I bring up the subject of libraries for two reasons. First, in my new release, Cowgirl Come Home (releasing Friday, July 18, from Tule Press) my heroine's mother, Louise Jenkins, is a librarian. Louise is a complex character that I really grew to love. In fact, she intrigued me so much, I wrote a holiday short story in Louise's point of view. (Her Forever Gift will be free to my newsletter followers later this year.)
Here's a snippet:
But then one evening in mid-December, I stopped at the Marietta Library. Confession: I have always loved libraries. They were/are a haven for a mind like mine. They're both restful and stimulating. I can leave the library excited about some new possibility I discovered or I may amble home all mellow and chill because I spent time in someone else's peaceful, interesting life. If you're wondering, I hadn't considered a career in library management at the time because my parents insisted I become a teacher because teaching was a job that would allow me to be self-sufficient.
That night was special because school was out for the holiday break. I couldn't afford to go back home for Christmas. My new friends were busy with their families. I was completely, utterly alone. And, I admit, I was feeling a little sorry for myself. I decided to treat myself to a stack of books, which I intended to read over the next two weeks.
I parked in the mostly empty parking lot, dashed through the bitter cold, and nearly slipped on a patch of ice on the library steps. A man I hadn't noticed seemed to materialize out of thin air to catch my elbow and help me stumble drunkenly to dry ground. I realized instantly the man was my poet/wanderer/Hippie/peacenik. (In hindsight, he could just as easily have been a murderer/rapist/crazyperson.)
"Thank you, kind sir." Yes, I said those exact words like the true dork I was. "Where did you come from?"
"Saw you running. Knew you wouldn't see the black ice. Told the old b...witch inside but she ignored me."
The idea that a public servant would purposely put patrons at risk upset me to no end, but before I could march inside and give the woman a piece of my mind, my hero said, "She doesn't listen to vagrants, but she might listen to you."
Louise quickly discovers her rescuer's secret: he can't read. And she can't accept that. She can't NOT share her gift...a gift that, in return, rescues him--and opens the door to friendship and love and, above all, possibilities.
Which brings me to my second point. Not long after I began writing Cowgirl Come Home, I was asked to join a grassroots effort to bring a library to my small, mountain community in central California. Three years ago I was part of a group that started a local charter school, so I knew the work involved in creating something from nothing. But, naturally, I said yes. How could I not? My job was to help write the library's Mission Statement. Using social media, I asked my Facebook friends to share memories of their childhood libraries. The results were outstanding.
"A library is a place to share and learn and grow and change."
"...a place to be inspired."
"...a place to be yourself."
"...a place to figure out who you are, individually--and as part of a whole larger community."
Our library committee has passed our first hurdle--the school board, but we still have to win the support of the County Board of Supervisors. Money and budgets are big stumbling blocks. Luckily, we have our own Andrew Carnegie...of sorts. A local woman left behind an endowment earmarked for rural libraries. Bless you, Tilly Stroming, for your fabulous gift. You might be the reason some child someday is writing a blog about the importance a library had in her life.
I'd love to hear your memories/opinions of libraries. I may wind up using quotes when we take our petition public. I'll draw one winner from the answers to send the following prize package:
Two autographed books from my backlist (if you've read either or both, other titles available), Ghost DVD starring Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze, cookies, gift cards, gel pens, notes and some great Tule Publishing swag.
Also, please sign up for my newsletter HERE to be the first to see my release day link and stay abreast of all my upcoming books, including Book I in my Big Sky Mavericks series, which opens with Nobody's Cowboy on August 28.
***Debra's winner is Penney! Please email email@example.com with your mailing details!***