“Pub Club” to Celebrate the Joy of Reading

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Michigan Publishing, part of the dynamic U-M Library, is the University of Michigan’s scholarly publishing hub, which is home to three distinct groups serving authors’ print and digital publication needs: 1) The University of Michigan Press, which produces one hundred scholarly, regional, and ELT books annually; 2) Michigan Publishing Services, which provides the university with a suite of publishing-related services to help increase visibility and the impact of scholarship; and 3) Deep Blue, the school’s permanent, accessible institutional repository for students, staff, and faculty teaching, creative projects, and research.

Considering the quantity of books Michigan Publishing produces each year, staffers aren’t always able to read all the new works published, and we don’t often have opportunities to interact directly with readers around what we publish. Therefore, in response to acknowledging the need and desire among our staff for this kind of dialogue, a group at the U-M Library are joining forces for a new initiative that will bring publisher and reader together around a common joy: reading books.

The new initiative is the Michigan Library Publishing Club (“Pub Club”), a quarterly book club in Ann Arbor (hosted by Michigan Publishing and the U-M Library Staff Forum Board) where attendees will informally discuss recently published, open access U-M Press books over coffee, tea, and treats. The inaugural event will take place at Hatcher Graduate Library Gallery on Thursday, February 4, 2016, 3:30 PM – 5:00 PM, and will feature introductory remarks from Charles Watkinson (Associate University Librarian for Publishing and Director of the U-M Press) and the Library Staff Forum Board, as well as free, collectible bookmarks handmade by Wolverine Press.

Ridge_AmericanHomes_CoverThe first Pub Club book selection is a cross-genre work by Ryan Ridge that mixes prose, poetry, art, and aphorisms (with illustrations by Jacob Heustis) called American Homes. Published in December 2014 as part of the U-M Press’ OA digitalculturebooks imprint, American Homes can be read in its entirety for free online and will appeal to anyone studying or interested in English, creative writing, communications, art and design, architecture, American studies, art history, museums, libraries, and publishing. Hardcover and paperback copies of American Homes are also available for purchase through the U-M Press website, and you can check out these three great reviews of American Homes in Electric Literature, Small Press Book Review, and New Books in Literature for commentary on the book’s unique style.

To maximize Pub Club possibilities and involvement, Michigan Publishing has also implemented the digital annotation tool hypothes.is for capturing thoughts and reactions to the online text of American Homes (comment with the hashtag #pubclub) from anywhere in real time. Though we hope everyone has a chance to read (and ideally annotate) American Homes in advance of the February 4 meeting, please feel free to join the Pub Club and attend the event even if you haven’t read the book. 

Open to the public, the Pub Club is committed to providing a welcoming space where diverse conversations can thrive and to supporting ways for readers to engage with texts digitally from anywhere in the world. We hope the Pub Club will be a fun opportunity for readers in the Ann Arbor and University community to get together, hang out with local publishers, librarians, and peers, and talk about new books published locally that have something interesting to offer.

Please RSVP to the Facebook event (and share it with friends, students, teachers, and colleagues!) and join the Facebook group for updates going forward.

I’m personally inviting all interested U-M students, faculty, and staff, as well as Ann Arbor community members and interested readers everywhere, to participate in this literary discussion of American Homes. We look forward to hosting our first-ever Pub Club event, and we hope you’ll be a part of the discussion.

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