Book discussion groups are a common offering at libraries. Whether held by library staff or outside parties, most libraries offer some type of book group or club where interested participants read the same book and meet regularly to discuss aspects of it.
One of the most common complaints from participants in these groups is that they do not care for the choice of book to be read. Unfortunately, there are as many opinions and reasons why a particular tome is liked or not as their are people who have read it. Continually choosing books that are not well received can turn a well attended program into a ghost town. In addition, for many, the time it takes to not only read the book outside of the formal meeting of the group but to be ready to answer questions is more work than some are willing to do continually.
Craft programs are another programming offering that libraries routinely schedule. Ranging from knitting groups to full-fledged instructional classes, these groups are usually well-attended and well received. Unfortunately, they tend to be expensive to sustain on a regular basis if outside instructors are brought in repeatedly. Generating new ideas for projects able to be taught by library staff can also be problematic.
In spite of these issues, many libraries repeatedly have requests for both. So, what is a librarian to do? Get creative. Patrons enjoy reading, they enjoy talking about books they have read, a subset of them enjoy crafts. Reading a book while doing a craft is not easily done...or is it? What if the book was being read TO the group while they were working on their projects?
Combining a book discussion group with a craft group prima facie has several benefits. First, it is a way for those who are not readers per se to be exposed to literature. Second, it is a way for crafters to "read" a book that they enjoy while also pursing an activity that they enjoy. For many, there has been a choice due to time constraints of reading OR crafting. Putting the two together allows both to happen.
Librarians can create many opportunities for groups that run in this manner. How about Shakespeare Crafternoons where participants come and knit while listening to the bard's words? Sugar Plum Crafternoons: participants come and listen to the latest Janet Evanovitch Stephanie Plum novel while creating ornaments for the holiday season. Mystery Christie Crafternoons: Enjoy a classic by Agatha Christie while creating your own vintage collage project with ephemera.
Using the three I's: intellect, imagination, and ingenuity librarians can breathe new life into library programming.