Starting with number five and moving to number one as my favourite awesome thing about libraries, here goes.
Number 5 – Diversity
Libraries don’t discriminate. Check out the collection of any library or library system. You’ll find novels in all genres from literary through romance, popular non-fiction on subjects you didn’t even know books were written about, instructional manuals, magazines, newspapers—and that’s just a sample of the print material. Most also carry movies, TV shows, audio books, music CDs and even computer games. Libraries are a treasure trove of entertainment fun for everyone. How awesome is that?
Number 4 – The Catalogue
Libraries take all the materials they own and codify them so that each item is easily findable by even the most hopelessly disorganized patron (like me). This is an enormous task considering that libraries are constantly adding to their collections. When I want to find a new author in a particular genre? Easy. The library puts all the data together through keywords and makes it easy for me to search and find. Awesome. A new favourite is found.
Number 3 – Accessibility
Where, but in a library, can an author be discovered by hundreds of people over dozens of years? My first Silhouette Special Edition, Second Generation, was, like all Harlequin/Silhouette books, available in a bookstore for a month, then it was gone. It’s been out of print for years. But it’s still available at a library. Awesome!
Number 2 – Research
Authors can’t write without information. And if the information we use isn’t accurate, you can bet that someone will notice. So finding sources for good, solid information is important.
Before the Internet produced Wikipedia’s instant info and reams of webpages on every topic, libraries collected books about anything you wanted to know about. Visual books with more pictures than words, wordy books with single paragraphs that spanned a page and more, fun non-fiction that was as much story as detailed information. If you wanted to know something about a subject, you could go to the library to find out about it. And still can. A library’s non-fiction collection will run from the kind of historical information that provided the background and setting for my time travel, Ridgeway in the Swept Through Time anthology, to travel books like the ones that supplied maps and photographs of the city of Boston where Fighting Fate is set.
Libraries may also have access to digital journals and databases. For someone researching family history, the local library can be a treasure trove of digital connections. Many libraries will also have archives of local newspapers, photographs, and collections of private and local government papers.
For inspiration through information, the library is an awesome place.
Finally, the number one reason that libraries are awesome – librarians
Without librarians, libraries are just repositories for books and other materials. Librarians bring their collections to life. They are skilled at finding things. Even the most obscure, hardly used chap book can’t hide from a librarian determined to hunt it down. Librarians know how to help you search the catalogue to find what you want. They will suggest a book or tow you over to a spot in the stacks so you can browse through books on the subject and find that perfect one. Moreover, librarians love to talk about books. They want to know which books you love too and why you love them, because, you know what? They’ll add those books to the collection so more people can fall in love with them. Librarians love authors too. Find a librarian who has read your book and wants to read more by you? Look out. Chat time.
Librarians have people skills too. Every day they deal with confused people, grumpy and frustrated people, bored people, inarticulate people, and just plain nutty people. And they help, or try to help, each and every one. Cheerfully. Pleasantly. Productively.
Yup, libraries have got it all. Fun stuff to entertain you, useful stuff you don’t know you need — yet, a way to discover it when you want it, and best of all, the people who hold it all together.
How awesome is that?
Louise Clark is a romance author who writes historical, contemporary and time travel romance. Her latest book for Lachesis Publishing is a contemporary romance with a “paranormal twist”. It’s called Fighting Fate. You can get Fighting Fate at Lachesis Publishing or on amazon.
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