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How Writers Can Use Library Spaces

Libraries are a useful resource to all members of their communities. However, their endless source of knowledge, and the opportunities they offer to try things make them the ideal place for a specific group of patrons; writers. Guest writer, Reese Jones, shares how writers can really take advantage of their local libraries.

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In March 2022, President Biden signed off on the US federal funding for libraries. Unfortunately, the final budget between the administration, US House and Senate leadership resulted in funding significantly below what Congress originally proposed. For instance, the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) — which is the only dedicated source of federal support for libraries — received level funding of $197.4 million.

Libraries are valuable for everyone, but they’re particularly special for writers. Writers are relied upon across organizations and industries. Good writing is the backbone of effective and efficient communication, as graduates of liberal studies, literature, communications, journalism, or related fields would know. With their knowledge of English, ethics, history, psychology, and more, writers can offer us education and wisdom, as well as preserve the truth for mankind.

For writers, libraries allow them to work as long as they like for free, and no one will ask them to leave. In our era of rampant misinformation, we should support libraries and writers altogether. Here are some ways writers can maximize the library spaces available to them:

As a space for research and inspiration

Libraries are, first and foremost, a space for research. All you’d need is a library card to get you started, and these can be acquired for free. With their vast collection of books, encyclopedias, historical records, and other documents, writers can easily find what they need. You’d also have access to books dedicated to writers, which can feature essential guides and tips.

In some areas, you can even borrow items to inform your work. Delaware’s Newark Free Library offers gadgets, tools, and games to educate borrowers. Their “Library of Things” project features items ready to be borrowed, such as a high-end set of binoculars and a tiny endoscopic camera, perfect if you need creative and accurate descriptions in your writing. Moreover, libraries are simply inspiring. When you’re surrounded by published works, you can imagine your own book sitting on the shelves and find the motivation to finish your draft.

As a place for meeting your community

Writers are naturally nosy and love to people-watch. A library is an excellent place if you enjoy sitting and daydreaming about strangers since you’re sure to see a host of characters from all walks of life pop in. Local libraries also host events with guest lecturers, poets, novelists, and other experts, which can be great for building relationships in relevant industries. You can even enjoy book clubs, forums, literary discussions, and more with the rest of your community.

Of course, all of this work is done by well-informed librarians. Beyond recommending books, their vast knowledge as information professionals can be crucial if you’re looking for something specific — or even if you simply want an interesting conversation. As highlighted in our guest post called Building Connections Is A Librarian’s Superpower, librarians facilitate our connections with books and other people, so they’re not to be underestimated.

As an office for preparing manuscripts

With the rise of flexible work-from-home (WFH) arrangements, many people who don’t have a home office have taken refuge in coffee shops, away from noisy toddlers and roommates. However, you may still feel the need for a change of scenery — or at least, a cheaper place to focus on work for the day. As an article on WFH spaces by WIRED points out, local libraries are the original and free co-working spaces. More than a third of libraries across the US have dedicated desks, study rooms, and free Wi-Fi so you can write comfortably.

Libraries are also quiet and clean, making them a go-to place if you’re looking for productivity. There are fewer distractions, and more motivations, as you watch other library patrons knuckle down on their own tasks. Most libraries have everything you need for reading and writing, and they often have printing services available in case you ever need to send a physical copy of your manuscript.

When in doubt, writers, head to your local library. You’re sure to find what you need there.

We will be back next week with another interesting article from the library world!

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