June 2, 2014
In Boise, the big letters spelling out L-I-B-R-A-R-Y on the building are followed by an exclamation point! I've always thought the library was a fun place, deserving of an exclamation point, which maybe makes me a bit of a nerd. I seldom go to borrow a novel anymore, because I like to buy books. As a fiction writer myself I think it is important to support my fellow writers in this way. Yet, I’m always delighted to see one of my own books on a library shelf.
I especially enjoy doing research at the library. Though I often do online research at home, I've always liked the adventure of searching for a book on a particular topic, flipping through old magazines, or looking at ancient newspaper microfilm. When writing historical fiction I want to read not just an online article on a particular subject, but the articles on the pages before and after to get a feel for the time.
I didn’t realize until recently how often the characters in my stories visit the library. In Evel Knievel Jumps the Snake River Canyon, Pick tags along with his grandmother to the library and asks the librarian for a book on how to build a ramp. Johanna, in Saving Johanna, finds herself doing community service at the library and discovers much more than she’d anticipated. Meggie and Renée, in A Lesson on How to Attract a Man, go to the library in their personal quest to, well . . . attract a man. Out of the six stories in EVEL KNIEVEL JUMPS THE SNAKE RIVER CANYON . . . AND OTHER STORIES CLOSE TO HOME, three of them involve visits to the library.
Not too long ago, I heard a writer, known for his great success in writing and selling eBooks, give a presentation at a library. His theme seemed to be the demise of books. (Ouch, awkward topic for a library). Does this mean real books are on the way out? I certainly hope not. But, much to their credit, libraries are not remaining in the dark ages of musty, unread novels and academic texts. They offer computer usage and eBook loans, classes, movies, author presentations, book clubs, children’s activities, including the very old-fashioned story hour and, much to my five-year-old granddaughter’s delight, corners with toys for play and learning. Some of the toys, like books, can be checked out and taken home. Libraries are changing, as the ways in which we read and learn are changing.
Still one of my favorite places. I urge you to visit your local library.