Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Library Love

by Jeanette O'Hagan




My first memory of a library was a small room, about the size of a broom cupboard, at the Mt Isa Mines State School. It was grade 3, I didn't have friends to play with during the breaks. A teacher introduced me to the library, and I took to reading like silverfish to paper.  By the time I left that school at the end of Grade 4, I think I'd read every title on the shelf, including The Last of the Mohicans. (My school reports often suggested that I needed to read more to improve my atrocious spelling, much to the amusement of my mother, who had limited me to reading one book a day).

These days, I frequent our local library, putting books on hold or browsing the return shelves for great books to read. I not sure I could manage the Popsugar Reading challenges without the library's help. I've even been thrilled to find copies from authors I know personally on the shelves - Helene Young, Rosanne Hawke, Adele Jones, Paula Vince. Libraries help with my book budget. They mean I can walk into my bedroom with only a few (okay four) groaning bookcases and (five-ish) to-read book piles on my floor and desk.


Libraries are great for authors too:


Unlike second-hand and thrift shop books, libraries pay royalties to authors. While this isn't as much as royalties through the sale of the book, for some authors it can be significant as a book may be borrowed many times.

Readers can also request the librarian get in books and even take suggestions for book club sets. By requesting books by our favourite Australasian Christian authors - we then make those books more visible and available to other readers.

Writers may also approach libraries with their books, either as a potential sale or as a donation. Generally, the book will need an ISBN, and be registered with NLA and preferably be with a library distributor - but a many indie authors have had success in approaching local or regional libraries.


In Australia, the National Library of Australia (NLA) keeps a copy of all books published in Australia and/or Australian Authors. Your local State Library will expect a copy as well.

Charis Joy Jackson, Lynne Stringer and Jeanette O'Hagan at BOBY 2015


I'm not sure if there is anything similar in other States - but in Queensland, the Queensland Writers' Centre (QWC) and State Library of Queensland (SLQ) produce a catalogue of all Queensland books published in the year - Books in Our Back Yard (registrations are currently open until the end of the month for 2016 publications). They hold an event to launch the catalogue, with the books in the catalogue displayed on the SLQ shelves.

Libraries often hold book clubs meetings, meet-the-author or book themed events. They often have rooms available for hire that can be used for writers' groups, book launches and author talks.  Holding a book event in a library has obvious advantages, especially if the librarians help promote the event - as most people who frequent libraries also love books. (Some may be be there to level up their pokemon.)

I think we are blessed in Australia and New Zealand to have so many free council libraries, as well as the State and National Libraries.

What about you? Do you use your local library? What do you like about it?

I know that some of you have had experiences with book launches and events at libraries and would love to hear about your experiences. Have you any advice on how best to approach libraries?

Images © Jeanette O'Hagan

Jeanette O’Hagan first started spinning tales in the world of Nardva at the age of nine. She enjoys writing fiction, poetry, blogging and editing.

Jeanette is writing her Akrad’s Legacy Series—a Young Adult secondary world fantasy fiction with adventure, courtly intrigue and romantic elements. She is about to launch Lakwi's Lament: a short story next week and she recently launched Heart of the Mountain: a short novella and The Herbalist's Daughter: a short story. Other short stories and poems are published in a number of anthologies including Glimpses of Light, Another Time Another Place and Like a Girl.

Jeanette has practised medicine, studied communication, history, theology and, more recently, a Master of Arts (Writing). She loves reading, painting, travel, catching up for coffee with friends, pondering the meaning of life and communicating God’s great love. She lives in Brisbane with her husband and children.

You can find her at her Facebook Page or at Goodreads or on Amazon or on her websites JennysThread.com or Jeanette O'Hagan Writes .


14 comments:

  1. Jeanette, great post! I do have concerns that the local library we grew up and loved visiting will not exist in the coming years. My local library has less print books on the shelves than in previous years. Avid readers in Australia are supporting local authors when they borrow homegrown print books.

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    1. Thanks Narelle - yes, libraries are branching out into kindle and audiotapes. Our local library seems to be flourishing - I do hope we keep that going. And, absolutely, borrowing homegrown print books supports our local authors.

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  2. Thanks for this wonderful post Jenny :-)
    I just love libraries. My favourite places to be are stationery shops (especially Officeworks - yes, I'm a bit nutty), bookstores, especially if they have a cafe (that's why I love going to Pages Cafe at Koorong), and of course my local library. I do get a lot of eBooks from the library via Overdrive, but there is nothing quite like touching and smelling a print book. I also love to write at the library, as there are always plenty of reference books for research. But mostly I love writing in there because of the airconditioning. Not such an issue during winter, as an expat from New Zealand, I do love winter. Cold? Aussie's don't know the meaning of the word ... unless they live in Tasmania ;-) I'm happy to say that when I talked to my thirteen and a half year old granddaughter about the possibility of getting her an eReader, or perhaps putting a reading app on her tablet, she responded 'Oh, no thanks Nanna. Maybe one day, but for now I just love to hold a real book.' So glad I spent a lot of time with her during the formative years, and yes, we never could get enough books. She even had her own library card at the age of three :-)

    Also, thanks Jenny for mentioning that we could the library to stock certain books ... I didn't know that.

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    1. Hi Jo'Anne
      My children had library cards at tender ages (maybe not quite the day they were born but not far off). And yes, I love writing and researching in libraries too - the air con is a big plus.

      Another possibility is donating books of authors we love to libraries. Every bit helps.

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  3. Hi Jenny, I hope local public libraries manage to hold on. They are an invaluable resource. I remember greatly looking forward to the visit of the mobile library, in the back of a truck, during my Primary School days, in addition to the normal ones.
    Here in SA, they are all linked up now, so you only need one library card. You reserve it from your local library, and it comes quickly from any other library which has it on hand around the state. I rarely find a title I can't get hold of these days. Which reminds me, I might go on to their website and seek a couple right now :)

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    1. Hi Paula, we have mobile libraries in Brisbane. Our libraries are connected across council groupings, which for Brisbane City Council is quite a lot of libraries - having a Statewide connection is awesome.

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  4. Jeanette, thank you for promoting libraries. I feel terrible not really having given libraries much love at all even though I have such fond memories of them (especially Uni days).

    I keep meaning to visit my local one and your post has given me the kick up the backside I need to do it so thank you.

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    1. Wow, that's great Ian. Each library has their own character, I think - some big, some small, some cozy, some family friendly, others more sedate. Enjoy.

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  5. Hi Jenny - Great post. We have a great new library in Toowoomba that holds lots of events. Adele has done a book launch and an author talk there. I head there at least once a week. Certainly does help keep the book budget down. I've requested about 30 Christian novels over the last few years and I think they've ordered them all in, so it's worth putting in a request for your favourite authors. Our library also offers online courses.

    The only slight hiccup I had was that I was looking forward to also borrowing e-books and then discovered that my Kindle Paperwhite doesn't support the e-book format they use. So if you don't have an e-reader yet, check with your library first to see what ones are compatible.

    I love my Kindle, but I still love to hold an actual book in my hands. And for some books, like picture books and other illustrated books or those with photos, real books are king (or queen).

    Thanks for plugging libraries :)

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    1. Hi Nola - I've visited the old Toowoomba library with my sister a couple of times and loved it. Must visit the new one sometime. I also noticed that there were Christian authors there - so it seems we have your to thank for that :) Good point about getting e-books from the library - that's something I haven't done as yet. I think I do enjoy holding a book though I do like my kindle.

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  6. Yes, I love libraries too. I've worked in many over the years.

    Councils like to see libraries being used, even if it's for events that aren't even connected to books! So they are usually open to holding events.

    I did work for one librarian who wouldn't have Christian books in his library - but there were actually some there - I didn't tell him! They came from an American source which didn't distinguish between secular and Christian fiction.

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    1. That's funny about the librarian. Good to get the perspective of a librarian. I'm seriously thinking of having the print launch of my next book in a local library. May be worth too, considering the demographic of a particular library and the target audience of one's book.

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  7. I'm just back from an author visit to a library in the Western Downs Region, where I did a workshop around a heroes and villains theme. We had a great morning with an enthusiastic bunch of attendees and, as always, the library staff were just wonderful hosts. I am repeatedly impressed by the enthusiasm librarians have for books and reading, along with a mountain of gratitude for the time and energy authors invest in their library visits. And I've been to number of libraries in recent years, not just as an author, but as a patron, parent and visitor. They are wonderful places. Thanks, Jeanette. :)

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    1. Wonderful Adele - I love that you were at a library-based event today. And I know your latest book launch for Activate went well at a library. Good to see :)

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