Ambassador of Books ~ Book Club Madam ~ Blogger Gal

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Preparing For My Book Club Panel - input from you?


This is the first year that the Baltimore Book Festival will have a panel discussion focused solely on book clubs and I'm the one putting it together - yeah! The Festival is still months away (Sept. 25-27) but I've already begun preparing and I wanted to share my progress with all of you, and ask for your help.

My goal is to have a panel of 4-6 book club leaders who will discuss how to start, grow, and improve a book club. Included in that discussion will be how to choose the right book for your club, handling problems in the club, and lots more. Sounds like fun, right?

So far I have three women who have committed to join the panel and all three run very different clubs.
  • One club is made up of only only African American women - they read a wide variety of books.
  • Another club is comprised of various races and economic backgrounds - they read only African American books.
  • And the third club leader participates in 4 clubs - a "regular" book club, two clubs she runs at a retirement center, and a Spanish language club for (I think) native English speakers.
There is another woman who may not be able to be on the panel but who will definitely help in my planning. She is a trainer of library book club coordinators - what a great job, right?!

I'd say there is some variety on that panel, wouldn't you? I'm really looking forward to working with these women - and with other club leaders - to create a fun and informative panel discussion.

I would love some input from my readers! If you were attending a panel about book clubs, what topics would you like to see addressed? What websites do you rely on for help with your book club? Are there any tips you want to share? I want this panel to be as helpful as possible so please share your ideas. Thanks!

6 comments:

Ti said...

Well, I am having some issues with my book club now so this topic is a timely one. After almost 12 years with this public club, we are now having problems with new memmbers. It used to be about 8 core members with a few floaters every now and then, but now we are getting members by the dozen and many are very opinionated and one in particular has gone out of her way to start trouble (racial slurs, political rants, lectures on religion).

For this reason, I would love to hear how public groups handle such situations. We are hosted by the public library and have been told that there is nothing that can be done. This is extremely frustrating since our group has been around for so long.

This new dynamic also complicates our selection process. We vote once a year and pick titles for the year, but how do you pick titles with members like this?

It's a loaded topic for sure, but a much needed one.

Heather J. said...

Thanks Ti! I'm hoping to get a library club coordinator on the panel as well, so maybe I'll be able to address this issue.

Just a thought ... could your club "move" to a non-library location? Then you could invite the people who've been part of the club for a long time, including the coordinator. The official library club could continue to meet and your new group would simply be reading the same books. However, if enough people leave the library group, the confrontational person may drop out b/c he/she doesn't have an audience anymore. Then, in a few months, you could move back to the library again. What do you think?

- Heather

softdrink said...

Since I'm not in a book group, I don't have anything to add. But congrats on coordinating this...sounds like you're going to have fun! I'm looking forward to reading about how it all goes.

Dawn - She is Too Fond of Books said...

Congrats on moderating this panel - what an exciting opportunity for you!

One of the book groups I'm in has gotten quite large (14 if all attend). It's a neighborhood group, so there's a LOT of side talk - even after 1/2 hour of socializing it's tough to get the group focused on discussing the book. Would love ideas for staying on (or getting back on) track during the bulk of the meeting.

Have fun with this, Heather!

Heather J. said...

softdrink - thanks! I'm really excited about this myself.

Dawn - This is a huge problem for clubs (at times, my own included). It will definitely be a topic for discussion on the panel.

lisamm said...

Hi Heather! Congrats on coordinating this panel. I would love to be involved in something like that! I just wanted to second what Dawn said.. it's sometimes difficult to transition from the social part to the book part of the meeting.

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