[Guest post by Cara Marcus, MSLIS, AHIP, Director of Library Services, Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital]
During the splendid days of summer, our thoughts shift to vacations, relaxing at the beach or by the pool, sipping lemonade on a chair on the porch as a gentle breeze passes by, and an enthralling book to read and lose oneself in. So where do you find a great summer reading book? At your local health sciences library, of course!
At Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital, our Medical Library and Patient/Family Resource Center regularly host BookTalks throughout the year. They are open to all staff, volunteers, patients, family members, and the community. During the summer, BookTalks include topics that invite reflection and relaxation, such as Learning to Dance with the Dragonfly: Healing Lessons of Nature, Hope in the Midst: 30 Devotions of Comfort and Inspiration, and 100 Quotations to Make You Think. These talks are only a half-hour in length, suitable for staff to come during their lunch or break, and for patients before or after an appointment. I introduce the books, and participants take turns reading passages and often view beautiful illustrations or photos. The talks lead to spirited interactions and discussions, and yes, many people want to read the books.
Since 2014, I have facilitated a summertime community read for BWFH’s Cultural Competence Steering Committee entitled “One Book: One Hospital”. Each year, the committee selects a book focusing on a different culture – last year’s choice was My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor, and this year’s selection is Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe. The program includes in-person and social media book discussion sessions, open house tables with raffles to win the book, table tent signs in the cafeteria with book discussion questions to get people reading and talking about the book, and immersion into the book’s culture with food, music, art, and more. This year’s program has been so successful that the book has been checked out over two dozen times, and even with twelve books in the collection, there has been a waiting list all summer.
We also hold periodic special BookTalks when a member of the hospital staff publishes a book of interest to the general public. These wonderful programs are of great interest to the whole community. We’ve held talks on The Origin of the Human Mind, If You Felt Like I Did, You’d Start Running, and The Migraine Solution: A Complete Guide to Diagnosis, Treatment, and Pain Management. The authors themselves lead these special BookTalks, with the added bonus of having an expert Q&A session included in the program. We’re ending this summer with a very special program by a BWFH surgeon – Dr. Onali Kapasi, who will be reading from his book of poetry, Mind’s Eye: A Vision into the Depths of Consciousness. Of course, NER’Eastah readers are invited – the poetry reading will be held on September 21, 2015 at 7 pm in Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital’s Huvos Auditorium (directions). Hope to see you there!
If you want to get started hosting similar programs in your library, here are some tips:
- Visit some BookTalks and book discussion groups in your area. Your local public library probably has some that you can participate in.
- Learn about how to start your own group, develop questions, and promote the program. The American Library Association has some excellent resources.
- Comb your collection for fascinating and unique titles. Don’t forget your e-books – we’ve had some great BookTalks with e-books by passing around the library Nook. Make sure that you enjoy the book you are presenting!
- You don’t even have to own the book in your library to host a program – you can ask participants to purchase a copy or borrow a copy from their local library.
- Find departments or groups in your organization to champion the program. You may even be invited to present a book at a staff meeting and have a ready-made audience. Public Affairs and Marketing departments always have great ideas and can help you spread the word about your program.
- Practice with your staff or volunteers (or even your own family or friends) before going live with your book discussion group.
- At the end of each session, ask participants what other books they’d like to read – it’s never too early to start planning for next summer.
By Cara Marcus, MSLIS, AHIP
Director of Library Services, Brigham and Women’s Faulkner Hospital