March: A Homestead-Style Dream for Libraries

(thank you to everyone who submitted nominations for February!  The book winner will be announced on Friday.  If this is the first you have read about A Homestead Style Dream, visit this post here).

In pioneering days on the Oregon coast, people often shared their books by bringing them to the closest lighthouse. There, on seagull serenaded Sunday afternoons, farmers and fisherman brought their picnic baskets and buckets of milk or brew to sit at the edge of the Pacific. Along with them, they brought books -- or returned their selections from the weekend before. Lighthouses became the keepers of the stories, those precious structures that saved lives on stormy nights being beacons to ships on troubled seas. By day, they saved those who found comfort, healing, adventure and dreams inside stories.

Early frontier people formed communities by building churches and schools and in more than one small town, urged the local trading post to make a shelf for sharing books. That's what Ivy Stranahan did in the burgeoning river town that became Fort Lauderdale, a story I chronicled in Mystic Sweet Communion.

Libraries are also places of rescue for many today. They offer quiet (unless you're in the noisy kid section but even that's a place of rescue). Who can resist a child's giggle or shouts of enthusiasm for the latest Jon Scieszka book (he of The Stinky Cheese Man fame)? In ancient Alexandria, the greeting over the door for arriving patrons was "The Place for the Work of the Soul." Stories do that for us: they offer a window into the world and if we allow it, can transport us to what T.S. Elliot called "Still places in a turning world."

In honor of my Homestead celebration this month of March, I'm seeking nominations of libraries. School libraries, church libraries, community libraries. Maybe those sweet little pocket libraries springing up that I see on Facebook (and have one in our neighborhood as well.). Last summer, I was thrilled to be part of the Title Wave program sponsored by the Coos Bay library in Oregon. I visited lots of libraries those few days including one in Bandon (on the beach) and in a tiny hamlet called Dora in the foothills of the Coast Range. There, the library is housed in a new fire department and community center building. The idea of a library mixed right in with daily life of a community warmed my heart.

Many readers tells me they discovered my books in a senior living library or a church library. My own First Presbyterian Bend library celebrated my birthday last month with librarian Brigitt Dysart creating a collage of my works and posting it on Facebook. I can never forget my beloved Sherman-Public School library where I was a founding member and when we moved into our new facility (from a room in the high school) I helped hand-carry the collections including videos, reference books and even Caddie Woodlawn books from the children's section! During our nearly 30 years on the homestead, the library held Read Alouds and events for poetry month and brought in authors to enrich the lives of that community. That's what libraries do with stories (including those told by art and photographs that enliven the halls of libraries).

Maybe there's a specialty library that interests you. In the town of Astoria, there is an Astorian Collection that gave me information I needed to deepen the story of Marie Dorion. I'd love to hear about your favorite library. I love libraries (can you tell?) for research and admire the work of reference librarians around the world. Yes, they've led me to places Google didn't.

So for the month of March, we're accepting nominations of a library you care about. Tell us the name and maybe a story of how that library has intersected your life -- has it given you a place for the work of the soul? Or perhaps that still place to reorder your world? Maybe the librarian is your special connection. Just nominate using the Google Form we've created HERE. If your library is the winner and they already have a signed copy of Homestead, we'll see if there is another book of mine they'd like to have in their collection. You, as the nominator, as well.

Thanks for keeping the stories in your heart. Let's see if we can't honor a library keeping the stories of a community as well.

Batwa Children with NEW UNIFORMS
And just a reminder: I'm donating $3 for every online at order to the Batwa project. This fall our faith community and African helped send 150 children to school for the first time ever. It's an exciting step forward for the three villages where our Batwa friends live. And many thanks to those of you who so generously sent donations to First Presbyterian Church for the Batwa of Burundi. This is turning out to be the best birthday for me, ever thanks to you!

Have a good Women's History Month too, It's March! Warmly, Jane
If you prefer to donate for the Batwa of Burundi, you can do so here: