann, Pequot’s director of communications.

Redding’s Mark Twain Library prepared for the demand by ordering extra copies, according to Beth Dominianni, the library’s director.

“So far, library users I’ve spoken with who have already read the book have varied reactions,”  Dominianni said in an email. “They are finding it an interesting read and can see the seeds of the book that became 'To Kill a Mockingbird'.”

The book, which was recently discovered, was originally written in the 1950s. It follows the adult Scout, the main character in Lee’s bestselling book “To Kill A Mockingbird.”

The release of "Watchman" has been controversial. Some wonder whether 89-year-old Lee — who has vision and hearing problems — wanted the book to be published at all.

Last week, Fairfield residents and town leaders read from “Go Set a Watchman” during a public event at Fairfield University’s Bookstore , The Daily Voice previously reported.

During the event, Craig Kennedy, the bookstore’s trade publisher, told The Daily Voice, “It’s an amazing read. You can truly hear her voice.”

Libraries in other Fairfield County towns have also seen high demand for the book. In Greenwich, 78 copies have been checked out with 86 readers on a waiting list , The Daily Voice previously reported.

Logan of Westport Library said the library plans to hold two Harper Lee-focused events in the next few weeks, including a screening of “To Kill a Mockingbird” on Aug. 8 and a discussion on “Go Set a Watchman” on Aug. 29.

" 'Go Set a Watchman' was released last week and over 1 million copies were sold," Westport Library Director of Community Relations Kelle Ruden said. "Seeing the overwhelming number of patron requests we have for the book, it became clear that the discussion will be one of our most highly anticipated programs this summer."

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