Virtual book club

Ashley Clay, Ariel Dyer, Sherry Wade and Fahra Daredia discuss on the book of the month for the Kern County Library book club.

With the shelter-in-place order this spring, it seemed like all of the books collecting dust on shelves across the world would finally get their time to shine.

With every form of entertainment under the sun at one's fingertips, reading seemed more daunting than turning on the latest binge-worthy show or zoning out while scrolling through the endless stream of consciousness that social media provides.

Without accountability, dusting off those novels seems more impossible than ever.

Those who want to read but lack the motivation have a new savior in the form of book clubs hosted by the Kern County Library.

The library's 24 branches were some of the first to fight against boredom or monotony during quarantine with virtual programs including e-books, daily storytimes, yoga sessions, English and Spanish conversation groups, and even encouraging children to read books out loud to help boost confidence. All of which can be found on Kern County Library's Facebook.

Beale Memorial Library hosts a monthly book club where members discuss the newest read over a Zoom meeting. Book clubs aren't new to the libraries but after a few months most people leave because the commitment can be a challenge, but with the accessibility of virtual book clubs it's something anyone can approach.

"I've had people say that digital makes everything easier," said Sherry Wade, the regional librarian with Kern County Library. "We miss our people, we miss having a place people can go but we want people to know we are still here for them."

The book clubs vary in subject matter. The Tehachapi branch hosts a monthly adult and teen book club. The through-line with most books that are required reading is that its accessible through the library's online hub at kerncountylibrary.org/elibrary.

"You're hearing so many different voices and perspectives," said Ariel Dyer, a former Beale Memorial Library associate.

For those that want more book recommendations look no further than "Book Talk Bakersfield," a podcast hosted by library employees Jasmin LoBasso and Fahra Daredia. The series is broadcast weekly on Facebook Live and uploaded on Spotify and Apple Podcasts later. A list of recommended books, television shows or other forms of entertainment is uploaded on libraryware.com.

The focus of the podcast is to highlight partnerships with the library, feature community programs, spread the joy of reading and learning, and instill a culture of reading in the community, host LoBasso wrote in an email.

Starting in September, Kern County Library will host One Book, One Bakersfield, One Kern, also known as The One Book Project, a community reading project that focuses on a few books and several online events centered around them that gets a conversation going. The program began in 2001 and shows no signs of slowing down. 

The goal is to pull communities together through one literary experience. The featured books in 2020 are "Broad Band," "Little Engineers," "Songs for a Whale," "Women Win the Vote," "Women Who Launch," "Slay" and "Femme Magnifique: 50 Magnificent Women Who Changed the World." The genres range from nonfiction to graphic novels to picture books. All are encouraged to join the discussion.

Learn more about the One Book Project and the upcoming events at kerncountylibrary.org/one-book-project.

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