Local library staff are working to bring the Macon community closer together through a love of literature at a local venue.
Jeanne Peloquin, marketing coordinator for the Middle Georgia Regional Library, and Micah Newsome, head of reference at the Washington Memorial Library, joined forces to develop their idea for a monthly book club. To begin with, they decided to focus on finding somewhere in the community where young adults regularly meet.
“We really don’t have a lot of people in that 20 to 30 age range who visit the library,” Newsome said. “There’s a definite gap where people just stop coming to the library, so we wanted to reach out and move somewhere where people would be more comfortable.”
Looking for this comfortable location brought the Washington Memorial Library to Just Tap’d, a craft beer superstore and upscale beer cafe located downtown.
According to the Just Tap’d website, the location in downtown Macon is “giving the local community a neighborhood gathering place to meet new friends, enjoy a good book or spend time with the family.”
Just Tap’d is known for only serving hand-crafted beverages, including over 60 taps of craft beer but also 40 types of wines, ciders and non-alcoholic selections.
On the third Wednesday of every month at 6:30 p.m., Just Tap’d allows the Washington Memorial Library to have a corner of their bottom floor to host their book club.
“The other thing that makes this book club really unique is, rather than having a predetermined book that everybody has to read, the format of it is that you read whatever kind of book you want that month and come to book club and talk about that book,” Peloquin said.
She said that being exposed to these new books pushes people outside of their comfort zones, allowing more interaction, development and discussion of ideas.
“The knowledge that we tend to lose people in their twenties and thirties caused by the library atmosphere… led to our idea of the book club. We want people to feel comfortable and relaxed. We wanted to break out of that idea of the library atmosphere,” Newsome said.
The first meeting of the Rough Draught Book Club was in September. Those in attendance discussed many books from several genres.
“It’s a place that has comfort and fits into people’s routine,” Peloquin said. “There is a kind of trend in libraries right now to move programming outside the library walls, and this fits into that as well. There’s no stealing in libraries. Libraries can share with each other and borrow from each other to get this collaborative atmosphere in libraries that is just really, really special.”
Another aspect the library looked for was a way to get more civic space in the Macon community.
“There’s less space where people can just get together and associate with one another. We wanted to get a social outlet for people who normally might stay at home. There’s a demand for it. It’s an idea that other libraries have done successfully, so we found a place where the owners and workers were comfortable with people hanging around the tables for a couple of hours,” Newsome said.
This diversity of interest seen within the book club is something Newsome and Peloquin said they hope to expand into the future.
“I hope that it does so well that we have to find other places, expand it to other businesses and try to get more geographical coverage. Hopefully this is just the beginning,” Newsome said.
This idea of community involvement and expanding outside library borders goes strongly with the ideals and beliefs of the library as a whole, Peloquin said.
“We as a library really value being embedded in the community. This is just another way of expressing that vision, and as we grow, not just this program but other programs, we’re always looking at ways that we can bring programming to where people are in a way that is convenient and comfortable to them and really be a true part of the community,” she said. “Any way that we can enhance the sense of community in our area is good.”