Thursday, July 9, 2009

Why I Write

I write with the hope someone will read what I have written and will get something from it – be it a laugh, a tear, or a thought. Now how do people get the books I write? Hopefully some people will go to their local book store and purchase copies. Others may just go to their local libraries and check them out.

If they do go to their libraries they had better check the hours of operation because most of them in my state, Georgia, have changed. It is called economics, or more specifically a money shortfall. There is not enough money to keep the libraries open the regular hours so they are being cut back.

The libraries are also having to cut back on staff. Some of have gotten rid of people manning the desks while others have gotten rid of those people who shelve the books. And there may be worse cuts to come.

I love libraries, always have and always will. When I was growing up in Clinton, South Carolina the children’s librarian was Miss Gray. She was really Mrs. Gray in her everyday life but in the library she was Miss Gray.

Miss Gray had a wonderfully lyrical voice and when she read us stories the world came alive to us. She did this every Wednesday afternoon and all of us kids looked forward to it. After she read she would spend time with each child finding him/her a special book to check out. She was amazing in knowing what each of us wanted to read.

Years later when I joined the Air Force I was assigned to Robins Air Force Base in Georgia. One of the first places I looked up was the Base Library. There I met the librarian, Mrs. Jarman, and we became great friends. Mrs. Jarman was a voracious reader and she and I could discuss books until the cows came home.

After I married and moved to Perry, Georgia I met Alice Gilbert, the local librarian. Alice knew more about books and authors than I could imagine. She was a walking encyclopedia about them. If you mentioned an author you liked, well she could mention five more that you might be interested in reading. And if you didn’t like those five, then she could add another five to your list.

Recently I heard from a friend of mine who works for the library system in Gwinnett County. I was supposed to teach a writing class as part of the adult programming at the library. He said that due to a lack of funds the adult programming he had planned was cancelled. Then he added that the Gwinnett Reading Festival was also cancelled.

The Gwinnett County Reading Festival had been in existence for two years and was getting better each year. The authors who attended got a chance to meet and mingle with the people of Gwinnett County who love to read. I had been both years and had a great time. It also gave me a chance to meet Carmen Deedy, Rick Bragg and other authors I admire.

Why is it when money gets tight the Arts are the first to suffer? It seems this world is considered the most expendable. It isn’t right. It just isn’t right.

I dreamed one day of writing books that people would read. The dream came true but now it is in danger. Authors need libraries; kids need libraries; the world needs libraries.

Jackie K Cooper is the author of THE SUNRISE REMEMBERS. It can be found in most libraries.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

When our oldest daughter, then in elementary school, went to our small town library, the librarian there noticed what she was reading and challenged her to read all the children's classics and Newberry winners. My daughter gained so much from those reading summers--not even just the pure enjoyment of reading, but knowing that someone thought she was capable of understanding such treasures. She rose to the challenge. She takes her own sons to the library in Indiana now, but still remembers Miss Vivian in that small NC library.