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Flint and Genesee County Local Author Collection

by Liz Svoboda on 2024-03-19T14:28:00-04:00 in English & Literature, Fun Reading, Library News, On Display | 0 Comments

Flint and Genesee County is a home to a vibrant and growing literary scene, and the Thompson Library is doing its part to collect and preserve local authors' works. The concentration on this collection is spearheaded by two librarians, Matt Wolverton and myself, who work together to find, buy, and catalog the works. Authors included in the collection need to have some connection to Flint, i.e. born in Flint or Genesee County, lived in or worked in Flint or Genesee County for an extended amount of time, or is an alum if UM-Flint.

stack of books by local authorsThe local literary scene includes a wide range of genres including children's literature, poetry, memoir, speculative fiction, romance and history. While some authors have gone through a traditional publishing route, many are taking advantage of the independent and self-publishing boom of recent years. This diversity of genre and publishing method makes finding authors and then tracking down copies a little difficult. I often find out about new authors through the social media accounts of local bookstores like Comma Bookstore and Social Hub in Flint, Fenton's Open Books, R&B Used Books in Grand Blanc, and Totem Books in Flint. Checking out the local author shelves at the Flint Public Library and attending local author events, like the Genesee District Library's Local Author Showcase (coming up on April 13 at the Grand Blanc McFarlen Library), give me titles and authors to try to include in the collection. I also use sources like Goodreads, the Flint Area Writers collective, and lots on internet searches to try to find additions.

Once I have found a book to include, I then submit an order to our technical services department who order the book (though I have sometimes donated a copy myself). Once the books arrive, Matt's real work begins. Most books that the library buys from major, established publishers have pre-created catalog records that he can easily copy into our catalog, though he adds a searchable note to mark them as part of the local author collection: Flint copy: Flint and Genesee Local Author. However, for many books that are independently published or have not been previously held by a library, he needs to create a catalog record from scratch, which is a very detail oriented process. You can click on the "View MARC data" button at the bottom of a catalog record to see what a catalog record looks like. Matt is the Head of Technical Services, and as he isn't a "trained cataloger," he take special care when creating these new records:

"[I] generally take my time with the records, since I will be creating the record that other libraries can use if they acquire any of these books that I create the record for. Some information is very simple: author, title, ISBN, publisher, date of publication, page numbers, size. All those fields have to be created and then the information has to be entered in a specific grammatical format so that the records display properly. The more time-consuming parts are creating subject headings for the books as well as creating the call numbers. I take the most time in constructing call numbers. I'd say one title could take 30 minutes.

I enjoy technical things, and it's an aspect of the profession that goes back to the beginning really.  I also enjoy that it is creative; I'm creating a record that will assist future users in the discovery of knowledge. How cool is that!?" 

The current collection has over 200 books that are either available to borrow or are in some stage of cataloging and labeling. Matt's goal is to have the majority of the currently ordered books cataloged and available for check out by then end of the Spring term. Notable authors in the collection include:

  • Semaj Brown is Flint's first Poet Laureate, and she incredibly active in the local community.
  • Connor Coyne is a local author of mainly dystopian and speculative fiction, who currently runs Flint's Gothic Funk Press and the Teen Writers Workshop at the Flint Public Library. He has also begun creating a census of local authors.
  • Christopher Paul Curtis is a prolific and award-winning author of historical children's literature, who was awarded the Coretta Scott King–Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement in January of 2024. Mr. Curtis is also a UM-Flint alum, and his novels include The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 and Bud, Not Buddy among many others.
  • Gary Flinn is a local history author whose most recent book focuses on the Kewpee hamburger, the second oldest hamburger restaurant chain that started out of Flint's Kewpee Hotel.
  • Colleen Gleason is a prolific author who focuses on paranormal and historical fiction genres, and writes under several pen names.
  • Jonah Mixon-Webster's debut collection of poetry Stereo(TYPE) won the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry in 2019 and was a finalist for the 2018 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry.
  • Kelsey Ronan's first novel Chevy in the Hole has been described as a "love letter the Flint" and was selected as the Community Read for the 2022 - 2023 year, as a Michigan Public Reads in 2023, and as a 2023 Michigan Notable Book. Ms. Ronan is also a UM-Flint alum.
  • John Scieszka is a very prolific children's author who was born and raised in Flint. He was first National Ambassador for Young People's Literature named by the Library of Congress. His works include The True Story of the Three Little Pigs!The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Fairy Tales, and many more.
  • John Sinclair is a writer, poet, and activist well-known for his work in the mid-century counter cultural movement.

Check out our current display of books by local authors on our third floor, search the catalog for them, or look on the "Local Interest" section of our Browsing Collection, and borrow one today!


books by local authors on display in the Thompson Library


If you know of a local author or are one yourself and want your work to be included in our collection, please email me.

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