As I take what seems to be thousands of phone calls from prospective newbees, one of my first questions is, "What books or magazines have you read?"
I am absolutely astounded by the most common response of, "I dunno, what books are out there?"
I asked about their web browsing, ready to refer them to a couple of informative web sites, but it amazes me how many rural people are still limited by dial-up Internet services.
I frequently refer these callers to the local public library, but the libarary's selection of books orginates largely from the 1960's, with a few 1970 books on homesteading that contain a single chapter on beekeeping. I found this inadequate to introduce someone to the goals of beekeeping.
So I took it upon myself to donate my personal library of beekeeping books to the public library. I asked the librarian and she had to approve the books. I also went to Amazon.com and ordered some of the newer books, including duplicate copies of my favorites.
I also ordered a three year subscription to ABJ and Bee Culture (both are serious sources of current information, advertisements, web sites and addresses of catalog suppliers).
Working with the librarian, to reduce the red tape, it was simpler if I ordered the books and magazines, paid for them personally, and had them delivered directly to the libarary.
My total cost (not including those books I dontated that were taking up space on my book shelf) was around $270 (about the revenue I'd collect from wholesaling three cases of quarts).
I know a lot of clubs have their own libraries, but access to these libraries is pretty limited.
My challenge to all bee clubs is to allow the public libraries to take custody of these resources. Our local bee club has no resources (except the personal copies that we loan on a person-to-person basis) and we have no dues, no treasurer and no bank account. I considered it my mission to equip the local library.
My challenge to the more generous beekeepers who see such resources as an INVESTMENT in the future of our industry is to at least purchase the subscription to the magazines. A three-year subscription costs around $60 each.
Just a note. Our library runs on a limited budget. Originally, my request to the library was that they subscribe to the magazines. They had no idea of the interest in beekeeping and balked at the expense. Money was needed elsewhere. Then it struck me that if I believe in this cause why don't I put my money where my mouth is.
That's my challenge!