Linda Holmes, author of Evvie Drake Starts Over, shares her fondest library memory and much more for National Library Week!

What was the first book you can remember checking out of the library?
I checked out a lot of biographies from our elementary school library. I remember checking out a biography of Frederick Douglass when I was very little, as well as books about Helen Keller and Florence Nightingale. I was Florence Nightingale for Halloween once as a result; my mother sewed me a blue dress and a white apron with a red cross on it.

What do you think the most important service of a library is?
To me, the most important service of a library is handling information with no motives other than handling information. In other words, there is no commercial motive to push anyone toward this book or that book or publication or view of the world. There’s just a great respect for sources that are reliable and meaningful. Library people, in my experience, treasure the sharing of knowledge itself — and in that category, I of course include pieces of culture like novels and films — as an independent social good. It’s hard to narrow it down, obviously, because serving as a safe place for vulnerable people and nurturing kids and standing up for the First Amendment are also such important library functions. But at the center, for me, is that free-standing appreciation for knowing more things by the day.

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

What is your fondest library memory?
When I was quite young — I want to say it was sixth grade? — our school librarian, who knew I was a strong reader, recommended I read Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. Now, a middle school student has very little context for Rebecca, and thematically, I’m sure I understood very little of it. But I liked it very much, and it helped push me toward big, meaty books marketed to adults. I read Gone With The Wind not long after that, and I started reading stuff like Stephen King and Jackie Collins within the next couple of years. I was reading literature in class, obviously, but that suggestion really helped me to understand the world of grown-up reading for pleasure across a lot of genres and “brows,” and to not be intimidated by big books. (I’m not sure in the world that includes Harry Potter, kids still have this transition to make, but I definitely did.)

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National Library Week 2019: Linda Holmes

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