Shannon Philpott-Sanders

Writing, Reflecting, Teaching, Parenting

Journalists, the Library is Your Friend

libraryI feel sorry for the library. It has truly lost its glory in the past 10 years. Once thought of as the end-all-be-all place for information, it has been replaced by Internet search engines that quickly lead us to websites within seconds, minutes.

 No one takes the time to browse the library’s shelves anymore, leaving dust to settle on our nation’s most valued treasures – books.

 As students, we scour online databases, looking for a quick fix to a research paper that is due within hours.

 As journalists, often on strict deadlines, we tend to jump to Google first, scouring the web for a trace of related information. What happens, as a result, is that we sell ourselves short, obtaining “mediocre” information for the sake of time and produce less-than-stellar resources for our readers instead.

 But, libraries remain. This useful, resourceful place filled with information, entertainment, and knowledge is ostracized and isolated, leaving the treasures for a rare few.

 What many journalists fail to realize is that the library should be your best friend. As a general rule, book sources quoted in newspaper and magazine articles are weak, but these books can lead you to the most reputable human sources around.

 I know this firsthand. My small town library has been the most useful and profitable source for me the past few years.

 In the past few weeks alone, I have managed to get in touch with four “experts” because of the books I checked out from the local library. I began my research by browsing the library’s online database of books relevant to my article topic. If my library didn’t have the book I wanted, I requested that they transfer it from another library. I combed through the books and ultimately, contacted the book publishers, leading me straight to the authors within hours. What resulted was same day interviews with psychologists, doctors, lawyers – all authors and experts in the field.

 Yes, human sources are the most credible for journalists. Yes, books may seem to be archaic. However, the two work hand in hand and the library is your gateway ticket to resourceful writing.


– Shannon Philpott
Blog Entry: Sept. 19, 2009

 © Shannon Philpott, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Shannon Philpott and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

September 19, 2009 - Posted by | Blog, Journalism, Teaching, Writing | , , , , ,


  1. I miss the libraries where I used to live. The ones arund here have fewer books than Borders. x.x The only reason people visit them anymore is so they can borrow a computer terminal.

    Comment by uninvoked | September 19, 2009 | Reply

  2. The most usefull part if the library is the people that work there. Research librarians are great at finding over looked info.

    Comment by Brett | September 19, 2009 | Reply

  3. […] A few months ago, I wrote a post about the value of the library. Books are your friend and can lead you to plenty of sources. Pick […]

    Pingback by Story Sources are E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E « Shannon Philpott | March 19, 2010 | Reply

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