For some library patrons, the move to virtual programming has yielded some unexpected benefits. Since moving their meetings to Zoom and expanding from one to three meetings per week, the Readability book group at Evanston Public Library has seen their membership double. Readability is a book group for adults with mental and developmental disabilities which previously met at the library every Monday evening. Group leader Jeny Wasilewski Mills attributes the recent growth to the fact that some participants who might normally have trouble making it to weekly meetings at the library find it easier to attend virtual meetings from home. The group has increased their meetings to three times a week as a way for its members to stay connected, something that both Jeny and her partners at the Center for Independent Futures (who helped to form the group back in 2017) consider especially important during this time.
Members of Readability usually vote on which books to read from a pre-selected list, and Jeny reads a section of the book aloud at each meeting, followed by a discussion. Participants are welcome to ask questions during the reading so that everyone understands the material. While other book groups geared toward adults with disabilities read abridged versions of a text, Readability is unique because they read the full versions of the books they select. The group’s read-aloud format allows members at multiple comprehension levels to enjoy books together. Jeny says, “It’s a really unique experience to be able to host this group and experience the books through our participant’s eyes.” Jeny is grateful that the group can continue to meet virtually, but she also recognizes the importance of face-to-face interaction, and looks forward to the group reconvening at the library once it is safe to do so.
For more information about Readability or to participate, email Jeny at email@example.com.