Books as Gifts (Let’s Talk Bookish)

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme that was created and hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and then cohosted with Dani @ Literary Lion. It is currently hosted by Aria @ Book Nook Bits. The meme encourages participants to discuss a new topic each week and visit each other’s posts to keep the conversation going.

Prompt: Do books make good gifts? Do you ever give or receive books as gifts? Would you rather receive a book from your wish list or be surprised? What would you do if you didn’t like the book you were given? Would you expect someone to read a book you got them right away?

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Books make great gifts! I love giving people books because I feel like they serve many purposes, such as being entertaining and educational while preventing the world from being filled with more junk like plastic toys kids will use once and forget, or novelty items the recipient will end up throwing away. Even if the recipient does not want the book, they can easily donate it or, at the very least, recycle it. And books can be enjoyable even for people who describe themselves as “non-readers.” I’ve gifted nonfiction, cookbooks, coloring books, and puzzle books, for instance, to people who would say that they don’t read. They often do read–just not 800-page fantasy books, or whatever it is they imagine “real readers” read.

Because I love books, people often do gift me books–and the more the better, I say! I like receiving books for the same reasons I like giving them. I don’t really want more novelty items or knickknacks in my life. But since I am particular about what I like to read and what I want to devote space to, I would prefer that people gift me books I have expressed interest in–if only because there is possibly only one person who routinely manages to buy me books I actually enjoy. The others seem to gift me books they would like, but that aren’t my taste at all. But it’s not a big deal, and it’s the thought that counts. If I don’t like the book I was gifted, it is really easy for me to donate it to the library so they can sell it at their book sale and raise funds. Or, if it’s a children’s book, I can usually give it to one of my teacher friends for their classroom libraries, which they tend to have to stock themselves. I don’t feel guilty about this because I firmly believe that books are meant to be shared, and they are not doing much good sitting on my shelf unread.

Since I don’t always enjoy the books I am gifted, I am sensitive to the reality that the recipients of my books might not always like them, either. So my policy is generally never to inquire about the book once it has left my hands. There are some books I have gifted that I know have never been read at all. Others I later learned the recipient did not enjoy. But the same thing could happen with any gift, book or not. I just don’t ask and everyone can maintain the polite fiction that the book was read and enjoyed. Thus are friendships maintained.

Do you like to gift books?

How Many Parents Are Dead in YA Books?: Analysis of My 2022 Reads

Everyone knows there are a lot of dead parents in young adult books. People argue it’s easier for the protagonist to grow up faster or to do dangerous things if they have no parental guidance. Or maybe it just cuts down on characters readers need to keep track of. I’m not here to debate whether the parents “should” be dead or relitigate the reasons they all get killed off.

Instead, I’ve been keeping track for a few years how many of the YA books I read have dead — or just essentially absent — parents. I usually do the post in May, so it tracks the books I read for the first 5 months of the year, but I’m doing it later this year because I haven’t been reading as much and didn’t have a good sample size in May.

Time to analyze my 2022 YA reads so far and see how many dead parents there are this year!

Note that there may be spoilers for books if you read the information about the specific titles!

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Blood and Moonlight by Erin Beaty

  • Both parents are dead.

Violet Made of Thorns by Gina Chen

  • Both parents are dead.

Forging Silver into Stars by Brigid Kemmerer

  • There are three protagonists/POVs. Five parents are dead.
  • The living father is abusive.

Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. Taylor

  • Mother is dead.
  • Father presumed dead/has never been in protagonist’s life.

Cinder & Glass by Melissa de la Cruz

  • Well, it’s a “Cinderella” retelling, so both mother and father are dead.

Three Kisses, One Midnight: A Novel by Eveyln Skye, Roshani Chokshi, and Sandhya Menon

  • It’s three short stories with three different protagonists. I admit I didn’t find the book memorable, but while a stepdad is mentioned for one of the characters, I don’t think any of the six parents are actually dead. A first.

If You Could See the Sun by Ann Liang

  • Both parents are alive! They’re not too in the book because the protagonist lives at school, but they seem generally supportive.

Seoulmates by Susan Lee

  • Both parents are alive, but the father is living abroad and largely absent from the protagonist’s life.

The Dragon’s Promise by Elizabeth Lim

  • Mother and stepmother dead, but father is alive.

A Darkness at the Door by Intisar Khanani

  • Both alive! And good parents!
  • (This is also one of my favorite reads of 2022, so go check the series out!)

Belittled Women by Amanda Sellet

  • Both alive! But father is absent.

How to Succeed in Witchcraft by Aislynn Brophy

  • Both alive! And involved! What is this trend?

The Drowned Woods by Emily Lloyd-Jones

  • Both alive but almost completely absent from the story.

Flowerheart by Catherine Bakewell

  • Both alive but protagonist is estranged from her mother. Has a great relationship with her father, however.

Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove by Rati Mehrota

  • Sorry, both parents are dead.
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I have 15 books, but there are two books with multiple main characters, so we’ll say a total of 19 pairs of parents for the analysis.

  • There are 9 dead mothers, or about 47%.
  • There are 7 dead fathers, or about 37%. Honestly, this is lower than I expected.
  • There is 1 abusive father and 3 that are basically absent from the book/the protagonist’s life.
  • That leaves 8 fathers who are alive and apparently decent.
  • There’s only 1 mother who’s alive but also a terrible person, leaving several mothers who are actually supportive. Wow!

Overall, I think this tracks with the last two times I did this survey, with nearly 50% of the mothers being dead in all 3 years I kept track. However, I think I saw a few more normal, supportive parents than in the past, so that’s a win for 2022.


Do You Use Your Local Library? (Let’s Talk Bookish)

Let's Talk Bookish

Let’s Talk Bookish is a weekly meme that was created and hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and then cohosted with Dani @ Literary Lion. It is currently hosted by Aria @ Book Nook Bits. The meme encourages participants to discuss a new topic each week and visit each other’s posts to keep the conversation going.

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Do you have a local library you go to often?

Yes! Anyone who reads our blog regularly knows that Briana and are enthusiastic supporters of the public library. Even when getting to the library was difficult for me, I would walk, bike, or take the bus to make sure I was able to get my books because there is nothing more exciting than walking into a building full of stories–and being able to take them home free.

I also like to attend programs at the library since it’s a fun and free way to spend a night out and meet new people. I’ve been able to make crafts with materials I don’t have at home, win prizes at Bingo Night, attempt to solve a murder mystery, and enter the Summer and Winter Reading Challenges. Sometimes I invite friends or family to go with me since, again, it’s a free night out! Sometimes they even have snacks, which is a bonus.

Does/did your school have a library?

My elementary school had a library full of old books, mostly classics. I loved checking out books each week, though I was always sad we were limited to only one book per week. Later on, in high school, I was devastated to realize that the school library was only open for about a half hour after school–and I couldn’t go because I had to go home. But the library was mostly full of outdated nonfiction, so it wasn’t particularly useful, anyway. They later changed it to a computer lab because the administration decided libraries are obsolete. Well, sure–if it’s full of outdated books no one can access!

My college library did not have a popular fiction section, but I found it extremely useful for academic purposes, especially paired with interlibrary loans, which I took advantage of frequently. I also applied for a library card from the local public library while in college, and would sometimes walk there to check out books for entertainment. Also, a little-known tip is that sometimes the education majors are asked to read children’s books or popular fiction, so you can often find at least some of these books even in an academic library.

What are your favorite things about libraries?

Too many to list! I love that libraries are committed to equal access, and that they are always looking for new, innovative ways to reach more people and connect them with resources that can improve their lives. There is really nowhere else that feels as welcoming. I can walk in, with no questions asked, stay for hours, spend no money, and have no one bother me. And I always leave with a stack of books because there’s no charge, and if I don’t end up reading them all or loving them all, it doesn’t matter. I can always check the books out another time, or find a different book I’ll love. Lately, I’ve expanded to borrowing more movies because I don’t want to pay for a streaming service. And I regularly check out WiFi hotspots so I don’t have to pay for an internet provider at home. People always give me their tips to save money, and I always reply with, “But have you tried the library?”

Are there certain books you borrow more or less often from libraries?

I borrow almost all of my books from the library at this point in my life. I will buy classics since the public library does not tend to stock those, or books that my library is unable to purchase for me. But there are certain books I really couldn’t see myself ever purchasing if the library did not have them–graphic novels because they’re expensive and I can read them in about an hour or less, audiobooks because they are expensive, certain YA books that I don’t see myself ever rereading or that I am not positive I will really enjoy. My purchasing power is limited, like most people’s, so I obviously gravitate towards buying authors I already know I love, or books that I am 100% sure align with my reading tastes. The library allows me to try out new-to-me authors and other books I feel less certain about.

What do you love most about the library?

How to Access Academic Journal Articles Through the Library

Looking for access to scholarly articles? The good news is that most (if not all) colleges in the U.S. offer online access to their scholarly databases so you can browse and read articles from home. Even better, most (if not all) libraries in the U.S.–even public libraries!– offer Interlibrary Loan (ILL) services that will allow you to request articles not already available in your library’s online databases–and these are typically emailed to you so you never have to leave your dorm. Read on to discover some ways that you might be able to access academic journal articles through your library.

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If you are not currently a student, check to see if you are eligible to obtain a library card at a local college.

If you are currently a student at a college or university, you probably already have access to your school library through your Student ID card/number. If you are not currently a student, you can do research to see if you are eligible to receive a library card from a local college. For example, the closest community college to my hometown offers cards to community members for $10.00. If you don’t see this information online, consider calling, emailing, or chatting online with a librarian to see what they offer. But don’t worry! If you are not eligible to pay for a college library card, you can still use your local public library to borrow academic journal articles. And a card from your local public library should be free.

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Check the online databases.

Once you have a library card, check the online databases to find the academic journals and articles you are interested in. In most cases, you should be able to access these databases even if you are not on campus or in the library. As long as you have an internet connection, you should be able to browse from the comfort of your apartment or dorm.

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Utilize Interlibrary Loan–and you can have journal articles e-mailed to you as PDFs

If you do not see the academic article you are looking for, you can request that it be sent to you through Interlibrary Loan (ILL). Most libraries now have an ILL request form online, so you don’t need to go to the library to ask for materials. Additionally, while books will still be sent to the library itself for pickup, academic articles are usually sent to students via email as PDFs. This means that you can do the whole transaction from home–and you don’t even need to return the borrowed article. Most libraries do make it clear, however, that the PDF is still under copyright, meaning it is for the use of the student only and should not be reproduced.

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Check your local public library’s resources.

Most public libraries offer some online access to scholarly databases, though the databases offered tend to be less specialized than those offered by colleges and universities. You can browse the online databases as you would at a college library. You can also use ILL the same as you would at a college library. That means that you can have books from other libraries sent to your local library for pickup. Or you can request articles that, again, will likely be emailed to you as PDFs. If you are looking for an online article, you probably never have to leave home.

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Apply for a public library card online.

Many public libraries were offering the ability to sign up for a card online before the pandemic, as a way to increase accessibility. Since 2020, the number of libraries with this option has likely risen. Visit your local library’s website to see if you can sign up online. In some cases, an online card might mean that you can only access online services. (You might need to go in-person to receive a physical card to check out physical items.) However, if you want the card primarily to search the online databases for journal articles, this should not be too much of an issue.

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Research if there are any public library branch locations, Bookmobile stops, or library kiosks closer to where you live or work.

Getting to the local library may not always be quick or convenient. However, most public libraries offer other ways to access the collection that not every library user is aware of. So if you need to stop in to pick up a physical item, to get your physical library card, or to speak with a librarian, research your options. For example, many library users might only know about the main branch of the library, and not realize that there are smaller branches located around the city or county. You can have materials sent to your closest branch for pickup. You can also check to see if there are other options, like a Bookmobile stop close to where you live, or a kiosk. Older kiosks worked like vending machines, where you were limited to checking out what was inside. Newer models, however, might offer you the ability to pick up holds. And, of course, many libraries offer homebound services to deliver materials to those who are unable to leave their homes. If you don’t know what your options are, visit the website of your local public library or speak with a librarian.

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See if you are eligible for a state library card.

Many states in the U.S. have one library where every resident of the state can apply for an online card and get access to digital materials (or physical, if you live close enough). So if you are not satisfied with your local collection, see what other options are available to you.

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Of course, every library is different and policies and services may vary from institution to institution. However, if you are interested in reading academic articles, it’s definitely worth doing a little research to see what might be available to you. Many of these services are free and accessible from your computer, so you never have to leave home. You might not know what you are missing if you have never looked for it!

What I Miss about How I Read as a Child

What Miss About How I Read as a Child

Previously, I have written about how my reading habits have changed over the years. And, in many ways, my habits have changed for the better. I learned that I could read what I wanted without fear of judgment. And I learned that it is not actually the end of the world if I cannot get my hands on a book the day it is released. Sometimes wisdom, or at least a bit of perspective, really does come with maturity. Even so, however, there are aspects of my childhood reading that I miss.

When I was growing up, I had no knowledge of the publishing industry. I simply strolled through the library or, if I was lucky, the bookstore, and picked up whatever I found interesting. Reading the most recent releases did not matter to me, because I had no idea what was a new title or what was a backlist title. If it looked interesting, I read it! I never felt a need to read to keep up with the hype or to appear knowledgeable and trendy.

In fact, even though classics have become a controversial topic, with many educators and librarians claiming that such books ruin children’s love of reading and should never be assigned or recommended to young people, I gravitated towards these books. Classics were the basis of my of my regular reading, and the books that made me fall in love with reading. When I was about eight, Little Women became my favorite book. When I was around eleven, it was J. R. R. Tolkien‘s The Lord of the Rings. My middle school list of repeat reads included titles such as Howard Pyle’s The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood and John Knowles’ A Separate Peace. When I went to the public library, I searched for titles such as Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books, or Louisa May Alcott’s lesser-known works like An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving. I discovered the magic of interlibrary loan in high school, so I could ask for some of the more obscure titles I was interested in.

And I reread these books all the time, a practice I sometimes feel like I have no time for as an adult. Many times I had to reread books, of course, because I could not take myself to the library as a child, and so my access to new books was somewhat limited. But I also loved rereading. Each time felt like returning to an old friend. And, each time I would discover some new aspect of the book that I had missed before.

The slow-paced feeling of reading as a child is what I miss the most. When I look back, I remember sunny days spent reading outside, with nothing to do and nowhere to go. Adult life contains many pressures, and I often find myself trying to squeeze in a few pages here and there, trying to read quickly so I can make some progress before I need to stop. I have also found that blogging has introduced me to the world of publishing and new releases, and I end up having to prevent myself from putting 50 library books on hold. And reminding myself that I can go back to an old favorite, or a classic. That I do not need to keep up with every new release because that is actually physically impossible.

I miss the feeling of not having anyone telling me what I needed to read. Just the anticipation of entering the library and seeing the rows and rows of shelves before me. And knowing that adventure awaited.

No, Libraries Are Not Obsolete–But They Could Be

Libraries Are Not Obsolete. But They Could Be

When I first started book blogging, many bloggers were excited about the public library. They would share their favorite resources, talk about how much they appreciated library services, and generally spread library love. Many bloggers even seemed to be library workers. Over the years, however, I have seen enthusiasm for public libraries diminish. Often online narratives stress only the limitations of library services, or gloss over libraries as something we all “know about already” and should not talk up too much. Worse, however, I have even met library workers who seem discouraged about the state of public libraries.

Such subdued responses to the public library seem particularly odd in the book blogosphere, since so many book also tend to be library lovers. And it also seems odd when considered in light of the much-lauded 2019 Gallup survey showing that more Americans visited the library each year than visited the movies, sporting events, museums, and national parks. So I was intrigued when I read that one report actually contradicted the narrative that libraries are doing well, and suggested instead that library visits have been declining.

In April 2020, Publishers Weekly interviewed Tim Coates, author of the 2020 Freckle Report, which found a 25% decrease in the use of library services since 2011. In the interview, Coates mentions that the 2019 Gallup poll results did not match the statistics provided by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS); Gallup reported people visiting libraries 10.5 times a year, while the IMLS data reported people visiting only 4.1 times a year. Coates investigated and concluded that library visits really are declining and suggested that, to reverse the trend, libraries should focus on maintaining a robust print collection–still considered the backbone of most public libraries.

Interestingly, though the 2020 Freckle Report was based on data taken pre-pandemic, the 2021 Freckle Report (according to Publishers Weekly) offered a similar assessment. The 2021 report took data from the pandemic, including a rise in reading and in digital reading, but still found that library visits are declining. And it still recommended attempting to reverse the trend by investing in the print collection, arguing that e-books are a poor value for libraries considering their high costs and limited licensing agreements. (You can read more about e-book pricings for libraries here.) Coates also argued that investing in digital resources will further reduce the number of visits to library buildings (though, of course, one could counter-argue that the door count is not the only metric for success here).

Unfortunately, there seems to be a lack of data on precisely what is happening with libraries–how often people use them, why they use them, if their attitude towards using them has changed, and so on. But I was intrigued by Coates’ argument for more of an emphasis on print materials, since I have argued myself that libraries seem plagued by an identity crisis. Are they food pantries? Conference centers? Recreation centers? Social services? My own belief is that libraries are still primarily associated by the public with books, and that libraries should emphasize their collections and work with partners instead of trying to duplicate services already offered by other local organizations. For me, though, emphasizing the collection could also include expanding digital access, even as I recognize that it is true that e-book licenses for libraries are often prohibitively expensive.

While I do celebrate all the great work libraries do, and have often used the catchphrase, “Libraries are more than books!” I still think that most people go to the library for books and computer access, and not particularly to attend yoga class or to hold meetings. This is only my own anecdotal experience, but the people at my local library who attend programs are all the same limited crowd, and even most book bloggers I have chatted with seem to use the library to borrow materials more than for anything else. So it makes sense to me that growing a relevant print (and digital) collection would perhaps draw more people back to the public library. In fact, the number one complaint I see from book bloggers is that their local library does not carry the books they want.

So this 2016 article in the Atlantic, which also found a decrease in library usage in the U.S, seemed to me to be the key to the issue. It reports that a 2012 report by the IMLS found that library usage is linked to funding. Libraries with more funding had more usage. That makes sense. Libraries with more funding can offer more–more books, more staff, more hours, more programs. People are more likely to use a resource that provides them with what they are looking for. All the bloggers who said they stopped going to their local library because of its small collection seem to be validating this data.

Of course, public library funding has been in jeopardy for years. Much of it disappeared during the 2009 recession (the effects of which the 2012 report referenced above no doubt captured). And much of it never returned, even as prices for everything have risen. But the idea that library usage might be linked to funding, and might even be tied to a robust materials collection, is one that can offer hope because it gives a way forward. Libraries do not have to offer limited hours, limited staffing, and limited books and programs. They could offer more, if the public made it a priority to fund them. Let’s just hope that our elected officials agree, before libraries really do become obsolete–not because they are not still needed, but because we have set them up to fail by neglecting to provide them with the necessary resources.

Should Authors Work Free “for the Exposure?”

That the labor of authors is not highly valued may seem surprising, considering how much book lovers sing the praises of their favorite writers, wax poetic about life-changing books, and even do free marketing on blogs and social media to promote certain titles. However, the other side of the loud acclaim for authors is the conviction that all books should be free for everyone at all times — even if it means the author does not get paid. For instance, book piracy is regularly promoted on Book Twitter and by book bloggers. A recent BookTok trend recommending people read and then return e-books resulted in some authors actually losing money as they had to pay back their royalties to Amazon. (A new Amazon e-book return policy will be going into effect soon, to prevent this.) And many people are convinced that authors should do all their book talks, school visits, and writing classes free.

The assumption seems to be that any time a book gets mentioned or read, it’s good for the author, and the author should be grateful for the exposure, even if they do not get paid. And, of course, exposure is good. Much of the work that libraries and book bloggers do for authors includes marketing that amounts to free exposure because they value authors and books and want to help by promoting their materials. However, someone offering exposure free because they like a book and want to share it is very different from simply expecting authors to do a bunch of work free “for the exposure.” Authors who wrote a book did work, and they should be compensated for it. Likewise, authors who come up with presentations, travel to do school visits, and spend time on Q&A sessions are doing work — and they should be compensated for it.

One might assume that people think authors should offer their labor free because they themselves have limited financial means, but still want to access certain authors and titles. In the case of schools and libraries who complain all author visits should be free, this might be true. Many do not have the funds to pay for author visits, even though they would like their students and patrons to benefit from one. But some individuals do have the means to pay authors, yet choose not to. A 2017 Nielsen study, for instance, found that book pirates were generally well-educated and financially well off. And some individuals in this 2019 article from The Guardian admitted they can pay for books, but prefer the ease of illegal downloading. Other individuals in the article offered a more common sentiment — all culture should be free.

I suspect that it is this sentiment (that all culture should be free), tied in with the assumption that all authors are rich and owe society as a result, is often what drives people to dismiss authors who want to get paid as elitist, privileged, and greedy. Being an author, after all, seems like an awfully big deal. Breaking into the traditional publishing industry is very difficult. Having one’s name on a book seems akin to being a celebrity. And yet — most authors are not making very much money at all. In 2019, The New York Times reported that an Authors Guild survey of over 5,000 authors showed that the mean pay for authors in 2017 was $20,300 for full-time authors and only $6,080 when part-time writers were added to the mix. The survey reveals that the $6,080 figure actually includes both “book-related income” and “writing-related income,” where book-related income means not only royalties but things like film rights, audiobook rights, and international rights. Writing-income related includes things ghostwriting, teaching writing courses, and speaking engagements. That figure essentially includes every tangentially-related writing side hustle an author could do — and it is still very small.

Of course, some authors do offer some of their writings and their presentations free, but that does not mean such things should be expected of every author. Any time someone puts labor into a product or into a service and then offers it free, it is an act of generosity. And it might be helpful to frame it as such. Some authors are more financially stable than others, and they might find they are able to offer their labor free in order to show gratitude to their fans, pay it forward, or indeed promote equal access of culture to all. That is their choice and it is laudable! But, again, it does not mean every author should be expected to offer their labor free. No author “owes” people free books and classroom visits. And it might be helpful to ask ourselves why society even expects them to in the first place.

In most cases, people do not work free and they resent it when employers try sketchy tactics to get more work from employees without raising their pay. In most cases, if a worker were told that they should offer their labor or the fruits of their labor free, they would laugh. When people work, they expect to get paid. They are not volunteering. And telling people to do it because they will not get money, but will get exposure sounds a bit more suspect when you apply it other industries and other workers. Imagine telling a lawn care worker that they should landscape a dozen houses free, “for the exposure!” Or asking a hair stylist to work free because people will see their hair cuts and they’ll get “exposure!” Perhaps the local bakery should give out all their rolls free “for the exposure”? It would sound like a scam, and experienced workers would not fall for it.

But, when it comes to art, people forget that there is labor and a product involved. Art is something greater in the public mind. It is not the same as a small business owner making homemade breads or handmade soaps. It is not a mere commercial good. It is good. And as something “good,” people expect it to be available to all without anything as sordid as the exchange of money to taint it. When it comes to art, people often simply do not seem to see that there is a person behind it who needs money in order to keep producing more. Perhaps, if they do consider the person behind the art, the statement that the books and the speeches will be “for the exposure,” is a way to rationalize the expectation that no monetary compensation will be offered.

And then there is the added complication that books are often not seen as products, not only because they are “art” but also because e-books are easily dismissed as “not real” by the people who steal them. Because there is not a physical object for someone to take, some people argue that nothing has been stolen. The book is still “there” for others. They are not depriving anyone. In this case, it helps to remember that a book is a product, or at least an experience. Just as one typically pays to watch a movie or a musical, or to enter a haunted house or a theme park, so that the creators get money for their intellectual property, so should one pay for the experience of reading the book — even if it is not printed on physical paper. Someone put time and effort into that book, intending it to be sold so they can make money to live and write more. It is not wrong for them to want to be paid.

Authors work hard to write their books. They work hard to travel to schools and libraries, to prepare speeches, to sit on panels, to teach writing classes. They are not, in most cases, earning untold wealth. But, even if they were, it is not inherently wrong to ask to be paid for one’s time and labor. Just as most people would not work free, “for the exposure,” authors should not automatically be expected to work free, either. Their labor is valuable. If society really believed that, they would offer to pay for it.

Ways to Support the Public Library During National Library Card Sign-Up Month

How to Support the Public Library

September is National Library Card Sign Up Month in the U.S.! And that means it is the perfect time to discuss all the ways to help support your local public library, and all the ways that supporting the library also helps individuals. More support means more funding, which means even better libraries!

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At the Library

Sign up for a library card!

Libraries keep track of card sign ups and report on what percentage of eligible people are cardholders. These stats help them advocate for more funding. Plus, now you have a library card and can enjoy all that the public library has to offer!

Attend an event.

Libraries also keep track of how many programs they hold and how many people attended, to demonstrate their continued relevancy. Attend a program to help library stats. Plus, you will have the fun of having attending the event and meeting new people! Make sure to attend programs you are particularly interested in, since organizations are likely to look at attendance numbers to decide what types of programs to keep investing staff time and effort in.

Ask a question at the reference desk.

If you have ever asked a librarian a question and then seen them make a quick tally mark or open a Google doc, that’s because they also track how many reference questions they answer. So if you have a question you can’t answer, instead of leaving disappointed, ask a librarian! They will help you find what you need, and they’ll get the stats.

Donate books.

Not sure what to do with your old books? See if your library will take them either to add to the collection or to sell. Just make sure your books are in good condition, and that you are following their donation guidelines. Sadly, not every volume can be sold–if it is out of date or moldy, for example, no one is likely to want it.

Read: Is It Ever Okay to Get Rid of a Book?

Shop the used booksale.

Donate money to the library while buying yourself some cheap books!

Don’t reshelve the materials you viewed but chose not to check out.

This is, yes, partly because some people will put the books in the wrong place (even if they firmly believe they are putting them away correctly). But it is also because libraries count the books that were used in the building. Each time you put your books in the designated area, the staff scan them and collect the statistics. Every statistic helps libraries advocate for more funding, so don’t feel guilty about putting your books on the appropriate cart or table instead of back on the shelf.

Clean up the toys you used in the children’s section.

This may be confusing, but while you should not reshelve the books, you should put away any toys you and/or your children played with. I have heard some libraries count the number of people they see using the play area, but they are probably not sending stats to their local leaders on how many times they had to pick up the blocks each day. Help the staff out by keeping the area tidy, and help keep other patrons safe so they do not trip over any scattered toys.

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Follow your public library on social media.

Boost your library’s follower count, while also keeping yourself informed about any fun programs or services they are offering!

Like or share the library’s posts, if you feel so inclined.

You can help boost the library’s stats and help your friends and family at the same time, by passing on information about materials or services others might find useful

Pass along any programs, giveaways, services, or events that you think friends or family might find useful.

You don’t need social media to pass on information about the library! If you know someone who is looking for a tutor, and you know the library has tutoring services, let them know. If you know someone who needs help with a resume or a cover letter, why not tell them about the databases that could help? Very often, supporting the library actually means supporting the people who could benefit from library services, but who don’t know about everything the library offers.

Take photos of yourself using the library so all your friends and family can see what they’re missing out on! Consider: you posing with a new library card, you getting a haul of books, you attending a fun program, and more!

Many people still think the library is “just books,” or that it is boring and not for them. Why not show people that the library is fun? And for everyone!

Invite a friend or family member to go to a library program with you.

Enjoy a free night out by going to a library program! As far as I can tell, the same few people attend all the library programs. But other people could benefit, as well! I love inviting friends and family to programs with me so that they can see what the library offers. Many people are hesitant to try new things alone, so inviting people allows them to experience the library, get comfortable there, and maybe go back later! They often could benefit from library resources; they just have not thought of using them until I showed them.

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While Blogging

Write about your favorite library memories.

Libraries sometimes get bad publicity from individuals who do not see their usefulness, or from people who are annoyed about their libraries being underfunded. Why not focus on the positive and remember some of the good things libraries provie?

Write about your favorite library resources.

People who use the library often sometimes assume that everyone knows about the library as much as they do. But this is not the case! Even avid library users may not be aware of everything the library has to offer. So talk up your favorite resources! You just might be giving the information to someone who needed to read it!

Share your secret library tips.

Many people go to the library, browse, and leave. But there is so much more the library has to offer! Share your tips for getting the most out of the library.

Post photos of any library swag you have.

Everyone loves book swag! Put a twist on this popular photo idea by showcasing some library swag.

Share your library holds list (a spin on the popular TBR list post).

Sometimes book blogging can feel very consumerist. But you don’t need to spend tons of money to participate in fun challenges or post photos. Use your library’s collection instead!

Write a book haul post featuring library books or books from the library book sale.

Again, you don’t need to drain your bank account to participate in popular book blogger post such as a haul video. Instead of buying twenty books, consider showing off your library haul! This can help, too, because some people still think libraries only house research books or classics. Let them know that popular books can be borrowed, too!

Tweet about a library service you have used lately (ex. Libby/Overdrive, Hoopla, Kanopy, Ancestry, etc.)

Even people who are aware of certain resources may not know how to use them, or may only know some of the basics. Share your expertise by explaining how to use a library resource. Or, you can do something fun like read a bunch of books suggested by NoveList–and then post about how well you think the algorithm worked. Spread the word so people who might need these services know not only to check to see if their local library offers them, but also know how to get started.

Share photos of crafts you have made at the library.

Crafts from the library are one thing I know that everyone seems really interested in. Craft materials are not cheap, so when I show off the cool things I have made at the library, people always want to know more.

Share tours of libraries you visit.

Every book lover wants to visit the library from Beauty and the Beast, right? Well, there are some real life libraries that feel like they are just as magical! I love reading posts about other libraries, and I’m sure many others do, as well!

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While this post is about to support the local library, the real magic is that supporting the library often really means supporting one’s self and others in the community. Libraries offer so much from books to homework help to research databases to computer classes to crafts and career help. Getting a library card, attending a program, or spreading the word gives the library more users and more stats so they can ask for more funding for these initiatives. But the real benefit is to the people using the services–the people who would not be able to complete their resume or do their homework or read a book without the public library. Supporting the public library means that everyone wins!

What are your suggestions on how to support the public library?

Some Research to Ponder about Book Piracy

Some Research to Ponder on Book Piracy

In the book blogosphere, on Book Twitter, and on BookTok, it has become common for people to argue that e-book piracy is not immoral or harmful, and that book lovers should actually support the practice since not everyone can afford books. The argument is often based on the assumptions that e-book piracy does not have an impact in the real world (like stealing a physical item would), that few people do it, and that the people who do engage in piracy are impoverished and incapable of acquiring books legally–either because they do not have access to libraries or because they cannot acquire ARCs. Most of these assumptions are demonstrably false, however, if one engages in a little research.

E-book piracy does have real world consequences that affect both the bottom line of publishers and authors, and their ability to produce more books. E-book piracy is estimated to cost U.S. publishers $300 million dollars each year, a 2019 Forbes article reports, noting that other countries face similar problems. The UK Intellectual Property Office reported in 2017, for instance, that 17% of e-books were consumed illegally. This is not an insignificant amount of stolen property!

And despite the popular take that no book pirates were going to purchase the book anyway, these pirated e-books are often lost sales, as YA fantasy author Maggie Stiefvater demonstrated in 2017 when she shared a personal example of how e-book piracy made her publishers believe her work was no longer popular. The result was a reduced print run for the final book in Stiefavater’s Raven Cycle, and the almost death of what is now the Dreamers Trilogy set in the same world. Stiefvater managed to show, however, that many of those who were unable to pirate copies were able and willing to buy the book. When pirated copies of The Raven King were not immediately available online, her fans complained about having to purchase the book instead, and the print run sold out practically overnight. The sales Stiefvater, suggests, were what convinced her publishers to give the Dreamers Trilogy a chance.

Many in the book blogging community argue that e-book piracy is performed only by teenagers with no spending cash or by the desperately poor, but research indicates otherwise. A Nielsen consumer study conducted in 2017 found that 70% of e-book pirates had a college degree or higher, that they were generally between the ages of 30 and 44, and that their incomes were between $60,000 and $99,000. In other words, the average e-book pirate is a highly educated adult making more than the U.S. average salary. The widespread assumption that e-book piracy is committed primarily by the poor is not only false, but also hurtful–those with less income should not automatically be assumed to be engaging in theft!

In a way, though, in sort of makes sense that people with higher incomes would be the ones engaging in book piracy, because they are the ones more likely to have the means to pirate books in the first place. Downloading e-books requires internet access, a device to read the e-books on, and the free time and stability to read the e-books. The 2021 Pew Research Center “Internet/Broadband Factsheet,” for instance, notes that about 75% of Americans have broadband internet access at home now, but those with less education and less income are less likely to have it. Their stats show that 87% of those making $50,000 to $74,999 have broadband access at home, and 92% of those making $75,000 and up have broadband at home. But only 57% of those making less than $30,000 have broadband access at home. Some people could, of course, be relying solely on their smartphone, but only 27% of those making under $30,000 said they used a smartphone despite not having broadband access at home.

People with lower incomes are not only less likely to have access to broadband access at home, but also less likely to own any sort of device that they could download e-books to. In June 2021, Emily A. Vogels reported on the Pew Research site in an article called Digital divide persists even as Americans with lower incomes make gains in tech adoption that of those making less than $30,000 a year, 24% said they do not own a smartphone, 41% do not own a laptop or desktop computer, and 59% do not own a tablet. In contrast, of those making between $30,000 and $99,000, 87% own a smartphone, 84% own a desktop or laptop, and 53% own a tablet. Those making $100,000 or more nearly all reported owning a digital device of some kind.

Finally, the data from the Pew Research Center on who is less likely/more likely to read also seems to align with the statistics on book piracy. The Pew Research Center’s 2021 article “Who Doesn’t Read Books in America?” shows that people who make under $30,000 a year and who did not earn a college degree are more likely to report not having read a book in the past month. So the research stating that book pirates tend to be highly educated individuals with higher incomes makes sense. These are the people with access to internet and digital devices, and who report that they are reading more often.

The narrative in the bookish community often says that book piracy is a necessity for those who cannot afford books. But the data suggests that the people doing the most book pirating are not the most impoverished and not teens, but rather adults with an annual income between $60,000 and $99,000. And Maggie Stiefvater’s experiment suggests that many book pirates would pay for a book they really wanted to read, if piracy were not so easy. The numbers given above pertain mostly to the U.S., but perhaps similar trends might be found globally, with those with less income finding it more difficult to obtain the internet access and digital devices necessary to download e-books illegally. It’s something to think about as book bloggers and influencers continue to promote book piracy.

Nine False “Facts” People Have Used to Explain Why They Don’t Use U.S. Public Libraries

False Reasons People Give to Not Use the Public Library

Oftentimes library lovers assume that everyone already knows about the library, and that everyone must use it and appreciate it as much as they do. But even though libraries are still a trusted and much-used part of life in the U.S., many people hold false ideas of what libraries are and how they operate, that prevent them from ever walking in the door. Below are a few reasons I have heard people give for why they do not use the library. If you have heard the same, consider finding ways to spread more information about libraries so more people can take advantage of these great resources!

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The library does not carry any new releases.

I hear this all the time. People think they need to go to a bookstore to acquire the latest releases. While budget concerns may restrict the number of books a library can buy, public libraries in the U.S. do, in fact, buy current titles and do not stock only classics and textbooks. These new books are even set aside on a special shelf labeled “NEW” so people can easily locate and browse them. Additionally, most libraries also offer a Purchase Request form that you can fill out to ask that the library buy any specific title you might want to check out.

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The library does not offer e-books to borrow.

I have met avid e-book readers who did not know that U.S. public libraries offer e-books that can be checked out. I even read online complaints during the height of the pandemic criticizing libraries for not offering e-books, even though most libraries were putting a lot of energy into advertising their e-book collections while library buildings were closed. Just go to the library website and you should be able to find the options available for e-book borrowing. Common apps are Libby/Overdrive and Hoopla.

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The library cannot beat streaming movies at home.

Many public libraries now offer online services/apps that enable patrons to borrow and stream movies at home. Go to the library website and look for apps like Kanopy and Hoopla. Because these platforms charge libraries for each borrow, patrons are typically allotted a certain number of borrows each month. The balance resets again the next month. But there are also some movies/content that users can borrow without it counting against their monthly allotment. And the Kanopy Kids content is unlimited.

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People must pay to get a library card.

It seems like common knowledge that getting a library card is free, yet I have to tell people all the time that there is no charge! Please, please do your friends and family a favor and let them know that setting up a card will cost them nothing. Just getting the card is often the first and biggest hurdle for people. But, once they have one, the possibilities of what they can do with it are nearly endless!

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People must have and show a valid library card to enter the front door/sit in the library.

I am truly baffled by the number of people I have seen enter the library door, march up to the front desk, and flash their card while announcing loudly, “I am a member! I have a card!” Public libraries in the U.S. do not card people to come in, browse, or sit. But I have friends of friends who have never set foot in a library because they truly believe someone is going to stop them and demand some sort of identification.

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Using the library is going to cost a lot of money.

Probably not. It is true that borrowing a large number of materials and never returning them will result in a hefty bill to replace said items. However, an increasing number of libraries are going fine free. This means that, once the items are overdue, there is usually some sort of grace period for the items to be returned. An overdue fine might appear on the account during that time, and card privileges could be suspended until that fine disappears (if the fine is high enough). To make the fine disappear, a person need only bring back the overdue materials–and the fine is waived. In short, before assuming that overdue fines are going to destroy you, check the library website or give the library a call to determine if overdue fines are even charged there.

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The library does not have a Summer Reading program for adults.

Many U.S. public libraries do! Not all, of course, and they are usually less elaborate than the programs for the children. But it is still worth checking the library website or asking at the desk to see if you might be eligible to win some prizes for reading over the summer.

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The librarians are silently judging one’s book choices.

A few people recently told me that they don’t like to use the library because people can see what they are reading. But most libraries I have been to are somewhat understaffed due to budget issues, and the library is busy enough that staff are often trying to help two or three people at the same time. It seems unlikely to me that what book someone is reading would be their biggest concern. But, of course, some people do like a bit more privacy. And they might be checking out some books on sensitive topics. In this case, many libraries now have a self check-out station, so you can get your books judgment free.

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College students cannot use the public library, only the school library.

False! Public libraries allow college and university students to get cards, even if they only live in the dorms part of the year. Some libraries have special student cards for this. Others just hand out their normal cards. Call ahead to ask what you need to bring, but it is usually a valid photo ID with your current address. If your ID shows a different address than the college address you are living at, also bring a piece of mail with that college address.

What are some misconceptions you have heard about the public the library?