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?


Lisa Bork said...

WorldCat and I have met, but my book's not in any library as exotic as Timaru. Go Mama!

I have two boxes of books ready for donation to our library's book sale fundraiser next month. Love my library. Going there today, in fact.

Alan Orloff said...

I bet Mama has a big Timaruian fan club. Mothers are the same everywhere!

G.M. Malliet said...

I hadn't checked over there at Worldcat in awhile, and I was looking for ways to kill time this morning, so thanks a bunch. ;-)

I think they probably just like enjoyable reads like yours around the globe. No surprise you've traveled that far.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

I discovered Worldcat a few years ago and always check on a new book's library travels about 2 months after its release. It's amazing how far they go! And I'm very grateful!!!

I speak at a lot of fund raisers for libraries, as well as on the usual authors panels. I always try to fit in library events. They are so important to both me as an author and to the community.

Deborah Sharp said...

Lisa, you're a good library do-bee! You just reminded me to drop off some books and mags for the Friends of the Library to sell here in Ft. Lauderdale ... and hi to Alan and to Gin, who is the queen of exotic locales.

G.M. Malliet said...

My local libraries are really hurting... they've been cutting hours and personnel and soon, I'm predicting, will have blackout days. Gov't officials figure it's either that or let the roads and schools go all to heck. Oh, wait, they've already done that.

Where this is all going to end we don't know, but I have a stack of books to take in, too, hoping it all helps.

Kathleen Ernst said...

I haven't checked my titles yet, but now I will indeed have one more thing to stress about.

Knowing that my local library has an ongoing sale also, I do what I must and buy books as often as I can, knowing that I can clear off my shelves and donate them.

Patg said...

Hi Deborah,
I don't know if this is going to please you or not, but before Kindle carrying a bunch of books on trips was the norm for me, fellow travel agents and the people we booked on tours. (I don't know from nothin' about independent hitchhikers) And since 'buying stuff' was pretty normal too, we tended to leave books after reading them. (I know, I know, but some people just don't collect.) Hotels and tour escorts would take them.
The average tour of New Zealand spends more time on South Island than North.

Deborah Sharp said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Deborah Sharp said...

Hmmmm, Pat, that may be part of the answer to the mystery: travelers from the US leaving their books behind and having them wind up in some far-flung library. Still, it's a kick to think of Mama on the shelf in New Zealand, no matter how she got there.
Thanks for reading, y'all, and for supporting our libraries.

Deborah Sharp said...

Blogspot is very buggy today. It replicated my same comment three times (I swear this was not a lame attempt to get my comment count up close to our blog's record-holder, Beth Groundwater.)

Alice Loweecey said...

*files this post away for future obsessing*

Keith Raffel said...

Deb, thanks for reminding me about World Cat which has posted some Good Reads reviews of Smasher including this one: "Easily the worst thriller I have ever read." If you are looking for me, you can find me strapped down and ready to be zapped with billions of electron volts at the Stanford Linear Accelerator.

Deborah Sharp said...

Hi, Alice and Keith, thanks for reading. PS: Keith ... ouch! (And so not true about your terrific Smasher)