I’ve often said if I had to be stranded somewhere, I’d choose a library. They are warm, well-lit, and clean. There’s usually a staff room with the makings of coffee and tea, and often a fridge filled with snacks. Best of all, there are books. Stacks and stacks, row upon row, of books.
I love to visit libraries around the world.
Did you know that the Tikkurila Library in Vantaa, Finland has a karaoke room with thousands of songs that patrons can perform? (Don’t worry; the room is soundproof.) Or that the New York Public Library loans accessories like neckties or briefcases for people who need to polish off their look for a job interview? How about this piece of trivia: the Joanina Library at the University of Coimbra in Portugal has a number of bats in residence. No one minds because the bats prey on insects that could damage books. Staff drape the tables overnight and clean up the guano in the morning. Now that’s dedication!
And librarians are dedicated. As a kid, it was a librarian who helped me learn to write so I could get a much-coveted library card. As an adult, librarians helped me with research for a number of my books. And now, as a writer, libraries also contribute to my income.
The end of February is when PLR (Public Lending Right) cheques are issued to authors. This year, more than 17,000 Canadian authors will receive money as compensation for free public access to our books through Canada’s public libraries. I’m always grateful to receive that cheque. I’m also grateful for what it represents – our incredible library system and the acknowledgement of the role Canadian authors play in contributing to it. Thanks is also due to the Canada Council for the Arts which spearheads this important program.
And if you’re a reader but you haven’t visited the library in a while, I hope you check out your local branch soon.