Carolyn Remembers Libraries
know libraries aren't dead, but sometimes it feels like as if they
I live in a
canyon near Los Angeles and one of our blessings is a little neighborhood
library with picture windows that look over a golf course. I was
instrumental in building it in the 1970s and even then the library
was only an afterthought. Because the canyon is filled with fast-burning
chaparral, our neighborhood needed a fire station closer to help
us keep our fire insurance rates down. Someone said, "As long
as we're building a fire station, why not attach a library?"
It was a struggle, but eventually the city fathers (well, OK. There
was one mother!) said OK and funded both.
That was just
the beginning of the fight to keep that library. The windows are
huge but they keep trying to shutter them. (Yes, think of that as
a metaphor.) My guess is that there has been a budget cut every
five years or so since then and every time someone started seeing
dollar signs, our little library was the first thing the money folks
think they can do away with. Of course, they also don't have much
respect for the whole system. Hours have been curtailed citywide
over the decades. Services, too.
here are library memories I miss.
I miss the
big mobile libraries that stopped on street corners where seniors
and kids could get to them easily. There were no limit on how many
we could carry home.
I miss librarians
that said "Shhhh." Now it seems libraries are often activity
centers and that's good, but "Shhsshhing" librarians taught
us respect for others' needs.
I miss books
that had little pockets in them with cards that slipped in and out.
We borrowers could peek to see how many times a book had been checked
out, note the different colors of stamp pad inks, notice that cards
on some of the classics had yellowed.
I miss books
that felt lineny on the outside or had gold-embossed spines turned
out. Some even had gilt edging on the pages. And if we look hard
we can still find some reference books in some libraries that still
have those little half-moons cut out where we can put our index
fingers and turn right to the section we need. I mean, it's kind
I miss that
people don't give books for gifts as much as they once did. My children
both remember their Great Aunt Hazel who was a librarian. She always
sent books for birthdays and Christmas. The Phantom Tollbooth. Charlie
and the Chocolate Factory. The whole Laura Engels Wilder series!
And all with plastic covers edged with bindings like grosgrain ribbon
(only heavier) that gave the book shelves in their rooms a certain
distinction unobtainable by their friends.
are some things I love about libraries the way they are right now:
They are good
places for people without computers or those whose computers have
temporarily deserted them to go to indulge in their online habits.
They are great
for picking up a quick video. They're the Neighborhood Netflix.
They are good
places to learn something new in books—or not. Many have programs
for the blind. My Aunt Hazel loved the one she could walk to safely
without using her white cane—which, for some reason, she considered
a huge benefit.
They are still
places to meet people who love books.
The ones who
know how to market to (and get the support of) their own community
even support local authors.
smell good. A little like printers' ink. Maybe a little moldy. Maybe
a little like a Secret Garden. And, you can usually find the titles
you loved as a child. Or the ones your children loved. That is,
you can if they didn't have to sell them to make ends meet.
Tips and Tidbits
(Each month in this box, Carolyn lists
a Tidbit that will help authors write or promote better. She
will also include a Tip to help readers find a treasure among
long-neglected books or a sapphire among the newly-published.)
of all patterns and stripes will enjoy the quick tips
and questions and answers format of my blog, The
Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor Guidelines
for submitting questions are in the left column of the
blog. It is inspired by The
Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid
Humiliation and Ensure Success which won USA Book
News Best Book 2007 Award, Reader Views Literary Award
and was a finalist in the New Generations Indie Award.
It is also available for Kindle, www.budurl.com/FrugalEditorKindle.
Tip for Readers' Tip:
A poetry chapbook that I coauthored
with Magdalena Ball was a popular Christmas gift for
many. Those who missed someone special on their list
and would still like to remember them might find the
$6.95 price tag of Blooming
Red: Christmas Poems for the Rational just
right. It is part of our award-winning Celebration Series
MyShelf.Com. All Rights Reserved.