The Norwood Author this week won the coveted Sherlock Holmes book of the year award and the author, Alistair Duncan, made a point of highlighting the vital role that the Local Studies unit of Croydon Library played in gathering the research for the book. If you look at the list of research bodies involved it is a who's who of Sherlockian societies and research institutes around the world, but it was the libraries staff that help Duncan unearth dozens of new facts on Arthur Conan Doyle's life.
The Norwood Author - Arthur Conan Doyle and the Norwood years 1891-1894 covers the time Conan Doyle spent in South London where he wrote many of his key works - including the first two series of Sherlock Holmes short stories. Duncan who also lives in South London, says that without the help of Christine Corner and Chris Bennett at the library, such a ground breaking book would not have been possible.
It's easy for us to forget the role libraries play in a world where everyone assumes that all facts are available on the web. Virtually all the new facts unearthed for this book don't appear anywhere on the web and were buried deep in books and newspaper archives that are unlikely to ever make it onto the web.
Local libraries play a key role not only in local communites for books themselves, but also in the creation of some of the best.