In perfect timing, the word processor appeared on the market when I launched my journalism career in 1993. Dyslexic, I’m a miserable typist and correct every line several times before advancing to the next.
While I praised the blessed cursor, the Internet romanced the planet with email and infinite information. The computer replaced my presence in The Oxford Leader newsroom where I previously delivered my column and the editor coached me on writing features and profiles. Instead, I lost sleep over Internet and computer failures.
In conversation with a professional photographer and self proclaimed philosopher, he said, “The Internet is the beginning of the end for libraries and newspapers.”
I did not believe him. Civilized countries nurture their libraries. Americans honor and preserve our history and editorials in print. Public libraries subscribe to newspapers, magazines, and journals for their patrons. We read, listen, and learn.
The Oxford Leader has since celebrated its 100th anniversary. Last Monday night in the Oxford Library, the artist of my first novel and I presented a book talk highlighting the influence of art in composing and illustrating The Mantle.
I’ve lost contact with my photographer friend. I’d like to tell him about the twenty-eight libraries I’ve visited the past several months-thirteen this past week. Would he appreciate my joy and trepidation when I open doors of the houses where I sow my story?
Eye to eye, I greet the librarian who takes my donation. I scan surrounding stacks. Thousands of stories wait for a warm hand to slide them off the shelf and turn a page so they may speak. I leave one more name, title, and voice to add to the fiction or “local author” collection.
Throughout my life, libraries and librarians have inspired hope and led me in the direction I needed to go to grow personally and professionally. From east to west side of the state, their breed and buildings personify a community’s history and values.
I began last week’s library tour with the Marguerite de Angeli, Ruth Hughes, and Capac branches. I arrived in downtown Capac before the library opened at noon. I spied Mr. R’s eatery on a green, well-groomed corner.
I ordered a delicious, chunky chicken, cranberry salad croissant with fresh greens. Jodi Rawlins, founder and executive chef said, “Please spread the news.”
“I will. Is there a bakery in town?”
Jodi pointed to Main Street. “There’s Tracy B’s on the corner.”
First, I carried The Mantle to the library’s circulation desk and introduced myself.
“Is Breezy available?”
“I’m Breezy,” said one of the staff and took my book. “Beautiful cover,” she said, touching the dust jacket. “Thank you for your donation.”
I studied the building’s interior before I left for Tracy B’s. With ten more stops on my tour, I ordered a coffee and box of pastries. For the record, I recommend Tracy’s orange, cranberry scone.
Dear Reader, please spread the good news. Libraries and librarians are alive and well. And Mr. R’s and Tracy B’s are perfect destinations to quench your hunger and thirst.
Tell them Iris said “hello.”
Email Iris at firstname.lastname@example.org.