Going out on a blind date is a lot like opening up a new book — you never know what kind of experience you’re going to have.
In February, the Edith Wheeler Memorial Library invites adults and teens to celebrate Valentine’s Day by participating in its first-ever Blind Date with a Book program.
Beginning on Friday, Feb. 1, library patrons are able to check out a wrapped book. Its title is purposely hidden.
“The whole idea is to get people to expand their reading range,” Library Director Margaret Borchers said. “We realize that some people who read only mysteries will unwrap a nonfiction book. We’re just asking you to give it a try, in the same way you might give a blind date a try.”
Borchers said the program is similar to a book club because it allows readers to experiment with a new genre with the understanding that at least one other person has recommended it.
Rating the books
When they complete the book, readers will “rate their date” and offer their candid opinions about the book selection on a piece of paper that’s been inserted between its pages. Readers will be asked if this book was a “Love Connection” and if “Anything Unexpected Happened.”
“All of the Rate a Date slips of paper we receive for each book read will be entered in a drawing for a gift certificate to Roberto’s restaurant,” Borchers said.
“We want readers to tell us what they think,” she said. “If they didn’t like it, that’s all right. We just ask that they try to read it. Give it a chance.”
Many books selected
The library staff has selected 75 to 100 books to be wrapped and ready for distribution on Feb. 1. During a recent meeting to finalize the selections, staff members began to list numerous books they’ve recently enjoyed reading.
“We had a lot of fun,” Borchers said.
Given that most librarians keep a tally of books read in a reading journal, it was easy for selections to be made.
Many different titles have been chosen for the Blind Date with a Book program because library officials have no idea how many people will participate. “All of the books are our personal favorites, and we made a point of including books from all different genres,” Borchers said.
Stretch your mind
Teen/Adult Services Librarian Lorna Rhyins said she loves to try out new types of books. “I prefer to read a combination of literature fiction and ‘chick-lit,’ but I also love reading things that are outside of these genres,” Rhyins said.
“It’s really interesting to pick up something new,” she said. “I feel like it forces you to look at the world differently and allows you to stretch your mind.”
‘A fun game for adults’
Reference Librarian Nicole Cignoli spearheaded Monroe’s inaugural Blind Date with a Book program. After reading about the program’s implementation last year in a national library journal, Cignoli approached Borchers about sponsoring a similar event in town.
“I thought it sounded like a fun game for adults to play,” Cignoli said. “We offer many fun activities for children and teens, but there isn’t a lot of fun programs for adults. I think we’re going to have a good time in February.”
When they finish their first book and fill out the Rate a Date form, patrons are encouraged to select another wrapped book. Sometime after the program’s conclusion on Feb. 28, the raffle winner will be announced.
For details call the Edith Wheeler Memorial Library at 203-452-2850.