Saturday, November 12, 2011

An open letter to my (our) Library...

Mr., Mrs., Ms., Miss Librarian,

    You are witnessing the revolution in bookmaking from a unique perspective; you only collect. Neither promoting nor encouraging, your presence in our community is a testament that people still read. We all know the ways in which reading is changing, so I will not dwell on those facts. I care that you look once again to your obvious influence on the readers.
    However apart as you may be from the writers and the publishers, your very presence is a commanding judgment on the books themselves. Your guidelines for inclusion of a book should follow the revolution. At the moment you are ten years behind—at close to the same awareness as publishers.
    The community of outstanding authors has exploded. The availability of excellent reading material has bloomed beyond understanding. Self-published authors are finding readers, and it is happening 'no thanks' to publishers. It is also happening, 'no thanks' to libraries. While writers and readers remake the exchange of printed words, the two other Institutions of Text flounder without direction.
    Adding eBooks is only marginally interesting; much as adding recorded movies and music. It was a fine move, but superficial.
    You are missing out on print. You are not expanding to allow that precious experience for your readers—the choice to hold a book in their hands for a week of wonder.
    You are not drowning in the sea of print, as many are, because you have not embraced the revolution at all. I want you to come with us. There is only one, best way you can. Embrace your local authors.

    Every library in America already has a local authors section. I would assure you, it contains one tenth the number of books available to you. Book available at no cost, by the way. Authors would gladly give you a printed copy, if you would only open your arms and allow them to come rest on your shelves.
    I say this, because I sat in a corner of the library all spring, with my laptop open to my latest novel file. Right at the shelves of western classics, I saw people come browse every ten minutes on those shelves. Some of them walked away empty handed, others would strike a conversation and complain they had read everything in sight in that section.
    What a sad truth to hear. Readers...with nothing to read. And, I know authors in town who write westerns. Their books are not there to be chosen.

    This needn't be a longer discussion. Please open your shelves to every author with a printed book, who lives within an hour's drive of your wonderful building. Don't judge whether they have written well enough to be there among the classics. Let your readers do that, please.
    I've heard your patrons wishing they had that choice.

  Thank you,

  Joel Blaine Kirkpatrick,
  Father of five books.
  Two of which are good.