GALS Book Club: Book Clubs reps meet with Cathy Grant regarding new PPL philosophy and direction

Representatives of the Book Clubs of the PPL met with Cathy Grant,
CEO of Pickering Public Library on July 12, 2018. A summary of the meeting is provided by the representatives.

Present: Sue Croley, Gloria Schwabe

Background – Book Club Goals of the Meeting:

Heather kindly provided some questions in advance of the meeting to Gloria and Sue as she was not available to attend.  Sue and Gloria discussed the questions in advance of the meeting and felt that we require clarification regarding the model for 2018-19, the revised model for 2019-2020 and in particular some flexibility from the library on the provision of ILLO process going forward.

The meeting began promptly at 10:00 am.  Cathy began the meeting wishing to dispel the impression that the Pickering Public Library is not “anti-book club “ or “anti 55+”.   They never intended to communicate that message.  She was concerned about the cycle of misinterpretation of the message by the book clubs.  The library values book clubs and seniors.  She described the strategic plan process.  A key priority is the facilitation of 21st Century learning, creating a community of interest and that book clubs are part of that plan.  The Library is dedicated to building a culture of reading with a focus on early literacy as well as book clubs,  to be delivered as efficiently and effectively as possible.  Key clients are also the two demographics of 55+ as well as millennials.

We then asked for details about our book clubs going forward for next year in September, 2018.  She said that refreshments will no longer be offered.  We stated that we had no problem with that.  They plan to end ILLO in September 2018 and encourage book club kits.  We then began to question this plan and why, in Ajax, our neighbouring municipality, clients of the library are able to request ILLO on the library’s website through the Southern Ontario Library System.  She was very concerned that clients would request ILLO and not pick the books up.  It was pointed out that the same is true of the hold system.  How does Pickering Public Library manage books that are not picked up on a hold basis?  Could the same process as holds be used for ILLO pick-up?  We offered that if she did not wish to open online ILLO to the public in general, that we as book clubs would be happy to be a pilot group for the next year. At the end of our discussion, Cathy made a commitment to us that she would contact Ajax to find out more information about how they manage online ILLO for possible implementation in September 2018.  She will investigate the Ajax model upon her return from holidays in August.

Our next topic of discussion was the new book club model for September, 2019.  Three proposed groups will be accommodated in the auditorium to a maximum of 30 members.  Three areas of focus will be facilitated: Canada Reads, Amnesty International/social issues and a genre-based club that does not address a specific title.  For the first two formats, some library copies will be available, but not enough for 30 participants. Some will have to purchase books.  The third format will be open with members coming together with a variety of their own books or library copies for general discussion. All three clubs will have discussion facilitated by library staff.  Participants may sign up for a three month block at a time with details to be discussed at the upcoming July 18 meeting.  Cathy did not have a lot of detail re the model and urged us to bring our questions to the meeting.

For our current library book clubs in September 2019, we will have to apply for space, which will be free.  It may be library space or space in city facilities.  All available spaces will be accessible.  We added that we are very open to new members and disspelled  the idea that our existing clubs are closed or like cliques.  Cathy was very eager to be able to refer any interested individuals to our club if they were not interested in the three models operated directly by the library.  This was encouraging.

At the end of our discussion Cathy apologized for how the initial letter was communicated to the clubs without the opportunity for input and dialogue.  At the conclusion of the meeting, we also repeated our request that she get back to the book clubs about her investigation re ILLO in Ajax and its adoption in September 2018 on even a pilot basis by existing book clubs in Pickering and she assured us that she would do so in August 2018.

** If you are able, please attend a presentation about the Book Club Revision Plan on Wednesday, July 18 at 7:00pm. Central Library.

Below is a notification from the library re the meeting.  Although it’s July 12, the link still accepted registration.

PLEASE JOIN US for a Book Club Information Session on Wednesday, July 18, at 7:00pm

You are invited to come learn about the various resources mentioned in this email. Staff will be on site to demonstrate all the tools and resources in-person. You will also have an opportunity to learn more about the new programs beginning in September. Please RSVP by July 11 by clicking this link: We look forward to seeing you!

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