It’s hard to believe that it’s been over 15 years since the Librarians who Read book group began! The seed for the idea came after a district librarian meeting. There wasn't time for us to discuss books at the monthly meetings, but that was why we all became school librarians. So we talked, emailed, and met monthly among ourselves, sharing book titles that we discovered. We didn’t want the pressure of someone needing to clean their library (or their house) for these meetings, so we met at public places such as bookstores, libraries, and coffee shops. After a few months, we began telling other librarians from other school districts about it and it grew from a Hilliard thing to a central Ohio thing - Central Ohio Librarians Who Read. The selling point for this book group - no required book. That was too much pressure! Instead, we designed (I say that loosely because we did little designing or preparing!) it so that you could bring whatever book(s) you wanted to share, new or old, and if you were having a bad day, you just could come to learn about book titles and share the camaraderie of those who understood what you do! Over the years, more librarians would drop in; others would drop out, but we continued to meet monthly, at Panera’s community room, on a Friday afternoon. One member’s husband said, “you go to that book club and you come home stinking of hot chocolate and new ideas!” For several years, we sponsored a gift wrapping fundraiser at a local Barnes & Noble and raised money for OELMA scholarships.
Never an official OELMA book club; however, it’s been largely OELMA members who participated. Sometimes we would gain new OELMA members because of this connection. Did we only talk books? Well, you know when we gathered, “school” sometimes seeped into the conversation. We celebrated together or commiserated together when one of us shared some news. We always returned to the books.
Fast forward to 2016, when OELMA invited Susan and me to offer a “model” session of the book group at our annual conference. It was after hours and about 10 people attended eager to share book titles. Soon, other school librarians from around the state decided to start their own book groups. Karen Reiber, now retired, started a book group in southwest Ohio in the Cincinnati area.
Then came the pandemic… and we weren’t able to meet at our usual haunt, a Barnes & Noble, in Upper Arlington. It was disheartening not to chat and share stories. BUT… with the advent of Zoom we could use the power of the internet for good - a virtual book club. While virtual meet-ups are not ideal, the upside- people from around the state can join in, and they do! Initially there was some haphazard scheduling, but now we have it under control. Check out the Virtual Ohio Librarians Who Read Facebook page for dates and times (https://www.facebook.com/centralohiolibrariansread) and a link to a Google spreadsheet that lists all the book titles we’ve discussed so far. Each month we will add to the list - a book list curated by school librarians, how perfect! Follow us on Facebook.
Must you know the secret handshake and sign a contract to join in? We formed this group with the idea that you can come and go as you please.
So join when you want. We meet on the 4th Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m.; 6:30 social time. The dates are listed below. We would love to have you join us. The Zoom information comes through the OELMA listserv from me, Liz Deskins.
Thanks to the fabulous OELMA duo of Liz Deskins and Susan Yutzey for this blog post!