Hidden Libraries in Fiction

As great as real libraries are, they’re no match for the hidden libraries created by novelists. Magical libraries have unlimited space, can form labyrinths explorable only by the most intrepid, can spontaneously birth characters from the page to the real world, and much more.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
This is the first novel that I personally encountered with an amazing secret library. In 1945 Barcelona, 11-year-old Daniel Sempere is taken by his father to a secret library called the Cemetery of Forgotten Books. There sit books that have been forgotten by the world, and Daniel is encouraged to choose one, of which he will become the caretaker. He selects a novel called The Shadow of the Wind by Julian Carax, and comes to discover that someone has been systematically destroying all copies of Julian Carax books. Part mystery, part love letter to literature, this atmospheric novel follows Daniel as he delves into Carax’s life, and into the darkest side Continue reading “Hidden Libraries in Fiction”

Toni Morrison and the Library

From a small town girl to a big city woman, Toni Morrison had a deep, enduring connection to libraries. As a teenager, after school, she did housework for a white family. Complaining about the treatment she received, her sister helped her get a job shelving books at the Lorain Public Library. This experience was the beginning of a lifelong connection to libraries.  “[The] Lorain Public Library,” she says, “was so important in my life. And the reason it was important was not only because much of the time I worked there and made a little change. But basically because it was the place I spent long, long hours reading and it was a place where a group of women were  very careful with avid reading children,” Morrison said. Continue reading “Toni Morrison and the Library”

A note from Brit Bennett, author of ‘The Mothers’

the-mothers-by-brit-bennettWhen I was sixteen, I started my first job at the Oceanside Public Library, a job that I, naturally, assumed would entail sitting at a desk, answering the occasional question, and spending the rest of my shift powering through as many books as I could. Little did I know what being a library page actually requires: pushing a heavy cart of books from shelf to shelf, feebly explaining to patrons that I was not a librarian and therefore unqualified to answer their research questions, and climbing into the dusty book-drop bins each evening before closing where I became increasingly paranoid that I’d reach for a book and instead pull out a spider or a snake or any other creature that might have found its way inside. Continue reading “A note from Brit Bennett, author of ‘The Mothers’”

Library patrons steal the show

Photo courtesy boocub at creative commonsTrue story.

In a Starbucks this morning, I overheard this exchange:

Man wearing a hat: “Hey, man! Thanks for the recommendation! I’ve already put it on hold at the library.”

Bare headed man: “No problem. The library has it? How do you know?”

MWH: “I went to the catalog on the library’s web site, and placed a hold on it.”

BHM: “What does it mean to ‘place a hold on it?’”

MHW: “If it’s not checked in at my library, they’ll send it to me at my branch.”

BHM: “You’re kidding! How long does it take?”

MWH: “Well, I’m first in line, so just a couple days. Just go to their website: spl.org.”

BHM: “Awesome, man. Thanks!”

My colleagues tell me that they see and hear little conversations like this all the time. Of course, not every conversation is so perfectly full of information.  I wish I had a video camera to make a commercial out of this one. Continue reading “Library patrons steal the show”

Technology and its impact on the future of libraries

How has technology changed the way information is searched, organized and delivered?
How can we ensure information in all formats will be available to everyone?
How can libraries stay relevant in the 21st century?

Attend a free panel discussion at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 8 at the Central Library, and join the conversation about the Library of the future. Send questions now for panelists to strategicplan@spl.org.