The cook book club. #38: 2012
I come from a long line of great cooks. My aunt was a jam and pickle maker. My mom was a great bread maker, and my dad liked nothing better than reading cookbooks. He regularly had a stack by his comfy red reading chair in his study and would scribble humorous comments in the margins for my mom! So, I guess it is no surprise that my favorite new programming idea is a library cookbook club.
This fall, to showcase our 6,418-volume cookbook collection, Guelph Public Library launched its first Cookbook Club. Organized by a young “foodie” staff member and designed to review and talk about cookbooks, the club grew to 30 members, was full, and began a waiting list within a week. Now, to be fair, Guelph is home to the largest collection of Canadian cookbooks in the world at the University of Guelph, and GPL has amazing collections at all seven locations. So, I have to wonder why we never before thought of starting the club. Whatever the reason, we have a huge hit on our hands!
The club meets once a month and is organized with a staff facilitator. The cookbook titles are preselected, and the new title is available for each member at the conclusion of the 1.5 hour meeting. Admission is simply a GPL library card. The goals of the program are to showcase our new cookbooks and to encourage dialogue (i.e. pushing the product and making friends). The added value piece is that, every other month, the club heads to a local restaurant to meet the chef, tour the kitchen, and have dinner. For example, the club reviewed several new Indian cookbooks this month and held their meeting at a local Indian restaurant last week.
What we have learned so far?
►The club appeals to moms and daughters, men and women, friends and co-workers; the audience is broad and diverse.
►They love the conversation. The question that generates the most discussion is “would you recommend this cookbook to a friend?”
►Hurray for social media! Club members love sharing photos of their kitchens, the recipes they have made, and communicating with each other.
►Trying to get 30 copies of 1 title is impossible, so we look for cookbook themes like famous bakeries, celebrity chefs, vegetarian/vegan cookbooks, and holiday cookbooks. Members choose from several titles.
The end result is that the Cookbook Club is a good return on our investment. The cookbook members love us, local chefs are thrilled, and we have made a lot of new friends!
Kitty Pope #38 October 2012