As a writer, I know the importance of libraries. But before I ever dreamed of becoming a published author, I was a little girl living in a small town. An only child, living on a farm with no neighbors within walking distance, I suffered panic attacks if I didn’t have a pile of books waiting for me to read.
Which was why, when I heard about all the libraries being closed due to lack of funding, I decided to focus the plot of my next Devereaux’s Dime Store mystery on the offer of a philanthropist to reopen the Shadow Bend Library.
Like me, my sleuth Dev, grew up on a farm outside of town, so she too would have depended on the library for entertainment, knowledge, and companionship. Knowing that it was important to the story that she feels conflicted about the library re-opening, I decided that the philanthropist would turn out to be her stepfather. A man she’d never met, married to the woman who had abandoned Dev and run off seeking greener pastures.
Next, I took a good hard look at what libraries meant to their towns in the twenty-first century versus what they had been when I was growing up in the late sixties and early seventies. I found out that in this ever increasing digital world, the role of libraries are undervalued. Many public officials have no idea that libraries are community and cultural centers and when there’s a shortfall in the budgets, libraries are among the first institutions to suffer.
With this in mind, I came up with the Top Five Reasons I Love Libraries
- Libraries can strengthen a community’s bond. Libraries, especially in small towns, are one of the few remaining places where folks from diverse backgrounds can gather to interact.
- Libraries are centers for the arts. In rural communities there are few places where creative souls can freely express themselves.
- Libraries are safe places for children and adolescents to socialize and learn how to interact. Unlike Dev’s dime store, most businesses don’t like kids or teens hanging out. The library does.
- Libraries are quiet. In today’s busy world with people shouting into cell phones or screaming at each other, a library provides a refuge from all the noise pollution.
- Libraries are where the librarians hang out and librarians are special people, who are knowledgeable, and great at coming up with suggestions for new books and authors to check out.
With that in mind, I wrote Between a Book and a Hard Place. It saddened me that because of the way the plot developed, I was going to have to deprive Dev’s hometown of the library they were counting on regaining. But rest assured, sometime in the near future, like the next book, Shadow Bend will get its library and it will be bigger and better than ever. Because as we all know every town needs a good library.
About the Book: BETWEEN A BOOK AND A HARD PLACE, A Devereaux’s Dime Store Mystery by Denise Swanson, NAL paperback, 282 pages, March 1, 2016, $7.99