Libraries inspire books because they inspire writers.
Since this is National Library Week, I wanted to share a few library memories from me and a couple of my author friends.
When I was growing up, my family moved often. After a church, the local library was always the next spot we would scope out. I grew up devouring every horse book each library contained. I went through series like Nancy Drew and The Babysitter’s Club. Whenever I reached the front desk, the workers had a challenge before them with the stack of books I hoisted in front of them.
During the early years of double digits, I graduated myself to the adult section and a whole new world of possibilities. I fell in love with Mary Higgins Clark, Louis L’Amour and Agatha Christie. My first job was in that library. The Elizabeth Jones Library in Grenada, Miss., gave me my first paycheck and taught me the behind-the-scenes of one of the most magical buildings in any community.
When I had my first child, I silently battled postpartum depression for months. The Wake Forest Community Library started their weekly activities for little ones at six months old, so off I went with my kiddo as soon as she was old enough. At our first event, I met my first two mom friends and found the healing balm I had so desperately needed thanks to them and that weekly outing. Two years later, we were still going, and I brought my new little one along from day one in his little sling.
Less than a year later, we made the move to Louisiana and quickly discovered the St. Tammany Parish Libraries. My first friend here was our precious children’s librarian, Mrs. Mim. While she has since retired, we still have an incredible children’s librarian—shoutout to Mrs. Jen!—who works hard to offer tons of great programs for families.
A few months ago, my husband and I were waiting for a program to begin when I realized something. My kids have grown up in this library. When they were younger, we attended weekly story times and most of the family night story times as well. Now that they’re older, they participate in a book club. During the summer, you can bet we’re at the library two or three times a week for all the special summer reading opportunities. Actually, more than that! Our library system has an outstanding Battle of the Books program where teams from each branch battle it out to see who can answer the most questions about their assigned books.
My kids have had countless opportunities, thanks to our libraries. They’ve made friends, learned how to be researchers and lifelong learners, participated in STEM classes, met real-life authors and illustrators (and even interviewed one for a podcast!) and been part of our literary community. The staff of our library love my kids, and the feeling is definitely mutual!
Libraries encourage kids to explore the endless adventures books offer. Because of them, kids all over find their passions for outer space, horse training, history or writing.
Look around at your library’s kids programs, and you may just see a future author receiving his or her first inspirations from a book read aloud or from the words of an author who’s sharing how they came to have their name on a bookshelf.
Every story I write has different inspirations, but they all have a common one at the center—libraries. Thanks to the magic ticket of library cards I’ve held through the years, I have entered countless portals into the endless realms of literature. Now I get to add to those collections and help the inspiration continue for many more generations.
More Library Memories from Fellow Authors
“I loved the old card catalogues—the long, narrow drawers were like treasure chests full of secrets. And of course I remember my first very own library card—my ticket to adventure!”
“This beautiful building was the main building of the public library when I was little.
I remember sitting with other kids to hear and see books read by one of the librarians. It was through the library that I began public storytelling. In a world before computers, the library was where I researched all sorts of things I was curious about. And just a few days ago, mom and I walked down to the library to pick up some books I needed to read for a book club I’m in. The library today is larger, technologically advanced, and even has a coffee shop.
I’m glad this building has been preserved and continues to function as part of the now much larger Cleveland Bradley County Public Library.
We just left the ‘new’ (30+ years) library building where they now have my paperbacks and are readying them for circulation! Also stopped by the Lee University library, and they just got their copies today also.”
Paul Andrew Skidmore, author of Kindling and The Darkness Rolled Over Her
Your turn!! Please share your best library memories with us. They could be from your childhood, your kids’ childhood or today!
What do you think is the best thing about our libraries? Have you found inspiration in a library for your own career or hobbies? What kind of activities and events do you attend at your library?
Have you ever attended an author event or signing at your library? Who was the author? What did you enjoy most about their presentation?