Why not read up on the houses of books?

Picton Branch of the Prince Edward County Public Library. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)

As we celebrate Ontario Public Library Week & Canadian Public Library month in October, we thought it would be fitting to share some books about libraries!

If you are interested in the history of public libraries in Ontario, you can’t go wrong with The Best Gift : a Record of the Carnegie Libraries in Ontario, by Margaret Beckman, Stephen Langmead, and John Black. As the authors note, “By the turn of the century, a public library was perceived as an important element in the civic fabric of almost every Ontario community.

However, the introduction of the Carnegie grants for library buildings gave impetus to the Ontario government programme for library development, and provided a focus for increased support of library services. Rivalry among neighbouring communities to secure a Carnegie library heightened this awareness, as did the publicity – in some instances even controversy – which surrounded each step of the grant seeking, site selection and plan approval process.”

The library in Picton is one such library funded by Andrew Carnegie, and is featured in the book. A few years ago Dewey the library cat caught the attention of the news media when he was shoved into a library bookdrop in Spencer, Iowa. His sweet personality earned him a spot at the library where he greeted patrons for many years. The book about his story,  Dewey : the small-town library Cat who touched the World by Vicki Myron, with Bret Witter is perfect for anyone who likes heartwarming stories with animals (and people) overcoming tough times.

The Library Book by Susan Orlean has been described as a love letter to public libraries. It’s a well-researched piece about a 1986 fire at the LA public library which destroyed four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more, and shut the library down for seven years. Orlean weaves in stories about the impact of the library while also investigating just who set the fire – and why.

From a  real life mystery to one taking place in fiction consider the Lighthouse Library series.  Perhaps better known by her real name Vicki Delany, Eva Gates writes cozy mysteries telling the story of librarian Lucy Richardson. In the first title, A Death Long Overdue, when her former director is found dead in the water, Lucy will have to get to the bottom of the mystery before the killer ends her tale.

There are lots of great children’s books about libraries, too. Quiet! There’s a canary in the library with story and pictures by Don Freeman is one of my favourites. In this story, a child imagines that they are in charge of the library and are able to invite animals in to browse. It’s not long before the animals are causing all kinds of hilarious chaos.  These are just a few of the many books featuring, set in, and about libraries.

We can help you find more at any branch of the library – just ask!

-Liz Zylstra