No one was buying (the admittedly expensive) comics or engaging in meaningful conversation about writing with the comic book writers and book authors attending.
Public Libraries host book discussions but they are usually once-off affairs, with larger libraries in communities with a "higher level of socio-economic stability", being able to sustain book discussion groups for much longer.
But make no mistake.
Larger libraries count only a fraction of public libraries, smaller community libraries are numerous and have established deep roots within their respective communities in Cape Town. They have are an untapped available venue for something small, intimate and bookish, with a community that might be unaware of the reading/discussion space that is waiting for them.
So what do book discussions mean to public librarians and public libraries - Book discussions in a library is a patron engagement that we can say is an example of Librarian’s Perpetuating a Culture of Reading.
This is a big thing for librarians.
Culture of Reading is enshrined in all of our Statutory Documents.
Developing a reading culture is crucial to produce readers who think of pleasure reading as a part of their very existence, and in doing so not only create lifelong readers, but writers as well. (Tons of research suggest that avid readers are more likely to become writers as well.)
That’s were book discussion come in:
Cape Town, South Africa needs book discussions because talking about books fuels the love of reading, readers become writers and writers need support and queues at their tables of people who read!
So the next time you are at your public library, ask when the next book discussion is taking place. If the librarian says there aren’t any, then ask when they’re having one, or talk to the librarian about the book you like (if they don’t ask you first.) A public librarians duty is to not only uphold the principles of a reading culture but to also be responsive to a communities needs. If the two converge, that’s good for everyone.
We’ll do the displays, we’ll make the posters, and we’ll do our part for the cult of reading but it doesn’t work if we don’t have people in the cult.
So will you be our cult members?