There are so many reasons I love my local public library, the Sherwood Regional Library. One of 23 branches in the Fairfax County, Virginia, Public Library System, it's only a couple of miles from my home. I can walk there in about 30 minutes, bike there in 10 minutes, and drive there in practically no time. Dogwood trees and oak-leaf hydrangeas are planted on either side of the entrance. There's a bustling children's section, where my children and I spent many happy hours when they were younger. And at the back of the library there's a quiet reading room with floor to ceiling windows. Over the years I've spent a lot of time there working on my books. Every Tuesday morning from May through November there's a farmers' market in the library parking lot. Can it get any better than that?
Actually, it can! Another reason I love my library? The wonderful librarians give prime real estate to new children's nonfiction. One of the first things you see when you enter the building is a bookcase with a big sign on top of it that says "Brand New Juvenile Nonfiction." The other day I asked a couple of the librarians why they had chosen to give these books such a desirable location. ("Brand New Fiction," by the way, is shelved on the back of this bookcase, away from the entrance.) "Well," one of them told me, "we’re proud of our nonfiction collection and we want to show it off. We want to attract readers for these books, and this is just about the only time they can stand out. Later on most of them will be shelved with the adult nonfiction, and unfortunately, it’s pretty easy for them to get lost back there." (Sigh...) The other librarian I spoke with told me that the books just fly off the "new nonfiction" shelves, and that they're especially popular with boys. "We have such a hard time keeping new titles on these shelves," she said, "that we sometimes have to put out older books." Then the older nonfiction books get snapped up. It's all good.
One more reason I love my library? One of the librarians told me that their copy of Helen's Eyes has been checked out so many times that it's starting to fall apart. She's had to tape it back together. Music to this author's ears.
In case you're interested in what's considered new in this neck of the woods, here are some of the titles I found today on the Sherwood Library's "Brand New Juvenile Nonfiction" shelves:
Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland
1776: A New Look at Revolutionary Williamsburg
Chile: Enchantment of the World
Ecuador: Enchantment of the World
A Den Is a Bed for a Bear: A Book about Hibernation
Albert Einstein: Universal Genius
Attila the Hun (A Wicked History)
Thunderstorms (A True Book)
Stars (A True Book)
A Savage Thunder: Antietam and the Bloody Road to Freedom
For the Duration: The War Years (Tomie DePaola biography)
The Story of the Washington Redskins (These librarians know their audience!)