Tuscaloosa, AL -- Public Library -- August 15, 2007

Isn’t this room beautiful? It’s the Tuscaloosa Historical Room and anyone is welcome to read here—including children. They love telling the kids that, yes, of course, they, too are invited. I had the pleasure of speaking with Jerry in reader advisory and Vince in public relations.

Jerry recommended author, James Lee Burke. Everyone should get on the band wagon, she said--he's a fine southern mystery writer and he never lets you down. His latest, (which I saw prominently displayed in the Montpelier, VT public library later in my trip)—Tin Roof Blowdown, is about Katrina. The writing, she said, includes fantastic descriptions, you find yourself standing on bayou tesche (tesche=ground).

As a readers' advisory librarian, she’s excited about the pamphlets she’s made on good books to check out in different genres. Her job is to get people reading....she figures, when a book hasn't been checked out, the poor circulation is due more of a failure to reintroduce than the worthiness of the book. Consequently, she doesn’t abide by the librarians “reading rule”, that is, if a book hasn’t been checked out for 3 to 5 years, toss it. Instead, she makes her pamphlets.

Another way to get people reading? The DVD collection. As it draws people to the library, she directs them to the book shelves, recommending further reading on topics and authors they're viewing. The collection pulls people in, she said, who otherwise wouldn’t check out a book.

Vince, in public relations, told me about how part of his job is to help change public opinion-- people generally think of schools and museums when they think of culture and the arts, but that is changing. Libraries are involved too. When I visited the library was showcasing an Alabama history exhibit.

A fellow librarian, Margaret Butler, who they claim knows everything about Tuscaloosa, was featured in the New York Times a few years ago for pointing out that author Brad Vice had plagiarized parts of Stars Fell on Alabama, by Carl Carmer in his book The Bear Bryant Funeral Train. Librarians know their stuff. Here's the story in the Tuscaloosa News.

The library has a book discussion group every fourth Tuesday. On the list--The Painted Veil, by W. Somerset Maugham ; Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen; Shoeless Joe, by W.P. Kinsella; and Rachel’s Prayer, by Leisha Kelly.

Here’s a picture of their fabulous bookmobile, returning home. It visits schools and areas where people, otherwise, would not be able to get to the library.

1 comment:

KennethSF said...

I would love to find out what people in Tuscaloosa think of Maugham's story set in 1920s Hong Kong.