In Libris with Deb Kim

You know those fancy shmancy bookplates that read, “Ex libris,” meaning “From the library of…. and then you have your name in lovely calligraphy below? I happen to like them very much – I lend books often, and it’s a nice way to mark your books without actually lifting your leg on them. (There goes the fancy shmancy part of our post.)  I decided to call this post “In Libris” because my very first bookstore (so to speak) was The Attleboro Public Library in Attleboro, Massachusetts. When you’re a kid, you don’t pay for anything yourself, so the library was just like a store to me. The Attleboro library was a Roman, Grecian, Olympian, Vesuvian mythic place that my Mom took me (and my older sister) to religiously until I was into my teens. My memories of the library begin in my nose. Musty paper, dusty stacks to the ceiling with serpentine spiral staircases promising a walk up into worlds you’d never imagined, or dared to go. The “adult” books were up there. (No Tawna, not that kind of adult.) Reference books. Scary leather bound tomes that looked as ominous as doctor’s office to me. But the children’s section… aaaah, the children’s section. It was just as elegant as the rest of the library. I remember my love for all things lilliputian – and the children’s area delivered in spades. I felt so grown up there, and yet,comfortable too. Of course, that comfort waxed and waned as trips became more about school reports despite having a full set of Encyclopedia (I won a 4th grade spelling bee with that word) Britannica at home, likely sold by a weary traveling salesman who may have tried his hand at Fuller Brushes the year before. My father was a softie for door-to-door salesmen. We may have been the only white family in town who read Ebony for decades.  My Dad said he thought the salesman who’d knocked on the door was a real go getter and he wanted to support him. We got Jet magazine too., perhaps as a gift with purchase? I love reading both magazines as a kid.

My one dread at the library? Oy. My piano instructor (shown in the photo, from the recital when I was in 5th grade)  scheduled our recitals there. They had a gorgeous conservatory worthy of pianists far greater than I.  The sheer terror of performing in public rather tarnished my love of the Attleboro Library, I admit. Here’s the last song I played. And yes, it was a 6 minute performance for me too. I was in 6th grade.  That’s me at the piano at that very recital in the braids below. Don’t I look happy? And check out the skirt on the girl waiting her turn.  Or try here: watch?v=c1ClcTH7OGQ

Next time I’m home visiting my folks, I think I’ll take a ride over to my very first book”store” and see if the ghosts of books well read and well loved are still there. I’ll bet they are. I might even sneak into the conservatory and plink out a song or two.

10 Replies to “In Libris with Deb Kim”

  1. I know it’s wrong for a writer, but I almost never set foot in a library these days… with the exception of my daughter’s school library, which is like a second home.

    That said, when I was visiting Salt Lake City several years ago, I visited that library on a recommendation and… WOW. If I lived close to it, that’s the kind of library I would frequent. Open and airy, tons of welcoming places to sit and read, beautiful outdoor areas, a cafe… it’s really spectacular.

  2. Oh, this library sounds gorgeous. I am constantly torn between bookstores and libraries – now that I can afford to support authors directly, I tend to buy books, but libraries were so important to me growing up (as anyone who has read The Weird Sisters can guess) that I miss them!

    And I love the story about subscribing to Ebony – what a great little detail about your father!

  3. I was just talking with my parents yesterday about the fact that I had no idea there were actual “bookstores” until pretty late in life. We didn’t have a ton of money when I was growing up, and since I was such a voracious reader, it made sense to get all my books from the library instead of buying them. Even though I make an effort to support authors by purchasing books now, I still think of libraries as my favorite places on earth.

    Now tell me more about that adult section…


  4. What a beautiful library and I, too, felt this was the BEST deal in town with free books for everyone! However now small town libraries are in trouble with their funding being cut. This week we’ve wondered about the demise of bookstores, but what about local libraries?

  5. This made me think (very fondly) of my library growing up. I’m still a complete library junkie. And if people are ever looking for how they can support their writer friends- most libraries let patrons recommend new books for them to acquire. I always ask for the Deb books and those of other great writers I want to make sure others get a chance to “meet.”

  6. My mom took us to the library every week. I would just get lost in books!

    Kim, I read these posts from my outlook but I purposefully clicked over here hoping to see you playing the piano! What talent! voracious reader, amazing author, mother of 3 girls with autism, and now pianist?!?!….you make me feel like a loser!

  7. Oh golly, Miss – no! First, having the with autism is not a skill (LOL!) and I can barely plink out Heart & Soul anymore. My Dad might have a Super 8 film in the cellar at my folks house! It was 1975 I think – a LOOONNNGGGG time ago. I think I have a photo of myself with my teacher in a book here – I’ll go check. If I have it I’ll scan it and post it. None of us is losers!!

  8. Aaah, libraries. *happy sigh* I would have happily lived in one when I was a kid. (Hmmm…now, too, come to think of it.)

    OTOH, it took my daughter a long time to cozy up to them. She couldn’t get past the fact that they made you give the books back–it caused her deep pain to part with any book she fell in love with. I finally convinced her the library was a good testing ground, and told her if she absolutely adored a book she found there, we could always buy it too.

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