by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian
Book clubs are very popular in our community. Our library has two book clubs for adults and two for kids. The Grove City library has a book club for adults, and so does the Dassel library. All are well-attended. Besides the library-run book clubs, we see many members of other book clubs from the area in the library ordering and picking up copies of their books.
We sometimes see our customers getting frustrated when their book club chooses a very popular new book. When everyone is reading something because it’s new and there’s considerable media coverage about it, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get enough copies from the library for a book club within the month you need it. There’s just too much demand from the general public, even when we have many copies.
For example, if you tried to do Go Set a Watchman for your book club right now, you’d be unlikely to get copies for everyone soon enough. Our library system has 29 copies of the print book and six audiobooks, with more on order. But there are 35 people on the waiting list.
My advice is to wait until the interest subsides about a new book (or a book that’s been turned into a movie) before you choose it for your book club, unless your members are willing to buy their copies. I’ve learned from leading a book club that it works best to choose books that are a year or more old but that were popular when they came out so that the library has many copies. Small book clubs do have more options.
One good option for book clubs is a book club kit. Our library system offers a rotating selection of these that are shared with Plum Creek library system, plus a few that stay in our catalog all the time. If you search “book club in a bag” as a title in our catalog, you’ll bring up the list of choices. Many of these kits include a dozen copies of the book, and often one is in large print or audiobook format. Many also include a discussion guide.
With a book club kit, one person from the book club would have to order and check out the kit and then distribute the copies to the members of the club – and get them all back again. So you’d want a reliable group of book club members to trust with copies checked out on your own card! But it is a way to get it all done with one order, as long as your book club doesn’t have too many members. An advantage is that you’re only competing with other book clubs to get those kits, not with individual readers.
When ordering individual copies of books for a book club, keep in mind that the person who orders the books is the one who has to check them out. If one person orders all of the books for your book club, then she is the person who has to come in with her card to check them all out, she has to get them to the members, and she is responsible if the books are late or don’t come back. We can’t check a book out to someone when it’s on hold on another individual’s library card. If each person in the book club orders his own copy, then that person can come in and pick it up, and he controls when the book is returned. It generally works better that way, unless you’re a person who doesn’t mind nagging your book club members to return their books!
The adult book club I lead for the library meets at noon on the second Tuesday of each month. Everyone is welcome, whether they attend regularly or not. For our September 8th meeting, we’re reading Stalking Susan by Julie Kramer. Julie will be visiting our library on Saturday, September 26, at 1 p.m. It’s another great opportunity to talk about books!