Writers and libraries are the perfect pair. Libraries exist to provide books and other materials to the public. Writers exist to produce books (and other materials as well.) Yet not all writers understand what a valuable ally they have in libraries.
Writers need to read. They read for many different reasons. Here's a few
- Keep current on writing trends in their field.
- Research publishers.
- Find information on all aspects of writing, from generating ideas to promoting a book.
- Research topics for their current writing project.
- For fun!
'But what if my library doesn't have the books I need? What do I do then?' you ask. It's true no library can have everything you want on the shelf but the good news is that libraries are great at sharing. Programs vary from state to state but most of the time, pretty much anything that you want can be found at another library and sent to your library at little or no cost to you. Pretty cool, huh?
What about the reference desk? In most libraries you will find trained researchers ready and willing to help you find the information you need. Libraries often have access to data bases and other sources to gather information from. Without a library you have no access to these sources.
Your library may also be a good place to escape to when you need some peace and quiet to finish that last chapter. Your writer's group or book club may find a home at your local library as well. With all this to offer, how can you go wrong?
What You Can Do for Your Library
There are benefits to working with your local library. The person who checks out and enjoys your book may look for more of your work to purchase and will probably tell her friends about the great new author she's found. Plus, book stores keep books for only a short time. If your book is in the library people will have years to discover it rather than the few weeks they'd have to find it in a book store.
Writers sometimes complain that their local library isn't interested in them as a local writer. That's not usually true. The problem may be your approach and not your library. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Are you acting like a professional? I'm not saying you need to show up in a skirt and heels, but looking and acting professional will help librarians to see you as a professional and respond to you accordingly.
- Are you to talking to the right person? It may do you no good whatsoever to sweet talk the person at the front desk. Who is in charge of buying new materials? That's the person you need to pitch your book to. If the library declines to buy a copy consider donating one.
- What do libraries need? Libraries need to promote themselves just as much as authors do. Explain how your book signing or other event will bring people into the library. Show that you're interested in providing a benefit to the library as well as to yourself.
- What can you do? It might be more beneficial for you and the library if you do more than offer to sell them a copy of your book or to show up for a book signing. Help arrange a reading for several local authors. Give a workshop, lead a book discussion. Be creative.