Rule 5. The library is a growing organism
Again, this is another rule that applies first and foremost to libraries in and of themselves. As a librarian, let me first shed some insight on this. The library is a growing, evolving, changing organization. We adapt to technology, to the times, to community needs. We do have parameters for this evolvement. Libraries have mission statements and strategic plans. They have core tenets and beliefs. I doubt that the library will ever evolve into something completely unrecognizable. As long as there is information that needs to be housed, organized, and made accessible, so will libraries, as an organization, need to exist.
That’s the thing, however, the forms of information does change. Information -- whether literature or factual -- is no longer just housed in the heads of scholars who have memorized. It’s not on stone tablets or on scrolls. We have it in codex books, but also through ebooks, audiobooks, and the internet. Periodicals are not saved as microfiche predominantly anymore. Newer periodicals are saved as scanned digital files.
Here are we full circle, back to my first post, about how books are made to be used. We need to be open and supportive of the way books change. I do love the form of a physical codex book, but I can acknowledge the wonders ebooks and audiobooks are doing for others. They can make books so much more accessible for some people.
We all get to choose what’s best for us. Which is one reason I can’t stand too much preaching about how awful ebooks are or how audiobooks are not real reading. No one is forcing you to use them, people! Again, I prefer physical books, but I do occasionally use ebooks and audiobooks, and they have their positive qualities.
Books don’t just change in physical form, but in content as well. The styles of writing, the trends, on who is pushing the genre forward in new and interesting directions. Literature is an artform. It should change and evolve, rather than be stagnant.
This is a good lesson (about libraries, about publishing, about books forms, about technology) that we shouldn’t cling so desperately to what things were and what we’re comfortable with. Things change, technology change, the way information and literature is transferred to the reader changes, but what has staying power the profound power of books, of art, of story.
We booklovers often talk about our favorite books, or maybe about our inability to pick a favorite book when we love so many.
One thing we don’t often talk about, which I think would be very intriguing to hear from fellow booklovers is our favorite passages.
By passages I mean an extended portion of the prose. Longer than a quote.
Early in January I wrote about rereading one of my professed book faves, The Great Gatsby, and how it wasn’t the same as I recalled. (Read here). That is, except for, a certain passage that I loved and have reread many times over the years.
Let me perhaps put it in another way my generation will definitely understand. I do not know which Harry Potter book is my favorite. I do know, however, which chapter in the Harry Potter series is my favorite: “The Forest Again” from Deathly Hallows.
We booklovers have favorite quotes and have favorite books, but what about favorite passages? That is a conversation we definitely need to start having.
You have a favorite passage? Please share it in the comments.
This part of Ranganathan’s rules is really about the physical arrangement and organization of the library space. Books (and other library materials) should be organization in a useable, time-saving way.
Most libraries use a classification system for their nonfiction books in which books on similar subjects are places together, and organize fiction in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. Age-appropriate materials are organized in different sections (children, teen, adult) and some certain genres are put into their own collection. Libraries also have librarians who facilitate this organization and help readers find the books and information they are looking for.
But this is not a post about how Ranganathan’s Laws of Library Science apply to libraries, but how Ranganathan’s Laws of Library Science apply to readers and writers. I could borrow a page from Elmore Leonard, who said in his Ten Rules of Writing, “Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.”
There is something to be said in the conciseness of writing, both in prose and storytelling. However, that is the writing advice of our era. Other eras were quite grandiose and detailed in their writing styles, but that was the trend as opposed to now. Readers of then had less alternate entertainments than we do now, they wanted to have lots of words to read.
So how can a writer save the time of the reader, when we writers inherently want to take their time to have them read what we wrote. And what can I say other than banging the gavel with ‘concise writing’ talk you’ve all certainly heard before.
Save the time of your reader, but not by purely trying to carve a few second off their reading time by whittling away a few extra words in your manuscript. Save their time by making what you wrote, when read, not time wasted. Make it worth it.
Back when I was a book nerd in high school (as opposed to now, where I am a book nerd in my mid-twenties) and was researching career fields and different degrees in anticipation of attending college, I looked up what degree was needed to be a librarian. After all, working surrounded by books sounded absolutely ideal.
So when I looked up what degree you got to become a librarian, I was shocked to see you needed a Masters Degree in Library Science (MLS). This is sometimes also called a Masters in Library and Information Science (MLIS) or a Masters in Information Science (MIS).
This MLS requirement seemed like a lot for a job I wasn’t sure I wanted. I went to college and got my undergraduate degree in creative writing. My first job out a college was part time at a public library. I now work full time as a librarian. I do not have a MLS.
So, what gives? Do you need a MLS to be a librarian, or not?
The answer: yes and no.
Let me explain.
For: Writers who want to submit work for publication consideration
By: Brian Scott, former Founder and Editor-in-Chief of FreelanceWriting.com
This isn’t a blog in the traditional sense in that there aren’t any articles to be read. This is more of a news feed of paid publication opportunities. Yes, paid. Sometimes only token payments, but paid. Although this site aggregates a lot of different calls of submissions (poetry, literary agents, small press looking for novels and novellas) because of the larger publication world, it is best for finding avenues to submit short stories, with speculative and literary being the top genre markets. Again, this is not a skew of the website, but rather because of how the writing market is.
I use this website regularly and it has so many positives. Completely free to the users. It has some ads, but they are completely unobtrusive. It catches a lot of markets I wouldn’t be privy to on my own, such as one-time or irregular publishing opportunities, such as anthologies or chapbook contests.
My only negative, which is very tiny, is that because this website focuses on calls for submissions that have deadlines, it misses paid opportunities from publications that have all-year open submission periods. So, it’s good for you as a writer submitting stories not to rely solely on this source, although it is a very great source of publishing opportunities.
Link to WritingCareer.com
Make a Reading Goal
One of the best ways to succeed in reaching in an accomplishment is to set a goal. Not just a vague notion of wanting to ‘read more’ but something more definitive. Did you know you are more likely to accomplish your goal when you write it down? Come up with a measurable amount of what reading more means to you, whether it is in number of books or time spent reading.
Your goal can be weekly, monthly, or yearly. The most popular way to track a reading goal out there is the goodreads yearly reading challenges, where you can pick a number of books you want to read.
Once you make a goal, you need to make a plan on how you are going to achieve it. Below are some tips and tricks to make the most of your time and resources and the different forms of books to increase your reading.
More Tips Under the Break
Rule 2: Every Reader His / Her Book & Rule 3: Every book it’s reader
Click here for the full list of Ranganathan's Rules
This is reminiscent of the J.K. Rowling quote:”If you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book.”
There is a book for every reader. A book for me may not be the same as a book for you. A genre I may hate, you may love. A writer that inspires me may fall flat to you. Reading is not a universal experience, but isn’t it wonderful that we don’t have to all like the same things?
So when you read a book everyone else seems to be crazy about and you just don’t get the appeal, it’s not that you are wrong or that everyone else is wrong. Not every book appeals to every reader. When you hype a book you love to your book club and none of them think it’s that great, neither them nor you are wrong. Isn’t that the point of book clubs, to discuss your varying opinions and perspectives on the book you all read?
As a writer, this would should be a relief to think about. It is not possible for your book to appeal to everyone. Stop trying. Let it appeal to the people it appeals to. Writer it as you the writer wants to.
As librarian, we try to match the the reader with a book that is right for them. It’s not about our personal preferences as a reader, but helping the reader connect with the type of book they are looking for. I work as a children’s librarian, so that means I have to consider reading level, interests, and genre when connecting readers with the correct book.
Try to add this perspective to your reading. When you read a book you don’t care for (and are in a case where you have to finish it, like book club), try to think about who this book would appeal to. A younger reader? An older one? Someone with a different cultural experience than you? Or just someone with a different taste than you?
A book can be a good book and just not to your taste. Amazing, right?
There is an inherent danger to re-reading your favorite book, especially if it’s not a book you re-read frequently, if years have passed since last time you’ve read it. What if, in rereading, it does not hold up as the thing you have built up in your heart?
At the tail end of 2016, I reread The Great Gatsby, one of the rough handful of books I consider a favorite out of the many books I love and admire, and out of the many, many more books I’ve read.
And it wasn’t exactly how I remembered...
For: Writers, Indie Publishers, Self-Published Writers, Writers thinking about indie and self publishing
By: Dean Wesley Smith, a career science fiction author and indie press publisher
Hop on over to the ‘Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing’ page of Dean Wesley Smith’s website to get some advice from an author who has been in the publishing game for decades. He gives perspective that many advice givers on the internet can’t, because his comes from a wealth of experience. This is a combination of creative and business advice that has changed my perspective on the writing process and my potential publishing future. I regularly revisit this series of posts, and also have followed up by purchasing some of Smith’s writing advice books and checking out some of his youtube lecture series videos.
As you will see, these blog posts were later arranged into books you can purchase, but Smith kindly left them up for visitors of his website for free. Furthermore, there is one series still (slowly) ongoing. You can also check his daily blog on his main page for other shared insight.
Link to Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing
Insights from the life of an aspiring, struggling writer; a passionate reader, and a working librarian.
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