Today’s post is brief. In part because I’m tired—blogging at the end of a long work day isn’t easy—in part because I have some books I borrowed from the library I want to skim through before deciding which one to focus on first.
The blessing of having a local library is why I’m writing. As I was waiting for my rice to cook (dinner tonight is roast chicken and Spanish rice), I opened up Twitter on my phone to catch up my news feed. As luck would have it, the first post was about the Wells Memorial Library in the Adirondacks, which has lost nearly its entire children’s book section as a result of the flooding caused by Hurricane Irene.
I’ve often thought that if I ever had to enter in the FBI Witness Protection Program, I’d be easy to find. If there’s a library or a bookstore in town, that’s where you’ll find me. One of the earliest childhood memories I have is being at Sunset Park Library in Brooklyn with the rest of my class, writing my name on my library card (which if I’m fairly sure I still have somewhere).
The children’s books at Wells were kept in the lowest shelves, so the children could pick their own. Only 5 picture books remain, and those only because they were on the top shelf of a cart waiting to be reshelved.
The word is getting out and with luck, Wells will get enough donations of money and books to replace what was lost, but the pictures on Kate Messner’s blog, a large pile of sodden and muddy books, are sad to look at.
If I could hug a library I would hug Wells, and every other library that’s been hurt like them. Instead, I will hug the books I have here as I write this, because even at my age I still do that, hug my books, that is.
One of my favorite series is Thursday Next by Jasper Fforde (recommended to me by a librarian in the main downtown branch in Tampa). Thursday Next is a literary detective who discovers that she can literally jump into books and interact with the characters. The characters know they are fictional, and intriguingly, they know when they’re being read. The sensation is not unlike an onrushing wave. All other awareness recedes as that particular part of the narrative takes center stage. Then the reader turns the page. The wave moves on.
The irony, after Irene, is painful.
Still, I love this series because Fforde touches on something I learned as a child and still believe: that books live within us.
Books comfort, sometimes better than people can, if only because for a while you can forget what’s going on in the rest of the world when you’re inside a book.
And it seems to me that right now, there are a whole lot of kids in this small community that need that kind of comforting. Maybe you can help. I know I’ll try.
For more info on how you can help, click on this link and read towards the bottom of the article where writer Kate Messner has listed an address for Wells Memorial Library where you can send them new books or perhaps better, money, so they can purchase what they need.