The fun and frolicsome side of Fremont gets plenty of exposure, but what about our more bookish tendencies?
Fremonsters love literary arts as much as visual, and I recommend local bookworms wiggle 'round and sit a spell with the Fremont Public Library book discussion group.
Ann Schlossman, group facilitator, feels their motto might read "If you love books, you'll love our book group!"
At 6:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month avid book lovers gather in the Fremont Library meeting room. Thanks to the recent remodel, one member commented, the library looks nicer and has "comfier chairs." The acoustics are still lousy, but as long as you speak up, everyone can hear.
"A man came last year - once," Deborah Price observed.
Deborah refers to herself as "basically the substitute" for Ann. Ann maintains the e-mail list of interested members, although many don't attend regularly, and it contains one other male name, but the book club's meetings remain overwhelmingly female.
"Feisty" one attendee described the group, but located in Fremont, one hardly expects less.
A life of its own
While discussions always relate to the book, Ann and Deborah let the talk have its own life. They used reader's guides in the past, "but the questions made everyone very angry.
"'Who wrote them?' 'Why do they use bad grammar?'" Ann explained.
With a doctorate degree in romantic literature, Ann doesn't invite a subject she knows too well. Instead, she and Deborah let discussions flow naturally - into politics, fashion and societal issues - before a subtle word to nudge it back toward the book.
"The book club is its own reward," Ann said, enjoying her volunteer position as facilitator. "In some ways, I feel it is very selfish work because I get a lot out of it. It is fun!"
Washington Center for the Book, affiliated with the Library of Congress and the Seattle Public Library system, supports 250 book groups in the Seattle area and loans books to group members.
"I wasn't very interested in what the other clubs were reading," Ann told us. "What the Fremont book club was reading was neat."
She also deliberately chose a library book group: "The thrill of the library is that it is accessible to everyone," she praised. "You meet all kinds of people there."
Joan Johnson, Fremont Library manager, wholly supports the group and the facilitators. Started in 2001, under Joan's predecessor, the group persevered through the library remodel by meeting at Literacy Source across the street.
"I'm so impressed by the volunteer liaisons/group facilitators; they kept it together during the closure," Joan praised.
Lack of library patrons
While the book group has returned to the historic branch building, patrons haven't. The number of people coming through the doors has dropped. Right now, they see 200 to 250 people, where prior to the remodel in 2003-04, they saw 300 to 400.
Circulation numbers, that is the number of materials (books, CDs, DVDs, etc.) checked out and returned, have also dropped.
"My goal, by the end of the year, is to double the door count," Joan explained, and increase circulation as a result.
"To me, parking can't be the reason - that doesn't explain it," Joan mused. "Parking hasn't changed in three years."
The remodel didn't take away or add parking.
Joan looks for other reasons. One patron helped her realize the library sign on the 85-year-old building is poorly lit, a real problem on dark winter mornings and afternoons.
Joan wants to survey those who don't come in, either ever or just anymore. She hasn't a concrete plan on how to distribute the survey - over the website, physically walk it around, mailing or leaving copies at area stores like PCC.
"I hope to get feedback," Joan said. "That should be informative."
As to consequences, "I'm not worried about anything dramatic right now (like the closing of a branch if the numbers don't come up). Adminis-tration looks at how many people it takes to keep materials flowing," Joan explained. She added that administrators base staffing decisions on "circ" numbers.
Since Fremont already operates with the minimum number of staff necessary to keep the doors open, we won't lose anyone and low circ numbers don't affect purchases.
Joan simply wants people to use their library, and the services provided, including the book group: "I just want to get people in the door."
In the door, and aware of what is inside. Stop by sometime at 731 N. 35th St., or call for information at 684-4084.
Whatever your interests, Fremont book-lovers can rejoice over a wealth of opportunities and options, a feast for the eyes and the mind.
Kirby Lindsay reads regularly in Fremont, where she operated Ladybug Books from 1992 to 2000. She invites your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Fremont Library book discussion group meets in the meeting room on the first Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at 731 N. 35th St. Copies of the discussion-group book for the upcoming meeting are available at the library circulation desk.
February: Robert Hellenga's "Fall of a Sparrow"
March: Seattle Reads: Marjane Satrapi's "Persepolis:
The Story of a Childhood"
April: Monique Truong's "The Book of Salt"
May: Jhumpa Lahiri's "The Namesake"
June: Eudora Welty's "The Optimist's Daughter"
July: Wilkie Collins' "The Moonstone"
August: Salman Rushdie's "The Moor's Last Sigh"
September: Mark Haddon's "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time"
October: E. L. Doctorow's "World's Fair"
November: "The Autobiography of Malcolm X," as told to Alex Haley
December: Barack Obama's "Dreams from My Father"[[In-content Ad]]