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Library book clubs provide opportunities for discussion

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Photo submitted Gail Srebnik [left] laughs with Myrna Westerman as they look at their next read.

Librarians talk about books all day, recommending new authors to patrons, discussing materials to add to collections, even investigating unpopular titles destined for the discard pile. So it would seem that at the end of the day a typical librarian would have had enough of book talking and would prefer to sit down and watch a movie or something instead.

However, this proves to be completely untrue when talking to Delta County Libraries collection development coordinator Myrna Westerman, who also used to manage the Paonia Library. "I read an average of two or three books a week," says Westerman. In addition to all that reading, she faithfully attends an evening book club every month at the Paonia Library. "This particular book club has been going on for about 15 years. I think only two of us have been in it the whole time, but it basically has just kept going." Titles are suggested by the book club members who put together a list for the year and meet to talk about a different title each month.

Literacy manager Gail Srebnik also attends the book club regularly. "It forces me to read more than I normally would, and different things. It can really take you out of your comfort zone." She laughs as she adds, "There have been occasions when I've wanted to revolt." Put Srebnik and Westerman in the same room and they can't stop talking about books. The two regularly banter back and forth about authors while working together downstairs in the Hotchkiss Library.

The Paonia Library Evening Book Club is certainly not the only opportunity in the county to discuss books. Book clubs abound, meeting in libraries and in people's homes, and cover all sorts of subjects, from fiction to poetry to food to themes like "books about siblings." The Crawford Library started a monthly cookbook club, where attendees share recipes and meals instead of opinions about characters. Hotchkiss High School has a lunchtime book club for teenagers. The Cedaredge Men's Literary Society, a men's book club, has been so popular attendance has been limited to 12 members.

Delta County Libraries is not affiliated with all the book clubs around the county. However, library staff members are always eager to help with providing reading suggestions, as well as copies of the books themselves. Interlibrary loan librarian Jan Ryan, who works at the Crawford Library, often orders multiple copies of books from other libraries around the state for North Fork area book clubs. The libraries require a bit of notice for this process, and Ryan encourages participants to select books that are not brand new, "because we're not able to get books newer than six months on ILL. Then they have to buy their own copies."

Book enthusiasts looking for an opportunity to join a book club might start by visiting their local libraries. Library staff can direct patrons toward groups where new members are welcome. And librarians like Westerman will enthusiastically encourage participation.

"I always get more out of a book if I discuss it with somebody," Westerman concludes. "I think it helps to have somebody else's point of view."

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