|Chapter Chatters Book Club after December meeting at the North Avondale Library|
Gwendolyn Welch has read over 100 books in 2016 alone. Thanks to monthly meetings of the Chapter Chatters Book Club at the North Avondale Branch Library, Welch has been able to build friendships with over a dozen other women who share her love of reading.
Among them is Lucretia Quinn, a loyal patron of the North Avondale Library since as a teenager she attended the former Hayes High School, now Hayes K-8 School, adjacent to the library. During the group’s December 28 meeting, Quinn and Welch, a Birmingham Public Library board member, got into a fascinating debate about Chapter Chatters December book of the month Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson.
For Quinn, who lives in Roebuck, attending Chapter Chatters meetings over the past year has been a joy that extends beyond their book discussions because it allows her to reconnect with her favorite city library that was a positive gathering place during her teen years.
The club chats over lunch about African American-themed books recommended by its members or chosen from best-seller lists and talk shows. Many of the books they read deal with real life situations club members can relate to.
“I really enjoy coming here the last Wednesday each month, discussing books, sitting and chattering with the other ladies in the group,” Quinn said. “The North Avondale Library has a lot of great activities for the community and the school children, and that is what a library should do.”
Chapter Chatters was founded in February 2011 by North Avondale Library Branch Manager Saundra Ross. Though originally intended for adults in the North Avondale area, Ross said the club has attracted members from all over Jefferson County.
“I started Chapter Chatters as a way to give adults in the surrounding community something to do during the day and make a connection with the library staff,” Ross said. “We have members here in the community as well as all over Jefferson County,” Ross said. “That is a positive thing, allowing people to share their love of reading and make new friends.”
The club meets the last Wednesday of every month. The next meeting is January 25 at 10:30 a.m. when the group will discuss the book Bed of Lies by Shelly Ellis.
“If you want to join the club, call the North Avondale Library at 205-592-2082 or check us out on Facebook,” Ross said.
The clubs membership ranges from the early 40s to 79. The members who gather monthly at North Avondale Library come from cities across metro Birmingham—McCalla, Bessemer, Center Point, Forestdale, and Hueytown. Several Birmingham communities are represented, including Airport Hills, Bush Hills, downtown Birmingham, Kingston, Powderly, and North Avondale.
Members of the North Avondale Library Chapter Chatters are: Omelia Bailey, Georgia M. Blair, Lillie Cole, Gwendolyn B. Welch, Claudia Marks, Julia Horne, LaTonya Reynolds Cox, Ellarine Stroud, Linda D. Cox, Dora U. Sims, Bettie Griggs, Veronica S. Gossom, Lucretia Quinn, Cealie Davis, and Saundra Ross. They include retirees and working members.
Best-selling Birmingham author Vanessa Davis Griggs has visited the club, and author Sherelle Green has participated via conference call and sent a gift bag of new book titles to be used as prizes. Author Cyndey Rax participated in a conference call and highlighted the book club on her Facebook page. Tayari Jones, Hurston-Wright Legacy Award winner, was so impressed that she mailed autographed book plates and book marks for each club member.
Ross said she is excited about how even young people have begun to embrace book clubs at the North Avondale Branch. In November 2015, the library began hosting the Children's Picture Book Club, a group of neighborhood students who meet every second Wednesday after school to discuss picture books. Their first book was The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.
Chapter Chatters is among at least nine book clubs that meet monthly in seven of BPL’s 19 library branches, including two each at both the North Avondale Branch and the Springville Road Regional Branch Library.