So, more than anything, libraries need to develop as learning agencies, informal learning agencies that help build a sense of identity and community. We want people to engage their imaginations or their information or ideas. We want to become a place where people discuss and debate issues as well as find resources that are going to help them build knowledge and contribute to their communities.
I liked this bit:
“One trend that I would like to see change,” says Haycock, “is that I don’t think we should be offering book clubs in libraries so much as we should be offering to train people in the community who want to have a book club: Here’s how you set it up, here’s how it works. Have a couple of people talk about their successful examples of book clubs. Tell us your demographic and we’ll give you some titles that seem to be popular with that group and some trigger questions for these books. That way, as a librarian, you’re spreading your influence. You’re demonstrating your expertise.
Our library has a “books to go” program - where we take books that we have purchased with Friends of the Library money for our monthly book club and we put them out for local book clubs to utilize after that particular book’s meeting has passed. The copies are numbered and we have a folder of discussion questions prepared that we usually cull from the publisher’s site, other book club sites or from our own databases as well as a “Books to go” bag that a book club organizer can check out for their group. The books are signed out - so there is an informal check out period - we usually just ask that the books be returned within a “reasonable” amount of time - which for book clubs we consider to be about two months - before we start making phone calls to check up on the stragglers.
I love the Books to Go bag idea. At my old library (in the same consortium), we had a lot of trouble ordering copies of books from the catalog for a nun who ran a book club in a local retirement community. This sounds like an admirable work around, and a way to get more use out of books that otherwise might be used only once.