We authors sometimes either forget or minimize one big resource. We are too busy doing research online, selling our books through Amazon and the like, connecting through Twitter and Facebook. This resource has been around a long time before anything online. I’m talking about the public library.
And if you think libraries are all about print books in the actual library, think again. With a library card (free), you can borrow e-books online, put books on hold online, renew books online and yes, do research online through your library’s connection with data bases. Some libraries even have online access to big city newspapers. And yes, you can still physically visit your libraries. I do and when I’m there I see teenagers and others using either the library’s computers or working away on their laptops. Yes libraries are connected to the Internet and it is less messy than sitting in a cafe with a laptop and risk spilling your coffee on the keyboard. It is also quieter.
There are also art exhibits, programs and presentations on business to health and wellness, to gardening to learning computer and online functions to writers’ groups to talks by book authors and workshops and courses- all for free.
And of course there are those books. I go to my library to pick up books (some found and put on hold online, some just from browsing in the library). And I run the East End Writers’ Group, a writing critique and guess where we meet – the library – my local big branch S. Walter Stewart in Toronto. EEWG does this in partnership with the library branch and it was one of the librarians there who asked us to meet there.
Don’t forget these librarians. They are very helpful when you are stuck with what book to get and for any other research (despite all your online work in those areas). And they are instrumental in the writing workshops and courses I teach at library branches. Although free to participants, I do get paid for teaching them
Some of us published authors from Crime Writers of Canada didn’t forget the importance of librarians last Friday. During the annual Ontario Library Association conference, CWC again had 23 of its recently book-published authors (or a book coming out in a few months) authors taking our turn in front of the mic doing our own two-minute pitch for our books. These pitches were as diversified as the authors. My favourite was one by Dr. (as in medical) Melissa Yi who put a plastic garbage bag over her head for a few seconds to illustrate how the bodies of some murdered Indigenous peoples are left by their killers. i channelled my main Beyond Faith book character, Dana Bowman. And the pitches weren’t limited to books published by trade publishers. Libraries now carry self-published books as well. In the photo of us at the top, “Dana” is to the right of the CWC poster and Melissa is at the right end of this row.
My Beyond books aren’t self-published (Blue Denim Press is my publisher), but I’m happy to say that the first two, Beyond the Tripping Point and Beyond Blood are in some of the Toronto Public library branches. And the librarian, Janet Nanos, who got EEWG into the S. Walter Stewart library branch informed me that she had put in for four copies of Beyond Faith for the TPL – just when the OLA conference was starting – just before I did my pitch.
The first two Beyond books are also n libraries in Kitchener/Waterloo, Ontario, York Region (just north of Toronto) and in Prince Edward County in Eastern Ontario.
Those are the ones I know of.
It doesn’t stop there.
As authors with books in libraries, you can receive annual royalties for your books being there and number of times being borrowed. Another organization takes care of this (in Canada it is The Public Lending Rights Program administered by the Canada Council). You just have to enter your books on their form, updating it when you publish another book. This Canadian program is open for this listing-registration from mid February to May each year..
So, I have many reasons to be grateful for the public libraries and the librarians. I’ve been a big fan and library user since I was 12 years and my grade 7 teacher led all her class on a walk to visit the then new S. Walter Stewart Library branch.
It isn’t coincidence that my main library branch is the same library – since I moved back to Toronto almost 20 years ago.
Don’t forget your library and the librarians – the writer’s and reader’s best friend. The library is where readers, writers and librarians can connect.
Sharon A. Crawford