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Melanie Benjamin, bestselling author of Mistress of the Ritz, shares the two words she would use to describe the library and much more for National Library Week!

What was the first book you can remember checking out of the library?
Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace

What was the last book you checked out of the library?
I think it was either a play, or music, for an audition back in my theater days; I used to use the Central Library location of the Indianapolis Public Library because it had an amazing section of music and plays.

What do you think the most important service of a library is?
To expose people to new worlds.  The library showed me things my parents never could have.  I remember reading The New Yorker at the library, when I was really young, and I longed for that world, that city; that literary way of life.  My parents never could have shown me that.  The library did, and it influenced my writing.

If you could describe the library in 2 words, what would they be?
Life giving.

What is your fondest library memory?
The bookmobile!  I was very small, and my mother packed me in the car and drove me to the parking lot of a grocery store.  And there was an RV there, and people lined up to get inside; I couldn’t understand what was going on.  When it was our turn, we stepped up into it, and I knew, then—it was a magical RV!  Because inside it were all the books in the world.  I’d never seen such a thing before, and I filled my arms with books, only to be told that since I was a child, I couldn’t check out that many, so I had to leave some behind.  I read my stash right away, and then had to wait impatiently for the next time the bookmobile came around.  Eventually they built a real branch of the library near us, and so I didn’t have to wait anymore.  But I’ll never forget the first time I truly experienced magic—when I first entered the bookmobile.

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National Library Week 2019: Melanie Benjamin

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