The American Library Association’s Book Club Central aims to centralize resources for book clubs, encourage reading, and highlight libraries’ role in their communities. Actor Sarah Jessica Parker will serve as honorary chair.
The American Library Association is creating an online platform called Book Club Central that provides reading resources for book clubs to use, including discussion questions and author bios. Award-winning actor Sarah Jessica Parker, an avid reader and library supporter, is partnering with ALA to serve as honorary chair.
Parker will choose the books for the platform and will post discussions of each pick from her own book club. Book Club Central will also allow readers from across the country to post discussions about each book from their own book clubs.
“In talking to librarians, we’ve seen a huge resurgence in the last decade in book clubs,” said ALA President Julie Todaro. Book Club Central allows libraries to centralize reading resources for book clubs and allows readers to join broader conversations about books.
Other features that will be available on Book Club Central include expert book lists and other recommendations, podcasts of clubs’ discussions, and interviews with authors. The initiative’s partners include Booklist, ALA’s book review magazine; United for Libraries, a division of ALA made up of library supporters; and Penguin Random House.
ALA member experts will suggest titles and discussion questions, and Parker will select four or five books for Book Club Central throughout the year. She will announce her first pick in June, during Book Club Central’s official launch at the ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition.
“From an early age, books were my constant companions and my local library a place I could find a new friend on every shelf,” Parker said in a statement. “It is a great honor and privilege to partner with the American Library Association and Book Club Central. I’m thrilled to help champion original voices for dedicated readers as well as for a new generation, supporting libraries in what they do best.”
ALA also hopes the new platform helps showcase the work of libraries and librarians.
“Book Club Central is an opportunity to highlight the profession,” Todaro said. “It’s critical that members know their association offers expertise, training, and education—but also the opportunity to showcase the expertise they bring to the community.”
ALA values the discourse that book clubs produce and wants to encourage people to read books on diverse topics—both fiction and nonfiction—written by a range of different authors. Todaro said the association has seen “a huge increase in author appearances” recently. Some do Q&As with readers in libraries via Skype, for example.
Parker’s involvement will help draw attention to book clubs and reading, “but more importantly, to libraries and librarians and their critical and expert role in communities,” Todaro said.
Outside of her role with ALA, Parker has served on a presidential task force to integrate literature and drama into schools, and she recently launched SJP for Hogarth, an imprint of Crown and Hogarth, through which she will acquire and curate works of fiction.