Reading and Discussion

Exploring Ideas through Books
 

Guidelines and FAQs

VHC welcomes applications from any nonprofit organization in Vermont. If approved, VHC loans a set of books to the host site, assists with promotional efforts, and pays the discussion facilitator a $200 stipend for each session. The facilitator leads each event, beginning with a 10-15 minute presentation on the text, followed by a participatory discussion. Each session lasts about 90 minutes.

Host sites pay VHC a program fee of $50 per session. Hosts may book up to 8 discussion sessions per year at this rate until VHC budget caps are met; additional sessions may be booked at $225 each. Hosts may book a series as presented in the catalogue, or select their own group of books and number of sessions. We welcome applications for one-off sessions on a single book, or for series that combine titles from throughout the catalogue.

Hosts are expected to make vigorous local publicity efforts to draw an inclusive audience. Typically, a minimum for rich discussion is 8 participants; preferably, a group will have about 15-20 people. (A group of more than 25 is impressive, although it changes the character of the discussion, and VHC may not have enough books for everyone.)

Programs must be free to participants, open to the public, and accessible to those with disabilities. The host organization must comply with federal and state laws against discrimination on grounds of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, disability, sex, or sexual orientation.

How should we schedule these sessions?

We recommend allowing six weeks to distribute books and publicize the series, then scheduling sessions 2-4 weeks apart to allow participants time to read each text. Evenings or weekends are ideal. Scheduling events on the same day and time (i.e., “every other Thursday at 7pm”) encourages repeat attendance, although new participants joining the series midway through should also be encouraged.

How do we return the books?

Hosts must arrange to return all books to VHC, by mail or in person at our Montpelier headquarters, within two weeks of the series’ end. If some copies are outstanding, please return as many as possible and notify us about any shortages. Any copies not returned within a month must be replaced by the host with new or “like new” used copies.

Please track all books carefully – some libraries use numbered bookmarks and corresponding sign-out sheets; others create removable sleeves with temporary barcodes. All books include VHC bookplates or markings inside the front cover.

What are the accessibility requirements?

Doorways and aisles must be wide enough for a wheelchair and must have space for a wheelchair to turn around. The building must have level access or a ramp. A temporary ramp is acceptable.

If there are public bathroom facilities in the building, an accessible bathroom is required. If parking spaces are provided, at least one must be a designated accessible parking space.

Auxiliary aids and services, such as an ASL interpreter, must be provided when requested prior to the event. VHC will cover the cost of such services, but the request should be received at least three weeks in advance of the program. Please contact us immediately if you receive such a request.

Can we collect donations for our organization at these events?

It is important that everyone has access to the programs. This means allowing people to enter the building without stopping them at the door to request a donation. A sign may say “Donations Accepted,” but “Suggested Donation: $xx” is not permitted.

Can my for-profit company host a discussion series?

Yes. For-profit companies are not eligible for the subsidy, but can participate at a program fee of $225 per session.

Can I use the R&D program in a school?

R&D programs are meant to be public events; except for a handful of intergenerational series, most of the reading is geared toward adults. However, a program may be placed in a school provided that the school is a nonprofit, discussions are held after school hours, and sessions are energetically publicized to the general public.

Will the R&D program pay for scholars to lead discussions on books or series not listed in the VHC catalogue? Can our organization simply purchase the scholar from you?

No. VHC seeks to ensure the quality and appropriateness of each book and series selection. We can do this only by offering series, and single titles, that have been approved by our staff in advance, and which we list in our catalogue. An organization may, however, combine several titles from our Single Book list to create its own series.

Will the R&D program allow us to pay a fee to borrow the books in your catalogue without using a scholar?

No. The scholar/facilitator is a crucial part of the Reading & Discussion program—he or she provides structure and professionalism to each discussion. Contact the Vermont State Library to inquire about borrowing multiple copies of specific titles via their lending library or interlibrary loan system.