Librarians create collegewide book club to foster reading, community

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The first 500 participants to sign up will get a free copy of assigned book.

By Sergio Medina

Creating a sense of community is a challenge in the times of Covid-19, with mostly remote communication and social distancing taking place, but Eileen Oliver and Tom Bahlinger, librarians at this college and co-chairs of a library common read, are up to the task.

Mortuary science freshman Promise Daniell asks reference librarian Thomas Bahlinger about library books at the resource fair Sept. 4 in Moody. Bahlinger explained librarians can help students find accurate academic sources for research purposes. File

To accomplish this, they are hosting a library common read during the fall, assigning one book to the college community.

The book, “The Moth Presents Occasional Magic: True Stores about Defying the Impossible,” is a compilation of true short stories by The Moth Podcast, an audio show that airs on more than 500 radio stations nationwide, in addition to its podcast.

Podcast and broadcast information can be found here.

Oliver said in a Zoom interview June 2 that the book’s themes are about dealing with obstacles and life struggles, which students may find relatable.

The library common read is providing free hardcover copies to the first 500 people who sign up.

So far, about 300 people have signed up, Bahlinger said in a Zoom interview June 2.

The club is open to everyone — faculty, staff and students, he added.

Though not specified on the number, Bahlinger said some copies also will be made available to check out from the library.

The book is also available for purchase on retailers like Amazon.

Only faculty have been emailed invitations to sign up with their classes, but librarians will be sending out emails en masse to students later this month, Oliver said.

At that point, participants who obtained free copies will be notified when to pick them up. There is no set date yet.

Bahlinger said once approved by the college, a book pickup will be arranged in the parking lot east of Moody Learning Center.

Discussion events about the book will begin in the fall, though Bahlinger and Oliver have yet to pin down dates.

Bahlinger said they want around three or four events where participants can engage and discuss the book. One may include a faculty panel.

The discussion will culminate with a story slam, where students will be able to bring and tell their own true stories, reflecting the themes of the book. This event has not been scheduled either.

Once event dates and further details are organized this summer, the information will be available at the library’s website.

Depending on the success of the library common read, it may be possible to have more in the future.

“If it’s successful, we could do this every year,” Bahlinger said.

However, because of COVID-19 and the rules in place to social distance to mitigate transfer of the virus, Oliver said the events may have to be held via Zoom meetings.

Regardless, Bahlinger is excited to see this college’s community engaged.

“As librarians, we like to see people read,” he said.

For more information, contact Bahlinger and Oliver at and, respectively.


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