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The Public Library Is Your Best Friend

March 16, 2011

Are you using the public library to your best advantage?

I’ve been an addicted reader for pretty much my entire life, so libraries and I have always had a kind of a special bond. But when I moved to New York, I discovered a new love affair with the library caused by 1. It’s free-ness combined with my lack of money-ness, and 2. The incredible breadth of what the library has to offer here in the city.

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First of all, you do all know about the magical Holds, right? How if you have a library account, you can go online to, search for whatever you’re looking for, click “place hold,” and the library fairies will grab your requested material from any library in the city and bring it to your library to await your triumphant arrival to the holds shelf? When I first learned of this magical system, I was totally enchanted with the New York Public Library system. And now, every time I walk into my library knowing that there’s something waiting for me on the holds shelf, I feel kinda like a library VIP. I know, it’s silly, but humor me.

There are also several theatre companies that do readings, productions, and open mics at various libraries across the city. Break a Leg Productions is one such company, and Shakespeare Saturdays is another event that you can get involved in.

But my favorite way to use the library is for audition materials and production research. The library has pretty much everything you could possibly need for this — play scripts, musical scores, broadway cast albums, acting technique books — you name it! Want to read every play ever written by Paula Vogel for your play reading book club? You can! For free! Need to look for new song ideas, but don’t want to buy a score that you won’t end up using? Check out as much music as you want to before committing! Would like to get an intro to Meisner before your first class? Borrow “On Acting”! The possibilities for the library’s usefulness in this sense is truly limitless.

And certainly don’t forget to check out the Performing Arts Library at Lincoln Center, where you can watch videos of present and past Broadway productions that have been filmed for exactly this purpose. Just don’t forget to call ahead so they can have the show you want to watch ready.

Plus, there are so many other types of non-performing arts books that can be useful in your career. Motivational books, like Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, or Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, can also have a profound effect on who you are, both as a performer and as a person.

So what do you think — has this spurred you on to use the library in new ways? Do you have other ideas for creative ways to best use this amazing resource? Please share!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Jessica @ Acting Adult permalink
    March 17, 2011 1:00 pm

    I love the public library! I always pick up fun books there that I’d rather not buy but I’m not sure my local midwest library has many acting resources. But it’s something I’m going to definitely check it out!


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