On the road…to libraries
Happy National Library Week!
â€¦that being why Iâ€™m in Detroit, celebrating with the patrons and staff of the Birmingham, Bloomfield Township, Farmington, and Royal Oak libraries.Â Wednesday I got up at Oh God Hundred hours and drove to San Francisco, there to be locked into a plane with far too many other bodies and a number of children who had no quiet voices (Is this a result of day-care, or is it just the kids??)Â Both I and the nearby noisemakers survived the five hours, although it was a near thingâ€”and have all airlines cut their drinks cart service to one time across the country, or is it just Northwest?
I was picked up at the airport by Sarah from the Baldwin Public Library, who fed and caffienated me and replaced the sound of screaming children in my ears with sensible conversation.Â She then fired up her Prius and drove me to my hotel, then drove me to my real hotel when the first place was, rather disconcertedly, padlocked, unkempt, and leaf-blown.Â I had a whole half hour to shower and change before she whisked me away to the library to talk to a standing-room crowd.Â
Libraries fascinate and excite me, always have.Â When I was a kid, we moved a lot, the rumor being that my father would read his way through a library and went to move on to another.Â We didnâ€™t buy books, not much, but libraries were a regular part of every week.Â
Now, however, the library is changing.Â The ubiquity of the Internet has reduced many of the traditional uses of the library.Â Instead, itâ€™s becoming a place of community, where kids can study, the connection is high-speed, and entertainment or enlightenment are equally available.
However, librarians, rather than fighting last-ditch efforts against obsolescence, turn out to be at the forefront of the revolutionâ€”the Baldwin Libraryâ€™s motto is â€œBooks and Beyondâ€.Â In 1869, Martha Baldwin and nineteen of her friends started the Library Association with 48 books, and it hasnâ€™t looked back.Â The actual building reflects its history: one section from 1927, another from 1959, and a third in 1983â€”not necessary an aesthetic success, but symbolically very true.
When I wrote The Game, a book that would have been impossible without a good research library, I dedicated it to librarians the world, around, who spend their lives in battle against the forces of darkness.Â All I can add to that is, Librarians rule!
And to show our love, the LRK site has chosen the winners of the fifteen sets of Picador Russells, the first four booksâ€”weâ€™ll post the names tomorrow.
Â And if youâ€™re in the vicinity of Detroit, come and play with us at the libraries.