Community Library of Allegheny Valley clicks with readers with new Laid Back Book Club
It's a novel idea, but also one that makes sense in the fast-paced age of social media. Since September, the Community Library of Allegheny Valley, Harrison branch, has been bringing a book club to anyone, anywhere, as long as they have an email address and can log on.
Its Laid Back Book Club is proving popular with patrons and staff, who credit its flexibility and accessibility for making book discussions possible.
“I think it's important for libraries to meet patrons where they are,” says Caitlin Bauer, adult programming specialist for the Library. “People are spending more and more time online, and they depend on social networking to connect with others. Starting an online book club was a way to reach out to library users who are plugged into technology this way.”
The premise is simple. The Laid Back Book Club is set up like a regular book club, except discussion takes place online, Bauer says. Each month, she says, she chooses a book for the club's readers and posts a summary, discussion questions, an excerpt and related articles.
Those interested in participating can pick up a copy of the book of the month at the library's circulation desk. Then, as they read, they can post thoughts and ideas about the book in the online discussion.
“There are no hard-and-fast deadlines or meetings to attend,” Bauer says.
“It's great to see continued participation throughout the month as our readers post their reactions to the book and respond to others' comments.”
“The Laid Back Book Club allows our patrons to ... participate at their own pace, on their own time.”
While many enjoy reading a good book and discussing details with others who have also read it, it's difficult, nearly impossible, for people to commit to monthly book-club meetings, according to Bauer.
Library director Kathy Firestone agrees, noting that in a book club she belongs to, meeting dates often have to be changed because of scheduling conflicts among members.
“The idea of the Laid Back Book Club, where discussion is just a click way, is really exciting to someone like me,” she says. “It just provides another avenue for reading and the exchange of ideas.”
With posts for each book available on the site, readers can jump in at any,time and pick up a conversation on one of the selections.
That's what Kathy Baird of Harrison did when she learned of the club. She was returning a book on a CD version of Jeanette Wall's “The Glass Castle,” which was September's selection.
“I'm new to the area, and this is a good way to share in a book club without having to be there, as my job takes me on weekly trips across the country. That would make it impossible for me to belong to a traditional book club.”
Baird says that one day, she'd like to see the members meet face to face. Until then, she and other participants are happy sharing their impressions and insights online.
The written format, Bauer says, allows readers to explain ideas in greater detail than they would be able to do in a traditional face-to-face discussion.
Bauer says, “We wanted to accommodate their schedules and make it easy for them to participate on their own time.”
While the program clicks with readers, the library still has plenty to offer those who prefer traditional discussions, like the library's historical book club and its newly formed contemporary-fiction book club.
“There will always be a place for traditional library services like face-to-face book clubs,” Bauer says. “Technology is not going to replace those interactions — instead, it will allow us to expand and serve our patrons in new ways.”
Julie Martin is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 3 in Westmoreland charged in painkiller ring
- Two dead in apparent murder-suicide in North Oakland
- Normally tight-lippped Marshawn Lynch fires back at critics
- Starkey: What are Penguins, Pirates up to?
- District attorney rejects polygraph deal in molestation case
- Pitt’s 2015 schedule includes 5 road games in 1st 7 games
- Kennametal plans plant closings, job cuts; fallout from oil and gas decline
- Highmark members to keep maternity care at Magee in 2015
- Chase Elliott to replace retiring Gordon in No. 24 car
- San Francisco blaze kills Mission District resident
- Homeland chief says cuts over immigration puts U.S. at risk