Shhh! I’m in the Library!

Yesterday, I went to the library.   Even as I write the words, it almost sounds quaint, as though I were writing a period piece.

With the advent of the internet and computers, libraries, with their stacks of dust collecting books, can seem antiquated to the casual observer.  After all, who wants to spend time wandering through aisles, paging through books, when the world is a few key taps away on a computer?

Hey, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

I’ll be the first to admit that I couldn’t live without my laptop.  To be able to access all of the information available on the internet is a wonder indeed. But—and tell the truth now—how many times have you hopefully tapped a term into a search box, eagerly anticipating the answer to a burning question, only to spend the next half hour clicking through links, none of which was helpful?

Enter the ever-faithful library.   In the past few months, I’ve checked out books on writing, publishers and literary agents.  And though I didn’t always find exactly what I was looking for, I unearthed enough information to allow me to return to my computer and quickly find what I needed.

For some reason, to my mind, there’s still nothing like holding a book in hand, especially if it’s a reference book.  Being able to return to particular pages that I’ve marked with a sticky note is not only comforting to me, frankly, sometimes it’s just simpler, especially when I’m a dozen clicks away from the page on which I thought I saw something that interested me, but I forgot exactly where it was on my internet journey.

Granted, you may not find up to the minute information at your local library, but do yourself a favor and see if your local branch stocks books like Writer’s Market along with other writing/publishing references.  The info in the books changes regularly and most must be purchased; you can’t access the information online for free.  Borrowing a copy from the library saves money and allows you access to multiple sources.  Even if your library doesn’t have the latest version of the book, again, you’ll have access to some great information which you can then refine with a computer search.

On another note, most libraries have computer access.  You can use a library computer or bring your own laptop.  Take a few hours and work a plan to investigate publishers, literary agents or sources to send your writing.   Start with the reference books, then hit the library computer system to clarify info and develop a mailing or query list.  In addition, the library atmosphere will help keep you focused and on track.

In an age when instant information is all the rage, sometimes the key to getting things done is to simplify.  In that case, nothing beats a good reference book and the quiet, industrious atmosphere of an old-fashioned library.

Visit Mary Fran Bontempo at her website at

1 Comment

  1. March 6, 2010 at 12:49 am

    I can’t imagine research without a computer. But, I agree with you that there is nothing like holding a book. Plus at the library if you have a question, you can ask a real person. And get the answer and a smile for the same price.
    What computer beats that?

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