The Dornoch Library
Reading Group was set up in November 2001. A notice was placed on the
counter inviting readers, if they were interested, to put their names
down. Within a very short time, 22 names were listed. At that point we
decided to close the membership and arrange the first meeting.
It was decided that the original
plan of reading one book and passing it among members would not be
feasible when 22 people were involved; 2 books were chosen from
specially purchased paperback stock.
The group met in Dornoch Library on
a Thursday evening, when the Library was closed to the public. The
first meeting was an exchange of ideas, getting to know each other,
discussing what we wanted from a Reading Group; the group covers a wide
age range – there is only one male member but he is a very lively 70+
and is not at all fazed by the overwhelmingly female membership. We
decided to meet every 6 weeks – a time scale which gives everyone the
opportunity to read both books.
Because the meetings take place in
the Library, a member of staff is always present; the members have
stated that they prefer the meetings to be “led” by library staff. So
far, books have been chosen from the Sutherland Area Reading Group
stock, and again members are happy with this. The choice of book is
governed by its availability in paperback, and its perceived general
appeal. There would be no justification in purchasing multiple copies
of some worthy but highly specialized work. All books are part of
The second meeting was probably the
most difficult because nobody knew quite what to expect. The books we
had read were “Bad Blood” by Lorna Sage and “No Great Mischief” by
Alistair Macleod. At first, some people were reluctant to express
opinions, but before too long discussion got under way and the meeting
became quite lively, with differing opinions being offered.
The number of readers attending
meetings is usually 12-15; one or two people who cannot be present still
read the books and leave a note of their opinions with staff.
The members have all said that they
like talking about books almost as much as they enjoy reading them –
and being part of a Reading Group is a great excuse for doing just
that! Interestingly, the one remark which keeps coming up again and
again is “I never thought I would enjoy that sort of book, but I
did.” Equally, members often say that they have persevered with a book
only because it was a Reading Group issue, and at the end have enjoyed
it against all their expectations.
The Group was set up in September 2002. Posters were displayed in the
Library and staff mentioned it personally to borrowers who they thought
might be particularly interested.
The first few months saw a variety
of people attending. The numbers attending vary from month to month
with a core of four or five people. The small group encourages less
confident members of the group to speak.
The Area Libraries Officer and
Assistant Librarian did the initial book selection in order to get the
group started. The books chosen have been modern fiction which have
been available in paperback. The original intention was that the group
members themselves would then have input into the choice of books.
It finally became a compromise – the initial list with ‘blurbs’ was made
up by the group leader (Assistant Librarian) and the group members voted
for their favoured three titles. This worked successfully with all
three titles being well received by the readers.
Despite the low numbers attending
the effort has been worthwhile. The posters generate interest in the
books been looked at and this has been reflected in the issues of these
titles. Being a fledging group ways are continually being sought in how
to run, improve and develop the group perhaps by changing the format or
promotion of the group. This may become easier as more experience is
gained, a wider selection of books becomes available and enthusiasm is
As part of an out of hours literacy project, supported by the New
Opportunities Fund, a mums and daughters reading group was established
at Invergordon Academy. The purpose of the group was for parents to
share with their children the enjoyment of reading and have the
opportunity to discuss literature in a social setting. The lively
conversations revolved around new “finds” and books chosen by the group.
One book which was particularly liked was Adeline Yen Mah’s
autobiography because it is written in two versions; “The Chinese
Cinderella” for younger readers and “Falling Leaves” for adults.
Another strategy which was used was to choose two books with a common
theme. As well as broadening the range of literature which all the
participants read, it also provided a forum for the girls to develop
confidence about expressing their views in front of a group and listen
and consider alternative opinions to their own. In this way they were
developing multiple literacy skills.