Recently in writing an article on what libraries can do for writers, I encountered an attitude that’s increasingly popular in the service, entertainment and information industries and that is “we want to give the client what they ask for.”
So let me ask you this: do you know what you want?
In the work I do, I require backlist novels of other authors especially the out-of-print, defunct publisher material I can’t buy online. But I gather the average public wants multiple copies of the latest bestseller for their bookclub reading and so libraries must weed out what I need for blockbuster space. Okay, majority rules, I get that.
But never mind my small needs. What I really desire for myself and for my children and grandchildren, especially from the library, is randomness.
Randomness is what inspires. Randomness shakes us out of our comfort zone and exposes us to new thoughts and experiences. Random stories, information and opportunity.
You may think your child only likes stories about dogs but what about a picture book on an armadillo visiting Paris? Your friends may want a room to knit and chat in but what about an Indigenous speaker talking in your library’s auditorium about native art? You may need the library Internet or Job Board but how about using an Expresso Book making machine to print out your memoirs. What about someone to show you how to use it?
All of what I have mentioned is available at libraries. So let us continue to celebrate randomness. And libraries! Visit your branch in person–not just online. Chat with your librarian and ask her what’s new.