NaNoWriMo @ Your Library

We’re halfway through November, which means we’re halfway through National Novel Writing Month. For the first time, my library’s holding programs and providing resources for our local NaNoWriMo participants, and it’s gone well so far.

In early October, a teen patron asked if we were doing anything for NaNoWriMo. We weren’t, so some of the adult services librarians and I worked together to reach out to our Municipal Liaison (a regional representative that coordinates local NaNoWriMo events for participants). He was finalizing their schedule and was actually looking for a venue for a few events, so we arranged to host a meet-up (an hour and a half session for WriMos in the area to meet one another and work over coffee–and a chance for us to advertise library resources they might use) on the first Saturday of the month and a write-in (five hours of buckling down and cranking out words) two weeks later.

In anticipation of the event, we registered with the Office of Letters and Light (the non-profit group that organizes NaNoWriMo and other writing programs), who sent us promotional bookmarks, window clings, and posters. We also reached out to our local newspaper and put out a press release about our support of NaNoWrimo in addition to our in-house advertising and information on our website. One of our reference librarians also stepped up and offered to dedicate one of the display spaces to books about writing for the whole month.

For the meet-up, our head of reference put together a presentation about library resources one might use to research a novel, focusing on databases that will help writers develop their plot, characters, and setting. I made a list of resources for teen writers specifically and pulled some of those items from our collection to show off.

On the day of the meet-up, we set up tables and chairs in our big programming room and plugged in a bunch of extension cords and power strips (we never have enough outlets in our library!). The ML arrived with coffee and snacks and gift bags for all of the participants, who sort of trickled in over the first 15 minutes of the event. Once most of them had arrived, the head of reference and I did our presentations and then sat back to let them write. I was really pleased that six of the dozen people who came to the meet-up were teens (most of whom I’d never met before), and that all of our attendees seemed interested in what we had to offer. This really felt like a collaboration between teen and adult services.

A big part of what’s made our support of NaNoWriMo a success so far is that our ML is friendly and willing to work with us, and we already have a pretty strong local group that attends events; we’re kind of just stepping in to an existing program. Even if your library doesn’t have that foundation (or a friendly ML) and can’t host meet-ups or write-ins, check out the Office of Letters and Light’s library outreach guide and think about highlighting library resources local writers might find useful or setting up displays of books written during NaNoWriMo. That might be the first step toward something bigger!

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