Cherry Saturday, February 1, 2020

Today is Take Your Child to the Library Day (that includes your inner child). Also Library Lover’s Month. All of which is to say, get yourself to a library and thank a librarian for her service (or his) and then sit there and snort some book dust in the blissful silence, at least until school lets out. The library in Wapakoneta, Ohio saved my life when I was kid.

High ceilings, huge windows, big wooden seats, peace and salvation . . . libraries were my church and the Blume library will always be the Notre Dame of libraries for me, especially because of the nun-like librarians who would smile over the desk at me and say, “Jenny, you’ve already read this one.” Bless them all, wherever they are now.

57 thoughts on “Cherry Saturday, February 1, 2020

  1. Amen to everything you wrote. Libraries contain the whole world in orderly rows and shelves of paper and ink that you can Take Home and read to your heart’s content. Simply the best place I can think of to spend a few hours. So I do. Often. Like, today!

  2. Today I opened my email to a newsletter from the library in my grandchildren’s town where I also have a card. Libraries are more like a community center and gathering place for all kinds of things. For instance this month they have a yoga class, knitting and crochet class, Monday movie matinee, craft classes, genealogy group and a writer’s group. And that’s just for adults, there’s also a list for babies and toddlers, school age children and teens.

    My own library is too small to have any of that nifty stuff. We do have story hour for preschool kids, there are computers for use to all. We have access to so you can be your own Henry Louis Gates to find your own roots. Throughout the year especially around a holiday someone will prepare a huge basket filled with goodies wrapped in cellophane to raffle. I have yet to win.

  3. As a military dependent (Navy Brat), I went where my father was stationed. In 1963, as soon as school was out, we packed up and moved from Key West, FL to Panama City, FL Papa was transferred from a Submarine Tender to a Mine Sweeper at the US Navy Mine Defense Lab – where the astronauts trained under water for movement in space suits.

    I was a twelve year old boy with no friends in a new home, neighborhood and city. To suppose I moped about is probably giving me more credit than I deserved. Mom needed to go shopping at the Exchange and Commissary, so she dragged me along. She stopped at the library and dragged me in. She asked a kindly old librarian (must have been in her twenties, at least) what boys were reading those days. Said librarian steered us to a single bookcase and allowed as these books seemed popular with boys my age.

    Biographies? No. History? No. Westerns? No. Romances? *Shudder* No! (cooties). An author was asked, “When was the Golden Age of Science Fiction?” His answer was, “Twelve.” and so it proved. When mama was done shopping and picked me up at the library, I went home with my limit, including Step to the Stars by Lester del Rey. I have thanked that kindly old librarian in my heart many, many times.

    And as a result, every move since, one of the first things I’ve done is locate the nearest libraries, even though the nearest libraries these days is at my fingertips.

      1. Still an outstanding read today, though the descriptions of fire control computers are… dated.

    1. When I’m planning to move, I usually do a research trip to visit. Internet searches are great, but I like to check out the local library and grocery store in person.

  4. Even though I am a librarian, I believe I don’t have the right to accept any of your thanks or praise on behalf of the profession, since I am an academic librarian. The library I work in has lots of information, but not a lot of fun. Also, I have no intention of going there today. 😁

    I too have fond memories of the public library from my youth. Undoubtedly, it is part of why I became a librarian.

  5. Libraries are wonderful places. I just moved, but in my old town I volunteered at my local library, shelving books and watering the plants. I got to live my three-year-old self’s dream of what it would be like to be a librarian.

  6. Yup. Libraries are fab. Very fond memories of mine from childhood but also of taking my son when he was growing up. Whenever we moved, getting him a new library card was always done straightaway and it was very well used:)

    Today, my local library is very different. It still has books, of course, but now they’re in all formats, and they have loads of movies as well and a bunch of computers for public use. Mainly, though, I find our library has grown into a community hub because it’s also where groups hold meetings and events take place that unite folks who appreciate storytelling in all its forms. I like that it still acts as a source for books and also builds community in new ways as well.

    Recently, it did get me wondering about the role of book covers in choosing books, though, because when I stroll through the aisles I’m reminded that most books are only seen spine out. So all that catches the attention really is colour, title, and author. Not imagery. It’s an extra step to pull the book out and see the cover or read a few pages, making that secondary in the selection process. Unless books are part of a display, that is, but with limited display space not many books make it into those.

    This issue of covers is on my mind as I’m prepping audiobooks of my mysteries. Once again, I’m having to revisit cover issues because the size of an audiobook cover is square and it doesn’t always work to just squish a rectangular book cover into a square version.

    Got me thinking about how where books are housed influences their presentation. Like at the library. Or in bookstores. Or online. And about some of my vintage books that have very plain covers, with really no hint at the stories contained within the pages. Wonder how readers found books that matched their interests then. And just when the whole “don’t judge a book by its cover” thing came around. Which are probably the kind of questions that if I’d thought about as a kid, I would have asked my local librarian:)

    1. Look at the ebook titles of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series; she went to some trouble to choose cover art that would be identifiable in a thumbnail size and also work as square audio cover format.

  7. The Dunbar Branch of the Vancouver Public Library system in BC, Canada is the Library that comes to mind. I read every book I could get my hands on in that building. Also When I went to college at UC Davis imagine my surprise when you could check out novels!! I don’t know why I thought a University Library was only going to be academic books. That’s where I first encountered Angela Thirkell, whose books I love. They are gentle and humorous reminders of another time.

    Well, okay, a fictional other time. I don’t think life was really that simple.

    1. Oh wow, Kate, that brings back memories. Haven’t thought about that library for a while. When we lived in Vancouver, we belonged to the central branch downtown. Which was amazing and quite pretty inside.

        1. Oh my. Living in a boat. I can’t imagine:) I mean I can because it’s Vancouver, but you know with pets and kids, that’s a big crowd for boat living. Kudos to you!

    2. Hi, my family me, husband daughter and son all used the Dunbar library!! From 1964 to 1974.
      The last time I was in Vancouver it was still there, looking just the same. I wanted to be a librarian when I was a kid. Alas…

    3. My cousin donated her collection of Zane Grey Westerns to the UC Davis library. I once spent a month waiting for a (different) cousin who was taking music lessons at Arizona State Tempe. She had her lesson and I spent the time in the library stacks, where I worked my way through a complete collection of Gene Stratton Porter and also a LOT of bound back issues of Ladies Home Journal and McCall’s, going back to WWI. It really was a different world.

  8. No time to go to the library today: I started making a new bed along the edge of the old patio by lifting a row of 2 ft square concrete slabs. I was worried about exposing roots from the ornamental cherry, because there were a lot underneath the first slab I raised. But none further along, and so I risked both the cherry and my back and lifted a second row of slabs. I dug the area over, extracting a fair amount of rubble, and now I have a 12 ft x 4 ft bed under my kitchen window – a bit stony, but that should suit quite a few plants. I’m excited. (And I’ve concluded those roots were actually from the big Virginia creeper I took out round the corner, so the cherry’s safe.)

    It also made me change direction for #DailyFeb20, because I hadn’t the energy to start editing photographs. So I’m going to cheat and switch between my two pressing creative projects – gardening and photography. (Today’s effort is at )

    1. I can’t tell you how happy it makes me every time I read about your new home and garden after the ordeal you went through to get there.

        1. And me. It give me hope for myself, too. (I’m so far behind on the gardening; I’ll have been in this house a year next week.)

  9. When I was in 2nd grade, my mom was the school librarian, so I hung out there after school until it was time to go home. I’m pretty sure that I read every Nancy Drew in the place. I didn’t find fantasy until I was older, and no romances until I got into college.

    Meanwhile, I’m a librarian who doesn’t work in a library. I work for a library software company that specializes in working with libraries whose clientele don’t actually visit. Most of them are libraries for the blind, where the patrons set up profiles, and send in request lists of books they’d like to get. Our software manages this, allowing libraries to send out thousands of books by mail every day.

    I don’t feel right in accepting thanks either. It is the librarians on the front lines, either in a library or on the phone with the patrons that deserve the kudos today.

    1. My Mom’s very dear friend lost first her legs and later her ability to read due to circulation issues. If the Milwaukee County Library had not been so great about mailing out books on tape and having the postal service retrieve them, the last years of this woman’s life would have been horrible. And that is due not just to the front line troops who deal with the patrons’ frustrations. If the behind the scene innards aren’t working, there will be a lot more complaints for the front lines to deal with.

      It wasn’t until I moved away from Milwaukee that I understood how wonderful a library system it has. When my parents stopped driving and relied on the bookmobile, the people who ran it were amazing! Despite making 3 separate stops a day and only going to each stop once every three weeks, they knew all their customers, what each of them liked to read and whether or not their requests had come in yet. They had looked it all up well before they started unpacking the truck. Once the doors opened they were ready to check in and hand out and treat people like friends. Although there is a branch library not too far from where the bookmobile stopped, the high rises were full of people who couldn’t get that far. So the bookmobile came and brought warmth and connection to all of them.

      After I moved out of Milwaukee, I couldn’t believe how many fewer books the Minneapolis library had. Even so, they managed to make a big difference in many lives. The children’s librarian at my neighborhood branch, Joanne Bondy, bought all sorts of puppets and toys out of her own pocket to get the little ones involved and stimulate their imaginations. When the U of M discontinued their MLS degree program she was unable to finish her degree without moving out of state, which meant that she would never become a branch librarian. Luckily for the readers of Minneapolis, they made an exception and put her in charge of the smallest branch in the system, just around the corner from the Native American Center. I can’t imagine a place where her talents would be more welcome. This woman was a constant ray of sunshine and just what a depressed neighborhood could use. I haven’t been back to see how much of an impact she made, but even at the beginning of her tenure you could see a big change. I hope that kind of staffing continued after she retired.

      I wanted to go back to school and become a librarian until a friend of mine who had a MLS showed me the course list for that degree. In the whole 12 month program there was only one course where you read anything that looked like fun to me. It was all about research and databases and very little about the books, themselves. So I applied to cooking school instead. And I would have had to spend another 2 years to finish my BA before I could even have started. So I did not become a librarian, but I have a lot of respect for and gratitude to those who did.

      1. Hear, hear for the Milwaukee libraries! I grew up there, and took heavy advantage of the county federated library system (which pulled the city and all the suburbs’ systems together), to the point that I kind of think I may have been responsible for shifting one suburb from the net lender to the net borrower column in the system when I moved in. They’re still the gold standard by which I judge public library systems, and I usually find others lacking. Austin, TX, has a pretty good one.

      2. Another hurrah for the Milwaukee County Federated Library System. I am so grateful I can request books from any branch in the system.

      3. I’ll add a shout out to the Michigan (MeL) statewide consortium. Most of the libraries, including academics, participate. I was able to get a 12 book series written by different authors published by Harlequin (I think) probably in the 80’s through MeL’s interlibrary loan. It was amazing! I especially love that since I work at a participating library, I can have the books delivered to work. 😁

    2. You are doing a very worthwhile job, I am sure many blind people bless you, although they probably don’t know you exist.

    3. Nancy – do you ever rep for your company at ALA annual? If so, it would be neat to meet you in person.

  10. My darling mother went back to school and became a children’s librarian in her 50s. She was so wonderful at it- treated all her customers of whatever age with the same respect many reserve for adults, and loved helping people to find books they loved. On behalf of librarians everywhere, I am sure she would say “you’re welcome”!

  11. I’m a public library branch manager, and I’m working today, so thank you all for the lovely stories you’ve shared!

    I started working in libraries when I was 9 years old, shelving books during recess in my school library rather than going out to play. 45 years later, I’m still hanging out in the stacks, but I get paid now.

    Off to finish the bibliography for next week’s romance book club meeting–we’re discussing epistolary romances this month, and gothic romances in March.

    Happy reading (and everything else you do via your public library)!

    1. I hope February includes SORCERY AND CECELIA or THE ENCHANTED CHOCOLATE POT (February also being Chocolate Month) and that March might include something Gothic by Elsie Lee, just to add some humor to the mix.

      1. That’s a yes on Sorcery and Cecelia, and I’ll be sure to add Elsie Lee to the March gothic list.

      2. Somewhere around here, buried, I have the almost complete collection of Elsie Lee’s novels, plus one reasonably good and easy cookbook. Someday I intend to ditch them because I never read them anymore (very dated but no date rape disguised as love). And I know they sell for good money on ebay but so far I have resisted trying to sell anything on ebay.

  12. I volunteered in our public library as a preteen ( or maybe early teen) and I remember our children’s librarian let her pet skunk waddle around when it was quiet. At busy times it stayed in the cupboard under the checkout counter.

    I also vividly remember taking my kids and my daughter’s friend to the library when my daughter and friend were maybe 8? I was helping my toddler find books when I heard the girls ask the librarian for books on how to make nests. She told them where books about birds were but had to tell them they had no how to books for making nests. Big sighs. Then the girls asked for books on making costumes. That she had. (They really did mean nests—they had been trying to make nests for birds to use in our trees.)

    Obv I was and am a library fan.

  13. My town didn’t have a library, my mum would put the baby in the pram and take me and my brother on the long walk (for little legs) to the next town to borrow 4 books each. It was a small library, but for us heaven to have access to so many books. Since 4 books isn’t much, we ended up reading each others books as well before the next visit. Bless my Mum, we are all book lovers now and currently I belong to 3 libraries.

  14. I love our library – the Vancouver Public Library. And I love the librarians, helpful and knowledgeable. They are the best people for book lovers.
    Once, when I was a new immigrant, probably my second year in Canada, a librarian helped me find a book that shaped my reading (and writing) forever afterwards. It was a novel by Mercedes Lackey, which introduced me to the new to me genre of fantasy. (Before perestroika, Russians didn’t publish fantasy. The genre was unknown there.) That librarian found the book I wanted from the description of the cover picture (a white horse a sword, plus a boy in medieval clothing) and the first name of the author – all I could remember. She was very patient with me too, listening to my garbled ESL explanations. And she did find the book for me.
    But today, I want to share with you the photo of our central library branch. Its relatively new building’s architecture is unique; it’s one of Vancouver’s landmarks. It was modeled after the Coliseum. Look at it:
    There’s even a rooftop garden on the roof, although I haven’t been there yet. It only opened last summer.

    1. Far better to have people battling ignorance in a Coliseum shaped library than to have gladiators battle each other in the original.

  15. The best job I ever had was working for a public library. For nearly 10 years, I was the children’s librarian’s assistant. I told everyone I was paid to have fun! Then life circumstances changed and I moved to where I live now; too far to commute to work there anymore. I made sure one of the first things I did when I moved here was to visit the library and sign up for a card.

  16. The library has always been one of my favourite places. I was at my local branch this morning and parents were bringing their children in for Saturday morning story time. Took me back to when I would take DS every Sat and meet up with some other moms and their kids. Given cutbacks over the last few years in our library system, I’m glad they still offer story time for families.

  17. My neighborhood library growing up looks at lot like your Blume library. Strangely, I didn’t spend a lot of time in that library growing up – I absolutely haunted our school library, though.

    Because I was at the neighborhood library so little, I can remember some of the books I found there very particularly…it’s funny how a book can be associated with where you found or read it, or when you read it, or how it changed you or made you feel.

  18. I grew up in libraries. Literally, since my mom was first a children’s librarian, then a general librarian, then a library director. I started volunteering in our local library (the one she ran) at 14, the youngest they would let me, and had my first job there as what they called a “page.” Which mostly involved shelving books (which I inevitably got distracted by), checking patrons out (using an actual stamp), and updating the card catalog (which was paper with actual cards).

    I eventually also worked as an assistant at my college library and a clerk at my local town library in my 20’s. Libraries are my happy place.

  19. When I was very small, we had the Bookmobile come around, then, in 1965, the Allied Gardens/Benjamin Branch of the San Diego Public Library opened. I was a nerdy kid, and spent a whole lot of time in that library – all the librarians knew me and cheered me on as I moved from the kid’s side to the adult’s over the years. Since my om passed, I don’t spend any time in San Diego anymore, but when she was still alive and we visited, I would make it a point to drive by the library and wave.

  20. When I worked in a religious school library it was always fun to see the different attitudes each grade had toward library time. The first graders were always so excited to exercise their newfound skills. By second grade they were totally blase. I could just picture them thinking, “A book? I already read a book.”

  21. My aunt had a small library in her house as they lived out of town. It was part of the central library in town, of which, I spent many hours. I found The Ivy Tree at my aunt’s little library.

  22. I am pretty lucky with the library scene (library scene, lol) near me. The small town I live in had a new library built recently that not only has books, but free WiFi and working desks. And a programme of kids activities. And a five minute bike ride away is the University, with a deeply quiet shhhh, we’re working vibe.

    The best though is Turanga, the brand new, 6 storey-with-roof-gardens central library in Christchurch (about 20 mins drive) built since the earthquake as one of the public ‘anchor projects’. It’s the best ever – books of course, and magazines, and cafes, interactive historical displays, tech areas, jigsaw puzzles (for anyone walking past to add to), sewing and 3d printing and sound recording studios, and a great programme of events and workshops. It’s a treasure.

      1. There are a couple of nearby libraries here that have jigsaw puzzles for patrons to work on whenever they want. In fact, I donated a half dozen or so to one of them. 😉

  23. Have I mentioned lately how much I love the Washington Post Book Review weekly newsletter? This week he ( Ron Charles) wrote about Drag Queen Story Hour at the Washington Public Library ,the lack of diversity in the publishing industry, and the Finnish National Library. He equates the high happiness rates in Finland to the high number of visits per person to the library. Makes sense to me……………..

  24. I was a regular at any and all libraries, and we were and are all readers. My mother, a Navy veteran and by the time I was small, a Navy wife, was once introduced to someone who said he’d been Wanting to Meet the woman whose name was usually just ahead of his in the books he was checking out of the base library! [I imagine they were technical books; she was an engineer.]

    One of my favorite things online is to see what queries I can answer for people who can’t recall the author or title of a book but remember a few details of the plot. ABEBooks has a search section, and Loganberry does, too. Romances are the worst because so often the questioner can’t recall a Distinguishing detail — just that the hero mistreats the heroine.

    1. I have a couple of books I read when I was around 10-12 that I’ve been looking for for years. I wonder if I can remember enough details to search for them.

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