Notes from PPL Independent Book clubs meeting session

The Pickering Public Library met with the book club stakeholders in July to explain its new Book Clubs model. More questions were created, fewer answers. A positive meeting nevertheless leaving many attendees hopeful that constructive and clearer developments will be forthcoming in the near future.

Independent Book Clubs Information Session
July 18 meeting
Notes by Richard Szpin

The agenda of the meeting is displayed above.

The heart of the meeting, in my view, was multifaceted:

a. Book Club sets
b. ILLO’s ( Interlibrary loan operation )
c. New Book Clubs MODEL.

Each is expanded below.

Book Club Sets and eBooks
The Pickering Public Library has about 100 titles in their book club kits. Given that the 5 book clubs under the Pickering Public Library umbrella have been operating for years, the likelihood of the 100 titles either being read or being used up very quickly is most probable.

The library states that the book club kits list is being developed and expanded annually, a solution which likely does not resolve the problem of accessibility to a larger number of titles by these book clubs.

The Pickering Public Library suggests that their alternative borrowing procedure, their new book clubs model and the ILLO’s are viable alternatives to deficiencies which may exist relative to the current BOOK CLUB KITS.

The Pickering Public Library suggests that ILLO’s are a practical way to deal with the BOOK CLUB KITS shortcomings. ILLO’s must be ordered 3-4 weeks prior to the date for which they are wanted. Each member of the book club must order the needed title personally at the library. The coordination and completion of this process by any multimembered club are obvious and a significant problem. Each club member is responsible for obtaining their own copy through the ILLO process. Should any member fail to avail themselves of the procedure or should there be or shortage of available copies?

As reiterated in the meeting, this procedures needs more exploration, examination and review. It was stated that Cathy Grant was initiating an online procedure for doing this ILLO’s.

Blair, a Pickering Public Library spokesperson at the meeting explained that eBooks were a viable alternative for individuals obtaining their own copies. This is true but assumes that every book club member has access to an electronic device and knows how to use it. This solution may be the most viable.

New Book Clubs MODEL
The Pickering Public Library then explained its proposed new model for Book Clubs.

Starting in September, book club meetings will be scheduled based on themes and genres. Two-time slots will be opened to 30 individuals each, afternoon and evening, and registration will be via the Pickering Public Library website.

There are foreseeable problems with this plan, the biggest is that 60 copies of any particular title are needed at one time. Will the library buy or find the necessary number of copies for each title?

The Pickering Public Library reviewed that current book clubs would continue to have their allocated meeting spaces as assigned until June 2019. After this time, these clubs would be responsible for applying for available spaces at the library and/or the city.

When the allocation of free spaces has gone, book clubs still needing meeting space would have to rent space for a fee. To offset these rental fees, the Pickering Public Library explained that book clubs could apply for community grants from the City of Pickering to help defray rental costs.

No considerations were made, mentioned or stated in regard to the five current Pickering Public Library book clubs. Given that these clubs were created by the Pickering Public Library itself and their longevity, allocation of spaces should start with them and then be opened to the general public. Every club must apply in the same way.

General comments
This meeting had an excellent tone. Rather than descending to confrontation, both the library representatives and the meeting attendants demonstrated a willingness to hearing the other side and considering the possibilities of what was being said. In that regard, the meeting was very positive.

However, the meeting opened more questions than resolving them. As the Pickering Public Library representatives underlined, the library sees that there may be possible problems and is working to find solutions. For the moment, these problems are being seen as growth glitches which will be resolved as more development occurs.

WAIT LISTS and Promotion of the five current book clubs
The WAIT LISTS for new member recruitment was a challenging issue in many ways:
effective and ongoing management of the lists
updating and development of the lists

Recruitment of new members is a challenge for each of the current five book clubs in the Pickering Public Library system. Each one needs a public promotional vehicle and the library holds the best cards in this regard though it is vague and ambivalent as to how it wishes to proceed here. However, the Pickering Public Library has been the keeper for these WAIT LISTS which each club has to abide by from the beginning. The library needs to assume the responsibility of recruitment as it has claimed to have control of this for many years.

We need to await the outcome of the following:

Cathy Grant’s plan to review the possibility of online ILLO borrowing;
the book clubs’ responses to the idea of eBorrowing;
promotion of the book clubs and publication of availability of new member spaces in each.

The final word
This meeting was positive, cooperative and optimistic in tone. We now look forward to furthering developments from the Pickering Public Library with optimism and hope.

Richard Szpin
G.A.L. Book Club

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