“Let’s Talk About It” is a reading and book discussion program model launched on a nationwide level for libraries by the American Library Association (ALA) in 1982. The program model involves reading a common series of books selected by a nationally known scholar, and discussing them in the context of a larger, overarching theme. Reading and discussion groups explore the theme through the lens of the humanities—that is, by relating the readings to historical trends and events, other works of literature, philosophical and ethical considerations. Theme topics include careers and employment, death and dying, family and friendship, illusion and reality, and many more.
But why should you make use of this wealth of material and host your own “Let’s Talk About It” discussion program? Don’t take my word for it; check out the “Let’s Talk About It” testimonials from programming experts. Here are just a few:
The American Library Association’s “Let’s Talk About It” program is now more important than it might have been a mere ten years ago. This program offers us the opportunity to look at other cultures, different states of mind, or pressing issues through literature. Most importantly it encourages us to speak with one another in an atmosphere conducive to stimulating relevant conversation.—Jude Schanzer, Director of Public Relations and Programming, East Meadow Public Library, East Meadow, NY
At the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library we are always looking for new ways to discuss books within our community. This past year we have participated with great success in the “Let’s Talk About It: Jewish Literature” series. The series brought together a diverse group of individuals and enriched their understanding of Jewish culture. It is critical that discussion series such as these exist to promote provocative thinking about an issue and provide face-to-face discourse and reflection.—Cris Cairo, Director, Project Development, Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library, Indianapolis, IN
These theme-based book discussions attract many types of people to the library and offer them an avenue for discussion, analysis, introspection and socialization. The mental stimulation and increased awareness of other ideas and cultures as presented in the LTAI discussions have made a great impact in attitude and understanding on those participating.—Frances Altemose, Head of Community Services, Sachem Public Library, Holbrook, NY
Now that you have the why, here’s the how: take a look at our how-to guide (PDF) from “The Millennium Project for Public Libraries” as well as the planner’s guide (PDF) for tips on planning, promotion, and budgeting. Good luck with your programs!