The other day while reading Shelf Awareness I came across an article written about the Troy, Mich. Public Library(which is currently dodging closure). In 1971, Children’s Librarian Marguerite Hart came up with an idea to encourage young people to make use of the new library. She wrote to many notables and asked for them to write a letter of congratulations and explain the benefits of a library to the children of Troy. She received 97 responses. all of which are here at the Troy Public Library website. There are letters from Dr. Seuss, First Lady Pat Nixon, Issac Asimov, Pearl Baily (who I adore), Vincent Price, and-well, 92 others.
But, the one that really captured my attention was from E.B. White. For awhile now I’ve wanted to write a post about Acknowledgments in books and how much I love them. I’ve wanted to talk about how they add to the reading experience for me and make me feel even more connected to the author. And in writing the post I wanted to say something about my love of reading. While I’ve been contemplating this post a word kept bouncing around in my head-conspiratorial. I wasn’t really sure how to explain why this word was there but I knew it was exactly what I was feeling. Then I read Mr. White’s letter to the children of Troy, Mich. and like many a good author before him he put the words right in my mouth. You can reach the original by clicking on his name or on the copied text below.
Your librarian has asked me to write,
telling you what a library can mean to you.
A library is many things. It’s a
place to go, to get in out of the rain. It’s a place to
go if you want to sit and think. But particularly it is
a place where books live, and where you can get in touch
with other people, and other thoughts, through books. If
you want to find out about something, the information is
in the reference books—the dictionaries, the encyclopedias,
the atlases. If you like to be told a story, the library is
the place to go. Books hold most of the secrets of the
world, most of the thoughts that men and women have had.
And when you are reading a book, you and the author are
alone together—just the two of you. A library is a good
place to go when you feel unhappy, for there, in a book,
you may find encouragement and comfort. A library is a
good place to go when you feel bewildered or undecided,
for there, in a book, you may have your question answered.
Books are good company, in sad times and happy times, for
books are people—people who have managed to stay alive
by hiding between the covers of a book.
And there it was, right there, the words to explain what I was trying to say. “And when you are reading a book, you and the author are
alone together—just the two of you.” Because that’s what it is. There you are, just you and the author, in it together. To the very end the two of us are partners, allies, conspirators in the completion of the tale. And when the author includes a nice juicy Acknowledgment, where little details of research or thanks to those who coaxed the book on it’s way I feel even more connected to the story and author-my c0conspirator.
So, to the authors out there who gives us a nice peek into what it took to get the story done, thank you for including us. And for those who don’t, thank you too for including us. Either way I love being your partner.
Oh, if you haven’t read Issac Asimov’s letter you should. It rocks!! Segueing to….
Coming soon: How much I love libraries