Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Authors at the Benton Harbor Library

     Once a year one of our area libraries, the Benton Harbor Public Library, holds a reception for local authors. On a Saturday in June, we are invited to come to the library for a few hours of visiting and sharing news with one another, and to view the many books and articles we have all published. Oh yes, and nibble on cookies, too! The librarians who sponsor the reception are all ardent supporters of local authors, and it's always nice to see old friends as well as meet new authors. Our published works are all on display, and Jeanne, who heads up the gathering, is always hoping there will be new books/articles to add to the collection. Whenever I see Jeanne during the year, she asks what's new on the writing front, am I writing, have I published anything recently? You see, Jeanne and the Benton Harbor Public Library and I are old friends. This was the library I grew up going to. When I first started, it was a very old building with huge steps (at least that's how I remember them) leading up to the front doors and a world of wonder. I used to beg my mom to take me to the library, promising I would quickly find something to read. I think she probably took more than a few naps waiting for me to emerge with a stack of 6 (the limit) books. My mom was a widowed, working mom at the time and probably didn't have much time to read (although she loved to read), but she knew how important reading was to me. I have to think that maybe the desire to write my own stories began to take seed while I perused those shelves of books at the Benton Harbor Library.

     Eventually, the old building was demolished to be replaced by a new modern one. That meant more room for more books! I loved it. Years later, I took my children to that library for story hours and so they could borrow their own books. In the summers especially we were frequent visitors. My daughter grew up to work there as a page while in high school and is now a librarian at the much larger Macomb Clinton Township Public Library system. The Benton Harbor Library gave her a good start, as it did me when I was an aspiring writer.

     I have to admit, I don't visit libraries as often as I used to. I love to own books and have a huge collection, and now I also use an e-reader. But I still know the importance of libraries, and sometimes I go there to remind myself that there is a whole world waiting for you within their doors. I hope we as communities will always value and support libraries, because that is where many writers are born.