COLONIE — A good book + a good beer = a good night.
While the Beer and a Book Club is a new monthly program sponsored by the William K. Sanford Library starting on Jan. 14, libraries across the country are hosting like events as a way to attract a younger crowd and/or those who might not otherwise attend a library event.
“I got the idea from the New York State Library Association conference in November when we were talking about how to engage the millennial population and I do think that is a group that is going to be interested,” said Peggy Mello, head of adult information services at the Colonie library, who is spearheading the new program.
The millennials are using libraries, according to recent studies, and the generation in Colonie is no exception. Mello said they are one of the largest demographics to use the library on a regular basis and, surprisingly, they prefer paper books over e-books.
That said, they are a tough lot to pin down to a specific time or date too far in advance so how the turnout will be is anyone’s guess.
“Basically what they said at the program in November is they don’t like being tied down to a date. They want to know what their choices are, but they don’t want to commit and they just show up if they want to show up,” Mello said.
There are a couple ground rules. Despite the proclivity for spontaneity, attendees have to let Mello know prior to “just showing up,” since she will be renting a table or tables at local establishments and would like to know how many chairs are needed. Even notice the day of the event is better than no notice at all.
The second is separate checks. The library will not be paying for any rounds and it won’t pay for books, but will happily lend one out for a month.
The third is more of a guideline. Some of the books will have homosexual themes and do contain some racy language so a tolerance of such things is highly recommended.
And the fourth is nothing too heavy. In other words, “War and Peace” will not be one of the selections.
“I was never a librarian who was into literary fiction. I want something light and funny and romantic and not anything too hard to read,” Mello said. “So, if I’m going to a book group, I’m going to read what I feel like reading. I just want to sit and relax and laugh and read quotes from the book and laugh about what happened in the book and just have a good time.”
The first book on the list is the laugh out loud memoir “Running with Scissors” by Augusten Burroughs. That discussion will take place on Tuesday, Jan. 14 at the 110 Grill located at 664 New Loudon Road from 7 to 8 p.m. The 8 p.m. quit time is just a suggestion and there is nothing preventing people from staying later or leaving earlier if they so choose.
February’s book will be “Are you there Vodka? It’s me Chelsea,” a book of mostly autobiographical essays by Chelsea Handler. That discussion will take place on Tuesday, Feb. 11 at BJ’s Brewhouse on Central Avenue.
Ideally, depending on if the idea catches on, the goal is to meet up the second Tuesday of the month. Mello has some book titles in mind but they are up in the air and she is open to suggestions.
So how did the stereotypical stuffy library with dusty periodicals littering the shelves and “quiet” signs at every turn get into a book discussion over a cold one at a local watering hole.
“People in this day and age are stuck in their houses and we really don’t interact with each other as much as we used to,” Mello said. “I like to come up with programs where people are going to engage with each other, face to face and not by text or email.”
A program that has become wildly popular is the full moon walks at The Crossings where people take walk through the park and watch the moon rise over the trees from the fence at Constantine’s Farm.
“Anything we can do to engage with the community and ‘connect, learn and grow,’ which is our moto, we try to do,” Mello said. “We do whatever it takes.”
Anyone wanting more information can contact the library at 518-810-0314.
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