To all the writers out there: I wanted to remind you of a few of the wonderful resources that libraries offer and most are free.
Local Author Readings. Many libraries invite local authors to speak either individually or as part of a panel of three or four. This can be a great way to get your book out in your community and meet other local authors. Another benefit is librarians are very good at spreading the word. When we have a good program, we like to share it with other libraries across the state.
Writer’s Groups. The South Portland Public Library and many others in the state have writer’s groups that meet monthly or more frequently. These tend to be groups where members share what they’re writing if they feel comfortable and encourage each other. They are often lead by a library staff member and have an annual event where members who would like to read some of their work in front of the public do.
Interlibrary Loan. Through your local library you can borrow things from around the world. It can be books, dissertations, movies, books on CD, or microfilm. If you are writing about Detroit in the 40’s you could request a copy of the Detroit Free Press on microfilm and, using the pictures, see styles and places you are including in your work. This is almost always free but sometimes there is a cost associated with it.
Local History. In most towns, the public library is the keeper of the local history. High school yearbooks, local newspapers, city directories, plot plans and local family histories? We’ve got that. At the Portland Public Library, we have the Portland High School yearbooks dating back to 1921 and city directories which show who lived at an address starting in 1823. Most libraries also have a few employees who are long time residents and would probably be able to put you in touch with other residents who could answer almost any question about local history.
Reference. There is nothing we like better than a really tough reference question. Last year we received a call from a writer with a series of questions about mythical beasts. It took three of us a number of days but we got the answers and we still talk about how much fun it was to track down the correct answer. Earlier this year the writer sent us a signed copy of his book and it is proudly displayed in a shared office.
Databases. Kathy Lynn Emerson did such a great job covering that I’ll refer you to her entry on Monday.
Quiet Space. We are a lot livelier then we were in the past but I’m sure you can find a quiet corner if your usual workspace gets taken over for an afternoon or weekend. And remember: most libraries in Maine have free wireless connectivity.
I’d love to hear from you about other great things that libraries have done for you.
Lisa Marie Joyce is the Outreach Librarian at the Portland and South Portland Public Libraries. She is a graduate of U of Maine and Simmons College Graduate School of Library and Information Science. She is a native of Portland and began her work life as a Tax Accountant.
And if you’ve read this far–here’s a treat: One person who comments on our blog this week will win a pair of these: