In an effort to continue connecting patrons through literature during the pandemic, area libraries are hosting virtual book clubs.
At the Southington Public Library, reference librarian Lynn Gardner organizes a Hoopla Book Club. This replaces the Book Scents Book Club which operated before the pandemic began.
“Book Scents was about reading contemporary women’s fiction and then coming together to discuss it while creating a related craft,” Gardner said. “With the onset of COVID, physical gatherings became impossible, so I gave up the craft, moved the monthly meeting to Zoom, and started picking titles available through Hoopla Digital, a digital media service available to public libraries. and their users.
Gardner has selected books that have satisfying endings.
“These aren’t necessarily escapist works,” Gardner said. “They deal with family secrets and dramas, relationship issues, that sort of thing. But in the end, the book still ends in an orderly fashion, where you don’t have to worry about what happens to the characters.
Gardner has noticed that some members don’t enjoy the virtual format as much as in-person meetings, while others find it easier to access.
“Some people go to book clubs for the feeling of camaraderie and a place to go and be with other people and I think some of my attendees don’t feel that on Zoom,” Gardner said. “On the other hand, I’ve also had people sign up because it’s easier for them to Zoom than to find time to come to the library.”
People can join the club by going to the events calendar on the Southington Public Library website.
January’s book is “Boop And Eve’s Road Trip” by Mary Helen Sheriff. Sheriff will participate in the virtual discussion.
Meriden Public Library hosted a Not So YA book club on Zoom that discusses different young adult or YA literature.
In December, the group read “With The Fire on High” by Elizabeth Acevedo.
“The book club was a discussion about this book not only for YA attendees, but also for adults,” said Lauren Thompson, Community Services Manager. “Anyone who loves YA literature was welcome…”
On January 12 at 5:30 p.m., the group will discuss “The Library of Lost Things” by Laura Taylor Namey.
Meriden Public Library will also host its first session of a Hoopla Book Club on January 26 at 5:30 p.m. Books will be chosen from featured Hoopla titles. The first title is “The Fixed Stars” by Molly Wizenberg.
“With your Meriden Public Library card, you can log into Hoopla and borrow e-books, audiobooks, movies and TV shows for free,” Thompson said. “This Hoopla Book Club makes sure all books are available digitally so we don’t have to worry about people waiting for physical copies.”
To register for book clubs, patrons can go to the events page of the Meriden Public Library website and click on the event in question.
The three monthly book clubs that met in person before the pandemic have now moved to Zoom.
Books Over Coffee is hosted by staff member Eileen Topitzer and covers a variety of books.
“Fiction and non-fiction, not necessarily new stuff, never-before-seen stuff,” said Deborah Rutter, associate director. “Just a variety reflecting the taste of the group and the person who organizes it.”
The Cheshire Art League Book Club is run by art league member Carol Constantine and focuses on art-themed books.
Murder By The Book was started by Cheshire resident Andy Tranquilli in his home. Shortly before the pandemic, he asked to move the meeting place to the library. Now club member Barbara Ritchie runs the club on Zoom.
Cheshire residents can download an electronic copy of the books for all clubs.
“It’s thanks to the Friends of Cheshire Library, they donated money so we could donate extra copies of e-books,” Rutter said. “…When none of the libraries were open, that was the only way we could operate (book clubs) because people didn’t have access to a library.”
To register, go to the events page on the Cheshire Public Library website and click on the event in the calendar to register.
Wallingford Public Library has three book clubs operating amid the pandemic – the Mystery Book Club, Thursday Night Book Club and Classics Book Club. The YA Book Club and nonfiction book club, Truth Be Told, are on hiatus.
Book clubs are “a response to our sense of what our customers want to read and want to come together to talk,” said Cindy Haiken, reference librarian and reader advisor.
When the library had to close in March, Haiken said clubs used Hoopla to read e-books until they could start distributing physical copies safely.
Haiken said she noticed that members were starting to get more comfortable with the virtual chat.
“People aren’t as uncomfortable with technology, and the number of people joining has increased,” Haiken said.
She noticed that the members meet longer than in person.
“I think a lot of people from the book club have been meeting every month, they know each other and don’t see each other, so it’s an opportunity to connect and reunite and catch up,” Haiken said. .
If anyone is interested in joining book clubs, email Haiken at [email protected]