One of my favorite movie lines of all time was from “The Mummy” when the hero asks the tipsy heroine “who are you?” and she sits up straight and says with pride: “I … am a LIBRARIAN!”
I love libraries, and I love librarians. Last year, a librarian from Bartholomew County, IN, asked whether I’d visit her library. I’ve never explored Indiana (except for a short visit to Muncie) and since it’s a bit of a haul from Maine, I asked her if there were other libraries in her state that might want me to do an event while I was in the area. A few days later, she gave me a list of over 20 interested libraries. Together, we hatched a plan for a 2-week, 23-stop Indiana library tour. I didn’t know how it would actually work out, but I’ve just finished the first day and it’s been terrific.
Day One: First top, Michigan City. The room was filled to capacity (maybe even more than that, but we won’t tell the fire chief). 108 readers turned up to hear me speak, to get books signed, and to buy books (thanks, Barnes & Noble.)
Then it was on to LaPorte County Public Library, where another near-capacity crowd of 100 turned up to hear me speak.
It’s been an amazing first day, and the library tour experiment has been excellent on so many levels. I’m getting a chance to say thank you to public libraries. I’m seeing a part of the country I’ve never explored. And best of all, I’m meeting readers I’ve never met before.
Plus, I’m learning fun facts as I go.
Fun Fact #1: No one here seems to know the origin of the word “Hoosier.” Some people tell me it’s because, way back, a guy asked at a house: “Who’s here?” Wikipedia says it may relate to a region of England (origin of many Indiana immigrants) where “Hoozer” meant hill country. It’s surprising that a word that’s so universally used to describe someone from indiana has such a mysterious origin.
Fun Fact #2: Carnegie financed more public libraries in Indiana than in any other state.
I’ve spoken to other authors who are intrigued by the idea of a libraries tour. Maybe this is the start of a new movement. Go on the road, see a part of the country you haven’t visited, and support our public libraries!