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April 15, 2008

National Library Week: Join the Circle of Knowledge at Your Library

Posted by carol
In celebration of National Library Week (April 13-19), we've invited librarians to share their insights about book clubs. We owe a big thank you to contributor Nora Rawlinson of, who introduced us to this week's guest bloggers. Today, Barbara A. Genco, Director of Collection Development at the Brooklyn Public Library, in Brooklyn, New York, shares reasons why libraries deserve to be celebrated year-round.

Libraries across the country are celebrating the many and varied ways we promote reading and support our local reading groups --- every week of the year! Reading groups are a genuine circle of knowledge, pleasure, growth and satisfaction for all who love them. And where better to enhance your reading group experiences than at your local public library. We can help you find a group to join, research a book or author, or learn about what others are reading. We host author talks year-round and can serve as a happy opportunity for reading group outings.

Happily, reading groups are becoming more and more central to the vitality of the nation's public libraries. At my own Brooklyn (NY) Public Library our adult services librarians have been trained in reading group facilitation, and more and more reading groups are springing up every month. To celebrate our reading groups we have also been adding more and more author talks to our crowded calendars. Just this past Saturday at our wildly successful "Brooklyn Writers for Brooklyn Readers" program an overflow crowd heard one of Park Slope-Brooklyn's favorite scribes, Paul Auster, who read from his forthcoming book Man in the Dark (Henry Holt, September 2008).

Like other libraries across the country we have also added literally thousands of copies of titles that have been most in demand by our countless readers groups. We have even ventured in to the world of "virtual" reading groups! We know that for some busy folks the reading group routine is sometimes interrupted by business travel, school or family responsibilities. To help satisfy that need we have launched our own online reading group, Brooklyn Book Talk. We like to think that our online service allows busy book lovers to stay connected with a wider virtual reading group community. We also help reading group "wannabes" by linking to a list of our "face to face" discussions.

Right now our librarians are highlighting Jane Eyre in our online reading group, but our staff have recently blogged about books as diverse as Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes Were Watching God and Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Chronicle of a Death Foretold. The information gathered at the site can also act as a real support for reading groups that might want to use background info or ideas for discussion in their own home-based groups. The great news is that you don't have to live in Brooklyn, New York City, New York State or even the United States, to be part of the conversation at our Brooklyn Book Talk site.

Our library's devotion to nurturing the countless reading groups in the Brooklyn community is not limited to the traditional school-year model. Staff is hard at work updating our very own for an exciting re-launch in early June. We have developed interactive ways for library readers of all ages to create their own online reading logs, post reviews of the books they enjoyed and learn about what others are reading. The levels of participation have grown geometrically --- especially among our adults who often miss the face-to-face interactions with fellow book lovers when family vacation schedules can keep their groups from their regular meetings.

Let's face it. For those of us who truly love reading for pleasure and community there can never be "enough" books or too many ways to connect with other book lovers. Hungry for more? Pay a visit to your local library this National Library Week! We're waiting to welcome you into a widening circle of knowledge --- and the joy and pleasure of reading groups.

---Barbara A. Genco