It was a dark and stormy night …
Actually, it was a bleak and rainy Saturday afternoon at the Memorial Library. As you may guess from the photo, the Memorial branch is a Carnegie library, first opened in 1912, making it the oldest library in Alberta.
Having been built at a time when proportion and balance mattered in architecture, and having been carefully maintained for 98 years, it is a beautiful building. It contains high ceilings, molded plaster cornices, and colorful yellow walls.
Because it’s located close to the downtown area it serves a number of office workers who like to pop by at lunch to pick up a quick read. Those people love mysteries, so despite the fact that Memorial is a small branch, the mystery collection is very good.
I’d come to attend a reading by the library’s current writer-in-residence, the Canadian mystery writer, Gail Bowen. Since I was a little early I settled myself in a comfortable chair and picked a photo book at random off the shelf. Rainy Saturday afternoon in a lovely library looking at a photo book. It doesn’t get any better than this.
Except that it did.
After about half an hour as I stretched, yawned and looked around, this is what I saw across the room from me. Now I knew that the library had copies of this book, but it was like, okay, look it up in the electronic card catalogue, see how many copies they have, etc. But to see it center stage, with a green “New and Notable” sticker on the cover sent this little thrill through my entire body. I was actually tempted to check it out and read it, but common sense prevailed and I left it there for other people.
About two o’clock a lot of people—me included—went downstairs to hear Ms. Bowen read. We packed every seat in the house and had people standing in the ante-room. The crowd was bang on the demographic for “those who read for pleasure;” that is mostly women in the 45 to 65 age range.
I tried to guess how many of the people there were readers, how many closet writers, how many out-of-the-closet writers, but it wasn’t that easy to tell. If I had to make a guess, I’d say over 50% of the people there had a manuscript tucked away somewhere.
There was a buzz in the air which confirmed that we’d really come to hear the author rather than simply to get in out of the rain. The reading was wonderful. Ms. Bowen worked the room, shaking each of our hands and smiling. She read from her newest Joanne Kilbourn book, The Nesting Dolls.
The audience laughed at the right places, groaned at the right places, and when she stopped reading, they wanted more. Ms. Bowen grinned and said then they were just going to have to read the book, which got the big laugh and the clapping.
I’m so excited that she will be in residence for the next three months. I already have my 25 pages in and I’m waiting for my appointment to sit down and talk with her. Thank you, Calgary Public Library.
Quote for the week:
People who come to our library to hear authors want to hear (1) where authors get their ideas; (2) how you go about the craft of writing (3) what writers have influenced you and (4) what you’re currently reading.
~Mary Boone, Sisters in Crime Librarian, 2008