This past year, Phoenix Public Library turned lemons into lemonade when challenged with turning in-person programming to online, all while maintaining and fostering an engaged community.
With all of the branches closed down, PPL was presented with the opportunity to reimagine its current programs and see how they could benefit community members at home.
“We’re finding that online programs are popular, being that they are available to anyone throughout the city,” said Geraldine Hills, Phoenix Public Library Communications Liaison.
As a result of the growing popularity, PPL created free online book clubs that enable adults, tweens and teens to read along, participate in discussions, and join a community of like-minded readers, all from the comfort of their homes.
Before going online, each book club was branch-specific and didn’t necessarily reach all age groups.
“This way, our book clubs are available to everyone, despite what their nearest branch may be offering,” Hills said. PPL offers clubs for tweens, teens and adults who enjoy reading and discussing books.
The adult online book club, Book O’Clock, was the first to be created in 2020. The adult librarian staff runs this club, and they meet one Wednesday a month. Books are chosen based on popularity and availability in multiple formats, for example, audiobooks, e-books and print, ensuring that they appeal to a diverse audience. In October, they’ll be reading My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix. The club will meet on Wednesday, October 20, from 6-7 p.m.
The tween and teen book clubs were started over the summer by the children’s librarian staff. Hills said that the programs have proven to be successful and well attended.
The tween club, called Check’ Em Out, appeals to ages 8-11. The club focuses on graphic and comic book novels. They’ll be reading The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner and meeting on Tuesday, October 26, from 3:30-4:30 p.m.
“What is nice about this club is that, as we all know, kids have busy schedules. This is something that they can participate in without having to worry about rides,” Hills said.
Our Weekend is Booked, the teen book club, is held on the last Saturday of each month. A group of teen volunteers is in charge of choosing the books. Their next meeting is on October 30 from 2-3 p.m., where they’ll be discussing The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.
“This program shows that no matter the format, people love being connected to books and talking about books, no matter what the genre is,” Hills said.
All of the clubs are free but do require online registration to join.