Lindsay Roberts

Connecting people with information

Love this trend! Libraries providing services to writers

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After taking a fabulous creative writing class over the summer from Lighthouse Writer’s Workshop, I started paying attention to ways that libraries are helping support writers.

Here are some of my favorites, from public and academic libraries.
Public libraries contributing to self-publishing
I-Street Press is part of Sacramento Public Libraries. I-Street offers classes and equipment for those interested in boosting their writing skills. Class topics feature creative writing, editing, blogging, copyright, children’s book writing, writing cookbooks, and special classes for teens. The Press promotes self-publishing via an Espresso Book Machine. Three pricing tiers are offered so that authors have a variety of options. The most affordable, tier 1, charges a $25 set up fee, $10 per book, and a $0.02 per page fee. Thus if we assume roughly 150 pages for an average book, it costs about $38 for an author to have a print copy of her or his book! Books printed through the Espresso Book Machine are also added to the EspressNet catalog, and can be printed from any other Espresso Book Machine in the world. Currently, demand at I-Street seems to be far outreaching supply, but it can be hoped that in time I-Street will receive more funding to expand its innovative program. The Urban Libraries Council named the I-Street Press as one of their 2012 Top Innovators.

Writing. Creative Commons Flickr photo by jjpacres.

Writing. Creative Commons Flickr photo by jjpacres.

Douglas County Libraries: Ebooks
Douglas County Libraries are experimenting with new models to offer e-books to their patrons. Using their own Adobe Content Server, they are working directly with publishers to offer more than 8,000 titles. Right now, they are able to offer eContent from 12 publisher groups (including Gale Cengage). This is content that they have purchased and own—not just leased, as most other e-book models are currently designed. For the future, they have plans to open up their server to self-published authors. Authors will be able to give an e-copy of their work to Douglas County, who will host it on their Adobe Content Server, and make it available to patrons through their VuFind catalog, potentially including a link for patrons to buy the work, too. Local authors, in particular, could find new audiences for their writing in this way. If patrons are able to review and recommend e-books, authors could grow their following and generate profits from their creative work through this system!
Read more about Douglas County’s e-book innovations in this Public Libraries Magazine article, “The E-book Experiment.” Interested organizations can replicate the Douglas County model through step by step instructions.
Topeka-Shawnee Libraries: Community Novel
Topeka-Shawnee Public Library started a community novel writing project! One new chapter was published each week, written by various authors in the area. The project has made it all the way to completion and a book signing was just held at the end of September. This is great publicity for the authors, as well as a fun way to motivate people in the community and keep them coming to the library website each week as new content is released. Check it out!
Academic libraries: Using Special Collections
I poked around looking for partnerships between academic libraries and writing centers. I’m curious to see which libraries are going beyond simply being located close to the writing center. There must be some innovative projects happening out there!
I did find this project at the University of Chicago. Special Collections Librarian, David Pavelich, held special sessions for students in the MFA program that involved learning how to do research for historical fiction, exploring self-published works through the ages, and studying drafts, editorial changes, and different manuscript versions to better understand the creative process of well-known writers. Read the College & Research Libraries News article here.

Do you know of other cool collaborations? Let’s hear about them!

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One thought on “Love this trend! Libraries providing services to writers

  1. Around here, at least one public library system offers support and write-ins during NaNoWriMo in November.

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