Wednesday, June 16, 2010
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.