Saturday, August 22, 2009

Books and Libraries

A story in the Boston Globe about a 77 year old chess maven described how he taught himself to play from books at the library during the Depression. One day he found a note from another player: “'Neither duffer, nor master,' the note read, and included a telephone number. It was an invitation to play, in an era when games were hard to find," and they subsequently played many times.

Of course, it reminded me of the famous scene in More All of a Kind Family, in which Jules leaves a note in Ella's library book so he can meet her! The kind librarian sees the book is on the wrong shelf (I think the girls hid it because they'd already checked out their weekly quota) but decides not to interfere with young love. How I loved these books! I checked them out repeatedly from my elementary school library, and now own a complete set (although not all are in the oversize format I grew up with).

Libraries play an important role in the lives of this poor but dignified family. In the very first book, Sarah, the middle sister (and eventual author of the series) has lost a book and the librarian realizes that paying to replace it would cause the family great hardship but they are proud and won't accept charity, so she provides a very modest replacement amount. Just as those on the Lower East Side used the library to escape from their troubles our current economic times have resulted in increased usage in libraries all over the country, despite the drastic cuts in services and hours.

I've attached a link to the All of a Kind Family Companion.


Ellen Gerstein said...

I have recreated my original collection thanks to books found at thift stores and temple rummage sales. How I loved this series!

CLM said...

I never knew that! Have you ever taken It Girl to the Tenement Museum?

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks said...

I wish I still had my ALL OF A KIND FAMILY books! The scene I remember most vividly is when Papa hid pennies in the parlor to make sure the girls were dusting efficiently!

I'm going to hunt these down for the #shelfdiscovery reading challenge!