How to Start, Run, and Maintain a Library Book Discussion Group: From Oprah to the Internet (online learning course)
How to Start, Run, and Maintain a Library Book Discussion Group: From Oprah to the Internet
(An Infopeople online learning course)
Book discussion groups are a popular, cost effective way for your library to expand outreach and community services. But library-sponsored book discussion groups can present special challenges. Library users generally expect to borrow rather than buy the books you discuss, so you'll need to choose titles that are already on hand or easily available through interlibrary loan. And while private book groups can invite whom they please, public library groups are generally open to everyone who walks through the door. You'll need to be prepared for a wide variety of participants and constantly changing group dynamics. If you have space limitations or patrons who can't easily come to the library for meetings, you may want to form and run an online book discussion group.
In this course we'll share what we already know about managing successful book groups and learn new skills and resources that can help you create a rewarding book discussion experience for all participants.
This four-week online learning course will provide resources and techniques for starting, leading, managing and evaluating both in-person and virtual library-sponsored book discussion groups. You will learn practical skills for:
- choosing the books.
- developing discussion questions.
- ensuring maximum participation.
- handling readers who monopolize discussions and/or online "flamers."
- evaluating the group.
During the course you will be doing exercises and taking quizzes. You will also participate in online discussion forums as part of the online learning process. Your own reading lists, questions, and publicity materials (and the resources used to develop them) will be posted to the group as a whole for comments and suggestions. In addition, each week, a real-life book group problem will be posted for group discussion in case study format.
The instructor, an experienced book group leader, will provide online and print sources for book selection and development of discussion questions, sample publicity materials, links to online library-sponsored book discussions, and resources for author events and multimedia presentations, as well as practical, useful tips that can be applied immediately-including what snacks to serve!
Preliminary Course Outline: Using your web browser and your Internet connection, you will log in to the Infopeople Blackboard online learning site and complete the following learning modules:
- Module One: Why A Book Group?
- book group goals
- book group trends and demographics
- book group alliances-working with authors, bookstores and community leaders
- Module Two: Creating the Reading List
- finding out what people want to read-user questionnaires/interviews
- evaluating their choices-multimedia sources for book reviews
- narrowing down the choices-voting (or not) on selections
- Module Three: Group Dynamics
- logistics-dates, times and the physical or online environment
- content-developing discussion questions/ author programs
- maximizing participation
- Module Four: Publicity, Problem
Solving and Benchmarks
- sharing what you have learned with library management
- preparing a publicity campaign
- troubleshooting/problem solving
Pre-workshop assignment: Students should attend (or prepare to attend within the first two weeks of the class) an in-person or online library-sponsored book discussion group. If you are leading the group, please be prepared to share your thoughts and ideas about what did and did not work at the discussion-and remember that you can ask others in this class for ideas going forward. If you participate in a book discussion group led by someone else, please be prepared to share your impressions. If you audit the group (attend without reading the book), be prepared to tell us, based on the discussion, if you would want to read the book in the future-and why. You might want to (discreetly) take notes at the meeting to remember what was covered and what you thought at the time.
Online Learning Details: This four-week course will be taught online using the web. When you register, you will receive a registration confirmation that will include the URL to get to the course, as well as a username and password. How to Start, Run and Maintain a Library Book Discussion Group will start on December 2, 2003 and end on January 13, 2004. (Since this course overlaps with Christmas and New Year's Day, the four modules will be offered over 6 weeks. You will not be expected to work on the course during the weeks that contain Christmas and New Year's Day.)
The workshop consists of four one-and-a-half to two-hour learning modules. You can work on each module at your own pace, at any hour of the day or night. However, you will be expected to log in to the course each week to do that week's assignment. We ask that you log in sometime during the first week of the course to begin the course work.
The materials will remain available to work on for two additional weeks following the official end date, but you will be expected to accomplish the majority of the course in synchronization with your peers during the first six weeks.
Who Should Take This Course: Anyone from the library community-including Friends and volunteers-with an interest in starting, running, and/or advising a book discussion group.
Prerequisites: This course is taught over the web. You must:
- have an Internet connection and Internet Explorer 5 or higher (some of the quiz functions do not work properly in Netscape).
- be able to save a file to your computer and print it out using Microsoft Word or a compatible word processing program.
- be comfortable navigating on the web and navigating back and forward on a website that uses frames.