Thursday, September 22, 2016

For the love of verisimilitude by Patty Blount

Verisimilitude is such a fun word. I can hardly pronounce it, but it's a fun word.

I love doing research. Finding the right facts, the right nuances, the right flavor for a story adds that touch of verisimilitude. Even before we had an internet, I loved going to the library, plowing through the card catalog, the microfilm readers, the periodicals, following different threads to see where they'd lead me.

Card catalogs are gone now and we have the entire internet accessible through cell phones. Maybe that's why I keep hearing how libraries are no longer relevant.

That comment makes my vision go red.

Libraries are relevant and always will be as long as there are people with open minds willing to learn. Libraries are havens for kids like I used to be...one whose friends existed mainly between covers. Libraries are centers of their communities, reflecting the culture and interests that make that community thrive.

All of my novels require research, even the novellas. How I perform that research depends entirely on the subject. But yes, I start with Google.

But -- and this is important -- I never end there.

If you haven't yet read Alissa Grosso's post, go do so now. As I said in my comment on her post, my hometown library is Sachem Public Library.


Libarians are absolutely the best source you have when you need to do research. I'm quite fond of this Neil Gaiman quote --  "Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one." 

When I was researching bullying for SEND, Google kept giving me news but I wanted information about laws. For SOME BOYS, I needed information on rapists, not victims -- specifically, why they do it. My Sachem librarians found me a number of valuable resources I never could have found on Google. 

But here's the best thing.... remember what I said about communities? When I was researching firefighting for NOTHING LEFT TO BURN, the libarians at Sachem suggested I speak to one of their employees. Turns out her dad was the chief at one of the local volunteer departments. I contacted him, got a tour of the facility and a whole bunch of inside information I would not have found on Google without first knowing where to look. 

And that's the key -- knowing where to look. Librarians are experts at that. 

So to everyone at Sachem Public Library, I couldn't write a word without you. 

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