‘Seeding Success’: Increasing access, and a lifelong process of learning

(Provided image/Oscar Romero)

(Provided image/Oscar Romero)


This is the third of a series of seven stories featured ahead of the seventh annual NCW Community Success Summit, which IRIS (Initiative for Rural Innovation & Stewardship) is convening in Quincy on Nov. 15. This year’s event, “Seeding Success, Growing ONE Community,” will celebrate stories about our environment, community, and economy that are helping to connect and strengthen our region. Each story will focus on one of seven different themes IRIS is using to highlight successes. For more information about the summit, to register, sample more stories and submit a story, visit www.irisncw.org.


Book club meeting at the Wenatchee Valley Senior Activity Center. (Provided photo)

Book club meeting at the Wenatchee Valley Senior Activity Center. (Provided photo)


NCRL Book Club Network  

Contact: Anne Brangwin


What is the situation?  

DROP CAP Established in the 1960s, the North Central Regional Library District (NCRL), serving Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Okanogan and Ferry counties, has always supported a few book clubs with at least one in Quincy dating back to the 1970s. But in the mid-1990s when TV personality Oprah Winfrey launched her popular book club, NCRL began to experience more demand for multiple copies of books that could be read and discussed by groups all over the region. Today, more than 200 book clubs with 1,000 members – more per capita than anywhere in the state – help NCRL meet its mission of promoting reading and lifelong learning, growing relationships along the way.

What is the challenge? 

To meet the increasing demand, NCRL chose to use part of their budget to build a special collection and to provide services specifically for their book clubs. Those services included fielding requests to start new book clubs and to support existing ones, acquiring and managing the collection, distributing and scheduling the use of the books, and promoting the collection to book clubs that were not currently utilizing it. Since book clubs typically read a book each month, schedules need to be prepared well in advance.

What are key activities? 

Creating a calendaring system to keep the collection organized and making sure clubs get the books at the right branch library at the right time.

Having district wide author events, such as Columbia River Reads, and providing outreach services just for book clubs.

Purchasing books that clubs really want; book clubs are managed by members, not NCRL staff.

Regional distribution system and budget; 1-2 deliveries per week coordinated by a team of NCRL regional and branch library staff

What is the successful outcome?  

NCRL has more book clubs per capita than anywhere in the state with the largest in Leavenworth, Wenatchee, Twisp-Winthrop, and Moses Lake. Some of the clubs are designed for a given sector, e.g., kids, teen, teachers, women, couples, men; some focus on a given genre such as non-fiction, mysteries or other fiction. All of them regularly bring people together to talk about books and ideas – a practice that tends to enhance a sense of belonging and foster friendships. Anyone can start a book club anywhere in the region. For more information visit www.ncrl.org/clubs.htm.

Anne Brangwin may be reached at abrangwin@ncrl.org.