The member diversity in the Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) makes our goal of connecting, educating, advocating, and leading possible. As Bookwomen, we believe Books Have Power.
The Bookwoman welcomes Carolyn T. Wilson (WNBA-Nashville) to the “Power Behind the WNBA” interview series!
Tell us about yourself.
I am a retired librarian. I began my career at the Vanderbilt University Library, spent a few years in publishing, and then spent 34 years at Lipscomb University’s Beaman Library, where I was Director of Library Services.
In the mid-70s, I joined the WNBA. I soon became an active board member, then chapter president and, later, national president. During those years, I started 2 new chapters, one in Atlanta and one in Dallas.
When the WNBA presented the WNBA Award to Barbara Bush in 1990, I chaired the awards committee. I also managed the 75th Anniversary campaign. We produced a list of 75 books that enhanced our horizons, all written by women authors. With Margaret Auer, I developed the WNBA’s strategic planning for the 1990s and beyond.
I was involved in the founding of Nashville’s Southern Festival of Books and had primary responsibilities with the festival for 25 years. Our Nashville chapter has been the core volunteer unit supporting the festival for 30 years.
The Nashville chapter has awarded me an honorary lifetime membership. And I hold a permanent position on the chapter’s board. WNBA-Nashville honors me annually by presenting a chapter member with the Carolyn Taylor Wilson Award for Service.
Why did you join the WNBA?
Initially, I was attracted by the diversity of the WNBA’s membership. At the time, I belonged to a wide group of library-related professional organizations, but the breadth of the WNBA offered me greater exposure to the wider book community.
When I joined, I already had many friends in the WNBA, and I cultivated many more. This proved beneficial as it created new possibilities for me in the broader book world.
I have also enjoyed:
- promoting women in various ways professionally
- networking and cooperating with other community efforts to promote books and reading
- being part of an organization that provides educational support through scholarships and mentoring
- cultivating a wide span of contacts
- having new opportunities available to promote and support libraries
I suggest that others join for some of the same reasons, depending on their interests and their situations in the book world.
What value does the promotion of books bring to your community?
The promotion of books provides one of the greatest links in our civilization. The rise of the digital environment has only amplified these opportunities.
Share a book that has had a lasting impact on you and why?
Choosing one book above others is a bit like asking which child I love best. I usually say,“Maybe the one I just read.”
A lifetime Austen fan, I cannot count the times I have read and re-read Jane Austen’s novels. And I have taught Austen in various programs. While most would put Pride and Prejudice at the top of any Austen list, in recent years, I have been more drawn to Persuasion.
As a history lover, any book that brings me into a different time and culture appeals to me, but Austen’s novels are set in a most appealing time period.
The values that underlie the characters and plots are still relevant, as are the characteristics of the people portrayed. Each time I read one of Austen’s novels, I see some new perspective that I missed previously. I never tire of them.
As a child, my favorite reading was mythology. I read Edith Hamilton‘s book until the copy wore out. My father once asked me why I liked mythology. My answer: there were strong women in the stories.
Interview compiled by assistant editor Pam Ebel (WNBA-New Orleans).