It’s been some time since I’ve written a library post. Recently at my work we’ve had an influx of volunteers because of a class requirement and it motivated me to write about volunteering at your local library.
So what do I think about volunteering at the library? I think it’s absolutely awesome. It’s a great way to give back to your community and promote literacy and really help out an institution that probably needs it. I know this from personal experience–not just by watching volunteers in action, but because I used to be a volunteer myself.
Library work can be very rewarding, even if you’re just finding books on the shelves. I suppose it depends on what you like to do and how you like to spend your time, but if you’re reading my blog I’m thinking you probably like books or writing or both. I’m sure the duties vary by library, so I can’t really comment about them here. There will probably be shelving involved, which I always like because I end up finding interesting books that I didn’t know existed. You might get assigned to different tasks ranging from running the summer reading program to putting up/taking down seasonal decorations. Don’t feel daunted by the possibilities. You might ask about volunteer tasks before you commit to hours so you know what you’re getting into.
One thing that’s great about the library is the fact that it’s an institution based on helping people. It’s not about making a sale, it’s about finding the information or media in question. Yeah, it’s not exactly the business of saving lives, but I always feel good when I help someone find the section or book they’re looking for. I manage to accomplish something without too much stress.
Spending time at the library also helps you get acquainted with the organization system, and with the people who work there, which can be a benefit if you want to one day work in a library, or even if you just want to get more out of your library experience. I like to talk books with The Children’s Librarian, and we tend to recommend books to each other. It’s also nice to make new friends with fellow volunteers, or get to know the other people in your community who come in as patrons.
And there you have it! I highly recommend volunteering at your local library. Who knows–if you’re there when a new batch of books are processed, you might be able to call dibs on the newest big thing!
Toaster Tuesday is a series of posts about e-readers, specifically my experiences as a new Nook owner. The concept was partially inspired by a show called Battlestar Galactica. Basically the antagonists in the story are the Cylons, who are robots. The humans like to call them Toasters. I figured since there is a dichotomy between organic and electronic in the book world as well, I’d play with the idea and (affectionately) refer to my Nook as a Toaster. (Her real name is Ariadne, though, thank you very much.)
Me hanging with Walt Whitman at Panera Bread. Yum yum!
Back when I used to hate on ereaders, one of the arguments that kept me from purchasing one was price. Not of the ereader itself, but of the files I’d be downloading and reading. I felt that for the price of a physical book–all that paper, the text on it, the actual story–whenever I found deals, the books were worth the money. Compared to some of the prices I’ve seen for ebooks (more than $10 for an ebook!!), I was really skeptical about paying the same or more for a few megabytes of data. That I would never physically hold.
I still turn my nose up at higher end ebooks (unless I’m desperate). I often go for the ones that are free or only a few dollars. But the gold mine of ebooks wasn’t just those classics free from Project Gutenberg. It was in my local libraries. You see, a lot of libraries have been keeping up with the times as best they can. This doesn’t just include computer upgrades, it also extends to their collections.
The Long Beach Public Library, Los Angeles Public Library, Orange County Public Library, and County of Los Angeles Public Library all have ebook collections that can be accessed online. (Yes, I’m a patron of all those libraries. ) Now, their selections vary and they don’t have as many ebooks as physical books available, but there’s still a good chance of finding something to read. If you’re wary about ebook prices but are still interested in an ereader, check out the local libraries and see if they offer an ebook collection. Usually the ebooks can be “borrowed” for two weeks. If your time runs out and no one else is waiting for it, you can “borrow” the ebook again. It’s quite simple. The files can be downloaded to your computer, then uploaded to your device. That’s how it works with my Nook, anyway.
You’re probably wondering when I’m going to talk about all of those ebooks I get from LibraryThing, or the other ebooks I’ve received for review. Well, I’m saving that for another post.
The other way to read ebooks not readily available at the library or for free from the Barnes & Noble e-store is to simply go to your local Barnes & Noble. You get an hour of free reading on your Nook everyday in-store. If you’re a fast reader (unlike me) it’s a great deal for you. Even if you’re not fast, sometimes you can read more than the often short ebook samples allow in a day’s hour. It’s not as convenient, sure, but for free, it’s a pretty good deal.
There’s also a lending feature on the Nook that I’d like to talk about, but I don’t actually know enough to write about it yet. But I will someday!
Now you see why this post had a touch of library post in it. What can I say, I love libraries AND I love my Nook! I get ecstatic when I can combine my affections for the two!
It’s inevitable. All libraries have limits to their collections. One day you may find they don’t have the very book you are looking for. Never fear! If you press them some, the library may still be able to help you find your literary treasure.
- Is your library part of a library system? Does it have other branches in other locations? Other branches may have the book you need, and there is probably a delivery system in place that will get the book to your local branch. Some libraries charge a small amount for this service (a reasonable amount, like say 25 cents), some libraries provide it for free. And when you’re done with the book, you can return it to your local branch. Never fear if the book you want is at the other end of the county!
- Does your library offer ILL services? ILL stands for Inter-Library Loan. If you don’t know, it wouldn’t hurt to ask your librarian. ILL is exactly what it sounds like–if your library doesn’t own the book, it reaches out to another library or library system for the book and has it transferred for you. The drawback to this option is that it will take a while to process your request, and your allowed borrowing time for the book may be limited. If you’re not in a hurry, ILL can work for you. I’ve heard of books coming in from New York to our little California branch!
- Patron of more than one library? I have so many library cards that I have privileges at over 200 libraries in Southern California. I’ve used all of these cards at least once. Using the internet, you can probably find all of the different libraries, if any, that are closest to you and search their online catalogs. I’d suggest trying PublicLibraries.com, where you can find public library listings by state, or WorldCat.org, which is a worldwide library catalog that will help you find your title at a nearby library. If it’s not too much of a drive or bus ride, you might consider seeing what’s up at the libraries in the next county or city yourself to avoid the ILL wait.
- If the book simply is not in the library collection, you can also try submitting a purchase request. There’s no guarantee that the request will be filled, but I’ve done it at a library system I don’t work at and the request got filled (with two copies of the book at different branches!). So you don’t need to have special connections to the library to get that book onto the shelves. Well, it might help to know your librarian’s name. Please know your librarian’s name. You know what, don’t tell me. I’m going to assume the best.
If none of these options work for you, you may have to just go out and buy your own copy. I’d suggest a quick sweep of the used books on sale, just in case the book happened to be donated recently. Your librarian can help you with all of the options I listed, but don’t be distressed if your librarian can’t make it work. He or she is more than willing and able to at least help you find a nearby bookstore.
Never be afraid to ask. The library wants to help you find your book. If you get lost in the shelves looking for your title, don’t be afraid to ask! Sometimes books are in certain special areas of the library.
The last time I wrote a library post, I explored how your mere presence can help your library. To continue the theme of ways to help your library, I’ll talk about going a step above simply being a patron.
Many libraries have a volunteer organization usually called the “Friends of [insert library here].” The Friends at my library handle donations and the used book/DVD/CD/cassette sales. A great way to give back to your local library is to make a donation of some sort. Basically the items in good condition are considered for adding to the library’s collection. Unfortunately for my branch, not every single item can go into the collection because that particular edition may not be in the library system’s catalog, or we may not have enough room on the shelf for the number of copies that come into our possession.
Worry not! Most items, if not added or saved for various reasons, will probably go into the used item sale run by the Friends. The money from these sales at my library goes toward buying new items for the collection. So basically any of the customers at my library can get as much as a bagful of books for one big, fat dollar, and that dollar goes toward buying us nice things! Great exchange, I think. Look for these sales at your local libraries if you like cheap books or other media in fair to new condition! I have yet to go to a library that doesn’t have some sort of sale shelf. I’ve found some great stuff over the years, including So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld and the whole Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy collection for a dollar each. Pretty neat!
So if you’re feeling generous or have some shelf-clearing to do, consider giving to your local library. It’ll probably be tax-deductible, which always helps. (Those darn taxes!) Call ahead, though, to make sure they’re taking donations, and to make sure they’re taking the type of items you’re ready to give. Some branches may only take certain types of items, and some may only take donations on certain days, or at certain times.
And if you’re looking for cheap books or want to pad your collection, the Friends can help with that too!
If your library doesn’t have a Friends organization, consider starting one up. It would count not only as volunteer work, but if you’re organizing it, it’s basically a leadership position. You’ll be handling money as well, so you’ll probably exercise skills in accounting of some sort. And if you love books and have the time, really it’s a great way to give back to the community.
That’s a short run-down of the Friends. I’ll write more on library volunteering in another post, but I hope this has been helpful. Keep the library love alive! And stay tuned for my 100/300 Giveaway this weekend!
BLOGFEST 2011 GIVEAWAYS CLOSED SCOTT WESTERFELD GIVEAWAY CLOSED
Wowsers! Thanks to everyone who has stopped by the blog and welcome to you new subscribers.
BlogFest 2011 is ending in some hours but I’ve already received over 130 entries! Get those entries in while you still can! And mark your calendars: the next giveaway hop starts on July 24th.
And thanks to everyone who left their blog links or short messages in the forms. I appreciate reading the comments and I’m looking forward to visiting all of your blogs!
Now for the point of this post: I was inspired to write about libraries. (And you know about me and inspiration by now.) I’ve posted some reviews, and a little bit about writing, but another huge part of my life is underrepresented. Time to change that!
I think libraries are awesome. I’m not just saying that because I work at one. (Although I will admit I am biased.) Even if I didn’t work at one, I’d still be a student, a reader, and a writer. (If you’re a writer, you should definitely be a reader.) And I’d still be a patron of these libraries:
Yup, those are my library cards. I’m not counting two library systems where I’ve let my cards expire (though I do still frequent one of them). I’m also not counting my privileges at the university libraries. But when you consider that most of these are cards are for library systems, I actually have borrowing privileges and computer privileges at over 100 libraries throughout Southern California. If I renewed my other cards, that would put me at over 200.
I think that’s pretty neat, and I humbly admit that I’m very lucky to have access to this multitude of resources. If I can’t find a book in one system, usually another will have it. Or if I frequent a certain area, I always have some place to go and study. That’s pretty much why I have so many cards. =)
But Library Page, you may be asking, how does this matter to me?
I don’t have to tell you how ridiculously cool it is that libraries let you take home books for weeks at a time just so you can read them for free. I think that’s pretty universal. In my library posts I’ll try to illuminate “trade secrets” that aren’t really secrets, or give you reasons to be a more active library patron. Or both.
Today’s topic: your library needs you (part 1).
My library system keeps track of the number of items that are borrowed each year. As you can imagine, more is better. It makes us look worthy and keeps us funded. It also keeps books you love on the shelves. (If a book isn’t going out, it will be weeded to make shelf room for other books. Sad fact.) If you can’t donate materials, buy used books, or volunteer, a great way to support your library is merely to keep coming back and checking out materials.
Another way to love your library is to participate in library events. My library has great family events like magic shows and storytimes. We also have a dog come in every other week so the kids can read to him. He’s very cute.
I know the amount of planning and set-up and advertising that goes into some events and it gets really intense because of our small staff. If good events are not drawing attendees, much like unpopular books they’ll probably get the ax. (I’ve seen it happen.) A great way to show your appreciation and encourage more great events is to attend and bring family or friends along, even if they don’t have library cards. I’m always on the lookout for cool things like author talks or special book sales at my local branches, and I never regret participating.
A huge event every year is the summer reading program. Well, there’s more than one because there’s one specifically for children, one for teens, and one for adults. Yes, adults too! This year’s themes are “One World, Many Stories,” “You Are Here,” and “Novel Destinations” respectively. I’ve noticed that different library systems are all hosting the same themes, so if you’re in the US, it’s worth a shot to seek them out at your local library. They should still be going on. Usually the programs offer prizes, and it’s free to sign up! Joining a reading program is a great way to get your read on and get free stuff. Let’s be honest, you’re probably here because you like reading. And who doesn’t love free stuff?
One of my favorite events this year was Literary Orange. Hosted by the Orange County Public Libraries and the UC Irvine Libraries, it was basically a book festival, or a mini-con, I suppose. I got to meet some great authors like Lauren Kate, Tim Pratt, and Gail Carriger, and get my books signed, and library swag. There was a registration fee, but there was a huge discount for students. And they provided a really good lunch, too. It was relatively small (500 attendees), but a quality experience. Really, you never know what your library is up to!
Your library is there for you, so take advantage of its resources and keep it up and running. Trust me, they will love you for it.
I’d love to hear in the comments what cool programs or events your local library is hosting!
Well, I’ve been toying with the idea of creating a blog about being a graduate student for a couple of months. I know there are so many blogs out there that are pretty much writing about writing, but I’m hoping my academic experiences, library shenanigans, and book reviews will keep things interesting around here. I was also partially inspired by the Clarion Write-A-Thon to create a blog to track my my writing throughout the summer.
I started a new novel on Sunday (five days ago), and I intend to finish it in the coming months. I know I am capable of writing 50,000 words in three weeks if I am inspired, so here’s hoping that kind of inspiration magically appears again. At the very least, I’m aiming for an average of five pages a day. It’s doable. Rough, but doable.
There is another novel I started in December 2010. I’m a couple hundred pages into it, but stopped working on it when school got started again after the winter break. I’ve submitted excerpts to workshops and have gotten some very insightful comments, some of which I will use to inspire blog posts. This novel also needs to be completed before the summer ends. Mostly because I’m not sure which of the two is going to become my thesis. But more on my thesis woes in another post.
When I’m not going on about writing and graduate school experiences, I’m pretty sure my main source material will be my vow to read at least one book each week until school starts up again. I’m currently more than halfway through book the first, and I’m really enjoying it, so I’m excited to write my first review as soon as I finish it. I’ve never really written a full-fledged book review before, so I’m very eager to try on this new genre of writing.
One thing you have to know about me before we proceed: I may be in a MFA program, but I write fantasy stories. The level of fantasy varies. One of my screenplays is about stage magicians and the other was described by someone as “Inception meets The NeverEnding Story meets Tron.” Some stories of mine feature angels and ghosts, a couple of novels are epic fantasies. You can imagine what I like to read. A lot of it lately has been YA fantasy, because that’s what tickles my imagination. But, sure, I like adult stories, too. I love Neil Gaiman, Aimee Bender, and Tim Pratt. I also like Caleb Carr, Banana Yoshimoto, and James Baldwin. I’ve got great book recs from my professors, and I’m always open to more.
So don’t expect drivel from me, but don’t expect me to quote Kafka either.
Well, it’s quite late (or early) here, and I’ve got a graduation ceremony to attend tomorrow. I’ll end by posting an article on the contention over the privatization of libraries here in CA. It’s a very concerning issue, and may require a whole post in the future. We’ll see.
Thank you for reading. It’s a pleasure to meet you.