Following the traditions of the very first residents of Chevy Chase, there are many reading groups today. These include small book clubs that meet in members' homes as well as larger groups that meet at community centers and at the Chevy Chase Library. In 1965, the Montgomery County Public Library built a new library further north on Connecticut Avenue, and readers meet there on a regular basis.
Here are three examples of the continuing tradition of sharing a love of reading with neighbors and friends:
The Chevy Chase Atheneum Book Club was founded in 1997. Eleven members meet once a month on the third Monday at noon. In 2013, Marilyn Bracken described their meetings:
“We each host a month and we take August off. We have lunch, generally a dish mentioned in the book or food from the culture discussed in the book.”
The Primrose Street Book Group formed almost a decade ago. In 2013, Naomi Camper described the founding of the group:
“The group formed almost a decade ago, when the husband of one of our neighbors was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer. We wanted to form a support circle for her, the Primrose Street book group was born.
About 15 women from the first block of Primrose Street meet once a month (except for August), and we ALWAYS have food! Typically, the person who selects the book hosts, but that's not always the case. We haven't really established a book selection method, but over the years we've experimented with both fiction and non-fiction, with a goal of learning about a time, place or person that's new to us.
“We've recently embarked on a theme of women, to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the suffrage movement. We are currently reading the new autobiography of Sonia Sotomayor. We will probably reach back further into history for our next selection.
“Our book group has brought together different generations of women on Primrose Street, bonding our families closer together as we've experienced important milestones together. The book group has also allowed neighbors who have moved away to stay in touch, as we encourage "alumni" participation!”
The Jefferson Café, a public discussion group, meets at the Chevy Chase Public Library on the third Friday of the month, from 10:30 until noon, to discuss an article or essay related to contemporary events. There is no meeting in August. The discussions are led by a facilitator, who selects an article or essay for each month. Information about the article to be discussed is available on the Friends of the Chevy Chase Library webpage, and the Friends also pay for reproduction of the articles. Sometimes authors are invited to join the group.
Although the group was originally facilitated by staff librarians, because of funding cuts in 2010, Kathleen Jeschke, a retired public and government librarian, took over this task. In 2013 she described the history of this group:
“Dr. Francine Jamin, a professor of English at Montgomery College, started the Jefferson Café concept in Montgomery County, Maryland as a way to stimulate civic engagement. The first Jefferson Café to be held at the Chevy Chase Public Library was in November 2007.”
“As Dr. Jamin set up the program, the Jefferson Café was to ‘provide a format for grassroots discussion, focusing on topics in American life and the role of the United States in the global community…. The group is limited to no more than fifteen participants so that everyone can see and hear everyone else while sitting around a table.’”
“The discussions are lively and robust. There is a core group of 6-8 who attends most sessions. Others come because the topic of the article attracts them. It’s a bit of work to find good articles but actually rather fun for the facilitator.”
The Jefferson Café is just one of the reading and discussion groups that the Chevy Chase Public Library offers its patrons. There are also two reading groups and a memoir group, and with the support of the Friends of the Chevy Chase Library, they meet on a regular basis, too.