Bringing together books & beers

Kingston Frontenac Public Library puts book clubs in bars to encourage reading

Kingston libraries are combining books and beers to encourage young people to read.

Books & Beers for Twentysomethings is Kingston Frontenac Public Library’s fun, new way of encouraging youths to engage with literature and the Kingston community.

Unlike a traditional book club, where all the members read and discuss one or two works in a big group, those who attend Books & Beers aren’t required to have read the same book or engage with all the attendees. 

Liz Coates, the Kingston Frontenac Public Library (KFPL) Teen and New Adult Librarian, has been running the event since it began in September 2014. 

She referred to it in an email interview with The Journal as a “casual book club in a bar,” stating that it falls under the category of a “Book Club with a Difference.”

“Participants come with what they’re currently reading, enjoy a beverage or snack, and share reading recommendations with each other and make new friends,” Coates said. She describes the goals of the program as being “to reconnect twentysomethings with the library, build a relationship with students … and to keep Kingston reading for pleasure.” 

She said the library had run a general Books & Beers program previously, but it didn’t appeal to the intended audience.“It didn’t tend to attract young professionals or students, so we rebranded as part of an initiative to reach young people.” 

This month’s Books & Beers for Twentysomethings takes place on Oct. 19 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the Tir Nan Og Irish Pub. Since starting in her position at the KFPL, Coates has initiated a number of innovative programs, including the Summer Book-It List, another unconventional reading club. 

Summer Book-It List, which ran from June 13 to Aug. 29, posted a theme every week on its webpage and encouraged its 300 participants to comment on it and engage in conversation about what they were reading.

Coates said she’s also involved in a number of new initiatives, working with a New Adult Advisory Board — made up of 18 to 30-year-old community members — to come up with fresh, new ideas. 

Some of the upcoming events include Books & Beers for Twentysomethings: Literary Speed-Dating Edition, which will take place at the Tir Nan Og Pub on Nov. 9, and Adult LEGO Night at the KFPL’s Central Branch on Dec. 1. 

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