Secret Libraries

Library of Congress Jefferson Building
Library of Congress Jefferson Building – not a secret library!

Last year, BBC Culture highlighted secret libraries around the world. The libraries had been hidden or restricted for various reasons – religion, politics, or just plain forgetfulness. This piece highlights a few of these libraries in different countries. I’d love to visit some of these!

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Shakespeare’s Contemporaries

Shakespeares Contemporaries
Folger Shakespeare Library photo from LUNA catalog used under CC-BY SA License.


The Folger Shakespeare Library has created a Digital Anthology of Early Modern English Drama to assist readers and researchers around the world. This is a fantastic resource for anyone interested in history, language, or theater will find much to learn and read in this set of resources.

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EU Court Allows Library Ebook Lending

Last month, the Court of Justice of the European Union put forward a ruling that libraries may lend ebooks just like physical books so long as authors are paid for their work. It appears that until now libraries in the EU did not have the right to lend ebooks the way libraries in America have for quite some time.

Publishers, of course, are quite unhappy with the decision because they will lose some money. However, the apocalyptic rhetoric coming from publishers is obviously overblown. If publishers have been able to make ebook lending work in America, they can certainly do so in the EU. Additionally, the idea that they find this decision shocking is ludicrous. Back in June, the advocate general for the court published an opinion on this case so publishers had five months to prepare for the court’s ruling.

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Libraries in the News

The last few weeks have seen libraries in the news, both here in the US and in the UK.

In the US, President Obama nominated Dr. Carla Hayden to be the next Librarian of Congress. Dr. Hayden would be the first woman and the first African American to hold the position as well as one of the few with a library science degree. While library budgets are being cut around the country, this announcement has given the community something positive to talk about.

Library of Congress Jefferson Building
Library of Congress Side View of Jefferson Building

In the UK, the news is significantly less positive. Like the US, library budgets are being cut – up to the point where libraries around the UK are closing – and there has been a great deal of push back from librarians, authors, and the larger reading community. In fact, authors have led a coordinated campaign on the importance of libraries.

Let’s hope that the discussion in both countries leads more people to using their local library and discovering new books to love.

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Historical Public Domain Images


The British Library posted over 1 million public domain images to Flickr. These images can be reused for free – although credit should always be given – and there are some great images in this collection. For authors of historical fiction and for cover designers, this could be a treasure trove of images for research and use.

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Books about Books

I have to confess that I like books about…books. Or at least about people who love books. Specifically, I find myself drawn to mysteries about book people – librarians, authors, editors, and readers.

One of my favorite cozy mystery series is Jenn McKinlay’s Library Lovers series. It’s a fun series following Lindsey as she runs a small, New England town library and solves murders in between book clubs and Friend’s meetings. I don’t love the way McKinlay put in a love triangle but that seems to be almost a requirement for cozy mysteries these days so I can’t really blame her. The first book in the series is Books Can Be Deceiving.

Another series I’ve really enjoyed is the Bibliophile Mystery series by Kate Carlisle. This cozy series features Brooklyn Wainwright, a bookbinder, and her family, friends, and colleagues as Brooklyn stumbles upon dead bodies seemingly everywhere she goes. It’s a fun series and the characters are well developed and the plots are entertaining. The first book in the series is Homicide in Hardcover.

The St. Just series by G.M. Malliet starts with Death of a Cozy Writer which won an Agatha Award for Best First Novel. While this is the St. Just series, DI St. Just doesn’t actually appear until more than halfway through the book. In fact, the mystery part doesn’t begin until well into the book unlike many mysteries. The first chunk of the book is actually focused on family dynamics and personalities rather than a murder which makes it a little different to read but quite interesting.

The Aurora Teagarden series by Charlaine Harris of Sookie Stackhouse fame features a small town Southern librarian. Harris lost me at book four but the first three books were ones I enjoyed a great deal with her singular mix of humor and Southern charm. For cozy mystery lovers and for fans of the Sookie Stackhouse mystery series, this is a series worth checking out.

I have The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield on my list of books about books that I need to read. I’ve heard great things about it. So it’s likely to be the next book I read in this particular category.

What books about books do you like? I’m always looking for recommendations!

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Librarian Essays for Read a Romance Month

Last Friday was Read a Romance Month Librarian Day and featured three essays by three wonderful librarians – Monique Flasch, Christyna Hunter, and Wendy the Super Librarian. All three are absolutely worth reading but I wanted to pull out a couple of quotes from Wendy’s essay that I think really capture the spirit of romance and of Read a Romance Month.

Wendy says, “Fiction, specifically genre fiction, tends to get a bad rap among intellectual circles.  The word “escapism” is a dirty word uttered with a sneer.  The writing is denigrated as trite and awful, even when it’s not.” Later, she states, “I think what makes romance so universally appealing to all stripes of readers is the emotion. I’d argue that all fiction should make the reader feel something, but romance is romance.  It’s a genre built on the foundation of emotion.”

I do highly recommend reading all three essays as they all make wonderful and valid points about reading and romance.

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Libraries and Read a Romance Month

Read a Romance Month library displays
Read a Romance Month display
Read a Romance Month Displays
Read a Romance Month Displays

Since tomorrow is Librarians Day on the Read a Romance Month schedule, I thought I’d take the time to highlight a few libraries I know that promoted Read a Romance Month.

The Eckheart Public Library in Indiana used their blog, Charlie Chat, to post about romance so check out their informative write ups and recommendations.

Glenview Public LIbrary in Illinois – with wonderful librarian Monique – tweeted out a photo of their Read a Romance display using the hashtag #RARM.

The Lovettsville branch of the Loudoun County library system did a nice display complete with statistics about the romance genre and posted a photo to Facebook.

A couple of branches of the DC Public Library also had displays, including the photos above.

Did your local library or bookstore celebrate Read a Romance month?

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RWA Librarians Day Recap

I attended my first RWA event last week in New York. While I didn’t get to go to the whole conference, I was lucky enough to get a ticket for Librarians Day.

The first panel was on romantic suspense and I really enjoyed it. There were some great authors on the panel including Jayne Ann Krentz, Carla Neggers, and Rebecca Zanetti, who I’ve read before, and a few like D.D. Ayers, Mary Burton, Laura Kaye, and Wendy Corsi Straub, who I haven’t read but am looking forward to checking out after hearing them talk.

The other two panels were on holiday romance and what editors from some of the big publishers are looking forward to coming out later this year. Neither of these panels were particularly good to me but others in the room seemed to really enjoy both.

My only complaint was about the panel on creating effective partnerships. It was not well planned. It would have been better to just let us talk to each other in small groups rather than try to keep reconvening us every five minutes to report back to the whole room. It didn’t allow for very good discussion or ideas.

Overall, I’m glad that I went to see what it was all about and I’d go again if the opportunity was there.

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Travel Reading

Given that we’re smack dab in the middle of vacation season, I’ve been having a lot of conversations about reading while traveling. Long flights or train rides, lazy days on the beach or stuck in a hotel room during a storm, no work responsibilities demanding your attention – all this makes for perfect reading time.

But how do you decide what to read? Do you pack paper books or read e-books? To be honest, I got a Kindle solely for reading while I travel. I do use it other times but I am a paper book lover at heart so I tend to use that format when I’m home.

However, after being stuck at Heathrow airport for nearly eleven hours when I was bumped from a flight and having only one paperback with me, the value of e-books and e-readers quickly became apparent! Now, I still might pack a paperback or two but mostly I read on my Kindle during trips. I will admit that I sometimes check out e-books from the library that I already own in paper format if that is what I’m really wanting to read.

What format do you read when you travel? Do you download library books to read on your device or splurge on buying vacation reads?

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