Even though the doors are closed and library staff is hunkered down at home, that hasn’t stopped Battle Creek’s Willard Library from staying connected with the community.  Like many public libraries, Willard has been working for years to utilize the internet to give patrons options for getting information and recourses.    The latest things are an online podcast and a virtual book club.

The book club, “Couch Club” starts on Friday May 1st.   Join Willard librarians Jade Woodridge and Chelsea Tungate for the weekly Couch Club, when readers are invited to virtually discuss a section of "The Gift of Forgiveness" by Katherine Schwarzenegger Pratt for five weeks in May. Each week, participants will separately read a portion of the book and then gather to discuss the reading.  Please register to receive the meet-up directions.  The book can be downloaded from Overdrive and Libby.   Schwarzenegger Pratt explores what it means to forgive in this book, which features more than 20 in-depth interviews and stories as well as personal reflections. The book provides journeys from the well-known and unknown, including Elizabeth Smart, who learned to forgive her captors; Sue Klebold, whose son, Dylan, was one of the Columbine shooters, learning empathy and how to forgive herself; Chris Williams, who forgave the drunken teenager who killed his wife and child; and of course Schwarzenegger Pratt's own challenges.

“Willard Library unbound” is a new podcast launched by Willard Library that shares what’s going on at the library, interviews with staff members as well as news from the literary world.   The podcast, which is hosted by reference staff member Amy Witzke and Youth Services Librarian Alisha Daugherty, started in late March while everyone was sheltering in place.

Amy Witzke-Willard Library
Amy Witzke-Willard Library

“Library staff had been talking about doing a podcast for a while, and when we began sheltering in place it seemed like a good time,” Witzke said. “We researched it, and Alisha and I launched it.”    To listen to the podcast, go to tinyurl.com/WLunBound. Plans are to release a new podcast each week on Mondays.


About the unBound name, Witzke said: “It works for me on two levels. One is that this podcast is about our library, which is traditionally concerned with books. However, the content of the podcast isn’t always about what can be contained in books or the walls of the building for that matter. And, second, is that this podcast is born of a time when we can’t physically go to the library.  So, in the sense of 'bound' meaning heading toward a place, it’s a way to get there without physically going there.”

While everyone is staying at home, it’s a great way to connect with guests and when the library buildings re-open, we can use the podcast to share information about library events, services and materials, Witzke said.

The format for unBound will be check-ins, recommendations, library news, guest interviews and then sharing feedback on the previous podcasts.

“Listeners will get to know Alisha and I better and the types of library services we use plus recommendations on books, movies, music, and anything else we are enjoying,” Witzke said.

The podcast will include guests such as other library staff members, authors who visit the library and others in the community.

“My favorite part of the podcast is hearing how life has been going for my cohost and guests and talking about books and media in general,” Witzke said.

The podcast is available at Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Breaker, Overcast, Spotify, and RadioPublic and fireside.fm.


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