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In praise of public libraries

21 May
Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series available in e-copies from Blue Denim Press

Way back in the late 1980s, an editor at one of the community newspapers I wrote for used to give me assignments connected to the local libraries. He said when he thought of libraries, he thought of me.

In the past few years I have traded my journalism hat for writing mystery fiction. But what this former editor said is still true. I suspect his thoughts would apply to most writers – journalists, fiction, whatever they write.

Libraries seem to be growing – Toronto, Ontario, Canada just opened its 100th branch in the city’s east end. Although the library landscape has changed, writers and readers (the two often overlapping in the same soul), cannot live without their public library. Even if we don’t get off our duff and go inside a library as often as we used to, we do online research in library databases, download e-books to “borrow,” put holds on books (print and e-books) online, and check library websites for their events. Reminders of books coming due or holds available also arrive in our Inbox from the library. And we can read and comment on library blog postings or join online book clubs (Note: there are still in-library book clubs).

Library events will get us into the library. So will picking up print books on hold. And if you are an avid reader like me, once you are in the library, it’s like a candy store. You can’t just leave with what you came there to get. How many times have you stepped into a library to pick up one book on hold and found two or three more you just have to read? Many people don’t want to have to deal with online movies, etc. and prefer to watch a DVD. Your local library to the rescue. You can also borrow old movies, documentaries and the like on DVDs.

Public libraries are also getting into the self-publishing business. The Toronto Reference Library has the Asquith Press service for patrons who want to self-publish a book. See http://www.torontopubliclibrary.ca/using-the-library/computer-services/book-printing-service/

Don’t forget those knowledgeable librarians who can help you find obscure information in books, non-circulating reference material, online. etc., etc.

And those library events – many are workshops to teach patrons everything from computer basics to finance to writing. The latter is one way I (and other writers) connect to the librarians and library branches. For the past four and a half years I have been teaching writing workshops (fiction and memoir writing) at various Toronto library branches and I love doing so. Besides the librarians, I get to meet a lot of interesting writers and help them with their writing. Some may “follow” me (for want of a better word) to my writing critique group – the East End Writers’ Group, also held in a library branch and may come to my crime readings and presentations (with or without other Crime Writers of Canada members) at …you guessed it – library branches.

And that is a good way for us writers to connect with readers. So is getting your published book into libraries.

That’s the way it should be. You know one of the rules of writing (Rule No. ? – as Gibbs would say on NCIS) – if you are going to write, read in the genre you want to write in.

That is more than an old journalistic research trick.

I would like your comments on libraries. How do you connect with your library branch?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

 

Sharon A. Crawford is the author of the Beyond book series. More info at www.samcraw.com and www.bluedenimpress.com – my publisher – you can also purchase e-books – both Kindle and Kobo from Blue Denim Press. Click on the Beyond Blood Book cover at the top of this post.

 

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