Book Discussion Groups: A New Look
(An Infopeople Online Learning Course)
December 2, 2008- January 12, 2009
This class will take a Christmas break from December 22, 2008 to January 5, 2009. During that period students are free to work on the class but the Instructor will not be available.
- Are you thinking about starting a book discussion group?
- Looking for ways to improve the one(s) you already have?
- Searching for ideas on how to capitalize upon in-person and online book groups to improve community outreach?
With so many reading choices, so many book review sources, and so many different kinds of people drawn to book groups, it is easy to become overwhelmed. Now, help is on the way! This course, taught by an experienced library book group leader and literary event coordinator, will provide you with a wide range of resources and techniques that you can turn to month after month. The overall goal is to save you time when planning and promoting the groups so that you can actually enjoy the books and the discussions either as a leader or as a participant.
Workshop Description: This four-week online learning course will provide you with strategies, resources and techniques that you can apply immediately to your book group. Through individual and group exercises you will learn how to recruit members and publicize your group, develop a reading list, manage book group meetings and book group dynamics, and develop community partnerships. Since all class members will be asked to select a book and prepare an introduction and discussion questions—the shared results could provide you with programming ideas for at least a year! The instructor will provide sample book discussions, links to book review media, templates for flyers and other publicity materials, sample letters requesting community and author participation, and links to outstanding public library book group programs throughout the United States and Canada.
During the course, you will be doing exercises and taking quizzes and sharing your ideas with others in online discussion forums. In past classes, many participants have continued to keep in touch after the class ended—this is an opportunity to establish a network of book group leaders.
Preliminary Course Outline: Using your web browser and your Internet connection, you will log in to the Infopeople online learning site and complete the following learning modules:
- Module One: Meeting Logistics
- Recruiting members
- Choosing a leader(s)
- Choosing the place, time and format (online, in-person)
- The power of partnerships
- Module Two: Choosing the books
- Reader/community demographics
- Reading for all seasons
- Review media
- Book/film programs
- Module Three: Talking the talk
- Stimulating questions
- Supporting materials—handouts, websites, multimedia
- Group dynamics
- How to book an author
- Module Four: Taking it to the streets…and the pod
- Publicity strategies
- Community-wide reading programs
- Web 2.0
(Optional) Pre-workshop assignment: Please attend a book discussion group either before the class starts or within the first two weeks. The group can meet either in a public library, bookstore, community center or living room—and if you can’t get to an in-person group, try to participate in one online. It would be great if you could read the book in advance, but if you don’t have time to read the book in advance, or have not finished the book, ask if you can observe. (Most groups in public locations will allow you to do this—private groups may have different rules, but most will allow you to observe quietly!) Be prepared to share your observations about the group (title, author, where the group was held, time of day, number of participants, what worked, what didn’t) You might also want to get a copy of my book Running Book Discussion Groups: A How To Do It Manual (Neal-Schuman 2006), available at many public libraries in California.
Online Learning Details:
This four-week course will be taught online using the web. When you register, you will receive a registration confirmation that will include the URL to get to the course, as well as a username and password.
Every student proceeds through the online learning modules at his or her own pace. Students should expect to commit to spending a minimum of 2 to 2½ hours per week on this course in order to be successful. You can work on each module at your own pace, at any hour of the day or night. However, you will be expected to log in to the course each week to do that week's assignment. We ask that you log in sometime during the first week of the course to begin the course work.
Your instructor will be available for limited consultation support for two weeks after the official end date of a course, and the course material will stay up for an additional two weeks after that, to give those who have fallen behind time to work independently on the course. However, you will be expected to accomplish the majority of the course in synchronization with your peers during the first four weeks.
Who Should Take This Course: This course is appropriate for anyone in the library community with an interest in starting, running or maintaining a book group. In the past, reference and technical service librarians, library volunteers, elementary school teachers, professors, and community leaders have participated.
This course is taught over the web. You must:
- Be able to save Microsoft Word .doc or Adobe .pdf files to your computer and print them out. (For .doc files, a free Word Viewer is available at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/search.aspx?displaylang=en. Search for "Word Viewer." For .pdf files, a free Adobe Acrobat Reader is available at http://www.adobe.com/support/downloads/main.html).
- Be comfortable navigating on the web and navigating back and forward on a website that uses frames.
- To be most successful in this course you should be willing to share information with your colleagues and be willing to spend time reading and participating in the weekly discussion boards.
System Requirements: The online learning product that Infopeople uses is called Angel. The following are minimum system requirements for using Angel. You will need access to a computer that has at least these specifications to participate in an online course:
- Microsoft Windows XP or Microsoft Windows Vista
- Internet Explorer 7.0 and above, Mozilla Firefox 2.0 and above
- Phishing Filter disabled (IE 7)
- OS X and above (OS 9 will NOT work with our online learning product)
- Mozilla Firefox 2.0 and above, Safari 2.0 and above
If you are not comfortable with any of the above, please consider taking this course with a colleague who does meet these requirements.
Fee: $75 for those in the California library community and $150 for those out-of-state.
Course Start: This 4-week-long online learning course starts on December 2, 2008.
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