I’ve always felt that librarians and writers have an affinity for each other and a set of natural connections. At its most fundamental level, the connections between librarians and writers grows out of a common curiosity and a love of books. Ray Bradbury claimed the library was where he gained his true education. “I discovered that the library is the real school.” Many other writers feel the same way.
As a writer, I now see the deeper symbiotic relationship we have with librarians. Librarians assist writers with research, buy and shelve our books, read, review and share them, and invite us to events. All of this is of great service to us. We, in return, provide the librarian with their stock and trade: the content found in books, magazines, academic research, and now a vast array of electronic media. And we are, hopefully one of the libraries greatest supporters. (I can’t imagine a writer ever voting against a ballot initiative that supported libraries!). On a more grassroots level, we show up at the library when invited to talk about our books to whomever will listen.
There are many well-known writers who were former librarians. Beverly Cleary, who turned 100 this year, is one of them. And some writers remain practicing librarians, including Eleanor Kuhns and Will Thomas, who both write historical mysteries. And then there’s Ellen Wittlinger, one of my favorite YA writers. She was inspired to write for teens after reading the YA books in the library she was working in. And there are many more, far too numerous to mention.
I was a librarian for half of my working life, before becoming a writer. I was a reference librarian in academic libraries, and later, a school librarian. So a big part of my life revolved around libraries. And still does! I’m at my local library several times a week, to pick up books, do research, and get help from the experts.
I recently met with a group of librarians at the Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA) Annual Conference. What an honor! It was so much fun to talk with them about writing, since many were pursuing this goal. It reminded me again of how closely writers and librarians are connected. Our world is the world of books.
Image courtesy of Hugh Rundle, from ALIA WA Symposium