Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Book Discussions 2.0

One of my favorite jobs as a Librarian is to lead a book discussion group at my branch. The books are usually fiction or autobiography. The Public Library Association (PLA) blog recently announced that The Women’s National Book Association (WNBA) is launching "National Reading Group Month" (NRGM) in October 2007. The PLA post quoted Laurie Beckelman, the president of the Women’s National Book Association as stating that "Reading groups inspire, transform and educate. They foster community and instill an appreciation for the written word.” The Women's National Book Association encourages people to start book discussion groups or to join them.

Our branch orders books for five different book discussion groups. These are very popular groups. However, I wonder about how many people are unable to participate in these groups because they have physical mobility problems, or because they do not have transportation to attend meetings. Perhaps this is an area where library 2.0 and web 2.0 could help. Having an online discussion area for book discussion or a book discussion blog with commenting enabled is a start in that direction. People could participate from home, even though they cannot come to the library. This could provide them with an opportunity for social interaction.

However, perhaps in the future we can go one step further. On the Bigwig Social Software Showcase, Tom Peters provides an audio presentation about his upcoming ALA presentation about web conferencing software. In this audio, he mentions that web conferencing software could be used in libraries to allow people to participate in book discussions from home. This sounds like a great new way to provide outreach to the homebound.

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