A: Go to the library!
As the resident librarian I can’t stress enough the importance of checking out your local library. If you are undecided on purchasing a particular item, see if your library has a copy or if they can request the item through inter-library loan. Most libraries belong to a state or regional consortia where they share resources among member libraries. Some well-to-do libraries will just purchase a title if it’s requested often enough.
Visit your library’s website and their respective catalog to see what items are available. Better yet, search and/or install the Worldcat browser toolbar. Hundreds of thousands of libraries use Worldcat to catalog their materials. Subsequently, you can search the catalogs of all of these libraries and see if an item is available near you.
Libraries are big on statistics. If they notice a spike in interest in a particular topic or subject matter they will order relevant materials. They determine this ‘spike’ through circulation statistics, so every time a patron requests or checks out an item these trends are recorded. If you pull an item from the shelf but leave it on the reading table they also record in-house usage, so pull out the vegan books and leave them on the tables! This also exposes patrons who may walk by and pick up the items.
Finally, let your local library know how they are doing. Many libraries have comment forms on their website or paper surveys in the buildings. Support your library though visiting every so often. Ask if you can display or drop off pamphlets or leaflets. Book a community room and host a monthly get-together. Many libraries and library staff are willing to accommodate; you just have to ask!