Library love

It’s National Library Week so I’m going to share the library love.

First, from Zak Stone at GOOD, a great article about a small Massachusettes library, MN Spear, raising money for a new building. Their homegrown You Tube video, “Where would you be without your library?” has gone viral, attracting donations from around the world. They’ve also started a Tumblr feed where people share the many reasons they love their libraries.

You can find lots to love about libraries online. Over on Pinterest, you can visit beautiful libraries, check out library art project ideas, or enter the Age of Librarius. Galley Cat reports on the ALA’s “10 most frequently challenged library books” of 2011. Flavorwire shares all kinds of DIY and alternative library spaces on its “Tiny Libraries, DIY Reading Rooms, and Other Micro Book Depots” post. Huffington Post’s “Libraries in Crisis” section is really about why libraries are as important as ever, why people are fighting library budget cuts across the country, and how libraries are getting creative, doing more with less.

Of course, the best way to love your library is to support it. Go there regularly, check out what they have to offer. If you haven’t been lately, you’ll find much more than books — libraries lend e-readers, downloadable ebooks and audio books, museum passes, magazines, even telescopes. They host classes & programs for all ages, from concerts, readings, discussion groups, and films to edible book contests.  And as I mentioned last week, they incubate the arts.

What do you love about your library?

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The novelists of November

It’s Nov. 2, and I haven’t started writing a novel yet. During four previous Novembers I’ve been bent over my keyboard by now, trying to get off to a good start for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The goal? A completed 50,000 word novel by the 30th.

What then? It depends. My NaNoWriMo novels are sitting in computer files, unlikely to ever make it to a bookshelf. What’s the point, naysayers ask?  As Carolyn Kellogg wrote in the LA Times Jacket Copy blog last year, there are worse ways to spend free time than writing a novel.

Completing a large writing project in a month is an exercise in discipline. It helps form an important habit, one Jane Yolen says is the secret to her productivity: “Butt In Chair.” NaNoWriMo is also good for creativity; there isn’t time to succumb to your inner editor.  And there’s a sense of camaraderie as thousands of people around the world work towards the same deadline.

These days, writing fiction could take your mind off famine, recession, war, and politics. Or in the Northeast, power outages and October snow. As I heard Professor Ralph Williams say at a post-film discussion in Concord two weekends ago, beauty (or in the case of NaNoWriMo, attempts at beauty) can help us deal with evil.

Need more motivation? Some November novelists take their manuscripts to the next level.  Writing for Chapter & Verse, a blog at the Christian Science Monitor, Husna Haq points out that two recent best-sellers, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, began as NaNoWriMo drafts.

Intrigued? You have most of November left to join NaNoWriMo. If you have no idea where to begin, check out Galley Cat’s excellent daily tips for NaNoWriMo. Today’s tip is one I endorse: visit the reference desk.