Thursday, November 5, 2009

Book Bags at Last!

They've been a long time coming--book bags to serve the needs of local reading clubs.

It's as I told the Mascoma Foundation when I wrote the original grant application: members of a book club adopt a title for reading and discussion, then they fan out to their library, hoping to be among the first to check it out. A hold queue forms, with six-seven members, all waiting for their turn at the book. Patrons who are waiting then wonder whether they will attend their next meeting with the book unread.

We haven't been the first to identify and tackle this community need: the Howe Library in Hanover deserves that credit. Their Books To Go program is the inspiration for ours. Our more modest effort is launching with several initial offerings, with more to come, thanks to the Mascoma Foundation and NPL's own Friends of the Library.

Our book bags come with discussion and resource guides. Our bag for Loving Frank includes a set of discussion questions and a resource guide of homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Our bag for the Geography of Bliss has lots of fun material from the International Center for the Study of Happiness in the Netherlands on how one determines one's level of happiness--on a national level!

Other bags include one on Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick (just in time to revisit the first Thanksgiving) and The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz, last year's Pulitzer Prize winner.

At your next book club meeting, share this information with your members, and then see if 10 copies of a book, plus a discussion guide and resource materials won't increase the enjoyment and decrease the logistical headaches of your next get-together.

P.S.: We're planning to increase our book bag collection and welcome your suggestions.