In January 2019, Jen Hetherington took a full-time position at the Broadneck Library and inherited the Arnold Senior Center Book Club. The partnership between the library and the senior center had been paused during Hetherington’s transition, but she was eager to get the club started again.
“My goal now is to engage people and have people read books that they might not,” said Hetherington. “I want to get people out of their comfort zones.”
The seniors met for two months in-person before COVID, once again, put a pause on meetings. In the fall, Hetherington kicked off the book club again virtually. A group of seniors are meeting on Zoom once a month to discuss a book chosen by the group.
“We really are the facilitator,” said Hetherington. “We make sure that we have plenty of the books in the library and give them recommendations. We might ask a few questions, but they really run with it and we're just happy to be a part of it.”
The group has read everything icluding nonfiction, historical fiction and more. Most recently, the group read “Truths I Never Told You” by Kelly Rimmer, a book about women’s issues in the 1950s. Hetherington said her favorite part about facilitating the book club is listening to the women share their opinions.
“I feel like people read books in different ways,” said Hetherintgton. “Each one has a different experience when they read the book, and I just love hearing what other people think. I always feel like I learned more about the book, the more people I talked to about it.”
When the club met in person, members gathered at the Arnold Senior Center. Senior centers in Anne Arundel County recently reopened, but for now, the book club will stay virtual. Members have been attending online from all over the county, and have expressed a desire to stay virtual for a little longer.
“I think that they like being able to get in without having to get in the car, and some of them aren't right here in Arnold,” said Hetherington. “I think they appreciate that. We're happy to continue doing it via Zoom.”
Hetherington said that she is excited to meet in person in the future for seniors who are not comfortable with technology. She is looking into the possibility of having a meeting in person and having a virtual meeting for seniors who cannot travel as easily or may prefer to stay home.
“These women have been very dedicated online and they want to stay online, so we want to make sure that we're still meeting their needs too,” said Hetherington.
Anyone is welcome to join the book club regardless of age and location.
“The senior center book club is open to anybody,” said Hetherington. “It's advertised as a senior book club, but you do not have to be a senior to be a part of the book club. We're happy to have people of all ages join in.”
Hetherington encourages people who are interested to visit the Anne Arundel County Public Library website and look for the Arnold Senior Center Book Club on the events page. The next meeting is scheduled for September 13 and will discuss “The Weight of a Piano” by Chris Cander.