Thank you, Bonnie Le and Konnie, for inviting me to be your first guest blogger. We three are readers and writers who use libraries, and I was a librarian for over 25 years, so I’d like to share some library lore with your readers.
No matter what kind of writing you do – fiction, non-fiction, essays, or even poetry -- somewhere along the line you will need to do some fact-finding and fact-checking.
at you know goes only so far. Where does a writer begin to do research? Why, at the local public library, of course!
Here are some basic but very important things to know about your public library:
1. Your card -- Get acquainted with your local library and its librarians, Apply for a library card and keep it in good standing. Promptly pay any fines that accrue and pay for any lost library material. Renew your card when the time comes.
2. The reference desk -- Libraries have a reference desk where masters-degreed and specially-trained librarians will research questions for you and help you find what you need for your writing life. They will teach you how to search databases and how to use electronic and paper catalogues. Also, reference librarians all over the world are good sources for the names of and contact information for local experts and historians.
3. Reciprocal borrowing -- This means the patron travels to the book (or library materials). Visit and use the libraries all around you -- area public libraries, college/university libraries, museum libraries, corporate libraries, special libraries. Many will accept your library card as your admission ticket, or you might need a special permission slip from your home library.
Learn how to use WorldCat and other library databases to identify and locate helpful books, journal articles, DVDs, CDs, primary sources (e.g., diaries or letters from the time period you’re researching). Be sure to take note of (photocopy!) the title and verso (backside of the title page) pages plus the primary sources listed in bibliographies, resource lists, and notes in secondary sources.
4. Interlibrary loan (
) – This means
the book (or other library material) travels to the requesting patron. As
mentioned in #3 above, learn how to use WorldCat and other library databases to
locate helpful books, journal articles, DVDs, CDs, primary sources (e.g., diaries
or letters from the time period you’re researching) at other libraries. A reference
librarian will ILL them for you, so you can pick them up at your home library.
If the item(s) are out of state, there will be a charge for mailing. ILL
Remember -- DON’T SKIP THE LIBRARY RESEARCH! Many stories have been ruined when the writer didn’t do the needed research.
Happy writing – and researching!