Book Club in a Bag Program
Brought to you by participating libraries in the Mid-Hudson Library System


Staff Support Page

The Book Club in a Bag Program is a collective effort of MHLS member libraries. They have pooled their resources to create over 100 kits, each including ten copies of one title and discussion questions as a "DIY book discussion kit" for patrons. This page is designed to help member library staff answer patron questions that might arise about the Bags.

BCB Staff Procedure [please note that this procedure applies to all staff, in all libraries]:


  • Patrons may not book their own bag, they must ask a member library staff person for assistance. Any patron from any library may request a bag.
    • The bags are advertised to patrons through the online public library catalog, a link on local library web sites and posters in libraries.
    • Patrons learn about the program and what bags are available through the main program page they are directed to.
  • Library Staff should use the Availability Calendar to help a patron find a title that suits their needs.
  • Library Staff may then use the online Request-a-Bag form to place an order for their patron. Please allow 1 to 2 business days for this form to be processed. If you have any questions please call Kerstin Cruger at x250.
  • MHLS Staff reserves the bag for your patron and delivers it to your library at the requested time. (Do not override and place a hold in Millennium.)
    • No more than 2 kits can be borrowed at one time by a patron.

Patron Pick-up

  • When the item arrives at your library it will have a note on it that:
    • asks the library to call the patron and notify them of the arrival of their bag (the phone number will be on the tag) and
    • provides the date by which the bag must be picked up by. If it is not picked up within a week from the date you've received it then it should be returned to MHLS. The patron will have to re-book it.
  • When the patron comes to pick-up the bag, check it out to them in Millennium just like you would any other library item.
    • If a bag is held up because the previous patron has not returned it when your patron inquires about their bag:


  • Bags can be renewed once if availability allows. Patrons cannot renew through the OPAC, staff will renew by overriding in Millennium after checking the availability calendar. Please contact when a kit is renewed, so the online availability calendar can be updated.


  • When a bag is returned:
    • check the bag to make sure the contents of the bag are complete (the tag attached to the bag or the attachment note in Millennium lists the contents)
    • if all items are present check in the item in Millennium and send it via delivery to MHLS, attn: Kerstin
    • If items are missing:
      • if titles are missing, immediately bill the patron for the item. A sample bill is available.
      • if the folder is missing, immediately bill the patron for the item. A sample bill is available.
      • If MHLS contacts you because a bag is overdue you should call your patron and ask that it be returned. If it is not you must bill them for the entire bag. A sample bill is available.
  • If a bag is not returned:
    • MHLS Staff will contact you and ask that you call the patron to request that it be returned.
    • If the patron does not return it after this call is made you should bill the patron for the entire kit. A sample bill is available.
    • Payment for a kit goes to the owning library.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

    • Q. Who may borrow a MHLS Book Club in a Bag?
      A. Any patron from any MHLS member library.

    • Q. How do you book a bag?
      A. A library staff person must do this for the patron using the Availability Calendar and online Request Form.

    • Q. Who is responsible for returning the books included in the Book Club in a Bag?
      A. The patron that borrows the bag is responsible for returning all 10 copies of the title by the due date.

    • Q. If a book is lost by a member of the borrowing patrons group, who will pay for it?
      A. The borrowing patron must pay for a book missing from the bag.

    • Q. How long is the loan period?
      A. Six weeks.

    • Q. Who owns the bag?
      A. The library that paid for the bag owns it. It is simply housed at MHLS for distribution purposes.

    • Q. Why are there two records in Millennium for each bag?
      A. One record is used to display the item information in the catalog as a holding Statement with an "Ask staff" status. The second record is suppressed from the OPAC view and will be used as the active record for checking in and checking out the bag to patrons. Libraries will follow the guidelines for Linking items to Book Club in a Bag records [guidelines coming soon].

    • Q. What should I do if a one or more titles are missing from a returned bag?
      If titles are missing, immediately bill the patron for the item. A sample bill is available. The patron is responsible for tracking down all items included in the bag. Please note: Do not wait for a replacement title to return the kit to MHLS. In many cases there are people waiting for the kit and they can still use it even if a few titles are missing.

Available Titles

Availability Calendar

Request a Bag for a Patron

Promoting the Program in your library

Folder Contents

How to become a participating library:
If you would like to join in and contribute a Book Club in a Bag kit here's how:
1) Call or e-mail Kerstin (x250 or with your preferred title to make it hasn't already been claimed. Check here to see what has already been claimed or to get ideas for a title for your kit.
2) Fill out an order form
and return it to Kerstin @MHLS (you will be billed separately, do not send a check) [Please note: The bag is included in the base price. You can order an additional "display bag" to keep at your library to promote this program to your patrons.]
3) Purchase or otherwise obtain at least 10 copies of your chosen title - preferable paperbacks.
4) Affix 10 of the customized bookplates sent to you in your books (Yes! You do have 1 extra bookplate! Customize it and send it in with your books for the folder that will go in your bag.)
5) Develop discussion questions and e-mail them to Kerstin

6) Develop a 100 word synopsis of the title to include on the Available Titles page and e-mail it to Kerstin
7) Send in your books, the extra bookplate and an unattached barcode to MHLS, attn: Kerstin

last updated: 2.25.08