This weekend I was one of 45 authors to participate in the Sacramento Library Foundation’s “Authors on the Move” fundraising event. They raised over $110,000 toward their summer reading program for children’s literacy.
This marked the third time I’ve been invited to the event, and each time I’ve enjoyed the festivities. Patrons pay $200 each to have a wonderful 4-course dinner with 3 authors — authors rotate between courses. With 8 people at the table, we have the opportunity to answer any questions they might ask about our book or writing. It’s truly fun, though by the end of the night I’m exhausted! The Avid Reader, a local bookstore, sells books at the event, and nearly all of my Lucy Kincaid #7 COLD SNAP was sold. Yeah! (Too bad NOTORIOUS wasn’t out yet!)
The keynote speaker was Orville Schell, the author of “Wealth and Power: China’s Long March into the 21st Century.” You might think it would be a dry talk, but truly he condensed his book into a very interesting and accessible 20 minute talk. Schell has written 10 books on China and has an illustrious career in journalism, teaching, and China studies.
The Foundation is filled with people who love reading, love books, love learning, and want to help children develop the same joy they have. These are dedicated people, most who are volunteers, and I have enjoyed getting to know them a bit over the last few events. The best thing I heard Saturday night? They’re bringing back Bookmobiles!! Do you remember those? I loved them in grade school. Which was a long, long, long time ago ….
Beth Ruyak from Capitol Public Radio was the MC of our event, and it appears that after our dinner, she moseyed on over to ComicCon and listened to James Marsters and got this photo op! Yes, I’m a little bit jealous …
One of the best things is that I get to talk with other authors from the area. The authors don’t eat with the patrons — we get to have dinner together before the main event. Scottish Historical romance writer Amanda Scott was there. Thriller writer John Lescroart. Mystery writer Cindy Sample. And debut mystery author Susan Spann who I kept looking out, thinking I knew her but couldn’t remember from where. Turns out we met four years ago at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers conference! And she’s local … who knew? At the signing I sat next to Kristin Clark who’s debut YA book was written in verse (ala Ellen Hopkins). There were many more — a children’s book author, a few poets, many who wrote non-fiction including one of my table mates, Adam David Russ from Davis, who wrote BLOODHOUND IN BLUE about a police dog, JJ, in Utah who had great success catching criminals. I would have bought it because I love the cover and the subject matter, but I didn’t have time to wait in line during the book signing when I was supposed to be signing, too! Here’s a picture from the Salt Lake Police Department of JJ and his two-legged partner:
Going to a library event always makes me nostalgic for my own library. I practically grew up in the San Carlos Library. It was small and perfect. I got my first library card when I was 4 and spent many, many summer days hanging out at the library, reading books, roaming the aisles. It wasn’t a big library, and in fact when I heard it was completely rebuilt in the late 1990s, I wasn’t surprised … though it made me a bit sad. Yes, we needed a bigger library that could hold more books … but there’s something to be said for the smaller, less intimidating, quaint libraries. I couldn’t find any pictures of the old library.
In Elk Grove, we built a beautiful new library … but when I went in there with my kids, there were hardly any books. Most of them were older — not many new titles. I remember that the shelves were packed in the 70s and 80s … now shelves are bare. Maybe not in all libraries … I once donated over 300 hardcover books to the library, but stopped doing that when I find out they sell the books instead of shelve them. (These were all new titles from when I judged the Thriller Awards.) I understand some of the problems with donated books — they can be worn, they might smell from the donor’s house (if the donor is a smoker), they’re way outdated. But mine weren’t, and selling 300 hardcovers for $2-3 each in order to buy 20-30 books seems irresponsible when libraries are constantly strapped for money. Now I give the books to either the senior center or the veterans center. I wish I didn’t have to.
My library was my sanctuary. My librarian knew what I wanted to read and helped me find the books. But more, she let me browse and just enjoy the exploration of stories and ideas.
Children who are introduced to books at an early age–even if they are not big readers–do better in school than children who don’t have books. I can not imagine being in a house without books, but there are families who don’t value reading. Libraries make stories accessible to those who don’t have their own books either because their parents don’t value reading or because of expense. Libraries open up worlds. I believe strongly in the public library system, which is why I love to participate in programs like Authors on the Move. I have some issues with how they are funded, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t exist. I would love to see more smaller libraries filled with books … than bigger, prettier buildings that are mostly empty.
Maybe I’m just nostalgic because I went to my hometown last week and saw so many changes … mostly good, but still change. I miss the era where I could just ride my bike to the library and stay all day. I miss the small town and the freedom I had as a child — a freedom my children don’t have.
Did you have a sanctuary growing up?