March 12, 2021
by Cheryl Homan-Wendell, Literary Services Librarian
We’ve all come to know libraries as a place to find a good read. Curious about a particular topic? Sure, we have lots of titles on lots of subjects. Then you might wonder — are there others interested in the same things as I am? Chances are—the answer is ‘yes’. Books bring people together!
One great asset at the Library is our book club partnerships. Collaborating with individual groups and community organizations is a win-win. The Library can respond to topics on your mind, providing multiple copies of books and promotion to other readers. The partner organization brings their expertise to the table by facilitating the group conversation, which also heightens their visibility in the community.
Most of all, our community is strengthened by coming together to discuss a common interest or concern.
Case in point: wouldn’t it be great to have a space to explore personal growth tools from a variety of authors and spiritual traditions? MeeMee Lahman had this vision for the Being Awareness Book Club in 2019, a Library partnership with Salud Family Health Center. The goal: to discover self-improvement strategies through selected books and to learn from fellow readers.
Two years later, MeeMee, a licensed therapist, says this book group continues to provide her “with inspiration, learning opportunities, and new insights.”
How about ways to address real-world problems through the lens of restorative practices? Every October, the Library collaborates with Estes Valley Restorative Justice Partnership (EVRJP) for book discussions on conflict resolution. This has expanded into year-round opportunities for meaningful community conversations.
In fact, this partnership earned a statewide award in 2019. As Denise Lord, executive director of EVRJP explains, “The Library as a neutral convener of community programs and EVRJP’s team of volunteer facilitators are a well-suited match.”
In 2020, race relations became a topic of renewed urgency. Estes Valley Crisis Advocates (EVCA) brought their expertise to multiple book discussions. Drawing upon bestselling titles, group discussions focused on racism, personal awareness and social concerns.
This partnership continues to grow in 2021. Each month, an EVCA counselor or trained volunteer facilitates a small and inclusive conversation, generally oriented towards healing. The goal: helping people connect, discuss, learn and grow. “I believe we have been successful,” says Rosemary, EVCA’s Diversity Outreach Advocate. “We have had people show up eager to participate and learn together to better themselves and their communities.”
On the horizon, the Library is excited to work with the Estes Chamber of Commerce for their Business Book Club. This partnership begins in April, with titles focused on profitable enterprise, marketing and leadership. As participants build their business acumen, they will also learn more about the Chamber, its members, and the support this network provides local businesses.
So much is possible through community collaboration. Let the public library provide support and resources for your interests. To find out more, or to connect with the Estes Valley’s many local book clubs, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.