Some people think that libraries are stuffy, tomb-like places run by bespectacled octogenarians whose primary function is to go around shhhussshing others. Those of us who actually work in one know that’s far from the truth. One book I found that really hit the nail on the head as far as how libraries today really operate is Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks and Gangstas in the Public Library by Don Borchert. Okay, it’s about a library in California, so some things are a little different, but it is still a quick read that’s delightfully funny, yet peppered with some very poignant moments.
For a nonfiction take on the subject, check out Down Cut Shin Creek: The Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky by Kathi Appelt and Jeanne Cannella Schmitzer. During the Great Depression, this WPA program was started to put women to work and to serve the very poor in remote regions of the country. These courageous book carriers provided their own horses or mules and were paid a whopping $28 a month!
As far as children’s books, an old favorite of mine is Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. Miss Rumphius, a retired librarian, plants lupines all over her community– in order to leave the world a better place. The message is touching and the illustrations inspiring — it’s a feel good book that just makes you want to go out and DO something!
One frigid winter morning in Spencer Iowa, Vicki Myron opened the public library’s book drop to discover an abandoned kitten. Starving and nearly frozen to death, Myron rescues the kitten and changes both of their lives forever.
Named Dewey Readmore Books, the kitten quickly settles into life at the library. Myron, who eventually becomes the director of Spencer Public Library, takes care of him and becomes his closest pal, but Dewey quickly makes friends with anyone that comes to the library, from the shyest child to the most preoccupied businessman. His story spreads far and wide – Japanese television made a documentary about him and his obituary ran in more than 200 newspapers when he died at age 19. Dewey: the Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World is Myron’s loving tribute to this charming and friendly cat, but it’s also the story of Spencer struggling through difficult economic times, and about Myron who faced several personal and health crisis’. It’s also a love letter to libraries and their place in a community.
Davenport Library had it’s own library cat many years ago, also named Dewey. A stray kitten that walked in the front door at the Annie Wittenmyer Branch (where the doors were often propped open because of lack of air conditioning), our Dewey made himself right at home. We kept him for almost two years, until we found him a forever home where he lived (and ruled) for the rest of his 14 years.