Unlike many reading groups (where members purchase a copy of the book to discuss) in Dorset we are fortunate to have the support of the library service. Book groups in the county can reserve up to twelve copies of available books (there is a list of titles to select from – all texts are over a year old) and the books are loaned for an extended period of eight weeks. Sets of books are collected from a local branch although due to the County Council funding cuts there are considerably fewer libraries than previously.
Enquiries were recently made to all 360 reading groups in Dorset to ask whether members would be willing to make a voluntary financial contribution for this service. 110 reading groups responded to the consultation with 83% indicating that they would be prepared to make a donation. In my reading group much discussion continues. While the service is excellent, there is a concern that donations may subsidise other aspects of the library service rather than being a dedicated support for reading groups. There may also be a review of income generated by voluntary contributions to consider whether a set fee should be applied. Does this lead us along the slippery path of requiring payment for any book loan? Perhaps this is an over-reaction but I’d be interested in hearing your views. Please use the comments box to contribute to the discussion.