|Image via Flickr/Creative Commons|
This week has been National Library Week and thus I’ve been thinking a lot about why I love my local library. When I asked myself that question the answer came to me quickly: My local library empowers me both as a writer and a woman.
I could talk about the hours on end I spent as a teenager in the North Birmingham, Titusville, and Downtown branches of the library reading books to help me with everything from figuring what religion I truly believed to applying for college, scholarships and financial aid. But I don’t have to look back that far.
Just this year my local library has done plenty for me.
In February the downtown library hosted its annual Local Authors Expo and gave me an opportunity to lead a workshop on social media and talk about See Jane Write to other local writers.
In March at the Smithfield library I attended a motivational talk by Eunice Elliott on pursuing dreams, a talk that helped me focus on the goals that matter to me most and figure out the kind of legacy I want to leave.
The library also opens its doors to local organizations that want to host events of their own to empower Birmingham residents.
A few weeks ago I attended Power In Heels, a program for female entrepreneurs sponsored by Operation Hope and hosted at the downtown library. I left that program feeling fearless. And last year See Jane Write hosted a panel discussion on publishing.
Women writers should love their local libraries because libraries are buildings rich with inspiration for great stories, and that inspiration doesn’t only rest within the pages of novels or short story collections. Visit the archives section, step back in time and watch your imagination run wild.
Ask to see old scrapbooks of early Birmingham residents like Edith Ward. Take a look at the paper dolls she collected as a child, the letters from boyfriends she received as a teen, and other items like a dance card, clippings of her favorite poems, and playbills from theater performances she attended. Look at photos and read diary entries about her love for her bike, or her “wheel” as she called it. For Edith and other young women of the late 1800s their bikes represented freedom. A girl might hop on her bike and ride from the Southside all the way to Bessemer.
I don’t write much fiction, but learning about Edith’s life had me itching to try my hand at a historical novel set in Birmingham.
|Birmingham Public Library staff members after collecting signatures
at City Hall for the Declaration for the Right to Libraries
As National Library Week comes to an end show your appreciation for Birmingham libraries by signing a declaration of support. The national campaign known as the Declaration for the Right to Libraries is simply a good-faith effort to show how important libraries are in empowering and building communities, strengthening families and changing lives.