Friday, April 2, 2010
It's a Long Way to Timaru
By Deborah Sharp
I'm in Timaru, on the South Island of New Zealand, where today is already tomorrow.
Well, actually I'm not in Timaru. My first book is. Some 8,300 miles and many, many time zones from my home in Florida, the Timaru District Library holds a copy of Mama Does Time. This, of course, raises the question of how in the world a library at the other end of the earth came to possess a book about a crazy Southern belle who lands in the slammer when she can't explain a body in the trunk of her turquoise convertible. Someday, I may find out that answer.
But for now, I'm jazzed at the knowledge that Mama is traveling the world. How do I know this, you might ask?
At the risk of giving my fellow authors yet one more list to obsess about, I'll explain. WorldCat accesses the catalogs of thousands upon thousands of libraries all over the globe. You can go to the site, plug in the title of your book, and find out where it is -- or isn't -- in the collections of more than 70,000 libraries worldwide.
Hence, Timaru: Two hours south of Christchurch, known for Caroline Bay and the annual Rose Festival. And now, of course, for ordering the debut novel of the Mace Bauer Mystery series. I know you won't be able to resist looking for your own books on WorldCat. (FYI: Some of you are in more libraries than I am; some are in fewer. Don't plug in Twilight for comparison, unless you have a case of wine handy.)
Here's the exact web address I used, to get you started:
Of course, being an insecure author, I immediately began to worry. Why did I find Book One but not Book 2 in Timaru? Didn't they like the first one enough to order Mama Rides Shotgun? Did they have trouble deciphering the Southernisms? How would you say "Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit'' in Kiwi?
I was somewhat mollified that the number of libraries holding a Mama novel has risen from Book One to Book Two, even though I haven't (yet!) received that important Library Journal review. I also discovered that Mama Rides Shotgun has made its way all the way north from the cattle belt of Florida to the library in Wasilla, Alaska.
I wonder whether Sarah Palin has a library card? If so, do you think she's had time to check out Shotgun?
All of this does lead somewhere, y'all. Libraries are hugely important to readers, and to writers. They help expose our work to the world. So here's the question: With so many of them struggling, how have you reached out to help a library?