By Stacy S. Jensen
I hope you have a library card. Every writer should have one.
I wanted to share several ways I use my local library as a writer. Some are obvious, but some may be new to you.
This is a video I made last year for a contest
the Pikes Peak Library District held called #PPLDRocks.
In Colorado Springs, I use my local system Pikes Peak Library District. Here are the ways I use the library.
- Meeting room — Most libraries offer free meeting space for groups. One critique group used to book a room for monthly critique groups. We just had to be sure to close the door to our little room in order not to disturb other patrons. Our new high tech branch Library 21c even has meeting rooms with a MonoPad, a giant touch tablet. My critique group has used it to Skype in members who moved out of state. Some Pikes Peak Writers events are held at library meeting spaces, too.
- Software — The library system recently began allowing card holders access to Lynda.com. The company offers thousands of instruction videos on software, business and creative skills. You can watch videos on how to build a website with WordPress, how to design a logo, how to create a book cover or how to design a book. I recently found an online course for $147, but watched a similar course on the same topic for free from my library's Lynda.com subscription. You can either log in through the library on your home device or use a library computer to watch Lynda.com videos. You may have to wait for a turn to use Lynda.com through the library's system, but the cost savings can be significant.
- Digital books — If the library system doesn't have a book I want, I'm open to checking out a digital or audio version. If it's available the Cybershelf, I can download an ebook to my Kindle or download a PDF.
- Audio Books — I added an OverDrive app to my phone and tablet. I check out audio books via my library card onto my iPad. This allows me to "read" while I'm doing hands-on craft projects.
- Videos — Need to study story structure via a video or just take a break? The library offers this too via OverDrive and Hoopla. (http://ppld.org/cybershelf-evideos) I also have the option to borrow videos through OverDrive and videos and music through Hoopla. I also put DVDs on hold. Some of those are to entertain the kiddo.
- Books — Here's my obvious use, but I'll tell you the library saves me a lot of time and money each week as I research books. At $16 more or less for a picture book, I rely on the library A LOT for my writing research and family entertainment.
For books I:
- Put them on hold — I search the library catalog from my house and put dozens of titles on hold. I don't have to drive all over the city to pick up books at various branches. The library elves collect them and deliver them to my library. It's a time saver on several levels.
- Request books — If the library doesn't have a copy of a title I want to read, I can request the book through an interlibrary loan. I haven't had much success with this. So, I typically ask the library to consider purchasing a book. I use Amazon to find the ISBN number and provide a few lines on why I think it would be a good fit for our system.
- Find display books — The library staff kindly puts several books on display in every section, so you can judge a book by its full cover. They don't mind that you grab these selections. I check out one on almost every library visit.
How do you use your library? Any resources at your library that really help you as a writer?
About the Author: Stacy S.Jensen worked as a newspaper reporter and editor for two decades. Today, she writes picture books and revises a memoir manuscript. She lives in Colorado Springs with her husband and son.