LitClub:  Book Club to Go
Monterey County Free Libraries, California

club bookclub 2 goIT'S IN THE BAG, so to speak, books and all—a complete set of resources for any book club meeting. It's part of Monterey County Free Libraries' outreach to area book clubs.

That's a lot of canvas! How many book club bags do you have?
Right now, we offer 91 titles—that's 91 bags— with more titles in the works. So far, over 100 people from area clubs have signed up for the bags. Everyone loves them!

Tell us what's in a bag.
Every bag contains 10 paperback copies of whatever book is selected, discussion questions, tips for leading a discussion, and a sign-out sheet to help keep track of the bag contents.

Any food?
No food.

How does a club go about getting a bag?
Anyone with a Monterey County Library card can order a bag. You can use our online form—or email, phone, or stop in at one of our 17 branch libraries.

We ask people to order 3 months in advance, which isn't a problem for most book clubs.

Some of our clubs choose their books from our BC2Go title list for the year, give us their meeting dates, and let us assign the book bags for them!

How long can you keep a bag?
For 6 weeks.

What happens if you don't return a bag?
We send the Library Police after you.

No. You pay a 25-cent-a day late fee. We have instructions for every possible contingency on our Library website.

How does the program work from the Library's end?
Well, we store all the book bags at a single location. And we have a program coordinator to keep track of it all.

A library needs software to check the availability of book bags when requested, as well as staff to monitor the timing and send the bags to a branch when requested.

We have a budget to purchase books and bags and print our brochures. Also, we recieve donations from supportive patrons.

How do you choose your books?
Both patrons and staff recommend titles. We look for titles in paperback, with both current appeal and quality to stand the test of time.

We're also one of the first libraries in California to offer bilingual bags.

Give us an idea of some of the titles you offer.
Here are some of the most popular ones:

Guernsey Literary and PPP Society
Luncheon of the Boating Party
People of the Book
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
Thirteenth Tale

Of course, there are 86 more! You can find the entire list on our website. But here are a few additional titles to show the breadth of our list—it's quite varied:

Angle of Repose
Bless Me, Ultima (Rudolofo A. Anaya)
Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Cellist of Sarajevo
Last Town on Earth
Little Bee
Master and Margarita (Mikahil Bulgakov)
One Day
The Sacrifice of Tamar
Shutting out the Sun: How Japan Created Its Own Lost Generation (Michael Zielenziger)
Their Eyes Were Watching God
Tortilla Curtain
Wild Swans

Any advice for libraries interested in their own book bag program?
First, think about how you'll manage it. Before jumping in, investigate your Integrated Library System (ILS) to find out if it can support such a program. Otherwise the management of paper files can catch you off guard.

But the extra effort is worth it! Our Book Club to Go program is a terrific community outreach program—it provides a wonderful service to patrons and area book clubs.

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