There’s this place with books and periodicals, a staff that has an acute expertise for researching just about every subject and best of all it’s free! It’s the public library. This installment of “Don’t Forget the Old School” will take on why visiting the library is important to writing.
It’s the library’s mystique – the rows of books, the smell of the pages, the weird looks from that one guy who appears to be talking to his toes…
Technically, writing and researching in a library won’t increase your I.Q. immediately, but it will be a more productive place to work. Picture your home office – cozy but full of distractions. It’s quiet unless you live with other people and then that’s optional.
Quiet in a library is not optional. I swear there are people who go there specifically to shush people. There’s no refrigerator, no comfy sleeping couch and definitely no annoying neighbors popping up to say hi or to ask you about your lawn, mail or any other inane topic. When you go it will be just you and your work. That’s worth the price of admission and did I mention it’s f-r-e-e-?
Spending time in the actual library will give you access to incredible amounts of information and to helpful librarians who often know more about the subject than the person whose book you are checking out. I know, the argument is that you can get the same thing on the ‘net, especially with online search mechanisms often powered by the library system in your area. Let’s take a closer look…
Face it, not all materials in book form are available to read online. Have you ever tracked down a source based on a book synopsis and then realize the person is either on a different track than your article, the book sucks or is so dry it would give sand a run for its money?
I have, it’s disappointing and a waste of time. I write mostly for consumer periodicals and websites now so when I pick people and sources for research, I do so with the audience in mind. Busy working moms do not have time, nor the inclination to pick up a dry medical journal citing the ratio of infants with reflux. They would be more interested in a ‘parent’s guide’ book that covers medical ailments in an easy to understand manner.
The people who wrote the ‘parents guide’ book will also fit my audience’s expectations when it comes to quotes and information. That makes my job easier and my research comprehensive and valuable to my target audience.
The librarians often know someone in the field that you are intersted in or at least an organization or source that can take you on your next step. At public college and university libraries, finding the right source is only a short campus walk away from the library.
Don’t discount the public library, the Internet’s ease of use is tempting, but there are some times when immersion is the way to go!