Despite all our computers, DVD’s, videos, CD’s, and audio books, finding something good to read is still what brings most people to the Iredell County Public Library.
There is something about being able to hold a book in your hands that makes going to the library and finding a good book to read special. The weight of the book, its dimensions and cover, even the feel of the pages help make a book special to a reader.
You will often see people carrying a book with them wherever they go. I don’t know how many times I have been someplace waiting and watched a woman reach in her pocketbook and pull out a paperback to read. Some people will tell you they never to anywhere without a good book at hand.
When you open the cover and start turning the pages you begin to enter another world. The time and place where you are physically located fade away as you enter a books world.
A friend once told of being at work and starting to read a book during his lunch hour. A fellow employee saw him and asked “How can you stand to stay here in the office during your lunch hour without leaving for a while?” My friend simply looked at him at said “I do leave for a while” and resumed reading.
Even when people go away and travel on vacation they often take a book by a favorite author along with them. Most people tend to want to read books similar to the ones they have enjoyed before. They seek books by the same author or in the same genre like mysteries, science fiction, romance, adventure, western, horror and so forth.
For over the last hundred years people in North Carolina have gone to their local library to find good books to read. In our local library they start by going to the automated card catalog to look up books by title, author, or subject. From there they usually go to the new books section to see what has come in recently.
Once they have looked through the new arrivals they will head to the regular book shelves to browse through the stacks picking up books and reading the covers of those that catch their eye.
If they still can’t find something to read they will often end up at the Circulation Desk asking a staff member for advice. Part of the duties of a circulation staff member at the library is to provide reader’s advisory to patrons.
To help patrons find books to read the staff keeps notebooks at the Circulation Department containing lists of authors in particular genres. They also keep a notebook listing sequels to many novels.
The circulation staff itself is a source of receiving recommendations on what books are popular with our patrons and what books they can personally recommend. They keep up with different authors and by hearing you name an author or book you liked they can lead you to other author’s and titles with similarities to books you have already enjoyed.
Our library now offers other sources for finding good fiction to read. At the libraries homepage at www.iredell.lib.nc.us library patrons can log onto NC LIVE with a password that they can obtain from the library.
NC LIVE contains sources that can be especially helpful in finding what book to read through its many online databases. What do I Read Next is a site to help you identify books that you will want to read next. You can search for books by entering authors, titles, genres, and even the plots of books you have read before.
What Do I Read Next identifies similarities in various books and finds alternative books of the same interest. You simply look up a book that you have read or an author you have liked and it will list similar books that you might enjoy. Plus, you can find lists of award-winning books.
The site Books in Print with Reviews contains current bibliographic information on more than 1.9 million titles and more than 300,000 book reviews. It includes information on in print, out of print, forthcoming, audio books, and video titles.
WorldCat is another site that contains a union catalog of libraries around the world. It’s like being able to have a world-wide card catalog at home. By putting in a subject or an author’s name you will find not only what books are written, but what libraries hold the books.
NoveList is an online reader’s advisor service that allows you to find fiction books by entering information under various fields and then searching. You can put in that you are say interested in mysteries with a medical theme and a female detective.
Once you begin your search NoveList will search and find titles to books that match your entered specifications. It allows readers to quickly find books to read that have all the elements you think make a good read.
Some people say that books will someday be a thing of the past as people read their books online or listen to them on audio. I don’t think that’s going to happen. Librarians and libraries will always be about books. I for one still like to have copies of some of my favorite books on the shelf at home. Just knowing that they are there to pick up when I want brings me pleasure.
Joel Reese, Local History Librarian
Iredell County Public Library
This article appeared in the Statesville Record and Landmark as “Good books are the cornerstone of Iredell County library” on Aug. 4, 2004.