question: book club book swapping?

A reader writes “I’ve volunteered to be on a committee to develop our regional book club in a box program. Are you aware of a network where libraries can trade or otherwise share book club or (fill in your city/campus here) reads program books? We have virtually zero money and need fifteen copies of each title; our current titles have been practically exhausted by our readers. Any advice you can offer would be much appreciated.” If anyone has experience with something like this, if you could leave some information in the comments, thanks.

9 thoughts on “question: book club book swapping?

  1. We have a program called book kits to go. We had also exhausted our list of books and decided to share them with patrons and other libraries. Anyone can come in and check out a kit or we can send it to a neighboring library. A kit usually involves five books (we usually ordered ten for the library book discussion program). We don’t get an extremely high demand from neighboring libraries since they may not have the time to do the program.

  2. I’ve seen discussion of book club-sized book swaps on MICHLIB-L for Michigan. There’s a statewide library network called MEL that makes it easy to send books from library to library (as a part of an interlibrary loan system), so the swaps or transfers often seem to go via that net.

  3. It’s not a network, but the John P. Webster Library (the *other* Webster Library in West Hartford, CT) has multiple copies of books that other groups can borrow:…they generally have around a dozen copies of each title. It varies.

    Another place to try is state Humanities Foundations, Centers for the Book, etc. For example, or…Usually it’s people who’ve gotten grants for related programming who get the sets of books sent to them, but it’s worth seeing if you can just borrow the books.

  4. Hey Jeff,

    Is your library willing to loan the kits out-of-state or only to truly neighboring libraries?

  5. I was on the steering committee for READS-TO-GO Book Club Kits, developed by a group of New Hampshire Library Association (NHLA) members. Our state library provides a van service for Interlibrary Loan throughout the state, so we developed a program where bags are hosted at libraries around the state and “requestable” via the online ILL services of the state library, they travel to other libraries via the NHSL van. Each kit has 15 paperbacks (1 large print if avail), author bio, discussion questions, and a sign out sheet. Libraries around the state bought books (sometimes paid for by Friends, sometimes by local book groups), NHLA provided the canvas bags. Just launched in May and so far the books are moving. There is now an ongoing READS-TO-GO committee, here’s a link to their website:

  6. I no longer work in this network, but MVLC in Massachusetts has book club kits. Go to and do a keyword search in the catalog for book club kits. They all come in a canvas tote bag with discussion guides and sometimes will include large print copies, DVDs or other items. I know they were very popular when they were introduced.

  7. Colorado’s Statewide Interlibrary Loan Fast Track has a book club loan program ( These are mostly former hot titles that were donated to the State Library by libraries who weeded their club sets, so they’re mostly two to five years old. Any library on the ILL network can request a set (I’m not sure of the checkout period – six weeks maybe?). It cuts down on incidents of having libraries ordering ten copies of the same title and having them come in from six different lenders, which explains how it falls under SWIFT’s purview.

Comments are closed.