Bloomingdale-Public-LibraryThrowback Thursday – hanging out in the local library as a teenager, avoiding chores at home and lots of little brothers and sisters. Back in those days, our local library (shown at right) was brand-spanking new, with a nifty loft full of couches and soft chairs.

Me and my friends would head there after school or part-time job shifts and “hang” – using up all those couches and plush chairs to sit around and read magazines or the latest tawdry romance novels – much to the chagrin of the librarian staff.

Funny, isn’t it? Today librarians are building entire teen rooms and computer labs and interactive media centers to attract our young people to enjoy reading and researching, even offering homework help and assistance with college prep.

This past week, on a vacation back to my hometown, I had a chance to briefly visit my old library, this year celebrating its 40th anniversary. In a strange twist of fate, my mother, an ex-journalist, is now a librarian there. And the formerly quaint Bloomingdale Public Library is busier than ever these days, serving a huge residential community, and offering patrons a robust website. Best of all the website offers –you guessed it– an entire tab just for teens.

And of course, of great importance to our author tribe, this local library, like so many others, hosts a number of book club discussion groups, and often features visiting authors.

On returning from Chicago and my old stomping grounds, I knew I wanted to do a shout-out post to libraries. And then fate intervened again in a conversation with Virginia-based author Dean Robertson. Her book has just released and her launch party will take place at the stunning Slover Library in Norfolk, VA.

I’m ashamed to admit I’d never heard of the Slover Library, even though technically I’m a native of Norfolk, having been born there while dad was in the Navy. But now it’s most definitely on my must-see list, and no doubt yours too once you take a look at the site and more photos of this beauty.

Slover-LibraryAnd once again, this library isn’t just another pretty face, but one boasting plenty of community events and author readings. Here at WWW’s home base in Charleston, SC, “business” is up nearly 300% throughout the branch libraries, thanks both to expanding populations and new programs.

As journalist Porter Anderson reported in his June 25 article on Self-E, even self-published authors can now break into library markets, so being self-published doesn’t have to be a barrier to library inclusion, either.

For authors concerned that your book is borrowed vs. sold at a library, keep in mind that there are thousands of libraries; all of which buy thousands of books. And, if your book is passed along to a great many readers, isn’t that what we all hope to accomplish as authors – more readers learning from our words?

Tell us about your local library; if you use it, if your book is carried there? Have you done any library readings or participated in their discussion groups as an author? Have an awesome library photo to share? We’ll put it on our Lovely Libraries board at Pinterest.

Write on, read on… and support those local libraries: They may be our best hope to keep future generations interested in books!

10 thoughts on “Have You Overlooked Your Local Library?

  • August 11, 2015 at 10:56 am
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    Hi Shari, Thank you so much for your article on Libraries. I have visited 5 local libraries and been able to have them accept my book for their catalog. Then I sent out letters with information on my book, to libraries not in driving distance, directed to the acquisition dept. with a request for their consideration.
    My question is, I am stomped on how to frame a follow up letter to find out if they are considering or if already accepted. Since the books would go through a distributor, I have no way of gauging the sucess or failure of my request? Any suggestions?

    • August 11, 2015 at 2:29 pm
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      Great question, Nancy! Seems most of the library sites I’ve been visiting lately have lookups via online for whether they’re available – have you tried that via their websites? Might let your “fingers do the walking” if you can see your titles are actually being carried, i.e. if they can be reserved online for pickup?

  • July 30, 2015 at 12:07 pm
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    I follow your blog with interest, usually — and certainly agree that libraries are grand places. However, I take issue with the phrase “tawdry romance novel.” Romance books have been around as a viable genre for more than 40 years. They are a multi-billion dollar industry, one that easily out-sells all over types of fiction. Millions of women all over the world read and enjoy the stories for their exploration of male-female relationships and celebration of the emotions that help perpetuate the human race. To label them as “tawdry,” for which we can read “gaudy, cheap and sleazy,” is to insult the reading taste of these countless readers — not to mention the work of romance authors who might be interested in your services.

    • July 30, 2015 at 2:23 pm
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      Hi Patricia – You’re totally correct and I love a good romance novel! But, was referring to when we were teens and I can tell ya, all we were looking for were cheap, sleazy and titillating! Apologies for any offense — surely was not meant to imply all romance is tawdry, not in the least — only that we had poor taste as teens 🙂

  • July 30, 2015 at 11:24 am
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    After observing another author event at my local library this spring, I decided to host my debut children’s novel’s launch party (a Holy Land adventure called Sophie’s Quest) in the same community room there. Boy, am I glad I did! The children’s librarian and her fabulous teen book club members did all the set-up, handled the technology aspect expertly for my short power-point presentation, greeted people at the doors with a smile and animal print sunglasses and pirate eye patch giveaways, passed cupcakes around, and cleaned it all up at the end. I provided the cupcakes and giveaways, but the room and all the help was FREE.

    The bookstore owner who hosted the sales aspect had been nervous about holding the event in a venue away from the bookstore, but my community–I work in an elementary school–and long-time supporters of my writing, and even a walk-in at the library who wanted to know what all the fuss was about, came in droves. We sold out all 100 books we had on hand to the crowd of 120-plus, took orders for more, and left with huge smiles on our faces!

    • July 30, 2015 at 2:27 pm
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      Sonja – that’s an EXCELLENT and inspirational report. Very, very pleased to hear your book store and library worked together this way – a smart play by all involved and hope the tribe all reads this and takes careful note! Thanks for sharing and just curious – was that a chain or indie book store that cooperated so nicely with you and the library?

      • July 30, 2015 at 9:09 pm
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        Thanks, Shari! It was an indie books store, of course! Page 2 Books is a great community bookstore that sells used books of all kinds, features local authors, and sells new puzzles and cards and things like that. We actually have three indie bookstores on one street! Bumbershoot Books is a smaller, very wonderful used bookstore, and then just a couple blocks further away is a small bookstore that carries new books. I feel very lucky!

        • July 31, 2015 at 9:06 am
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          Amazing! What town is this in?

          • July 31, 2015 at 11:23 am
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            I live in Burien, Washington. It was the Burien Library that worked so beautifully for my book launch event, just down the block from Page 2 Books.

          • July 31, 2015 at 11:34 am
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            Brilliant, thanks, Sonja — we’ll be sure to give ’em a shout out!

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