By Lily Barnette Ülvi Gitaliyev
In Fall 2022, posters popped up all over Berea College campus, advertising a new and exciting book club. The Young Adult (YA) Club, interested many students with its “spicy” titles and soon, dozens of students had clamored to join, though spots were limited. So, who started this club and now that its first session has concluded, what do the students have to say about it?
I grew up with a very young mom… she was very vocal about wanting her kids to be able to read whatever they wanted to read.Brianna DeWitt-Alcorn
The Berea Torch interviewed Hutchins Library Coordinator, Brianna DeWitt-Alcorn, the founder of the YA Club, about her time in Berea, love for all things YA, and the importance of libraries in communities. The interview was conducted before the club officially met.
“I’m a Berea alum. I was an education major while I was here, but when I came in, I was really interested in the English department but didn’t see myself working well in that path. I was very drawn to working with people and with communities. I didn’t think I would do that as an English major. I just saw myself editing books versus being someone who can actually get out in the community, which is what drew me to education and I really loved it while I did it. I could still go out and be a preschool teacher. The librarian shift really spoke to me though because you get the chance to build communities up and you get to work in these communities and see what they need and help them get what they need. So I guess that was what motivated me to move towards librarianship. And then once I got into it, I was like, wow, I really like this career path.”
DeWitt also spoke about her upbringing and how it influenced her taste in books.
“I grew up with a very young mom. She had me when she was a teenager, and she was very vocal about wanting her kids to be able to read whatever they wanted to read. So that was nice to have that support. But even though I wasn’t allowed to read those [YA books] because typically they were Sci-Fi and fantasy titles and it was just a very small, conservative Christian community that didn’t like those types of books. And I was like, well, I’m really interested in them. And my mom said I could read them, so I’m going to read them. And we were fortunate enough to have a small independent bookstore in my hometown, and they catered to all genres and subgenres.”
While DeWitt plans to leave Hutchins Library to pursue her career as a Teen Outreach Librarian in Jasmine County soon, she hopes that someone else will continue the YA Club.
The club had its first meeting on September 27th, where three titles were discussed; “Once Upon a Broken Heart” by Stephanie Garber, “King of Battle and Blood” and “A Touch of Darkness,” both by Scarlett St. Clair. Each student read one of books that they were given by the library for free and so the discussion touched on all three.
Some students, like Isabella Kessler, were impressed with the turnout and enthusiasm.
“I’ve been in many book clubs throughout my life, and I was pretty much the only member to all of them. It was really cool that there were a lot of people here who were genuinely passionate about what we had read and actually wanted to talk about it. It was a nice way to meet people who actually have the same interest as me.”
Other students also spoke about the variety of readings and other benefits of the club.
“I liked the fact that we had multiple options, and I like the fact that there were little themed goody bags that corresponded to what what we were reading.”
“I got to read books that I would normally read by myself, but now actually got to have somebody to talk about them with. It’s a free book, too.”
The YA Club is not going to stop and has plans to continue meeting once a month. If you want to learn how to join the club or get more details, email DeWitt at email@example.com.