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Home > Interpreter Magazine > It Worked For Us > Online book club boosts interest in church library

Betty Stahler (left), church librarian, visits with Nola Hietbrink, a member of the online book club.
Online book club boosts interest in church library

First United Methodist Church in Sarasota, Fla., is attracting more people to its library with a new online Christian book club.

The church's Braren Library E-mail Book Club gets publishers' permission to send out daily e-mails with book excerpts that take about five minutes to read. Each week the club features a new Christian fiction or nonfiction title, and the church buys a copy for its library.

"They're checked out quite frequently," said Betty Stahler, church librarian. "The club is a good way to get busy people back to reading. They will sit down for five minutes and read, and then they'll come back to the library."

The online book club has about 70 subscribers, Stahler said. The library is named for the late Elizabeth Braren, who was church librarian for 40 years.

First Church started the book club in May 2004 after member Suzanne Beecher suggested the idea. Beecher offers a variety of online book clubs throughout the country for public libraries, publishers and other organizations. This is her first online Christian book club.

"Now we are releasing it around the country," Beecher said. It is available to churches for a fee, which varies according to the number of members. It is free for individual subscribers at

The book club is a "great way of introducing our church to people in the community," Stahler said.

Anyone can join the book club. For more information, visit the church's Web site at, call Stahler at (941) 921-6452 or call the Rev. James McWhinnie at (941) 955-0935.

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