In spring 1997, more than twenty “mad women in the attic” gathered at the Upper Merion Township Library to discuss one book, every other Sunday, built around this theme. “The library’s book discussion, one of the library’s longest running adult programs, began as a cooperative effort with the Maryland Center of the Book,” says Karl Helicher, library director. “The Maryland Center,” Helicher continues, was a pioneer in encouraging reading clubs in libraries. Maryland was very generous and loaned us its books that we, in turn, loaned to our discussion club members.”
The Robert and Shirley Fine Endowment currently funds the programs, which include buying the paperbacks and employing the discussion leaders. For many years, Dr. Carla Verderame and Dr. Anne Herzog, English professors at West Chester University, were the discussion leaders. Recently Dr. Erin Hurt, also from West Chester, replaced Anne Herzog who took an administrative position at Springfield College.
“Over the years,” Helicher says, the group’s membership has changed, although some members have been here from the beginning, but what remains constant is the bond forged between the discussion leaders and the group and the civil discussions that ensue. Certainly, each reader brings their own insights and all of these are respected by the group.”
The spring 2016 series, “Love and Survival in the Past, Present, and Future” begins on Sunday, March 13 and concludes on Sunday, May 15. Each discussion runs from 2:00 pm—3:30 pm. “We invite anyone who likes good fiction and good discussion to join us,” Helicher says. The only charge is $10.00 for readers who borrow the library’s books, and there is no charge if readers either supply their own copies or buy copies from the library at a reduced cost.
“We invite all readers to become a group member and part Upper Merion Township’s long standing literary salon tradition, Helicher concludes.