Over the past month or so, I have taken a number of day-trips around Central Illinois, looking for places to post flyers promoting our conference (which is next weekend...Yikes!) I stopped in cafes, visitors' bureaus, supermarkets, bookstores, quick-marts...and libraries. Some places were delighted to take flyers, some ho-hum, just okay with it, some reluctant and maybe a little suspicious, and some were just plain negative and at times rude.
Guess where I was unilaterally welcomed to leave info? The quick-marts! They all had a bulletin board near the front door where public notices were posted. And at the bottom of the welcome-wagon list? Libraries!
Silly me, so naive in my idea that a publisher and a library would have books in common. And to be fair, there were a few locations where the librarian was very cordial and happily put my materials on a table with other handouts. But a clear majority refused, citing the fact that this was not a event sponsored by a non-profit organization. After a half-dozen or so of these experiences, it began to sting! I yearned to say, "Hey, I'm not selling snake oil, or shares in a Ponzi scheme! We're talkin' books here!"
Over the years OTP has been at it, there have been a number of times a library has refused to host an author event. Also, there were other times, the author was invited to make a talk, but not allowed to sell books afterward. To some extent, I can understand the thinking. If each library lecture or Kiwanis meeting ended up with someone pressing their goods on you, it would certainly detract from the experience. But jeez...these were just little flyers, for heaven's sake!
And isn't one of the roles a library plays to be a place for information to be exchanged?