A Matter of Opinion

Today I attended a workshop on project management facilitation skills. The instructor talked at length about what makes a good facilitator–good listening, neutrality, open-ended questions and an emphasis on supporting processes as opposed to outcomes.

While there wasn’t enough time to delve into how this pertained to certain aspects of our work as librarians, book groups inevitably came up as a topic.

The question that one librarian asked the instructor and the group was whether it is okay as the leader of a book group to share their opinion. One librarian said that they thought that it was best to do as little talking as possible, to let group members talk, and that she did not share her opinion. I shared that I did sometimes give my personal opinion, but also said that I usually waited until the end of the conversation as I encouraged my group to also wait until the end to say whether they loved or hated a book. The librarian who opened the discussion said she offered her opinion last, when she did share it, so as not to sway the group; but she seemed unsure as to whether or not she was doing it right.

But this begs the larger question for me, which is whether or not our role is to melt into the background or occasionally participate honestly as readers as well? What makes a good book group facilitator?

Do you share your opinions or not? Why or why not?

Thanks for sharing!

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About the Author:

Misha Stone is a readers' advisory librarian with The Seattle Public Library. Follow her on Twitter at @ahsimlibrarian.

1 Comment on "A Matter of Opinion"

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  1. ckubala@columbiactlibrary.org' CarolK says:

    I guess I never really thought about it in this way. Interesting question. I’ve always felt that as a member of the book group, I am a participant. A guideline for our group is never to start with negative statements. Lead into them. Say something positive first and then bring up what didn’t work. Be respectful. But that aside, I’d let the group talk first but jump in when their is a lull, ask questions, etc.

    I think my group would wonder if I had no opinion. They’d wonder if I read the book.

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