By BETH VRABEL
For the Daily Record/Sunday News
Karen Hostetter knows how to pick a great read, and not just because she is in charge of library relations for all of York County libraries. She listens to patrons as they return their orders. If they’re still raving about the book when it’s due, she knows to take it home.
That’s why she’s a big fan of a new feature in the annual Summer Reading Club, going on now in county libraries. Patrons can go online to leave reviews of books they’ve checked out. The anonymous critiques are posted on a link for the Summer Reading Club, organized by age group.
“The adult (membership) is what just blew me away,” said Hostetter, who said half her day is spent signing up club readers. More than 1,000 reviews have been submitted so far, Hostetter said. Members can add their reviews while logging their reading time online.
Of the audio version of “Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin, a reviewer posted: “I found myself remaining in the car after reaching my destination just to finish listening to a chapter.”
“500 Things to Eat Before It’s Too Late” by Jane and Michael Stern gets this comment: “It is interesting to hear more about the local foods of the U.S. If I go on a road trip, I’ll want to research my destination first to see if there is somewhere to stop and find a tasty bite.”
But, of course, local patrons also aren’t afraid to pan a tome or two. “True to Form” by Elizabeth Berg was too true to form for one local reader. “Can’t some young heroines be a little less of an outsider?”
Demi Fair, director of Paul Smith Library in Southern York County, also likes checking out the reviews. “It’s just nice to know that somebody else has read this and liked this, too.”
Paul Smith Library has a strong adult following, Fair said. “We actually do so much programming for adults during the year, we scale back a little during the summer for the children’s programs,” said Fair, while in the background a group of young club members went on a virtual pretzel factory tour.
Like the year-long activities, which include a weekly card game that draws players county-wide, the Summer Reading Club adult programs were designed to make libraries more than just a place to pick up a book. They were designed to build a community, Fair said. “It’s a place to meet, a centralized repository of goodies.”
Another feature of the club this year is bingo, which members can play to get their hands on some literal goodies, as well. The Summer Reading Club bingo, which Fair helped coordinate, gets members branching out to different media and genres. Each card has a different genre or media, such as audio, which readers must try before claiming that spot on the bingo card. “Instead of B1, it might have ‘Read a history book,'” Fair said.
Once a reader has bingo, he can enter a drawing for gifts, such as a housecleaning by Merry Maids and wine tour of an Adams County winery.
Sign-up for the Summer Reading Club continues through July. Click here to sign up or to read the reviews www.yorklibraries.org. Click on summer reading club, then “read all reviews.”