Contact: Lainie Castle, PPO
For Immediate Release
October 12, 2006
Public Programs Office announces new
online archive of "Let's Talk About It" discussion programs
Free resources available for more than 20 previous themes
CHICAGO - The Public Programs Office (PPO) of the American Library Association (ALA) is pleased to announce the creation of a new online resource for librarians interested in conducting reading and discussion programs. The archive for Let's Talk About It reading and discussion programs, online at http://publicprograms.ala.org/ltai/, provides a wealth of information related to previous Let's Talk About It national programs for libraries.
Using the site, librarians interested in hosting their own Let's Talk About It program can review and acquire program materials related to more than 20 prior discussion themes, including Long Gone: The Literature and Culture of African American Migration; One Vision, Many Voices: Latino Literature in the U.S.; and Sovereign Worlds: Native Peoples Reclaim Their Lives and Heritage. Downloadable resources for each theme include annotated reading lists, theme-related scholarly essays, supplementary texts with brief summaries and a "How To" discussion programming guide.
Let's Talk About It is a reading and discussion program model launched on a nationwide level for libraries by the American Library Association in 1982. The program model involves reading a common series of books selected by a nationally known scholar, and discussing them in the context of a larger, overarching theme. Reading and discussion groups explore the theme through the lens of the humanities - that is, by relating the readings to historical trends and events, other works of literature, philosophical and ethical considerations.
The format for a Let's Talk About It program involves a 10-week series on a given theme. A discussion group meets with a local humanities scholar in the library. Every two weeks the group comes together to discuss a theme-related book they have all read. The scholar opens the program, bringing the book to life, provoking the group's curiosity with insights and background on the author and the work. At the same time, the scholar relates the reading to the theme, raising questions and creating a catalyst that sparks discussion. The audience breaks into smaller groups to talk about the book, share ideas and raise more questions. The large group reconvenes for final discussion and closing comments.
The original development, design and production of Let's Talk About It themes was made possible by a grant to ALA from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Let's Talk About It will celebrate its 25th anniversary in September 2007.
Established in 1992, the ALA Public Programs Office has a strong track record of developing library programming initiatives, including Let's Talk About It, film discussion programs on humanities themes, traveling exhibitions, LIVE! @ your library(r), and other programs. Recently, it has established the Cultural Communities Fund, an endowment fund created to help all types of libraries across the country bring communities together through cultural programming ( www.ala.org/ccf). More than 10,000 libraries and at least 10 million individuals have participated in library programming initiatives supported by the Public Programs Office. For more information, visit www.ala.org/publicprograms.