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A Paen to Librarians

I’m working on a historical novella that, like my murder mystery, “Say Nothing,” is set in upstate New York. I’ve started making the rounds of the libraries on the west side of the river in Ulster County to 1./donate a copy of my book 2./meet the local librarians and 3./ do some research. I’ve been to two libraries since I began commuting in June—Ellenville and Rosendale—and have been impressed by the helpfulness of the librarians, their friendliness and generosity. I find these qualities to be true of most librarians I have met over the years. As internet access became a resource, I missed libraries and librarians.

When I arrived at the Rosendale library last week I was greeted warmly by Ann Sarrantino and when I told her what I was doing, she steered me to a collection of history books about Ulster county curated by another librarian, Linda Tantillo. All libraries are blissfully quiet, cool and wi-fi’d these days so I sat myself at a table and began to forage through this outstanding collection of books. I then gave Ann copies of two of my books and when I showed her “Sitting for Klimt,” and she said that her husband was a painter, she went to get a copy of Barbara Kingslover’s new book, “Lacuna," which just won the Orange Prize. Our conversation about books and writers continued.

Not having a local address, I could not join the library, but I am free to use it. The freedom of the library systems throughout our country are a great freedom indeed. I told Ann I would download Kingslover’s book onto my Kindle. Happy to say, she did not seem the least bit alarmed knowing, as I do, that librarians will never be obsolete.

Linda Tantillo returned from her lunch break and we chatted for a while, also. Like all good librarians, she listened patiently and attentively to a description of my project before making a suggestion. She told me that the Kingston Freeman, a local newspaper, had recently been scanned and gave me a website address that I had not, as yet, come across. I’m back in the city this week reading newspapers online from 1905, thanks to Linda. The combination of online research and F2F interaction with insightful and informed librarians has deepened the treasure trove of information available to writers.

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