I stopped by my local Barnes & Noble today to pick up a copy of Jane Austen: Seven Novels. I’d been tipped off to the hardcover book, retailing for only $12.95, to get complete editions of Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Northanger Abbey, and Lady Susan. I’ve never actually read any of Austen’s books, although I wore out a VCR tape of Sense and Sensibility so quickly that Steve got my next copy in a DVD. But now I needed several of her books–6, to be exact–so this opportunity to pick up 7 for less than $2 a novel was not to be missed.
(Want to know why I “need” the books? Keep reading. It’s in here, and it involves yarn.)
(In my brother’s business–he’s a news director–I think this is called “burying the lead.”)
As I was checking out, the cashier asked me if I wanted to donate a book for a child in need. There was a stack of small paperbacks by the register and as I looked through them, I saw a Frog and Toad book. I’ve never really cared for Frog and Toad, but they were favorites with my husband’s sister, who in turn gifted Jeffrey with a Frog and Toad book that he loves. So, for him, I picked that one to buy and donate, in Jeffrey’s and Lexie’s name.
I can’t imagine growing up not surrounded by books. Some of my earlier memories involve books and reading (family legend has me reading at age 4); even when money was tight, books were plentiful. I read, reread, and reread again some books, like Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series, and the Trixie Beldon books. Then I married a guy who’s as big of a bookworm as I am; combining our personal libraries made us realize we actually need a library room in our home…and that was after I weeded out well over a dozen grocery bags full of duplicate books (we have similar tastes). I love owning books, and even ones I don’t plan to read again are hard to let go.
Still, one of the places I remember fondly from my childhood is Martin Library in my hometown of York…because even though I would have liked to own every book I ever read, that wasn’t going to happen. So I spent many happy hours looking for more books to read. The library was also my go-to place whenever I had a research paper due. That was partly due, of course, to the fact that there was no internet at the time, but I also enjoyed looking for a variety of books and sources–it was a bit of treasure hunt and mystery solving all rolled into one.
Sadly, right now there are a large number of children who not only–like the child I bought a book for today–do not have books of their own, but are about to lose easy access to a library where they could borrow books to fill that gap in their lives.
The city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is planning to close 11 of 54 public libraries due to budgetary issues. The rest of the libraries face significant cuts in a budget that hasn’t been increased in years. Most of the libraries threatened with closure are the ones located in the neighborhoods that need them the most–where the only way the neighborhood children will get the chance to expand their horizons through reading is via a free public library system.
Fortunately, there is a group that has a long-standing mission of assisting the Philadelphia public libraries, and they’re stepping up to the challenge of saving those 11 libraries. The Friends of the Free Library Philadelphia are raising funds in the hopes of providing the money to keep those 11 libraries from being closed and the properties sold in the short term, and they’re forming a committee to make the necessary long-term plans to ensure these libraries are here for the long haul. They’ve calculated that if every Philadelphia resident gave $10, there would be enough money for all 11 libraries. Of course, not every Philadelphia resident is in a position to donate $10, so they need outside help.
I became aware of this fund-drive thanks to my friend Min, who lives in Philadelphia and is a member of go fast. knit left. on Ravelry. She won one of our Nascar Championship pools, and instead of asking for yarn or other knitting goodies, she asked us to donate to save the Philadelphia libraries. I certainly did so, and remembering how important libraries were to me growing up, I want to ask my readers to consider doing so as well. Or just send them a message of support, and make sure to support your local public library!
I probably could have gotten my new Jane Austen book (or at least each individual novel) from my public library, but I’ll be moving at some point next year, and I’m going to need the books through the year…to supplement my latest yarn club!
Are you a knittin’ (or crochetin’) Jane Austen fan? Then you might want to check out Castle Fiber’s Jane Austen yarn club (currently open for a limited number of pre-sale orders!). There will be 6 bi-monthly shipments of yarn, with the colorways and included patterns each inspired by a new Jane Austen novel. The pre-sale price is $150 plus shipping, and payment plans are available. Once the yarns have been knit, the Castle Fibers group on Ravelry will be doing RAL/KALs (read-along/knit-alongs). I’m already signed up–I’m the charter member!–and the club appears to be popular, so now is the time to check it out!