Modern libraries are more than repositories of printed books and magazines. They provide access to the world through the Internet, e-books, audio books and other digital content. They also have DVDs for customers who can’t or don’t want to access streaming services or not-so-local TV channels.
Rampart Library District is tracking changes at its Woodland Park and Florissant branches, but sometimes people just want to read books and then tell others about them. The Library District fills this need with six adult book clubs, three in each of its library buildings.
On February 16, for the first time since libraries and other facilities were closed by COVID-19 in March 2020, the Florissant Public Library Bookworms Adult Book Club met with nearly all of its members in attendance to discuss “The Giver of Stars.” by JoJo Moyes.
Even those who haven’t read anything by Moyes may have seen the movie “Me Before You,” which was based on his book of the same title.
“The Giver of Stars” is set in a coal-mining Kentucky region during the Depression. It was a lively discussion, although all members said they liked to book for various reasons. It can be even livelier when members disagree.
Many club members belong to more than one reading group. Carol Lindholm belongs to seven: Let’s Read Amok! Readers Club and Bookworms at the Florissant Library, the Not So Young Adult Book Club in Woodland Park and the rest at other locations including the Pikes Peak Library District in Colorado Springs.
“The Florissant groups are the most welcoming,” she says. “It’s a community.”
As a member of the Not So Young Adult Book Club, Lindholm said, “Many adults are hesitant to read YA (young adult) books, but this gives us a chance to see what the younger generation is reading. Many of these books appeal to all ages.
Sheila Naviasky remembers the first book club at the Florissant Library.
“Judy Scott started the group in October 1999 in the small 300 square foot building behind the Grange,” she said. “Our first book was ‘One for the Money’ by Janet Evanovich. After that, we decided we needed some serious books too.
Nell Carnein has been a Bookworms member for 15 years and Yamuna Weiner is also a longtime member.
“RLD has come a long way over the past 44 years,” Weiner said. “They started with two one-room libraries and now have two beautiful modern buildings. Services have expanded dramatically and they have something for everyone in our community.”
Providing “something for everyone” is the district’s vision and, according to Cynthia Ivey, librarian at the Florissant Public Library, the district is looking to expand its mission.
“We’re working on ways to give people who don’t live in the library area better access,” she said. She also mentioned the possibility of Book Mobiles.
In addition to the three book clubs already listed, the Woodland Park Public Library also includes the Adult Book Club and the Senior Circle Book Club. The Florissant Public Library also has the Friends @ The Table Cookbook Club.
The history of book clubs in the United States dates back to before there was a country. According to a 2009 article by Audra Otto in MinnPost, an online Minnesota media outlet, Anne Hutchinson started a women’s discussion group to examine weekly sermons in 1634 on a ship bound for the Massachusetts Bay Colony. This group was condemned by the Bay Colony General Assembly, but the seeds of women’s literary discussion groups were sown.
Ben Franklin organized a literary society in 1727 in Philadelphia, and from the late 1760s New England became a hotbed for women’s literary groups. The first African American women’s literary society was organized in 1827 in Massachusetts and soon these societies spread to other northeastern states.
Of course, book clubs and literary societies weren’t just for women. Men’s book clubs originated in the 1890s.
Today, there are about 5 million book club members in the United States, and about 70% of them are women. Most clubs have at least 10 members, but it is difficult to estimate the number of reading groups as many do not advertise or have limited memberships and many, even before but especially since the pandemic, are online only. .
For more information about Rampart Library District book clubs and other programs and services, including research databases, visit rampart.colibraries.org.