As a soon-to-be-published author, I know I should be encouraging all of you to go out and buy books. And I, myself, should be supporting my fellow writers by contributing to their royalties. (And now that I’ll actually be earning, I can.) But patronizing your library isn’t about not buying books. It’s about loving books. And so much more. So here is my shortlist of why I love my local library.
1. Lest this post end up being completely selfish, let me begin by saying that my library makes unfathomably generous contributions to the community. Literacy programs. Free Internet and computer access. Children’s programs. Activities. Shelter. Books. Let’s not forget the books, magazines, music CDs, DVDs, audiobooks, research materials, etc., etc., etc.
2. Libraries are great for children. I’ve been taking mine since they were chewing on board books. The library is where we discovered Harry the Dirty Dog, Ed Young’s Seven Blind Mice and then graduated to every single Magic Tree House ever written. My library has story time and summer reading programs. Several times a year they do educational shows – we’ve been to see a program on wolf rescue twice. With real wolves. Gorgeous.
3. Research. You knew I would get here eventually, right? When I wasn’t sure if I could write an entire book on Catherine Howard, I went to the library. And through interlibrary loan, I got a fabulous, 40-year-old biography of Henry’s fifth queen that had been sitting quietly in a sister library in the sleepy little town of Colusa, California. It still contained an old-fashioned check-out stamp card with stamps from the 70s on it. How the book got to Colusa, I don’t know. But I’m glad it did. And I’m very thankful for interlibrary loan. (The book, by Lacey Baldwin Smith, has just been revised and reprinted, and I now own a copy, but I read the one from Colusa twice.)
4. Libraries buy books. Hardcover and paperback. Sometimes multiple copies. And not just mine (I hope they buy mine!) My local chain bookstore carries a seemingly infinite variety of paranormal YA. But little-to-no historical. And minimal contemporary. I do my browsing at the library.
5. Librarians. Not only can they help you find the book you want, they can help you find the book you didn’t know you wanted. They know who just won the Printz and who wrote “that book about the vampire.” They’re friendly. Helpful. Knowledgeable. And cool.
Originally posted on the YAMuses blog, December 2010. But I still feel exactly the same.