Real Lit[erature] at UW Tacoma was inspired by the American Library Associations Great Stories Club.  An amazing funding opportunity for libraries working with underserved teenagers, we agree that “explor[ing] questions of race, equity, identity, and history” as a way to share experiences is important and that libraries are a locus for this type of programming.[1]

Yet we realized that we would have to adapt the concept to make it more relevant to college students and staff and faculty, on an urban serving campus, and decided to make a few changes to the model. (Note: we did not apply for ALA funding).

First, we shifted the focus away from underserved teenagers to allow for a broader audience to be reached.  Secondly, we chose a title title suited to our campus, instead of relying on the list provided by the ALA. This is something we will discuss further in this toolkit, but it is important to note early on.

We did adopt the structure of providing books for participants to keep as their own. This aspect of the book club was important, as it addresses issues of socioeconomic disparities and allows for inclusion of all students regardless of material means.


At your library and campus:

What authors, public figures, intellectuals, or community members inspire or motivate you? What sort of framework would be helpful for a book club at your institution? We encourage you to find your own inspiration, motivation, and/or foundation that works for your campus.


  1. "Great Stories Club," American Library Association, 2017, accessed January 15, 2019,


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Book Clubs in Academic Libraries: A Case Study and Toolkit by Johanna Jacobsen Kiciman and Alaina C. Bull is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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