Sunday, February 15, 2009

In Praise of Libraries

blog9 The only nice thing I can think of about the economic mess we find ourselves in is that people have rediscovered their local libraries.  As they have, they've likely found that their branches have changed with the a good way. 

Some of my earliest memories involve going to the branch in Anderson, SC, to the children's section there.  We'd walk in past a huge grandfather clock, turn a corner, and then I suddenly had a tremendous number of books at my disposal. The library was there for me as I graduated from Encyclopedia Brown to Nancy Drew, and on to Agatha Christie.

Even back in the 1970s, the children's programs were good (film festivals in the summer, summer reading programs that promised treats with the return of a full reading log.) The program offerings now are close to phenomenal. I've taken my babies to Mother Goose story times where we sat in circles and watched a puppet hand us a nametag and sing songs and read nursery stories.  As the children grew older, they've had story times that integrated themed crafts and stories. My second grade daughter now goes to an American Girl book club that offers her a snack, craft, and discussion on girls in different historical periods. My son, as late as 5th grade, participated in a book club at the library that discussed a book each month (and introduced him to books outside the fantasy genre he usually reads.)

Have you cut your "extras" to the bare bones to save money? You can find many of the things you had to eliminate from your budget at your library branch. Many libraries offer Wi-Fi access for online research. You can check out CDs ranging from classical to pop and jazz. There are DVDs to lure you in, too. You usually can't keep them checked out as long as Blockbuster, but unlike Blockbuster, the movies are free. If you've cut back on your magazine subscriptions to save money, you can find them all at the library--children's as well as adults.

Libraries are good for authors, too.  They invite us to speak there, offer reference books that would be expensive for us to purchase, buy our books for their shelves, and provide us a place to write where laundry and unvacuumed floor aren't calling us away from our manuscripts. You can't beat that.

Interesting blogs:

Mysterious Matters delves into the controversial topic: World's Best Mystery Novelist

BookEnds Literary Agency on synopses.

The Blood Red Pencil discusses internal monologue.

A Newbie's Guide to Publishing talks about convention etiquette.

Mystery Fanfare has a list of Valentine mysteries. 

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