June 12, 2016
Just like most of what Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) does, Jennifer Harris' book club is a little left of traditional and ties technology and social media in to be an integral aspect of the club.
Nearly 350 people have joined SNHUreads since Harris, an emerging technology and systems librarian, launched it almost two years ago, but many members have never met one another - at least not face to face. Most of the group's discussions about books such as "The Summer Before the War" by Helen Simonson, "My Name is Lucy Barton" by Elizabeth Strout and "What Was Mine," by Helen Klien Ross are discussed on a Facebook page.
All members of the SNHU community, including faculty, staff, students and alumni are invited to participate in the primarily virtual club. "The club is run through a Facebook group so anyone who wants to join can just go to the SNHUreads Facebook group and join," Harris said. "All communication for the group is done via posts, invites, etc. posted on the group wall."
Because SNHUreads is an online club, online students and faculty members can join in discussions and have the same experience that on-campus members do. "I decided to do the book club online (although we also occasionally meet in person) so that members of our community who aren't able to come to campus can participate," Harris said.
The club is able to accommodate SNHU's large online population, who also have opportunities to interact through SNHUconnect, SNHU's private social network. Brandy Vaughn is an online student pursing her BA in Creative Writing and English with a concentration in Fiction. Active in SNHUconnect, Vaughn also enjoys participating in the virtual book club.
The SNHUreads Facebook page hosts hour-long "live discussions" at planned times. "During this hour questions are posted to the group page at intervals and members who are able to join us during that time can comment on the question and interact with each other," Harris said. Members who are not able to log into the discussion during the specified times are able to join the conversation and post their comments when they are available afterwards, as the posts are not deleted from the Facebook page.
"It's interesting to read through the threads, and see how each person views the text," Vaughn said. "Not everyone interprets literature the same way."
Club members vote on the books they would like to read. Typically, members have a choice of five books, and the book that accumulates the most votes is announced at the end of the previous book's discussion. "In the past we've read popular fiction, thrillers, historical fiction, and more," Harris said.
"I also like being introduced to books/authors I might not normally pick up and read," Vaughn said.
Social media has proved to play an essential part to the club. "If we didn't have access to social media to facilitate the club, many of our online community members wouldn't be able to participate," Harris said. Facebook was selected as the club's social media platform because many members of the community are familiar with it.
"It is also our hope that this club enhances the overall experience our students have at SNHU and helps them find new opportunities to engage with the community," Harris said.
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