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Reading Parties Are Having a Moment

by on February 6, 2017

Have you considered serving alcohol at library-sponsored events? I have often wondered if allowing drinks would bring a new demographic into our adult programming. Although I hesitate to serve liquor in my library due to liability concerns, I have thought about moving certain programs, such as our monthly book club, to a local bar. I also toyed with the idea of hosting a BYOB adult summer reading program off site.

According to a recent Forbes article,[1] my thinking may not be so off-base. Megy Karydes describes Silent Reading Parties, live lit, and library bars as a growing trend of sharing literature with friends without the stress and “homework” of a traditional book club. Silent Reading Parties, coined by Christopher Frizelle in 2010, involve gathering in a bar or other locale to read in companionable silence. There is no assigned reading, and the meetings are open to all. Silent Book Club tracks upcoming parties around the world.

Live Lit refers to readings and book discussions, both of which already take place in many bars and coffeehouses. These types of events are far more widespread than Silent Reading Parties, which do not yet have chapters across the entire United States. Most public libraries offer some type of live lit, even if it does not involve drinking.

Library bars are exactly what they sound like: library-themed bars. Some bars, according to Karydes, even contain small libraries for their patrons to browse. The author notes popular locations in San Francisco and Chicago.

How does a public library capitalize on this trend? I love the idea of hosting a Silent Reading Party of our own. Although it may not necessarily involve liquor if held onsite, we could still offer food and nonalcoholic beverages for participants. Personally, I would love nothing more at this time of year than to curl up with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate.

The other option would be to leverage such a program as a form of community outreach and partner up with a local bar or restaurant. Meeting outside the library would allow more freedom in terms of food and drink, and it may attract participants who do not currently visit the library. As a whole, these types of programs are likely helpful with attracting the ever-elusive millennial crowd.

Have you held any live lit events or Silent Reading Parties at your library? Do you frequent them as a reader? Let us know in the comments!


[1] Megy Karydes, “Toast the Library Bars, Silent Reading Parties, and Live Lit in 2017,” Forbes, December 27, 2016.