Thursday, August 30, 2007

I Love Librarians

I’m certain I’ve made this statement in print before, perhaps even on this blog, but it bears repeating; I love librarians. I mean that in the most respectful and honest way. They support two of the more embattled groups in America; The reader and the writer. But my appreciation of librarians is a long-term, deep-seated emotion. A relationship which eclipses most of those I have had with individuals. Certainly any of my blood relatives that aren’t my children.

The first non-kid book I read, a Jacques Yves Cousteau text on the ocean and it’s wonders, was suggested to me by the librarian at South Olive elementary school. Although I lived on the coast and spent much of my time in the salty waters of the Atlantic, I was ignorant of the varied life forms that contributed to the world under ours. From fish with their own luminance in the deep reaches of the sea to something as common as a Seahorse, I fell in love with the ocean.

More recently, as a published author, I have found librarians to be the most supportive and enthusiastic of fans. Barbara, the reference Librarian at the county branch closest to me always saves my reviews and articles. She is quick with the optimistic prediction and always makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something special.

Booklist, published by the American Library Association, gave me my first starred review for Walking Money. I had several copies within a week from librarians who had followed my book from the start.

This year I attended a party hosted by the Florida Library Association related to the Florida Book Awards. Aside from a good time in Orlando, I made new friends and have been invited to a number of events associated with Libraries this year.

What could be better that a smart woman telling you to keep quiet? A smart woman with a blog who knows books. I refer to the self-titled Book Bitch (I’ll call her BB for short since I’m not sure she wants her true identity revealed here) and her great blog, which is part of her webiste A librarian here in Palm Beach County, the BB is a lovely woman who reads like eighty books a week. Her daughter reads seventy-four a week.

One librarian outside of Los Angeles made my day earlier in the year. I was on tour with Field of Fire and had a down day. I visited the local library to catch up on e-mail. I had to fill out a form to use the internet at the library. When I handed the form back to the librarian she looked it over and said, “You know there’s a writer named James O. Born.” I knew, but I didn’t realize anyone else did. It made my tour of Southern California.

So as I prepare to leave for the Decatur Book Festival in Georgia tomorrow I want everyone who makes use of a library to give his or her librarian a hug for me. I am, unfortunately, under a court order to stop hugging random librarians. One of them requires that I stay 100 feet away from her at all times. But I would ask that you guys do my bidding. If you happen to be attending the book festival just outside of Atlanta this weekend, drop by and say hello. If not there then at the Southern Festival of books in October, The Miami Book fair in November or The Vero beach Book festival the following week. If you’re a librarian, let me know and I’ll make a fuss. At least as much as the legal system will allow.


  1. Hear, hear! I loves me some librarians.

  2. Somehow, Dusty, I think you and I are saying two entirely different things.


  3. As the wife of a retired librarian, may I say, "Thank you!" He's a really good guy and an equally awesome librarian.

  4. When my first book came out, I went back to my home town on tour. The librarian helped organize a half dozen events that made me feel like a rock star. I love librarians, too.

  5. I adore libraries and librarians, in fact, just about everywhere I go, I look for the library. I upped sticks once, to move across the state to a town because I loved the library so much. And where would I be without librarians and archivists in libraries around the world, both public and private, who are always so willing to help with research and answer my (often) obscure questions. I was talking to a librarian in the town of Wilbraham, MA, where my novel, MAISIE DOBBS, was chosen as the "one town, one read" book last year - small town, but so much going on at that library. We talked about how the role of librarians has changed since the coming of Google and other web-based search engines, and she said that although they receive fewer reference queries, those queries require a lot of work to respond to, because the customer has hit a brick wall on the internet and can't be bothered to do their own primary research the old fashioned way. So, like James - let's hear it for those amazing hard-working librarians!!!

  6. Jim,
    Agree with your opinion of librarians in general and Stacy (Book Bitch) in particular.

    I grew up in a very small town in PA where the Bookmobile made its rounds every two weeks. So, my first librarian was a truck driver, too. My first books were about dinosaurs.

  7. Who can forget getting their first ever library card? As a little kid it makes one feel quite grown up. Joy unbounded. Rapture unforeseen... Browsing the shelves finding the unexpected gem.

    There aren't any library cards for the internet. 'Nuff said.

  8. Debby, I think JIm Johnson is awesome in general. With good taste in books too.

    Jackie and Alice, you're absolutely right about the way the internet affects libraries. Your first card is a big deal.

    And I gotta ask it:

    Paul, did you ever see any of the dinosaurs when you were growing up? Or is Joe Paterno the only one?
    C'mon, PSu fans I love Joe. The oly coach older than Saint Bowden.


  9. Can I read 74 books a week? PLEASE???

    My mother was a librarian so mostly I join in your praise except in this: I CANNOT RETURN A LIBRARY BOOK ON TIME TO SAVE MY LIFE.

    I don't know how much I've racked up in fines over the course of a lifetime. Enough to be able to afford to BUY 74 books a week, at least, I'll tell you that. But I just wasn't RAISED to return library books. I still look at them and think, Eh, Mom'll get that.

  10. Will any of the bloggers, especially the Floridians, be at the Miami Book Fair?

  11. James, my mom's a librarian and I passed your blog on to her-she'll love it. I also told her she should invite you to come to her library for a signing-they're always looking for authors to visit.

    I share Rebecca's problem, as the family member of a librarian you get used to not having to worry about library fines. It was a huge shock to suddenly have to worry about them when I moved away and was responsible for my own books!

  12. Jim, thanks for the kind words. You are a class act. And you too, Levine.

    For "anonymous" - I will be attending and blogging about the Miami Book Fair. You can read last year's report here:

  13. I've always had a fantasy about seeing my name, plus "Librarian" at "Such and Such Library" in the aknowledgements of a published book. This will do fine! Thank you, Jim, for supporting libraries and librarians. We both need all the support and positive PR we can get, which is a sad statement to need to type. After reading your blog, I made myself available for hugs at the reference desk, but alas, there weren't any offers. I even let my hair down out of the bun. (Has anyone ever actually seen a real live librarian wearing a bun?! I haven't.) By the way, I obviously work for the wrong library. Our staff pay fines the same as anyone, and I duly hand back a portion of my check to the library every month. If it were up to me, I'd waive fines for all librarians and authors (trying to stay on Jim's good side!). Signed: Barbara the Librarian

  14. Hats off to those librarians all they have to deal with. As the sister to Barbara, mentioned here, I know what a difficult job it is at times, but also know she loves her job. She has suggested your books to my husband and he has enjoyed each and everyone. As a book worm myself, I have much admiration for libraians and authors like yourself writing to keep the shelves full of great things to read.