I’ll be perfectly honest… I was a librariphile (did I just make up a word?) as a kid, but for some reason I sort of fell out of the habit of visiting the local library for reading material as I got older. Note I didn’t say grew up, cause I am still a kid at heart.
I think part of the reason was because I generally had funds to purchase my own books and a fairly large library of my own that I could reread if I didn’t have the funds at the moment. And now the Kindle revolution, while a wonderful thing, has me picking up dead-tree books a lot less often.
However, recently I’ve been wanting to reread an older fantasy series that is very high on my list of favorites — David Eddings’ Belgariad, if you’re curious — and it’s not available on Kindle, at least not yet. I’ve been looking in used bookstores, but with limited success, and the only new copies I can find are trade paperback collections, which aren’t my favorite format for fiction.
So, I decided to drop by the website of the local library, and lo and behold, they have four of the five books. They were missing #2 for some reason, but fortunately, the library in the next town over had it. So now I can read one of my favorite series again at no cost except the cost of the gas to go get them.
Now, I mentioned the e-book revolution earlier, and I have the feeling that others are, like me, ignoring dead-tree books in favor of e-books, and thus neglecting their library. It would be a shame to see libraries disappear from America, because not all books are available in e-book format, and, let’s be honest, some books like reference materials and cookbooks work better in a paper format.
They’re also handy if there’s a new series out by an author you like — such as Mr. Eddings — that you’re not sure if you’re going to like or not, perhaps because of poor reviews. Such is the case with me and The Elder Gods, the first book in Eddings’ latest series, which is currently getting 2.3 stars on Amazon. Often a library will have a copy that you can try out free of charge. That way, if you don’t like it, you’re not out any money.
So let me encourage both readers and writers to support your local library even if you love your current e-reader. Writers, why not donate a copy of your work to the libraries in your area? It won’t cost that much and you never know when someone browsing the shelves will think it looks interesting. That’s a new reader, who might want to buy their own copy of your book, thus becoming a new customer. And readers, if you have books you enjoy that the library doesn’t have on their shelves, why not donate them?
Even with all the e-readers available, we need to keep libraries available as well. So support them!