By November 21, 2010 0 Comments Read More →

A conference for Book Lovers and Book Groups

A few weekends ago I had the pleasure of attending the Second Annual Book Lovers and Book Clubs Conference in Kansas City. In its inaugural year, conference founder and organizer, Kim Riley, brought the gathering to a small community center and was overwhelmed with the positive response and number of attendees.

This year, Kim looked to her local library for assistance with her book lovers and The Kansas City Public Library was happy to oblige.

The Conference brought in five popular and critically acclaimed African-American authors to meet loyal fans and readers in a casual setting. Victoria Christopher Murray, Trisha Thomas, Victor McGlothin, Virginia DeBerry and Donna Grant gave presentations on their books, current projects, readers, and their own favorite reading. The authors continued to connect with fans during a book signing.

In addition to the headliners, the conference carved out special time in the morning for all the book groups. The conference organizers called this session Book Group Roll Call and this time was dedicated to all local book groups sharing experiences and titles, asking for guidance for future titles or challenging members, and offering suggestions for jazzing up book group meetings.

This lively session with started off with a “roll call” of local book group attendees. Everyone was surprised and delighted with book groups thatimg_2113 came from as far away as St. Louis and groups that brought all their members. A friendly competitive spirit infused the women as they proudly announced their home location, number of members, and number of years in existence. I was busily writing down all the extremely clever names they had for the book groups: Sistah’s Turning Pages, And Then We Read, Circle of Wisdom, The Fabs, Chat ‘n Chew.

The morning program started with the socializing but soon moved into the business of running a book group. Members discussed how to handle readers who don’t read the book or become too challenging during discussions. Attendees also debated the merits of collecting dues and holding formal meetings to select titles. All agreed that participating in other activities while discussing the books helped keep the group tightly knit and keep things lively. As soon as the issue of getting the newest titles in the necessary quantities was raised, session leader, Carma Robinson-Kendall, pointed to the back and said, “Miss Kaite? You take that one!” I waved, made a pitch for the library’s many services to community book groups, and handed out all of my business cards.

Book Lovers and Book Clubs was a success in its second year and plans are already underway for next year’s conference. It started small but it’s growing and the goal for conference organizers and KCPL is to gather together as many community book groups and their members as possible. This is just the first step in building a community of readers.

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About the Author:

Kaite Mediatore Stover refuses to give up her day job as director of readers' services for The Kansas City Public Library to read tarot cards professionally or be the merch girl/roadie for her husband's numerous bands. Follow her on Twitter at @MarianLiberryan.

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