Laurie Loves Libraries

As I may have happened to mention a few hundred times, I adore libraries.  I grew up in libraries, libraries snatched up most of the first printing of A Grave Talent, and I revel in my local university’s research library.  The Game was dedicated: To the librarians everywhere, who spend their lives in battle against the forces of darkness.

 National Library Week is coming up, April 13-19, which is also week 11 of Fifteen Weeks of Bees.  To celebrate libraries, we’re going to turn hives of bees loose—no, of course not.  We’re going to give books.  Lots of books.

Love a library? Tell us about your favorite library—the people, the building, what you have found there, what it’s done for you.  We’ll read all your stories, and pick one.  The winner will get a signed hardback of The Language of Bees.  And the winner’s library?  They will get a complete set of all nine Russell and Holmes novels, from The Beekeeper’s Apprentice to The Language of Bees.

Plus, we’re going to draw one library from the Laurie Loves Libraries list and send them a copy of The Language of Bees, too, just to show our appreciation.  So if you haven’t submitted your library’s name to our list, do so now, and maybe you could be the first on the list to borrow it!


By delightful coincidence, as I was blearily sitting down to the keyboard this morning to post this, an email from my editor arrived with the following review from…Library Journal.

Back in Sussex after nearly a year of globe-trotting adventures (The Game), Mary Russell and husband Sherlock Holmes are immediately catapulted into two different mysteries: the disappearance of Yolanda Adler and her young daughter, and the sudden extinction of one of Holmes’s beehives. Sherlock takes on the Adler case, while Mary, never one to mope at home, delves into the intricacies of the apiary …. King wastes no time dropping bombshells that shake up the canon she’s so carefully created. She’s a consistently good writer who continues to delight her many fans. A required purchase for all public libraries and fiction collections


  1. Laraine on April 2, 2009 at 10:07 am

    The Santa Monica Library system (a main library and THREE branches in our tiny town) is one of the joys of this town–a testimony to the value Santa Monicans place on literature and learning, with an active community-based board always thinking about improvement and innovation. Great author and speaker series, great events, strong commitment to children and adolescent collections, etc., etc. Speaking of the battle against darkness, I recently discovered a declining number of LRK’s contemporary detective series on the shelves . . . when I complained to a librarian, she said it might be due to theft (whether because the thief objects to the gender preference of the protagonist or because the thief can’t live without their own copy, isn’t clear), and quickly offered to re-order the missing books. My favorite feature of the main library is that some of the walls facing out onto the internal patio are glass, and roll back on tracks to transform the library into an indoor/outdoor experience, a real joy for this long-time lover of libraries and nature.
    However, nothing yet in my experience has beat the sheer quality and wisdom of the reference librarians at the central library in Los Angeles . . . it is truly hard to imagine that Google will ever overtake their brilliance!

  2. Bett Norris on April 3, 2009 at 5:16 am

    I am rereading all the Mary Russell series, leading up to the release of The Language of Bees. Each time Mary mentions her love of the Bodleian, it reminds me of my own nostalgia for the Amelia Gayle Gorgas Library, on the quad, facing Denny Chimes on the University of Alabama.
    I spent hundreds of hours in the main library for the campus. I worked there for a couple of years as an undergraduate, but aside from work hours, I lived at the place, got a tingle just walking inside, knowing millions of volumes waited in the floors over my head. I wandered through the card catalogue, perused old editions of bound periodicals, read newspapers from far and near, haunted the Reserve Room.
    I had a key. I could take the elevator to the roof and stare out over the campus. One of my tasks was to search each floor at closing, rousting out students immersed in study, before turning out the lights.
    When I first arrived on campus from a very small town, I stood looking at this library in anticipation. Thousands, millions of books! I did my very best to read as many as possible.
    When I think of my college years, it is with great nostalgia for the Gorgas library. I miss it. I wish I still had a key.

  3. Kerry on April 3, 2009 at 6:33 am

    Libraries rock. I have enjoyed so many different ones! One of my favorites was the Doe Undergraduate Library at UC Berkeley. As a Regents’ scholar, I had a stack pass. 9 stories of books in closely-ranked shelves; you could get lost for months browsing from title to title. What a joy!

  4. Kathy Kirk on April 3, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    My first favorite library was the first one I met! I grew up in Hutchinson, Kansas in the 50’s as a precocious and hyperactive child before ADD was a recognized label. My mother, for want of knowing what in the world to do with me, started taking me to the library as a toddler and I started climbing into and consuming books at a rapid rate. The children’s section was small, but magical, full of brightly colored books, posters and toys. The librarian became my best friend. The book smell and the sound the stamp made as the librarian checked the books was hypnotic. They had to bend the rules for me because I couldn’t check out enough books to last 3 days if they didn’t. I was always the first one done with the summer reading club; usually the first week of June. By second grade, the librarian had a talk with my mother. She pointed out that I had read every book in my age section and needed to move up to the teenage section. There I discovered the biographies that opened the door to history and took me to all the different places and times I hadn’t known existed. The shelves grew shorter as I grew taller and the day I was allowed into the adult section with its rows, and rows of shelves in the basement, I was in heaven. It got even better when a reading area was developed from a memorial for my grandfather. My appreciation for our public libraries has grown exponentially since I started traveling and realized that other countries do not have the facilities we do.

    My second favorite library was in the basement of the American Bar Association in Amman, Jordan. I had been there a month, had consumed all the books I brought with me, and was starting to read labels when a co-worker told me about the very tiny ex pat library in the building. Everyone who had worked there had donated books they brought with them. The library was a shelf under two sets of windows. That is where I discovered Laurie R. King. There clearly was a fan who had left her behind for the rest of us. I had to force myself to read slowly enough to make the three books that were there in order for them to last over two weeks. When I was done with them, I couldn’t wait to get back to my home town library to check out more!

  5. Eva on April 5, 2009 at 12:24 am

    While I love my current library system, my favourite library is definitely my college one.

    Half of the building is from the 1800s (it was a private residence), and it’s full of odd little rooms with things like abauscuses in them, old carpets, snug chairs and coaches, and not a few busts of President Lincoln (he visited my college during the Lincoln-Douglas debates, so he’s a bit of a hero on campus!). My favourite room in the old wing was definitely the one devoted to Limited Editions. They could be handled, even checked out, and made a wonderful diversion for study breaks and company during the long hours of actual studying. The room has beautiful wooden floors and antique couches, with lots of lamps.

    The other half of the building was added in the 60s, and there was a beautiful study room with lines of tables and a whole wall of windows. Since the other walls were painted white, it was a great place to feel less cooped up when you had to be inside. There was also a fun, rather random, orange metal spiral staircase between the second and third floors that made me smile every time I saw it! My favourite part, though, was the rare book collections: we had everything from a first edition of the Diderot encyclopedias to Medieval manuscripts to the largest letter collection of the Lost Generation writers. Since we were a very small school, it was easy to just wander in and ask the staff to get something special out for you to look at.

    Then there were the basements and the ‘attic.’ The basement had that great old book smell-I worked at the library for a year, and shelving books down there was always my favourite. The ‘attic’ was the fourth floor-you got there by a steep old wooden staircase, and it contained nine little rooms that the college used as offices for seniors working on honors thesises. My senior year, I had one of the rooms-I had the only key, and it was so nice to have a private place in the library!

    I think you get the idea-it’s a good thing I loved that library, since I spent so much time there. 🙂

  6. Marilyn Jones on April 5, 2009 at 9:33 am

    The Pleasant Valley Free Library estab.1905 in Pleasant Valley NY, is in a charming old frame building bursting at the seams since the community has expanded so much. It is so pleasant to visit. All the staff are friendly and helpful, and though on site holdings are limited they reach out to the expanded library system to borrow anything requested. They also make very interesting purchases which have introduced me to many new authors. They have a building plan and construction fund which of course is suffering in the current downturn, but it deserves wide community support.

  7. TheMadLibrarian on April 5, 2009 at 11:12 am

    Although I have worked at no fewer than 8 libraries during my checkered career, I have to put in a word for my present library, Kahului Public Library on Maui. Our building is relatively small, but our collections and hearts are huge. On this island we are the government depository library, as well as holding one of the major collections of Hawaiiana books. You can find rare literature dating back over 130 years, held in a climate-controlled room that smells of old books and sea chests. Missionaries, kings and queens, traders and captains of industry (you didn’t think Hawaii had major industries? Look up the history of sugar and pineapple production) all live inside our branch. Birth records transcribed from handwritten ledgers date back to the mid 1800s, and can be borrowed from the Reference Desk. We have microfiche records of the Great Mahele, where Hawaiian Crown Land was divided and given to local chiefs for their protection and use. Your research can be conducted on an open-air lanai, looking out into a garden planted with native Hawaiian plants.

    Hawaii is one of two states that provides major funding to its library system at a state, rather than local level, and we are a poster child for how the present economic strife is hitting home. We just conducted a major push to keep our library budget statewide from being cut beyond a 10% drop. We can keep all the doors open and staff working at this point, but the next cut will close libraries and lay off people. Even though we are running scared for our jobs and our libraries, the staff is working harder than ever. More and more people are coming in to use the Internet computers to look for jobs, or borrow resume and business start-up books, trying to get or create a means of bringing in money. They are borrowing books and DVDs from us, rather than going out to see movies. Luckily our patrons understand the value of libraries and are rallying to our support. We’ll see if it’s enough to keep our legislators from nibbling us to bits.

  8. Katy on April 5, 2009 at 11:35 am

    I think my favorite library has to be the one attached to Cleveland State University. I have just completed my Masters in History and while I’ll live about 25 minutes away, would rather travel to that library than any other. The people are incredibly nice, they collections are amazing, and it has access to OhioLink which links over 100 libraries across the state, allowing people in other regions of Ohio receive books and articles that may otherwise be inaccessible.
    The Cleveland State University Library also shows the dedication of the staff and faculty in the school. With the collections of the Call & Post, Cleveland’s black newspaper, and housing much of the database for ClevelandMemory. It’s a wonderful library in which to work and allows for students to spend their time researching instead of running around without an idea of where to go.

  9. wendy meenenga on April 6, 2009 at 7:32 am

    As a summer visitor to the US Southwest, I use your libraries mainly for the e-mail facilities, but one of them stands out as my favourite: Oro Valley Library in southern Arizona. About 8 years ago I saw an ad for their Mystery Book Club (now: Sonoran Sleuths)in a Tucson daily newspaper and went along to check it out. Since then I’ve been to several meetings when I’ve been in the vicinity and enjoyed them so much, that I’ve started similar book clubs in three towns here in Germany, where we read and discuss (in English) one crime/mystery book a month. I introduced them to “The Beekeeper’s Apprentice” several years ago and this summer’s reading for all three are any (or all) of the Mary Russel series. Thanks to the Oro Valley Library my German “students” are enjoying reading English books!

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