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Creative Names for Book Groups, and Who They Might Attract

   August 28th, 2013

For as long as I've been a librarian, I've heard librarians talking about how to attracted more 20-40 year olds to the library. One method I've heard repeatedly (often from 20-40 year old librarians) was that we need to do outreach to where those patrons are: bars and other fun places.

I know libraries have set up help desk tables on college campuses, public parks, and even in bars, and also use pubs and coffee shops as a meeting spot for book groups. Recently, I heard about a new book group from the library in Haverhill, MA, that is taking this same tack - here's the groups logo:

get lit logo

Get Lit is a social book club designed for twenty and thirty something readers in the greater Haverhill area. We will be meeting monthly to talk books, socialize, eat, drink, and whatever else might come up. Second Thursday of the month, The Barking Dog Ale House in Haverhill.

I don't drink and I find bars almost unbearable, but I think this is fantastic and I hope it's successful.

Apart from people looking for free wifi, it seems to me that library patrons tends to skew to the extremes, with libraries looking either like day care centers or senior centers. Which is fine, but I also like the idea of reaching out to the patrons in the middle.

My library occasionally brainstorms to come up with program ideas that would attract the "mid-life" patrons, and some work and some don't. The "Get Lit" book group seems to walk a fine line between being clever and devolving into a frat party. However, I still think it's funny, and it's a book group I'd go to. Good job, Haverhill Public Library.

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6 Responses to “Creative Names for Book Groups, and Who They Might Attract”

  1. Michael Says:

    Such book groups might be particularly successful in areas where they could provide a way to meet new and like-minded people in a laid-back, reasonably intellectual environment. In fact, I initially thought this was a library-sponsored dating service! Which would not be a bad thing and is perhaps wishful thinking.

  2. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Michael: you know, I’ve heard of “Library Singles Night” and “Library Speed Dating” informally kicked around too, but have never seen a library try it. But oh, just think of the potential program names: “Get Checked Out At The Library!”

  3. The Librarian With No Name Says:

    Since I work in Oklahoma (where folks “vote dry as long as they can stagger to the polls,” according to the late great Will Rogers) booze is not really acceptable as a lure. So starting this month we’re trying out a Young Professionals Book Club.

    We’re making no attempt to define “young professional” in any of the marketing, so folks can self-select as they please. The demographic segment we’re hoping to attract is basically any grown-ups besides the ladies of a certain age who dominate our existing three book clubs. Our initial reading list is a mix of chewy literary fiction with film adaptations and vaguely scandalous nonfiction. So here’s hoping.

    Oh, and our main branch does several book-based speed-dating programs per year. My favorite part is that you can choose to bring a book that you loved or one that you hated with a white-hot passion but still finished reading. Apparently, either one is a good conversational spur.

  4. Rachel Tuerck Says:

    In Dedham, we have a Moms’-night-out book group called “Well Red” with a cute logo of a glass of red wine on top of an open book 🙂

    I helped create the book group in 2005 at the Dedham Public Library. The group started with a bunch of new moms with very young kids, who basically needed to get out of the house & have some down time without spending too much money. Our books are organized through the library, so we don’t have to buy a book every month, and then we go out afterwards for a drink and appetizer at a local restaurant.

    We started out as the “Stay-at-home Moms’ book group” (because that’s what I was and that’s what the librarian labeled me as then) but then some gals who were working felt left out (understandably, and honestly I wasn’t crazy about the name either.) We switched it to the “Young Moms’ Book Group.” However, then folks assumed it was a group for teen moms, and some women in their 40’s with newborns were worried that they might be too old to be included. Then we tried “Mamacitas” but that never really caught on.

    My main point is that the name of a book group is really important in creating an identity and attracting interest, and it’s very tricky to nail down.

    Anyway, we’re going on eight years, and recently switched to “Well Red.” It seems to have revived interest in the group. It’s cute; it’s clever. To folks who aren’t too serious & don’t know us, at least it conveys that we’re fun and might be a good group to hang out with on a Thursday night, which is, after all, what we want. 🙂

    Good topic!

  5. Brian Herzog Says:

    @The Librarian: that’s great you guys are doing speed dating – your approach sounds like a good one. I like the idea of leaving the book group vague and just let it coalesce naturally – I hope it’s successful.

    @Rachel: I think this is the funniest comment I’ve ever gotten. I agree the name is important (as is usually true in all marketing), because it’s what attracts or repels people right off the bat. Well Red is right up there too. However, the “stay-at-home moms” group reminds me of accidentally going to the “mother’s matinee” showing at a movie theater in Somerville one time – I didn’t know it then, it was just a convenient time for the movie I wanted to see. But there I was, in a dark theater by myself, surrounded by about thirty women and their infants and toddlers. And the funny thing is that the crying babies didn’t bother me nearly as much as the woman in the back on her cell phone.

  6. Maria Levetzow Says:

    We started a Get Lit book club, too! Our first four meetings met starting last January at a local pizza joint/bar. That turned out to be to loud, so this fall we’ll be moving to a local coffee shop, which also serves wine. We’ve been choosing more contemporary, edgier books, in an effort to appeal to a younger demographic.