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Writers Talk About Love for Libraries

“In Praise of Libraries,” NYT Book Review, Oct. 18, 2018

“For most readers and writers — and book lovers in general — the library holds a special place of honor and respect,” said the New York Times Book Review in the lead-in to a feature in which 12 writers told what libraries mean to them.

“This is my thank-you note to every librarian who’s ever helped a kid like me, nobody from nowhere, find her doorway through a library shelf into citizenship of the world,” wrote Barbara Kingsolver, author of 15 books, including the novel, The Poisonwood Bible.

Novelist Curtis Sittenfield, whose mother was a librarian, said of her relationship with the St. Louis Library System, “In the library…I have had experiences I wouldn’t have had if I lived elsewhere.”

Reflecting on his life-long love of libraries that began in childhood, Neil Gaiman wrote, “If there is a heaven, one of the many mansions it must contain is a red brick Victorian building, all wood and shelves, waiting for me. And the shelves will be filled with books by beloved authors, as good as or better than the ones I knew.”

For novelist Amy Tan, the library meant freedom. Memoirist Kiese Laymon reports that his mother told him that “books are portals into black survival in America,” before she dropped him off at the Medgar Evers Library in Jackson, Mississippi.

For Diana Abu-Jaber, the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where she grew up meant “Free of charge, it offers us the weight of starlight, the light of the moon and the music of uninterrupted imagination.”

Check out the complete article. It’s a revelation to discover what the people whose work fills the shelves think about the libraries that helped shape them.

While you’re at it, you might want to read the Times review of “The Library Book,” Susan Orlean’s new book about the fire in 1986 that destroyed more than a million books at the Los Angles Central Library, the eccentric that led the library in its early days, and the role it plays to this day in that community.

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