On August 23 Bellevue University Library hosted its first student book club. Two students attended in person, and five students joined the online book club through the site, Goodreads. Even though there was a lot of planning and organizing in the past eight months, both students truly enjoyed this opportunity and look forward to future book clubs. Continue reading to find out how our first book club evolved.
Back in January, when the Library was in the preliminary planning stages, we had so many questions: What time of the year do we offer a book club? Will there be a cost involved for students? How do we offer it online? And maybe most importantly, WHAT BOOK SHOULD WE READ? So, to help us figure out some of these answers, we started with a Google survey that was sent to the student email distribution. We asked students very general questions: Would you be interested in joining a student book club? Would you attend if there was a cost? Would you be willing to lead the club? Can we contact you if you are interested? From this survey, we received 20 responses, with 18 of those expressing interest. From these responses we determined that most people were interested in a book club, however some of them were interested in an online club. Most of them preferred it to be free, or to at least cost under $10. And, some even responded that they may be willing to lead the club.
At our next Engagement Committee meeting, we discussed the responses, what website would work best for an online book club, and our next strategy. We decided that the best way to get feedback was to email those interested students and ask them what their expectations were of a book club. If we were aiming to implement a student-lead book club, we certainly needed the students’ input!
So, I emailed ten students (the students who listed their contact information), and asked them more specific questions to determine their expectations, such as when it should be offered and what online tool could be used for an online book club. Four of those ten students responded with very helpful information. The Committee then put together a list of popular book club books and best sellers that the Library owned and we again emailed the ten students and asked them to rank the nine books we had selected in order of interest. We received five responses in which two of the titles tied with two votes. The books came down to The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot and Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. After some collaboration, Eleanor & Park just seemed like a good pick to start the book club.
As far as the online book club, Goodreads had been mentioned by students and library staff members so it made perfect sense to set up the online book club on Goodreads. The only big piece missing was the date. After looking at the academic calendar, we decided to offer the book club during the break after summer classes ended and before fall classes began. New Student Orientation was also scheduled to occur this week, so Tuesday, August 23, was really the best date that did not seem so busy.
We began marketing the event in early July through digital signs, table signs, and posters across campus. We advertised the event on the Bellevue University website calendar, running scroll on the library website, Blackboard, and more all student emails. By advertising in early July, this would give students ample time to sign up and read the book before the book club in late August.
Finally, August 23 was here and two students attended along with three library staff members. We offered snacks, giveaway books, and had a raffle drawing for a Barnes and Noble gift card. It was very enjoyable to discuss the book with others and listen to their perspectives. Even with just five of us, we could truly engage one-on-one for an hour. Then, the two students completed a survey. Overall, they were satisfied with this first book club, and are interested in attending more book clubs throughout year. Our next step is for the Engagement Committee to meet this month and discuss the surveys and feedback. We hope that eventually the book club will be student-lead and the Library will be here to support their needs. We look forward to working with the students and planning our next student book club!