Alt+Library Book Club for 20s and 30s a great way to read!
Originally published on The Sacramento Press on 8/17/10:
A group of 12 women sat around a large table, passively sipping iced tea and discussing the latest novel chosen for their 8-month-old book club: “Darling Jim” by Christian Moerk.
The outdoor awning of Franklin Boulevard’s Coffee Garden was full of avid readers as the Alt+Library Book Club for 20s and 30s met for its August discussion.
The book club’s facilitators – programming librarians Lori Eastwood, 31, and Jessica Zaker, 29 – lead the monthly discussions with poignant insights and leading questions that get the attendees into the right mode of talk.
“It’s a great way to read,” Meg Dana, 22, said. “If I’m not in school and I don’t have something driving me to read, I just don’t do it.”
Easterwood and Zaker decided on a book club aimed at people in their 20s and 30s since they seem to be the most “under-served population” in the library system.
“Kids come in, teens come in, parents with kids come in,” Zaker said. “There’s a whole section who just don’t come into the library. People just don’t recognize the library once they’re out of school. They move away from it and hang out at bars or coffee shops, which is why we’re here.”
The talk ranged from how the readers felt about protagonists, antagonists, subplots, main plots and twists. Some of the members brought up fantastic notions of how the idea of twins was used as a dramatic effect in the book, some how they would have liked to get their fingers around the book’s murderer’s throat.
The club is home to all genres of books, but the two organizers wanted to gravitate away from the norm and allow for a more titillating experience.
“We tried to come up with stuff that was a little bit edgier than your normal book club fare,” Easterwood said. “No Oprah symbols, hopefully. We wanted to come up with stuff that the library had plenty of copies of but was a little bit edgy.”
While book clubs are generally home to more women than men, the Alt+Library book club is aimed at both genders, though they’ve only had a single man show up.
“We had a huge thread at work trying to talk about how to get more men to attend book clubs,” Easterwood said. “There was one guy last time. I don’t know if he’s overwhelmed by all the ladies.”
The book club is a new way Alt+Library is aiming at programming cohesion throughout the local branches.
“It’s an experiment for the Sacramento Public Library,” Zaker said, referring to the program that started the book club. “Normally each library does its own programming and there’s nothing centralized. This is an attempt at getting something centralized that we can take out to the branches.”
In a new effort to attract more people, the programming team has been reaching into more unconventional territory like having a presence at Second Saturday Art Walks and organizing punk rock aerobics classes.
“It seems to be working out really well,” Zaker said. “Programming is fun!”
The Alt+Library meets every third Monday of the month. Its next meeting is on Sept. 20 to discuss Dave Eggars’ “Zeitoun.” For information, visit here.