Frances Altemose, Head of Community Services, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY:
These theme-based book discussions attract many types of people to the library and offer them an avenue for discussion, analysis, introspection and socialization. The mental stimulation and increased awareness of other ideas and cultures as presented in the LTAI discussions have made a great impact in attitude and understanding on those participating. Cultural programming, including book and film discussions, is an integral part of what we do here at the Sachem Public Library, and contributes positively to the quality of life for those attending these various events. We are a community center and source of lifelong learning. Two of our district residents, who are extensive library users, stated that they moved into our community when they saw in our newsletter the wealth and variety of programs that the Sachem Public Library offered. Those offerings would not be possible without the support of organizations such as ALA.
Michael Price, Director, Peterborough Town Library, Peterborough, NH:
We use [the “Let’s Talk About It”] reading/discussion series to introduce interested patrons to literature with which they are most likely unfamiliar (Japanese and Jewish, for example) and which they would probably not seek out on their own. “Let’s Talk About It” has certainly benefitted our library, and our patrons.
Jude Schanzer, Director of Public Relations and Programming, East Meadow Public Library, East Meadow, NY:
The American Library Association’s “Let’s Talk About It” program is now more important than it might have been a mere ten years ago. This program offers us the opportunity to look at other cultures, different states of mind, or pressing issues through literature. Most importantly it encourages us to speak with one another in an atmosphere conducive to stimulating relevant conversation.
Linda Holtslander, Asst. Director, Loudoun County Public Library, Leesburg, VA:
I am the Assistant Director of the Loudoun County (VA) Public Library and in this capacity I develop and facilitate hundreds of community humanities programs in our branches each year ... Our library system has been the beneficiary of a variety of National Endowment for the Humanities/American Library Association grants over the past ten years. These projects have allowed us to offer programs and exhibits to the community that explored great literature and poetry, recounted the historical happenings of a particular era, and other critical themes. Each of these productions has given the Loudoun County Public Library an opportunity to bring to the community educational enterprise that promotes understanding in an open and free environment. The training and all associated documents and project development materials that the American Library Association prepares for the libraries awarded the grants are outstanding. They allow systems to create and develop programs that give depth to the themes and encourage community participation.
Leah Ducato Rudolph, Director, Abington Community Library, Clarks Summit, PA:
As the recipient of a “Let’s Talk About It: Jewish Literature” grant, I am writing to let you know how pleased I am with the ALA grant opportunities in general, and the “Let’s Talk About It” specifically. A diverse group of people enjoyed our book discussions of the LTAI theme “Monsters of the Jewish Imagination” and are looking forward to participating in two more themes this year and next.America is truly a melting pot, even in small communities such as those found here in Northeast Pennsylvania. Our community was originally composed of Irish and Italian immigrants, but is now a microcosm of people who can trace their roots all over the world. I feel public libraries play a major role in identifying and educating patrons about new cultures and ethnic groups, and can do so in a non-political and non-threatening way through literature and book discussions.It is my opinion that no matter what part of the county Library patrons are located, they will find the topic of ethnic diversity a fascinating one, and the exploration of that diversity through cultural programming and book discussions, a natural role of public libraries.
John M. Bowden, Ed.D., Director of External Program Development, Southwest Minnesota State University, Marshall, MN:
In the last five years the library at Southwest Minnesota State University has participated in two “Let’s Talk About It” grant series and has had great success in attracting an intergenerational group of people to the discussions groups.
Cris Cairo, Director, Project Development, Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library, Indianapolis, IN:
At the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library we are always looking for new ways to discuss books within our community. This past year we have participated with great success in the“Let’s Talk About It: Jewish Literature” series. The series brought together a diverse group of individuals and enriched their understanding of Jewish culture. It is critical that discussion series such as these exist to promote provocative thinking about an issue and provide face-to-face discourse and reflection.