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Monday, October 25, 2010

How to find books

It used to be easy to find a good book. We'd just wonder the stacks at our local library until something caught our eye. That's changing. Our library seems to be moving away from the printed page. It's all about meeting space, video games, and computers now. The children's stacks are being reduced to almost 50% of what they where. The emphasis in the stacks seems be on newer books, best sellers, and media tie-ins. We could find all that at the local chain book store. The library is not about bibliophiles anymore.

So where do we go to find good books? How to we find those favorites and classics that we don't know about yet? Well, librarians are still a good source. So far our local library hasn't done away with them completely. (Bitter? Me? Ha!)

There are the meta-books, books about books, like Jim Trelease's "Read Aloud Handbook", and Esme Raji Codell's "How to Get Your Child to Love Reading". There are books with great reading lists like Susan Wise Bauer's "The Well Trained Mind" and Oliver DeMille's "A Thomas Jefferson Education". There are also websites that can help you search out books similar to those you already like. I know about the Literature Map and Scholastic's Book Wizard. After that I just pick the brains of my favorite people.

I look in many places and then try to put the books on hold, either at the local library (which is becoming harder, what with the stacks being reduced and all) or through Prospector or through Inter-Library-Loan (ILL). If I can't get what I want that way, I have to consider buying it. If I want it bad enough I will. That's what I did to get Isaac Asimov's arithmetic books "Asimov on Numbers", "Quick and Easy Math", and "Realm of Algebra". I've used Alibris for out of print titles.

How about you? How do you find your next favorite book? Where do you go to get it?