“In 1954, when I was thirteen, Hurricane Hazel hit town just as the school day was ending. I had to walk from school to the public library, where my father always picked me up after work because we lived out in the country.
No one had foreseen that the hurricane would come so far inland, so I wasn’t even wearing a raincoat. By the time I reached the library I was battered and soaked, and the two elderly librarians kindly donated a gingham duster from the cloakroom and a pair of dry socks. Then they gave me a cup of hot tea and settled me in a corner with a book.
There are many ways, over the years, in which I’ve been rescued by librarians. (I’m thinking now of The Wide Net; I’m thinking of Precious Bane.) But that was my most concrete rescue, and I’ve never forgotten it.”