Maybe you’ve been interested in starting a book club, but didn’t know how.
Or, maybe it’s been a desire — but seemed to be too expensive.
Maybe you like the idea, but can’t decide what books to read.
Or, perhaps you already have a book club, but could benefit from a single source of books that you can borrow, instead of buying.
If any of those situations applies to you, you’re in luck. The Pasco County Library System has Book Club Kits designed to make it easy for people to run their own book clubs.
The Pasco County Library System has been operating book clubs at some of its branches for years and also works with community book clubs, said Angelo Liranzo, regional branch manager for the Hugh Embry Branch Library, in Dade City.
He explained how the system’s relatively new book club kit service works.
Patrons simply put in a request for a book club kit and use their library card to check it out, Liranzo said. Each kit has up to 15 books.
There are roughly 200 titles for book clubs to choose from — in all sorts of genres, and the kit can be checked out for eight weeks at a time.
The lengthy checkout period allows time to pick up the kit, distribute the books to club members, read the books, discuss them and return the kit back to the library.
Getting the kits is easy, too. A patron simply places an order and the kit is delivered to his or her branch library — typically within three days.
The program was launched in June, during the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
But, the idea for the program hatched earlier.
He credited library system staffers Kathleen Rothstein and Catherine Seavey for being instrumental in getting the program rolling.
The library system’s branch-led book clubs typically are curated by the librarians at the various branches, Liranzo explained. The library system also is aware of about 20 community-led book clubs, he said.
The kits are assembled in bags, which some librarians, who are now retired, had ordered to use with the internal book clubs managed by the library system.
“They put the books in the bags and then they would send the bags around to the branches,” Liranzo said.
Discussions began internally, among the library system’s staff: “How can we get our book club kits into the hands of these book clubs? It would make it so much easier and organized, for them and for us,” Liranzo explained.
There’s no shortage of enthusiasm for book clubs, Liranzo said.
Some clubs like to stick with fiction. Others mix things up.
Some are into mysteries — but nothing too gory, please.
Book clubs have different personalities, too.
In some clubs, the attitude is: “Let’s sit down and talk about the book and not get distracted because we only have so much time,” he said.
Some clubs offer cupcakes and cookies.
There’s even one club that was meeting in a brewery, before the pandemic hit.
“I don’t think the people who go to the brewery necessarily get a beer. A lot of them are actually teetotalers They just get some iced tea,” he said.
In some places, the book clubs are seasonal.
“We have a heavy season and a lighter season,” Liranzo said. “Sometimes the winter brings some snowbirds, so the ones who go away for the summer, sometimes their book clubs go on hiatus.”
The book clubs can be energizing, as members share their thoughts.
And, they can be social, too, with people chatting before their session begins, and going out for some lunch, afterwards.
Even though the program began during the pandemic, Book Club Kits will continue to be offered, even after libraries open up again.
“This is now going to be a permanent service that we will have,” Liranzo said.
The program is well-stocked.
“Only about a third (of the kits) are in use at one time right now,” he said.
People who want to learn more about checking out a kit can call their local library branch for more information.
Or, they can visit PascoLibraries.org for details and to order a kit.
Published April 21, 2021