A summer romance is characteristically intense, memorable, and short-lived. At Summerville Library (the George H. Seago Jr., Branch of Dorchester County), however, the romance has been going on for 10 years with no “break-up” in sight.
The “Romance” refers to the Romance Readers’ Book Club (RRBC). Organized in 2009, it will celebrate its anniversary on Thurs., July 11, by showing the “Book Club,” a romantic comedy starring Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, and Mary Steenburgen. The RRBC meets monthly on the first Thursday of the month (barring holidays) from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm in the Westvaco Room.
Anne Martel and Sylvia Vandertulip are sisters who joined their fine minds (always obvious in those who are avid readers) to initiate organization of the RRBC. Anne worked at the now defunct Indie bookstore “All Books.” Sylvia, currently Senior Library Assistant for Adult Services, says they decided to pattern the format after the Mystery Book Club, which had already been successfully managed by “Book Lady” Sandra Baden (combining spirited cooperation among members, the Friends of Summerville Library, and the library itself).
Of course, the philosophy that libraries build communities should need no argument in Summerville. It’s clear that people also understand the corollary set forth monthly in this column: “Lives Change @ Your Library.” In that spirit, the RRBC welcomes / recruits members through flyers and the library’s website. Sylvia reports that meetings average 12 attendees who include 5 of the original 6 members (one moved from the area).
Sylvia encourages members to make suggestions, but they often want her to do the selecting of “what to read.” Sometimes selections are a result of publicists donating books by an author they are promoting. However, Sylvia says it delights the RRBC that the Friends of Summerville Library supplies the books to the club. And the books are free to the readers who are on the honor system to return them.
Each year there is an author visit. For instance, in March, widely-celebrated and prestigiously-awarded contemporary Romance author Catherine Mann visited with her rescue dog. Sylvia smiles to say the RRBC has even brought 19th-century William Gilmore Simms into their repertoire. (Yes, South Carolina’s “literary son” also wrote “Romance.”)
As RRBC readers discover, the Romance genre bursts into numerous subgenres (suspense, horror, contemporary, erotic, spiritual/religious, paranormal, historical, etc.) like “fireworks [Willow, Peony, Fountain, Diadem, Crossette, Flying Fish, etc.] bursting in air” on the Fourth of July. And there are just as many “oohs” and “aahs.”