I wrote this article last year for the ARRA newsletter. I meant to repost it last week, but I forgot!
Last month, on Valentine’s weekend, many libraries across Australia celebrated Library Lovers Day. Books and love—could there be a more perfect combination?
I’ve always had a love affair with the library. This might not be surprising, given that I’m a self-confessed bookworm, but my emotional attachment to libraries goes beyond gratifying my book addiction.
I love stepping into the library. I love browsing through old books. I love dropping off my (usually overdue) books into the returns chute. I even love repairing tatty picture books that have fallen victim to too many curious toddler hands. I was a library monitor in year six, in the days when we still used library returns cards.
The library has also fuelled my love affair with romance books. When my addiction to teen romances exceeded my pocket money, I turned to the library for well-thumbed copies of Sweet Dreams books. When my mum gently advised me to wait a couple of years before borrowing her copy of a Charlotte Lamb category romance—featuring kissing cousins and steamy action in a car—I turned to my local library. (After secretly reading Mum’s book, of course.)
At my local library I discovered Laura Kinsale, Kathleen Woodiwiss and Cassie Edwards. Some of these books, such as Kinsale’s For My Lady’s Heart, made such an impression that when I picked them up again decades later I still recognised bits of the plot and characters.
But of all the libraries I’ve loved, my current library is my favourite. I came in to borrow books for my kids and ended up meeting some romance-friendly staff and a library that actively collects romance books. Suddenly, I’ve become an active patron. I’m reserving books, requesting titles and carefully browsing the new release shelves, which are generously populated with Mills and Boons and paranormal romances.
Through my library, I’ve discovered some great romance authors, including Bronwyn Parry, Toni Jordan, Anne Stuart, Suzanne Brockmann and Sherrilyn Kenyon. I rediscovered Kinsale when I borrowed Shadowheart. I’ve even been introduced to other library patrons who share my love of romance.
Australian libraries are now experimenting with the idea of ebook lending. There are still kinks to iron out between libraries, publishers and readers, but this is a promising avenue for romance readers to discover even more fantastic authors. Imagine how useful this service would be for readers in remote areas, whose access to romance-friendy shops may be limited. Sure, there’s online shopping, but most romance readers I know—including myself—read far more books than we can afford.
My only problem now, of course, is finding time to read all my books before I cop another fine!
This is an edited version of an article that first appeared in the ARRA Newsletter in February 2010.