Ocean City Library’s OC Reads Shares Learning Experiences

Ocean City Library’s Adult Programming Librarian Julie Brown shares some great insights from their Community Reads program, OC Reads:

Ocean City Library, OC ReadsWould you tell us a bit about the OC Reads program?

The mission of OC Reads is that it is designed to bring people together through literature by encouraging them to read the same book and participate in discussions and other events centered on that book. The OC Reads program celebrates reading, literacy, and all that public libraries do! OC Reads encourages the whole community to be involved in the fun of shared reading and discussion.

OC Reads started in the fall of 2014 with the formation of the OC Reads Committee by Karen Mahar (Ocean City Library Director) and Dot Turner (Head of Ocean City Book Club). The Library partnered with local book clubs to plan an exciting new program to promote community reading and discussion. OC Reads is now in its fourth year.

The program has gotten a very positive response from the community! The books have been warmly received and have started great discussions and shared experiences between participants. It’s been great to see how each year’s book has resonated with participants, and how they have been encouraged to further their reading and expand the discussions beyond the program series.

Now that you’re in your fourth year with the program, what are some notable learning experiences you can share with other communities who are launching their own Community Reads Programs?

I would recommend working with community groups and organizations as much as possible for tie-in programming. Reach out to local school groups, musical groups, local speakers and community leaders, and see if they will share their talents, skills, expertise, passions, and knowledge as they relate to the program. For the book “Orphan Train”, we reached out to a local resident who collects model train replicas to speak about the history of the orphan train. With “The Boys in the Boat” in our third year, we invited the local Crew team to come and talk about the sport, share pictures, and even do a demonstration. We found working with the community in this way very rewarding, and enjoyable for all!

Can you give a specific example of how bringing your community together around a book with the OC Reads Program has helped to bridge diversity in your community?

In our second year, we had the book “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline, and brought in a local school choir as well as a local children’s Irish dance troupe to perform traditional Irish music in honor of the main character’s heritage. The dance troupe talked about the rich history of their costumes and music. We also had a local community leader come and speak about her Irish heritage, and share the stories of her childhood growing up in a small Irish village. She talked about her diverse experiences in this culture and how it has influenced her life here in Ocean City. We plan to continue to encourage diverse discussions in this year’s OC Reads program.

How has your relationship with Books In Common during the past year been beneficial?

Books in Common has been wonderful every step of the way of our planning process. From book recommendations to author inquiries, to the final details leading up to the event, Books in Common has helped us make our program a success. It’s always a pleasure working with them. I know that I can trust them to provide great authors as we continue to watch OC Reads grow.

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