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Book Discussion Groups

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      Gail Stricker and Deena Cross of the Instructional Materials Center are leaders of the book discussion groups at the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped.

      The Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (ILBPH) at the Iowa Department for the Blind offers a great social opportunity for Library patrons who love to read, experience new books, and share their interest with others. The Library hosts three book discussion groups led by Instructional Materials Center Librarian Gail Stricker and Instructional Materials Center Specialist Deena Cross. Always open to new members, Stricker and Cross extend a standing invitation to eligible Iowans.

      “The book discussion group started meeting in 2003 with a discussion about the first All Iowa Reads book, Peace Like a River by Lief Engler. The response to this discussion was so great that our library decided to start a book discussion group that would meet on an ongoing basis,” said Gail Stricker. “We have had some really spirited book discussions over the years; the group is successful because of its members. Each one brings their personal life experiences to the group, and it is the diversity that makes the discussions so interesting.”

      What makes this book discussion group unique is that the group is made up of Iowa residents who are unable to read standard print because of blindness, visual impairment, a physical disability that interferes with the ability to hold a book and turn pages, or a reading disability that is organic in nature. Members are located throughout the  state of Iowa and discussion is conducted over the phone by conference call. A new book is chosen every other month from a variety of genres (here is a list of past selections). Participants receive a copy of the book on loan from the library in alternative media such as large print, Braille or digital audio format. The group’s discussions are in-depth and sustained and focus on relevant social issues and thought-provoking questions. Group members often mention that they enjoy reading selections that are not their usual book choices and that the group discussions enhance and expand their reading experience.

      There are currently three different book discussion groups.

      Gail Stricker leads one large group that she facilitates through the Iowa Communications Network. Participants call in for meetings once each January, March, May, July, September, and November. Discussion meetings usually lasts about an hour.

      Deena Cross leads two groups. Both meet every other month in February, April, June, August, October, and December. Participants choose what days to meet.  Here is a link to Deena's schedule of books for 2015.

      Membership to the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped is free of charge for qualifying Iowans. If you would like more information about the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped or would like to join a book discussion group please contact Deena Cross, (515) 242-5785, deena.cross@blind.state.ia.us.