Those into books, think outside of the box

Henry Ward Beecher once said, “A library is not a luxury, but one of the necessities of life.” The staff at the Amery Area Public Library (AAPL) is doing everything in their power to keep the beloved local library available in a variety of ways for those who love to read.

Heather Wiarda, Adult Programming Director of the AAPL said, “Public libraries have gone to great lengths to continue offering services to our patrons. The AAPL’s adult book club, "Books & Brews" had to pivot when the Covid-19 pandemic altered our ability to offer inperson services. We started meeting online via Zoom, which has been successful and a great way to stay in contact and continue our discussions.”

To add an extra level of involvement for Books & Brews members, Wiarda started bringing in authors to visit and discuss with the Books and Brews group.

The August book was As Bright As Heaven, by famed novelist Susan Meissner. who joined all the way from California to participate in the group’s discussion. Meissner also presented a slide show and took numerous questions from members.

The AAPL has more author visits planned for Books & Brews, including the Oct. 1 Books & Brews meeting where Jenna Blum, author of Those Who Save Us, will visit the group for an hour and join in the discussion.

In November they will be hosting a Book Bingo with NovelNetwork. This will take the place of the Nov. 5 meeting.

Book Bingo is a hand-selected panel of award--winning and bestselling authors, organized around a theme. “Our theme will be historical fiction, a favorite genre of our group. There will be SIX different authors, plus a host, and it will be a mixture of virtual bingo and a real-time panel and discussion. We're so excited for this,” said Wiarda.

As a whole the AAPL is excited they have the ability to match their services to the current situation.

Participants of Books and Brews, Nell and Joel Anderson said, “Books and Brews Book Club is a wonderful resource of the AAPL. The library provides participants print and audio copies of each book from it regional collection. Happily, Heather established the online connection so our group continues during physical distancing.”

The Andersons said for a while, the pandemic required reading books online that were available with unlimited checkout in the public domain. They said, “We were exposed to older books such as Therese Raquin by French author, Emile Zola, which caused a scandal when it appeared 1867, featuring two lovers compelled to commit a crime that will haunt them forever. We find that video communication has helped focus attention on the responses of each person and reduces distractions. Books and Brew has encouraged us to read a variety of books with others possessing a passion for literature.”

Participant Shannon Schact said, "Heather opened a door full of surprises when she organized the Books & Brews club. Behind this door were people from Amery and the surrounding areas who were fortunate to have found a way to meet and share in the enjoyment of reading. We've learned about each other's varied lives and experiences, which brings an expanded appreciation for the books we've read on a variety of topics. Through the book club, people's lives intersect and it has been a wonderful opportunity to hear interesting comments in response to the books we've read. Not only do we share the gift of reading books of all types, but we have a treasured gift in getting to know and appreciate our ‘neighbors.’ With the COVID situation moving us to meeting on Zoom, we've found a silver-lining in that we now have book club members participating from other cities so our expansion of the fun continues to grow. No matter how we're able to meet, this group has been one of the best components of living a quality life!"

AAPL current services include:

Inperson browsing and computer use appointments: AAPL is now adding Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. to the inperson browsing and computer use sessions. This is in addition to our Tuesday option. You may come in (BY APPOINTMENT ONLY) for 20-minute browsing and 60-minute computer use sessions. Visit the AAPL website at www.amerylibrary.org for detailed information. Schedule your appointment on the website or by calling M-Th, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 715-268-9340, press "0."

Curbside appointments: Beginning on Aug. 22, AAPL will now offer curbside service (by appointment only) for pickups, and appointment-free returns on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. This is in addition to their regular curbside appointments and appointment-free returns Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Holds for all items can be placed via the MORE catalog or by emailing us at curbside@amerylibrary.org. Once you've received your hold pickup notice, you may call us to schedule your pickup time.

Returns: The AAPL book drop is now open for returns. Materials can be dropped off at any time.

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