Monday, April 13, 2015

Library Visitors

A friend of mine just returned from visiting the awe-inspiring New York Public Library last week. Her narration of their exhibits and collection is enough to give me strong pangs of envy. Alas, I must content myself in enjoying that august institution's treasures vicariously through her exuberant descriptions.

Still, though we are tucked away in the basement of a small rental house in a nondescript town in Appalachia, some visitors do seek us out to marvel at our unique little collection. This past week, we were privileged to have two special visits.

The first was from our friend, and long-time encouraging cheerleader, Lisa Ripperton of Yesterday's Classics. She and her son, Daniel, were traveling through our region for a spring breather, the snow still piled high back in their new home in northern New York. They have come to visit before, but this time it was to analyze the structure of our library, its number of shelves and genre distributions in particular, as the beginning stages of their own plans to start loaning a living books collection in their new hometown. We had 24 hours of book chatter. While fixing lunch I asked them to tell me about their earliest book memories, which delighted my heart. Then, while preparing dinner, Daniel read the first chapter of a book they loved, that I owned and had on the shelf, but which I had never heard of, Anything Can Happen by George and Helen Papashvily. I was so entertained by this story of an immigrant to America, that our family is now reading it together. Oh, the treasures I have that I haven't had time to unwrap! How thankful we are that the Rippertons have reprinted so many hundreds of books for thousands of families to know.

The second visit was unexpected and, oh joy, by a living author. This is remarkable in itself since most of the authors we honor by preserving their life's creative works have long since laid down their pens. I almost reluctantly share this episode as I fear my many patrons will be indignant that I did not invite them to come too, to have Andrew Peterson himself sign their copies of his Wingfeather Saga, but, as I said, the visit was sudden and unplanned.

As it happened, Emily's husband was part of the welcome committee when Andrew was in town to speak at King University on Monday, and, oddly enough, as Emily and he conversed with him over breakfast after his first lecture, the topic of books and our special library in particular "just happened" to come up. Later, he expressed his desire to come by and see the library and so it was that I had the privilege of welcoming him to our humble library. Again, the reality of how book lovers are immediately at home with one another, came to pass. As he oohed and ahhed over the books, we easily became friends, books and favorite authors being an instant bond. He shared about how he wasn't much of a reader while growing up, even read a lot of "junk," but, eventually, C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien found their way into his heart and changed his passion for literature. So take heart, parents and fellow librarians, as we wait in hope that the children who read the books we offer them may also end up blessing the next generation with imaginative stories of their own, as Peterson is now inspiring them.

Oh, and of course we had him write an inscription in the one lone copy of his books that was not checked out:

"To the capable, intelligent, and highly discerning readers of Living Books Library"

Most of all, we were grateful for his encouragement of our work and efforts to keep reading alive and well, not just for the future of our country, but for the future of the kingdom of God. Andrew Peterson's enthusiasm was contagious and caused us to be again grateful to be given the honor of being sowers of living book seeds in that kingdom.

I doubt whether any librarian in New York could have been as blessed as we were by any of their visitors as we were with ours this week.

For the joy of reading,

Liz

6 comments:

  1. Hello Liz,
    Where in New York will the Ripperton's have their library? I live in the Hudson Valley area. Thank you

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    1. Diane, the location of that future library is Ithaca, NY.

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  2. SO fun that you got to make that connection! we are reading North! or be Eaten right now. :) i read ahead last year. i can't wait to read Warden & Wolf King for the first time together... we LOVE them!

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    1. Book 3 (Monster in the Hollow) was my husband's and my favorite of the four. So good! (He reads aloud to us, and is excellent at all the voices--I'm so spoiled)

      Emily

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  3. I'm reading Anything Can Happen right now. What a coincidence.

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    1. I'd love to hear what you think when you finish.

      Liz

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