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New program is revamping traditional book club model to suit younger adults.
WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. (December 21, 2018) – According to recent headlines, millennials have either ruined or killed off a lot of things held dear by previous generations.  First breakfast cereal, the housing market, department stores, and even fabric softener, and now they are coming for the beloved book club!  “Millennials Ruin Book Club” is a new program being hosted by the Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach that begins on Wednesday, January 16 at 6:30 PM at Subculture Coffee in downtown West Palm Beach.  
In this new book club, created by millennials for millennials there is no assigned book to read.  Not assigning reading is ideal for young working adults because they are busier than ever and might not have time to commit to reading a book a month, or want to read a book that doesn’t interest them.  With “Millennials Ruin Book Club”, participants can just share what they are reading or watching with like-minded individuals, and also get recommendations from other readers and librarians (the experts), thus enjoying the benefits of a traditional book club but in a more relaxed setting.  So, the book club is not really being ruined, just tailored to suit the desires and expectations of this audience, consequently making both the book club and the library relevant for millennials.
Why millennials?  According to Pew Research Center, millennials are the most likely generation of Americans to use public libraries, with 53% of millennials saying they used a library or bookmobile in the previous 12 months, as of fall 2016.  The Center identifies millennials as anyone born between 1981 and 1996, making them ages 22 to 37 in 2018.
The Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach began their efforts to host millennial targeted programming this past fall with “Get Lit!,” a 7-week series of programs centered on PBS’s “The Great American Read,” utilizing a grant awarded by the Florida Humanities Council.  “Get Lit!” attendees expressed interest in future programs along this vein, including a book club designed for younger adults.  But this book club would have to be different.
As millennials themselves, Mandel Public Library Reference Librarians Emily Sniegowski and Bethany Oudersluys wanted to make sure the library was offering programs specifically designed for this age group.  With interest declared by younger patrons and a mission to attract this audience to the library, the young librarians worked together and the “Millennials Ruin Book Club” idea was born.
To prepare for the book club, Sniegowski and Oudersluys took an 18-hour professional training course to learn about what book club strategies and models were trending.  They identified two trends that they thought would most appeal to millennials:  the “no-pressure” model (no assigned book) and hosting the book club offsite.  “There is just not enough time to read all the books, so we are thrilled to start this new, relaxed format in West Palm Beach, and create a space where younger adults can come together to share and discuss their interests,” said Sniegowsk.  
Hosting at Subculture Coffee instead of the library was a no-brainer.  Subculture has the added benefit of being a popular local hangout for West Palm Beach millennials already, and it’s conveniently located on Clematis Street just across Quadrille Blvd. from the library.  Plus, what’s a book club without food and drink?
The clever name, “Millennials Ruin Book Club,” was a nod to and satire of all the recent headlines about all the things millennials have ruined or killed for previous generations.  Due to shifting values millennials are not buying into, engaging with, or shopping for the same things and places as previous generations, therefore killing or ruining specific products, services and sometimes entire industries.  In some instances, however, the items are so much ruined as they are irrevocably changed.  Some additional items they have been charged with ruining include golf, soap bars, marriage, homeownership, wine corks, suits, baby names and the Olympics.
The Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach continually shifts and expands its programs and building areas to meet the growing community needs and interests.  Most recently, the library opened the Square One mentoring and career space for young adults, as well as Studio 411, a dedicated studio space for the popular arts and crafts programs. 
Libraries and librarians are more interested in getting people to read widely and diversely, with no requirements or restraints, than to assigning specific books to read.  “Getting patrons to share favorites, obscure finds, hidden treasures or even best-sellers is a win for everyone,” said Christopher Murray, Library Director at the Mandel Public Library.  “The more we are reading, the more we are developing the mind, discovering new things, and improving things like communication and bonding.”
The goal of this new program is to get millennials talking about their favorite books, movies, TV shows, etc. while creating a community of millennial book lovers in West Palm Beach.  The library also aims to educate and encourage millennials to take advantage of all the other free services at the library including events, performances, fitness, art, and more, as well as the digital library resources (e-book, audiobooks, movies, TV shows, music and more) they can connect to on their devices anytime, anywhere.
Millennials Ruin Book Club,” hosted by the Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach, is free and open to the public.  The program will take place at 6:30 PM on the 3rd Wednesday of each month at Subculture Coffee in downtown West Palm Beach.  For more information, visit wpbcitylibrary.org or call 561-868-7701.
About the Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach
Founded in 1895, the Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach has evolved from a modest Reading Room along the waterfront to an innovative and cutting edge facility located in the heart of Downtown West Palm Beach.  The Mandel Public Library provides a wide range of programming for kids, teens, and adults focused on creating inspired lives by connecting people with information and ideas.  Today, the Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach welcomes over half a million visitors annually and loans over 800,000 items to 100,000+ library cardholders.  For more information, wpbcitylibrary.org or call 561-868-7700.