Just Add Readers!

Book Group in-a-bag kits (BGBs)

You just finished reading the most amazing book and you’re just dying to talk to someone about it but none of your friends have read it yet. So you loan your book out to your friends, but it’s taking forever for them to read it. Being the good friend you are, you don’t want to spoil it for them by telling them the ending too soon, so you wait—and wait some more—until you finally have someone to discus the book with. By that time you may have forgotten all the details you wanted to talk about, leaving the much anticipated discussion unsatisfactory. What’s a person to do?

The library has a solution: Book Group in-a-bag kits—just add readers!

These book group in-a-bag kits contain ten books of the same title that someone can check out and share with their friends. We started with 22 book group bags (January 2005) and currently have over 100 titles to choose from: classics, mysteries, thrillers, etc. They can be reserved up to a year in advance for a specific six-week period. They are in high demand so plan accordingly. We are on track to have 400 circs for 2010. We recently added some titles for children to enjoy the experience of book groups. The kits for children have between six and eight books per bag and currently there are eleven titles available.

The kits were originally part of an initiative funded by the Minnesota Library Association Foundation in 2004. We had a grant of $2000 to start our collection of book club kits that people can check out for their own book groups. The majority of that money was used to purchase the book group bags, since we initially selected titles based on which books we were able to pull from donations. We still create some kits using donated books from our Library Friends. If there is enough local interest in titles that we don’t have, we will purchase books; 10-15% of new BGBs are patron suggestions. Every year we add 10-20 new titles and circulation for these kits have really increased through the years.

Interested patrons should contact library staff at the Fiction, Movies and Music desk to book BGBs (in person or over the phone).

BGBs must be picked up and returned to the Fiction, Movies & Music Desk, NOT the bookmobile or the drive up book return. Bags are not checked out until all the books are returned. The title list is available online. If you have any suggestions of titles you would like to see in our book group in-a-bag list, just let us know.

Each bag has:

10 copies of the book
A reading group guide and discussion questions
sign out sheet,
book group basics handout,
evaluation sheet
Read-alike bookmarks

Katherine Stecher
Readers Services Division

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