Scotch Plains Public Library LibraryLinkNJ Next Chapter Book Club

What is NCBC4NJL? 

NCBC4NJL (Next Chapter Book Club for New Jersey Libraries) is a project that will fund and support six New Jersey libraries in setting up their own Next Chapter Book Clubs for adults and teens with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Through a contract awarded by LibraryLinkNJ  to Scotch Plains Public Library, support for setup, recruitment, training and publicity has begun, and will continue through the end of 2014. Clubs will launch in Fall 2014.


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What is The Next Chapter Book Club?

The Next Chapter Book Club (NCBC) offers weekly opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) to read and learn together, talk about books, and make friends in a relaxed, community setting.  A program of The Ohio State University Nisonger Center, NCBC was established in June 2002 to provide adolescents and adults with IDD – regardless of reading ability – the chance to be members of a book club.  NCBC has become the preeminent program of its kind.  Today there are NCBC programs in over 100 cities across North America and Europe.

Individual Next Chapter Book Clubs usually consist of five to eight people with disabilities and two facilitators, some of whom also have disabilities.  The clubs meet in local bookstores, cafés, and similar gathering places to read aloud and discuss a book for one hour each week. 

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What is Scotch Plains Public Library’s Involvement?

Scotch Plains Public Library (SPPL) has been running two Next Chapter Book Clubs since 2008. NCBC enables us to serve underserved members of the community in a profoundly rewarding way, within a structure that is manageable for our thinly-stretched staff and budget. We will draw upon our experience to mentor your efforts with information, support and training as you plan, launch and maintain your own Next Chapter book club.


We will:

  • Host a free training session on May 7, 2014 at SPPL. This will consist of an in-person half-day workshop with Tom Fish and Jillian Ober of NCBC/Chapters Ahead. If undertaken independent of the contract, such training would cost a library over $1,000! In addition to working with Jillian and Tom, who founded NCBC, participants will have a chance to meet current Next Chapter Book Club members and their families to get the real inside scoop on what “book club” means to them. Each team member will receive a copy of Next Chapter Book Club: A Model Community Literacy Program for People with Intellectual Disabilities, by Tom Fish and Paula Rabidoux. Lunch and refreshments will be provided.
  • Provide all the forms you will need, as well as recruiting and publicity advice, phone and online support and promotional materials for your library.
  • Attend your first book club meeting to assist and support you.
  • Plan two more in-person and teleconference meetings in the late fall/winter of 2014 and spring 2015 to share experiences, assist with problems, offer reinforcement and brainstorm solutions.
  • Hold a wrap-up meeting in June 2015, in-person or teleconference.
  • Offer ongoing phone and email support throughout the contract period, in partnership with the staff of NCBC.

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What would my library’s involvement entail?

  • Each library will coordinate a team consisting of at least:
    • A program coordinator
    • An administrator (Director, Department Head)
    • Invited member(s) from the community or library staff. We encourage you to seek independent partners among your local school media specialists.
  • Organization and outreach through spring and summer 2014 can take the program coordinator twenty hours or more total (not weekly), for that period. Once the club is launched, the program coordinator might expect to devote an hour per month to organizational duties, such as e-mails, book ordering and preparing optional supplementary activities the teams might want to introduce in book club.
  • Team members will commit one hour each week for the club meeting.
  • Your team will participate in the all-day training workshop on May 7, 2014, the meetings to be scheduled for the late fall/winter of 2014 and spring 2015, and the June 2015 wrap-up session.
  • Your initial sets of books will be supplied, along with Scotch Plains’ book list of successful titles. Each library can decide on how to pay for books after the first set. Book clubs deal with this in a variety of ways.
  • You will keep in touch with the Scotch Plains Public Library team as you plan and implement your club.
  • You will submit evaluations and report on progress at our scheduled meetings.
  • You will agree to assist in Next Chapter training for additional libraries in the future.
  • You will serve a vital and growing need in our communities by providing this service for an underserved population.

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Is there a cost for this program?

Training, the first set of books for your club, promotional materials and support by SPPL’s team and NCBC are all paid for by the LibraryLinkNJ contract. After that, libraries can choose to buy books from their budgets, to charge club members for the books, or find alternative funding for book purchases.  SPPL's team is comprised of volunteers, but each library is free to make its own decision as regards volunteer or paid service.

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How can libraries get on board?

File a letter of intent by March 1, 2014.   The six libraries selected will be notified by April 15.  Training is scheduled for May 7, 2014.

Your letter of intent should include the following information:

  • Name of Library
  • Street Address, Phone Contact and e-mail
  • Team structure - who will be your program coordinator, library administration team member, and invited member(s) from the community, school media specialists, or library staff
  • Any existing programs your library offers the special needs population, and/or a description of a population that you have identified that would benefit from NCBC4NJL
  • Why would your library like to participate in NCBC4NJL
  • Agreement that your team will participate in the all-day training workshop on May 7, 2014, the meetings to be scheduled for the late fall/winter of 2014 and spring 2015, and the June 2015 wrap-up session
  • Agreement to keep in touch with the Scotch Plains Public Library team as you plan and implement your club
  • Agreement to submit evaluations and report on progress at our scheduled meetings
  • Agreement to participate in Next Chapter training for additional libraries in the future

We will aim for geographic diversity as we choose the six libraries. If a county library, consortium, or school system library group wishes to adopt NCBC, and is among the six selected, we will supply only one set of books to be shared among the system libraries involved.

Beyond the six selected libraries, the May 7, 2014 training will be offered to any library group that is interested in attending. Books will not be supplied to those libraries, but the SPPL team will offer telephone support as needed.

Contact us at 908-322-5007
or email:

Scotch Plains Public Library
1927 Bartle Avenue
Scotch Plains, NJ 07076

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How does this project fit into the Statewide Strategic Plan for the Future of Libraries in New Jersey?  

This project will give participating libraries a proven, effective, economical and long-term way to serve their differently-abled populations. NCBC4NJL will extend the role of library as community anchor and safe haven for taking risks outside the library walls.

Libraries participating in this project will be positioning themselves as “co-creators of new ways to help people improve their quality of life, learn, develop and participate more fully in society.”

NCBC4NJL develops the “capacity among library leaders to work with each other and their stakeholders in the most productive ways.”

NCBC4NL aligns with the stakeholder interests of members of our community with intellectual and developmental disabilities, their families, their schools and supportive organizations.

The structure of NCBC4NJL “facilitates opportunities for networking, collaboration and creativity amongst library colleagues, to learn from each other’s successes,” as we replicate a successful program, and to benefit from cost savings realized by the economies of scale provided by group training.

NCBC4NJL is a program that ensures that libraries “address changing user and community needs, including…the differently-abled,” while providing professional development and training in new skills and opportunities to collaborate with school libraries.

NCBC4NJL meets in public places, encouraging “increased awareness of library services… and increased worth of the library in the eyes of the community,” while building a relationship with non-traditional community anchors (book stores and restaurants).

NCBC4NL’s structure mandates that “library administrators make this project a priority and either head up the outreach or delegate [it] to interested and able staff members.”

NCBC4NJL offers libraries a weekly opportunity to deliver “understanding and personal connection as well as information. The key is to communicate our brand promise and to live it, be it and demonstrate it every day, in everything we do. Then, the value of libraries will speak for itself.”

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Contract Award

LibraryLinkNJ encourages libraries to expand their areas of diversity services and recently awarded a contract of $9,850 to the Scotch Plains Public Library.

At the invitation of Cheryl O’Connor, Scotch Plains Public Library Director Meg Kolaya developed a project proposal linked to the Statewide Strategic Plan goal area, The Library as Community Anchor. Using the project template from the Statewide Strategic Plan, Meg and Pamela Brooks, Head of Adult Services and Reference, developed a proposal with the following premise: "A group of five to eight people with intellectual disabilities, regardless of their reading skills, gather with…volunteers in a local bookstore, coffee shop, or café to read aloud and discuss a book for one hour a week.” This is the Next Chapter Book Club’s Model Community Literacy Program for People with Intellectual Disabilities. LibraryLinkNJ has contracted with the Scotch Plains PL to gather, train and mentor select staff from six member libraries across the state to develop and launch local Next Chapter Book Clubs by June 2015. The project is Next Chapter Book Club for New Jersey Libraries (NCBC4NJL).

Pamela Brooks shares her experience to pique your interest:

“We are very enthusiastic about sharing participation in Next Chapter Book Club with more New Jersey libraries through NCBC4NJL. Our library’s involvement with Next Chapter Book Club has been an amazing experience on so many levels. On Tuesday evenings we leave our library at 5 pm, drive the 5 minutes to our local Panera Bread, and await the arrival of our club members. And then the fun begins!"

“We are told repeatedly that “book club” is the high point of so many club members’ weeks. What we volunteers did not anticipate is that it has become a bright spot in our busy weeks as well, energizing us, and enriching our routines with laughter, warmth and the joy of sharing a love of books and reading with others.

“Think about the benefits: the library is a community anchor, even when it moves beyond brick and mortar walls. Restaurant-goers who recognize us from the library see us engaged in the community in a very positive way. People who are not regular library users are curious and supportive when they observe the clubs in action. We volunteers give an hour and see our efforts rewarded as reluctant readers become enthusiastic book lovers, people who often face isolation and ostracism form a close and supportive group bond and practice skills like ordering food, paying with the correct money, interacting with restaurant staff, and making conversation. The library shines as an example of how vision, coupled with personal interaction can foster community inclusion while addressing the needs of the differently-enabled. We volunteers go home tired but happy. We invite you to join us any Tuesday evening to experience a meeting, and see if NCBC4NJL is right for your library.”



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