Libraries are the most thrilling silent spaces to walk into; to me, they’re goldmines of intrigue.
But when going in blind, the variety and selection can seem a bit overwhelming. With so many titles how do you make sure you’re choosing the right one?
First off, that’s the magic of libraries: you’re only committed to returning the book on time. No purchase necessary, so you’re not financially bound to the decision — if you don’t like it, exchange it!
However, to avoid the tedium of trial and error, there are a few ways you can go about making your choice that much easier and more successful. Here are a few of mine:
Find the “Best.” Prize-winners, shortlists, longlists; social media, literary blogs and newspaper columns are full of them. These pre-approved catalogues are made by people devoted to seeking out and highlighting the crème de la crème, so let them do the filtering work for you. They’re also a great way to strike gold if you’re looking to branch out to a genre you’ve never tried before.
Keep a list going. When your friend mentions an amazing book she just can’t put down, take note! When you’re in the bookstore and can’t choose between five amazing best-sellers, buy one, write the rest down for later. Found an awesome list of prize-winners, interesting Canadian reads, or newly-published authors? Add them to the lineup. If you’re organized enough to collect all those recommendations in one place, you’ll have more than enough at your disposal when library time comes. Sometimes I even take photos of the books to keep them stored and easily accessible on my phone.
Follow the author’s rabbit trail. If you loved a book, check out the back cover. What other writers endorsed this book, or, what other books are deemed “similar”? Doing this little bit of detective work has proven to be a surprisingly effective way to find new-to-me classics and favourites.
Use a resource. From books like Who Else Writes Like...? A Reader’s Guide to Fiction Authors to the library’s own online tools and catalogue, there are many resources available to help find books that suit your current mood, taste and genre.
Ask a librarian. Librarians are indispensable to much more than just us bookworms. They’re champions of archival work, organizers of historical collections and artifacts and an amazing asset to the community at large. Personable and full of advice and valuable expertise, these knowledgeable book folk are there to assist you find what you’re looking for.
Library cards are free to Yukon residents. All you need is to bring proof of residency (such as your driver’s license) with you on your next visit and voilà! You’re privy to an unlimited world of knowledge and stories – well, at least up to 28 items at a time. Now, read on fearlessly!