Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Working with Libraries

I have a long-standing love affair with libraries. To me, it’s the place where taxpayers get the biggest bang for the buck. Most library cards are free, and you can check out a whole stack of books at the same time. But books are not the biggest jewel in the setting. Reference librarians, I have come to believe, know everything, or at least where to find it. I’ve used the virtual chat at Ask a Librarian to get the date of a medieval royal wedding, and this after I combed the internet for anything even remotely connected to the event. Reference librarians have friends in high places. They can connect you with an expert in the field of astronomy, Icelandic literature, and Viking museums. I am the first to admit that I could not have written my upcoming historical, The Tapestry Shop, without serious help from local librarians. They found me books about The Cold Faire in Troyes, France. They located an essay on 13th century travel, and even talked a university into lending a very early copy of a medieval play written in Old French. No, I didn’t translate it, but a French teacher I know did.
Our libraries participate in NaNoWriMo, the annual speed writing challenge. The librarians ask local authors to give kick-off events, which gives us a chance to show off our books.
At a recent conference, someone asked where they could find one of my books. “The library,” I said. The reader looked surprised and told me she had never heard that from an author before. That makes me wonder. Why would any author not want to send readers to a library to get their books? I’ve had people tell me they found my book in a library, checked it out, and recommended it to their friends.
Our library has author guests from time to time. In November, the local libraries are having an Author Recognition day. It should draw a lot of readers.
Inter-library loans are priceless. You can find almost any book in print and ask to get it from anywhere in your region. My Florida library gets me books from libraries in other states and they have an online data base of searchable Public Domain books. So next time you go in to check out a book, smile at your reference librarian. Trust me—there’s no better friend to have.


Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hello, Joyce,

Gosh, you sound just like me! I too have a love affair with libraries. For many years I taught English (middle school, high school, and college) and then took my MLS degree as well, working as an academic librarian and eventually an educational media specialist. My favorite place to be is a library. It's the best bargain in town, offering so many services and forms of media for free. Librarians think in terms of helping people and do so consistently.
And just like you, when people ask where they can get my novels, the first thing I say: ask for them at your library.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to live near an old library--the kind with long scarred tables, lamps with shades and cracked marble floors that echo when you walk. I'd love to get lost in the stacks and maybe discover a book no one has checked out since 1952 or something. Long live fantasies!

Terry Odell said...

Our new home is relatively remote. The county has 2 branches. One's a tiny country library, the other is a new, modern, state-of-the art building.

One thing I miss--in Florida, our library system had a home delivery system. They claimed it saved energy because 1 drive could deliver dozens of books, thus saving dozens of individual cars going to the library. Sometimes they used the USPS.

Now that I'm 15 miles away from the nearest library, I wish I didn't have to drive down the mountain to pick up a book I've reserved. But I love the on-line catalog. Couldn't live without it.

Anonymous said...

Here's a great link to just the kind of library I love!

Joyce Moore said...

Jacqueline: Gee, with your background, I should have had you write this blog! I can just imagine how much more you know about access than I do. Even at that, I always include library sources in my workshops about researching for historicals.

Joyce Moore said...

Rebbie: That description sounds like a wonderful setting for a novel!

Joyce Moore said...

Hi Terry: Gosh, 15 miles to a library. Well, there are trade-offs for everything. Reminds me of when we lived in a log caqbin on a mountain in West Virginia. I drove down every day to a school in Romney where I taught. Beautiful setting, but far from a good library. I took up rug weaving but missed my books.

Joyce Moore said...

Rebbie: That site about old libraries is awesome! Thanks for sharing. I have a friend going to Prague in Sept. and I'm sending her the link so she can visit that Prague library.

Anonymous said...

Joyce: I agree that a library is a girl's (or guy's) best friend. Whether you're a student or not, a library can hold so many treasures. Our library is quite small, but we're in the middle of fund-raising for expansion - and I'm quite excited to see what the next few years will hold for our community.