Skip to main content

5 Reasons for Writers to Check Out Their Local Library (Beyond Checking Out Books)

When a writing space isn't that perfectly curated aesthetic of a book-filled home office or a quiet corner of your home, what does one do? Author Freya Sampson has a simple solution: your local library.

I’m always fascinated by photos of other authors’ writing spaces: the gorgeous, book-lined office, the dreamy writing shed, the cozy attic with rooftop views. 

(Freya Sampson: On Books for Book Lovers)

Until recently, writing at home meant a corner of the kitchen table, surrounded by my children’s LEGO and abandoned cereal bowls. But that doesn’t matter, because I have a secret weapon, the best writing space in the world. I have the library.

Here are five reasons why I think libraries make the perfect working spots for writers.

5 Reasons for Writers to Check Out Their Local Library (Beyond Checking Out Books)

1. People-watching

Let’s be honest, us writers are nosey creatures by nature. There’s nothing I love more than sitting and watching strangers daydream about their lives; in fact, it’s where the inspiration for many of my characters has come from. And the library is the perfect place to do this because so many different people go there, from all walks of life. Just find a large book you can hide behind, and while away your day happily people-watching in the name of research.

2. It’s free

I live in London, one of the most expensive cities in the world. If I want to write in a café, then a coffee and snack will set me back a small fortune, and before long there’ll be a waiter giving me pointed stares about taking up a table for too long. But in a library you can work for as long as you like, and no one will ask you to leave. I can’t think of any other places in our communities where you’re positively encouraged to spend time there and not have to spend a dime.

3. There’s magic in the air

I don’t know what it is about libraries, but there’s something special in the air that makes me knuckle down and write. Maybe it’s because it takes me back to being at college, when a trip to the library inevitably meant a fast approaching essay deadline. Or maybe it’s to do with being surrounded by other people who are also hard at work. Whatever it is, I find I’m always 10 times more productive when I write in the library than when I try to write elsewhere.

Freya Sampson: On Books for Book Lovers

The Last Chance Library by Freya Sampson

IndieBound | Bookshop | Amazon
[WD uses affiliate links.]

4. Librarians

When I was a child, Roald Dahl’s Matilda was one of my favorite books. I used to love the bit early on in the novel, when she discovers her village library for the first time, and the librarian, Mrs. Phelps, starts recommending books to her.* After reading Matilda, I used to love going to my local library and asking the librarian for recommendations, and to this day I’ll always try and have a conversation with a library worker when I visit. They have such an incredible font of knowledge about books, plus they can help you on dozens of other queries. In an age of social media and fake news, we need information professionals more than ever.

*In my debut novel, The Last Chance Library, I’ve named one of my characters Stanley Phelps, in honor of Matilda’s kindly librarian!

5. Community

When I’m writing on a deadline, I can spend days alone, staring at a computer, my only interaction with my own family. For that reason, I love to pack up my laptop and go to the library. I know when I’m there that I can work in peace, undisturbed by my kids wanting snacks or someone at the front door, but also that I won’t be alone. There’s something lovely about having the buzz of other people around, the background hum of activity, the vaguely familiar faces who’ll nod a silent hello when I look up from the screen. Working in the library allows me to stay connected to the outside world, even when my head is lost in the fictional world of a story. And when I need a break from writing, there’s always people-watching to entertain me. 

21 Days to Your Novel Outline and Synopsis

This course is designed to help you understand how to craft a winning premise, how to outline your novel, and then how to take both of those things and assemble a synopsis that will act as a guide for you to write your novel and sell it.

Click to continue.

Steven Hartov: On Shocking Truths in Historical Fiction

Steven Hartov: On Shocking Truths in Historical Fiction

New York Times bestselling author Steven Hartov discusses the surprising truths he discovered when writing his new historical fiction novel, The Last of the Seven.

Larry Beinhart: On Rejection Leading to Mystery

Larry Beinhart: On Rejection Leading to Mystery

Award-winning author Larry Beinhart discusses what he learned in the process of writing his new mystery novel, The Deal Goes Down.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: A Competition Announcement, 6 WDU Courses, and More!

This week, we're excited to announce our self-published e-book awards, 6 WDU courses, and more!

Leah Franqui: On Killing Our Critical Inner Voices

Leah Franqui: On Killing Our Critical Inner Voices

Award-winning playwright and author Leah Franqui discusses how she examined her life through a fictive lens with her new novel, After the Hurricane.

Pacing Your Fight Scene (FightWrite™)

Pacing Your Fight Scene (FightWrite™)

Trained fighter and author Carla Hoch discusses how to pace your story's fight scene and shares three examples from writers who tackle pacing differently.

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Rushing the Drafting Process

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Rushing the Drafting Process

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so this series helps identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's mistake is rushing the drafting process.

Kwana Jackson: On Finding the Right Home for Your Story

Kwana Jackson: On Finding the Right Home for Your Story

USA Today bestselling author Kwana Jackson discusses writing her new romance novel, Knot Again.

Jaden Terrell Killer Writers Post 2

A Conversation With Jaden Terrell on Writer Expectations, Part 2 (Killer Writers)

Killer Nashville founder Clay Stafford continues his conversation with novelist Jaden Terrell about writer expectations and success.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Antagonist Reappears

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Antagonist Reappears

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have an antagonist reappear.