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June 14, 2012

Blog with Liese Sherwood Fabre: Rediscovering Libraries

Recently, a friend of mine with children in their tweens and younger asked me, “Did you know they have movies to borrow in the library? I can get them for free!”

Her remark made me think about my own experiences with libraries and how the institution has adapted to the digital revolution. I’ve always loved books and was a big fan of my library beginning in elementary school. Summer time for me meant visiting the local library and checking out the maximum allowed to fill the down time when it was too hot to play in the 100º+ heat. Starting in junior high, the library provided the reference books I needed to do required research papers. They even had a copy machine (for 10¢ a page) if I didn’t have time to complete my reading. In graduate school, I could even reserve a special cubicle for a semester and check out books to that space for easy consultation. 

With the advent of the digital age, libraries have responded by creating public computer centers where anyone can the Web, networking with other libraries to more easily respond to patrons’ requests for specific books, and now providing on-line access to digital media through a service called Overdrive. Patrons don’t even have to go to the library to download books and music! With an account, they can go to their library’s Webpage and download audio books, music, and e-books. My own debut novel Saving Hope is now available through Overdrive, opening another avenue to readers.

Libraries have adapted to their patrons’ needs in other ways as well, providing classes or talks on various subjects—from how to do your taxes to genealogy—serving as a community meeting place, and generally providing a special connection between local government and all its citizens. They’ve come a long way from the “social library” invented by Benjamin Franklin where subscribers paid a membership fee to have access to shared book, but the goal has always been the same: creating a more informed public.

Have your experiences with libraries changed over the years? Anything you’ve recently discovered in a trip there?                                          


Janie Emaus said...

I currently meet once a month for a book club at the library. And as I kid I was there all the time with my mom.


Hi, Liese. I was a big time regular as a kid and used libraries a lot for research as an older student. I've been in a book club for ten years and regularly request from the library.

I do have a problem with the library providing movies and music.

Liese said...

I find it interesting how libraries continue to evolve and admire their ability to know just where too look for things on the Web, in reference materials, etc.

Sasha Summers said...

We have a fantastic new library right around the corner that I'm encouraging the kids to plug into. They have all sorts of groups and classes... Sometimes our RWA group meets here. I agree, libraries are wonderful places to connect with people (real and imaginary) and fantastic books!

Linda Steinberg said...

I too have recently rediscovered the library. Hadn't been in years but still had my old library card, which was promptly replaced. I have been wanting to try walking there since it is the perfect walk-length from my house. The best part is, you get to rest before the home trek in an air-conditioned building filled with books!I checked out a couple on a whim I might not have otherwise purchased and my Significant Other got to read the current Popular Science and Popular Mechanics magazines without having to buy them.

Alisha said...

Oh I love the library!!! I went there often as a child and my mother was and still is an avid reader! She would check out 10 or more books at a time and finish them all before her two weeks were up. I loved to sit in the kids' section and discover new books! And when I had my own kids, I took them to the library, especially during the summer! Great post, Liese!

Liz Lipperman said...

I haven't used the libraries as much as I could. I know they are wonderful resources, but with the internet, I kinda got away from them. Unfortunately, when I am writing on a deadline, I find I can't read, which is a real bummer. My TBR list is huge. Hopefully, one day I will be able to balance my time enough to fit reading in once again for pleasure. Then I will make use of the local library.

Good post, Liese.

Shelley Munro said...

I love my local library and visit at least once a week. I can get audio books, ebooks, music, movies and even books. It's a one stop place these days.

Lorri said...

I've always loved libraries, and visit the local one constantly. When the book my mom and I wrote was published by Musa, I figured the library would be behind a local author 100%. Wrong! The librarian informed me (after two in-person attempts to speak to her and one phone call) that the YA department had no more money for purchases this year. I had left a CD with a free copy of the book so she could read it -- yet she had not done so when she finally returned my call, and she expressed no interest in doing so, telling me she hadn't had time to "listen" to it. Very discouraging.

Liese said...

I'm so sorry to hear your experience, Lorri. I've had a very good response to a number of libraries in this area with booksignings, talking to writers' groups, or just a general presentation to their patrons. You can see my future events on my Website. It might give you some ideas.

Kathleen Baldwin said...

I love the library! In grade-school it was a second home for me.
I went to several unique schools, that had a different philosophy on learning. Because of my reading habits my English teachers excused me to the library except on major test days.
Librarians guided my reading experiences through mythologies, Grimm's fairy tales, and Folk tales. What a world! I loved it! I escaped into Little women, and the pioneer hardships of Laura Ingalls Wilder, fell in love with historical romances, devoured Dickens treacherous streets of London and Austen's witty comedies.
Oh, the library. Sigh. I can't think of it without growing nostalgic for Daphne De Maurier's Jamaica Inn. Those dangerous pirates stormed my corner of the library.
Just running my fingers along the spines of those books I remember adventures on deserted islands and hunting buffalo on the great plains and sitting in the crows nest of a schooner...
And I did it all from my little corner in the library.

Leigh Morgan said...

Small town libraries can be places of great joy. Often they have books to "swap" on a stand and everyone can browse the magazines and of course the shelves. Being e-pubed, I don't go to see my books, but I still love the experience. Once more e-publishers can submit directly to libraries, their allure and staying power with sore. Thanks for the post.

Leigh Morgan, author