Book to Action Frequently Asked Questions

What are the central themes for Book to Action 2021?
According to our Book to Action 2021 survey and other data and input, community members across California want to address these three main themes:

  • Equity / Social Justice
  • Sustainability / Environmental Justice
  • Health / Mental Health / Resilience

Book to Action provides a model where community members can explore these important issues by reading, discussing, and acting in collaboration with community partners.

What are the parameters for Book to Action 2021 title selections?
Book to Action 2021 titles should meet most or all of the criteria below:

  • Engaging for a general adult audience (teen appeal is great too)
  • Preferably no longer than 350 pages
  • Published within the last 3-5 years, or recently enjoying a surge in interest
  • Available in paperback
  • Be thought-provoking rather than strictly “how-to” in nature, if nonfiction

Can I choose more than one book?
We recommend that you select one main title to feature. California Center for the Book will purchase as many paperback copies of that title for your library’s Book to Action series as our budget allows. Let’s run some numbers. If we have $1,000 to spend per initiative, and the books cost about $15 each (with tax, shipping etc) that only provides you about 65 copies for your series. That’s one reason why we suggest selecting just one book. However, you can and should expand that single title with Recommended Reading booklists that support your theme. In fact, we suggest you make a reading list that explores the theme with works selected for all ages. Enlist your Youth Services Librarians to suggest pictures books, explore MS and YA reads, graphic novels, fiction and nonfiction too. Let us know as you build Recommended Reading lists and we can add them to the Book to Action Toolkit.

How does the Book to Action book & e-Book / digital audio ordering work for 2021? 

  • All print titles will be ordered through Ingram by California Center for the Book, paid for with grant funding
  • All digital titles will be ordered through Overdrive by California Center for the Book, paid for with grant funding (If your library does not utilize OverDrive 100% of your book funds will be applied to print orders from Ingram)
  • All orders should be shipped to your library’s central processing / receiving department
  • Program Coordinators will be able to track orders thorough Ingram’s iPage
  • All shipments have a 20 copy minimum (this helps us save on shipping); ideally orders ship in a single shipment but you will be able to log on and track progress
  • We caution against pre-publication orders, due to possible publisher delays or other issues
  • We strongly encourage you to select a single title and build a supporting recommended reading list
  • We strongly encourage you to collaborate with others

I’m worried that I cannot book the author or I cannot secure a big fancy pants speaker. What should I do?
We have an opportunity to book 3 state-wide speaker events based on our 3 themes for 2021. Those may or may not be the author, but we’ll keep you posted. Sometimes authors are a big draw and sometimes not. Sometimes a panel of community members might be more engaging. And we’re welcome to input if you have a great idea for a speaker / connection for Equity, Sustainability or Health. Let’s discuss on Slack.

I have limited staff/time/money/bandwidth. Will Book to Action work for my library?
We’re right there with you. We’ll be looking to collaborate and coordinate state-wide whenever possible. We handle the book orders, pay your speaker, and provide plenty of training and support along the way. If you have the passion and commitment for engaging adults, our community of California libraries can help you along with way.

I’m not sure how to work best with community partners, build a community engagement series, or how to start! Oh no, I cannot attend one or more of the proposed webinars. Will they be recorded?
We’ve got you covered. Training and collaboration will occur through the planning and execution phases of this project. Need something else? We can either add it to the training list or recommend other options. Staff development webinars will be offered live and recorded for those who cannot attend live. See for the schedule of Book to Action webinars. Additional informal Zoom meetings may be held throughout year. Check Slack for updates.

Where can I find the requirements for Book to Action?
The overview and timeline can be found on the Book to Action 2021 home page. The Book to Action 2021 documents and forms along with examples of past Book to Action programs, and assets can be found in the Book to Action 2021 Toolkit.

Are there a set number of programs our library must complete for Book to Action 2021?
We are focusing more on quality rather than quantity. In the Book to Action Toolkit we note that your Book to Action initiative should be a series of engaging events, but we don’t have a hard and fast number of events. Book to Action should be a series of events that encourages civic engagement: book discussions, author or expert talks, panel discussions, community conversations, workshops, demos, documentary screenings, and a community service project or civic engagement activity or activities. Past Book to Action series have typically been about 5+ events, engagement opportunities, programs, book clubs, etc. Be sure you plan early to build excitement and interest to get all copies of your Book to Action titles into the community!

What do I do with the Book to Action books?
The books are meant to get into the hands of your community members, first and foremost. The library should NOT be cataloging, processing, and adding all of the copies. You may select to add a few copies to your collection, but the vast majority should be made available to community members to take and treasure, then possibly pass on to friends, other community members, add to Little Free Libraries etc. Think about supplying book clubs with sets of books and asking your community partner to distribute too, if appropriate. No books are to be returned to California Center for the Book.

I have an idea for a Book to Action theme that doesn’t touch on Equity, Sustainability, or Health. Should I apply in 2021?
We’re going to say meh, maybe not. We think there’s something for everyone in the Big 3 inter-connected themes above. There are many angles and ins that will work for different communities. Of course, we want you to use the methods of community member engagement and community partnership, but Book to Action 2021 projects addressing our Big 3 will be given heavy priority.

I’ve never used Slack. What is it?
Fear not. Explore Getting Started for New Members and just jump right in. Slack is an easy to use collaboration tool. We use it to share ideas and information. Think listserv but more for this century! Just remember to sign up with your work email so we can verify that you’re from a California library.