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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Debra Salonen: Love Me Some Library

Do you remember visiting a library when you were a child? For me, the Carnegie Library in Brookings, South Dakota was my first love, my happy place, my escape from a hectic adult world (my parents ran a taxi company out of our house). Librarians helped shape my love of reading, fuel my addiction to learning and feed my fascination with language and the written word. I will forever be indebted to Andrew Carnegie for taking the initiative to build libraries in small towns around the nation.

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 totebag@authorsoundrelations.com with your mailing details!***

34 comments:

Mary Preston said...

I think I practically grew up in a library. I come from a family that devours books. Bookcases in every room, but still eager for more. The Saturday morning trip to town finished with a trip to the library. We would all fill our quota & while waiting for other family members have a quiet read. Libraries are places full magic & adventure & discovery.

girlygirlhoosier52 said...

We lived one block from the library and my parents were avid readers. In later years, my mom served on the local library board.

Laney4 said...

My parents were in their forties when I was born. They were as glad as I was when I spent complete summers in the library, often working on my own "assignment". One summer was spent studying (and writing in great detail) information about Christopher Columbus (whom I still find fascinating).
I was one of the youngest library members to have both a children's card and an adult card.
Signing library books out in great quantity led to me carrying great quantities of books home through my school years as well. I excelled at projects because of my love of reading and learning.
I am proud to be a "book nerd". Beats some of the other ways of spending time (especially in my teens).
I have continued putting books (from several libraries) in order according to the Dewey Decimal System, long after learning how to do so in Grade 8.

petite said...

When I first discovered libraries in the large city where I grew up I was enthralled and captivated. Libraries weave a spell and continue to do so. I rode my bike to the city library and borrowed hundreds of books when I was young. Books were an important facet in our lives and my parents read voraciously and this influenced me greatly. At that time there was only a limited amount of titles for me to enjoy and I was allowed into the adult section and read the entire Anne of Green Gables series in hardcover from the library. This experience has shaped me enjoyment of books which I consider treasures and my only form of entertainment.

traveler said...

Libraries are the most precious resource. I was brought up surrounded by books and realized how meaningful, important and what treasures they were and still are for me. Books allowed me to travel, to experience other cultures, places and appreciate other eras and lives. When I was sick I read books which were a calming presence as nothing else could be. I rely on books to soothe my soul, and ease my heart. The Carnegie system was in our province and the beautiful libraries were impressive and inspiring. Libraries instill in me a wonder and make my life complete.

penney said...

I made sure my 2 girls love to read, I read to them from almost birth had them join our local library got books from them from their school monthly book club and up to now they both love books they are 18 and 19 years old now. I remember the time my youngest was 4 we left the library and all at once she started crying she left "Baby" there so I call them back and the lady said yes it's here come and get it. It was 2 blocks away and it was dark by then and started raining we walk there and as soon as she saw baby ( Her favorite doll) she grab it and hug it then ask the library lady if baby check out any books? She told her no she didn't. it was kind of funny.
We still go to our one here in Los Angeles.
Penney

erin said...

I grew up at my local library!!! I was the only reader in my family but my parents were very understanding and they always took me to the library when I asked. Now that I'm older and have my kindle, I don't visit any more but I'm think I'm going to have to change that! congrats on the new release :)

Leni said...

I didn't like going to the library when I was a child. But now that I'm older a great deal of time is spent there. I've discovered the works of many of my favorite authors there and I make it a point to find new stories there, too.

Debra said...

My computer is giving me some problems today. I'm blaming the heat. Sigh. Your comment brought back good memories for me, Mary. Thank you. I can't wait to include your last sentence in my commentary.

Debra said...

Lucky you, Girlygirlhoosier52! My dad subscribed to about 50 magazines. He didn't have time to read complete books until he retired, but he and Mom both loved to read.

Debra said...

A girl after my own heart, Laney4!! I love order and when I figured out how to use the library card catalogue, I was in heaven! For one Book Nerd to another, good to know you!

Debra said...

I can picture this so clearly, Petite. I'd ride my bike, too, and when I was finally allowed to go "upstairs" (see photo) to the adult section I thought I'd died and gone to heaven.

Debra said...

Wonderfully put, Traveler. Thank you so much for contributing to the dialogue. I can't wait to share with my Library Board.

Debra said...

I love your story, Penney. Touched my heart. My kids love to read, too. We only lived 4 blocks from the library when they were little. Great memories.

Debra said...

Thank you, Erin! I'm very excited about my new book. It was a story that pulled me in and introduced me to so many great people that I have three spin-offs coming later this year. My Kindle looks like a small library. ;-)

Debra said...

Finding new authors is a no-risk proposition at the library. If you don't like the book, you're not out an investment but time. Very smart, Leni. I still remember the first book that made me realize what an author was--the person who wrote not only the book I just read and loved, but other stories as well. Her name was Mary Stewart.

dstoutholcomb said...

I love libraries. The library was my refuge in college.

Debbie Oliver said...

I have loved reading and writing since I could hold a book. From elementary school on, when everyone else was out at a party or hanging out around a bonfire somewhere, I was on my bed reading a book. I would not even come out for dinner and often ate on my bed while reading. My favorite library memory is that of my elementary school, Cathey's Valley Elementary (which is now a small charter school). We had a tiny little room, no bigger than a clothes closet, where the library books were (maybe 100-150 of them, at best). I would choose to go in there for free time, recess time, and after school time. I always had books in my hand and maxed out what we were allowed to borrow each time. It developed my love of reading and passion for writing, and my children are now following in my footsteps. They will all choose books over toys any day of the week. Now, if I could only get them to choose vegetables over macaroni and cheese! My passion for books continues with my wall-to-wall bookshelves lining my home, it is my favorite leisure activity. Our tiny town does not have a library, but if it did, I would be spending much time there for the peace and atmosphere, and also for my own "me" time in a place that brings me comfort and joyful memories.

Debra said...

I've heard that a lot, dstoutholcomb. I still feel a sense of safety when I step into a library.

Debra said...

Debbie, we need you on our library committee!! We are going to have a library and my hope is it will feed that need in our community. Thanks for reinforcing my reason for being involved in this project!! Hugs. Here's the Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/CVFriendsOftheLibrary

Debbie Oliver said...

I would love to be a part of it! I will go to the FB link right now, and please let me know how I can help or be a part of this coming to life! <3

Kerry said...

I love libraries! I still have the card my grandparents got me when I spent the summer with them. I love that my kids now love to go to the library and pick out books. I want them to both love reading as much as I do (although we may need a bigger house for all books we collect)!

Christina Fashant said...

I love our Public Library. I try to take our kids there as often as possible. Especially during the Summer. My oldest even has his own card that he keeps in a wallet so he check out the books himself.

cameracrzy99 said...

I loved our local library when I was younger. They had a great summer reading program for kids, story time, puppet shows, and even the occasional magician. Plus, using the library is a great way to try out new authors and books without having to spend the money to buy them when you aren't sure if you are going to like them or not.

Kelly Thompson said...

I loved going to the library as a kid! Checking out books and then he paperback book exchange later. That was great because I could get more books than I was allowed to check out!
It saddens me that the library at the school I work at is rarely used as an actual library!

Janine said...

I really don't have any memories of the library when I was growing up. We didn't do much and my mother didn't us take us anyplace. We pretty much hung outside with friends.

penney said...

Thank you very much, I just sent you my info
Penney

Debra said...

That's a beautiful thing, Kerry. Thanks for introducing your children to libraries, too.

Debra said...

My granddaughters check out books every week. I love it that their parents make the effort to drive them into town. So important. Thanks for dropping by, Christina. Sorry I'm so slow in my reply. My book released a day early and I was crazy busy.

Debra said...

Great points, cameracrzy99. I've found some great new-to-me authors that way.

Debra said...

Times have changed, haven't they, Kelly? :-(

Debra said...

Janine, that breaks my heart, but you're a reader now, so that's what counts. You found books. Yeah!

Debra said...

Congrats, Penney. I'll be sending this out today. Let me know if you don't get it. Thanks for contributing to this wonderful dialogue. I'm so happy to have met all of you! Please keep in touch, and let me know if you read/like my new books. There will be three more coming in the next 6 months!

penney said...

Thanks Debra, I'm on goodreads so I'll look you up there too and on face book, I'll let you know when it comes in. Thanks again

Penney