Collections of Beautiful Libraries

Finding the Coolest Libraries

Cindy Thomson's baseball library.

I like my library, but it hasn’t made any lists yet.

I thought about writing a post on the coolest libraries in the country, but the truth is, I haven’t been to them all. There are lots of other bloggers out there posting about cool libraries. Some of them even hold weddings!

So, I thought I’d just share some links with you rather than reinvent the wheel. I hope you’ll enjoy browsing. They all are heavy on the graphics so you can just sit and enjoy. Like I did.

The World’s Coolest Libraries

The Best Libraries in the World–the one in Mexico City looks like a warehouse to me, but those European ones are amazing! I have been to Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, and had a hard time leaving. So much to just gaze upon!

25 of the Most Beautiful College Libraries in the World–Trinity College shows up here again, as well as the one in Cambridge. I’m more drawn to the historical buildings, but there is some amazing architecture here. Lots of arch shapes. Is that to complement the linear shape of the books?

Cindy Thomson's home office library.

Maybe I need arches somewhere in my office.

Beautiful-Libraries.com–Local Public Libraries–The New York Public Library–main branch was another I had trouble leaving. I just wanted to stare and gaze up, you know? I went to the room where they keep maps and the ceiling was lower and maybe that’s why I was able to get some research done. Just walking the halls was amazing.

Beautiful Libraries Large and Small–a board on Pinterest

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Libraries in America at the Turn of the Twentieth Century

Let’s Go to Library!

4591742865_db3f2630e1_zHow many times have we said it? Most of us can get to our local library within minutes and check out an armful of books and movies. We can ask a librarian to look something up for us, even while we’re at home on our computers. There is never a reason to be without a book. I love libraries. Just sitting inside on a rainy, cold day is comforting and inviting.

 

 

But our great grandparents did not have it so easy. The existence of neighborhood libraries  now is a testament to how far we’ve come in making literacy, education, knowledge, and reading enjoyment accessible to the masses.

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The Man Who Built the Libraries

Of course he didn’t build them all, but Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish-American businessman and philanthropist built over 2,500 of them. He grew up with a love of books, borrowing them from personal libraries whenever he could. When he began building public libraries he started near where he lived, in Scotland and in Pittsburgh, PA. But he soon gave away money all over the country to those who would build his libraries for him. There were 104 public Carnegie libraries built in Ohio alone, plus eight academic libraries using grants given between 1899-1915.

Memorial Libraries

But Carnegie wasn’t the only one in the early twentieth century building libraries. All over the country there are memorial libraries that are still in use today, ranging in size from magnificent to quaint. These memorial libraries inspired me to have my character Annie Gallagher desire to build one for her father in Annie’s Stories.

Here are two I’ve visited:

VermontLibrary

This one is in Weston, Vermont. It’s called the Wilder Memorial Library. Absolutely stunning woodwork inside. There is barely room enough for a handful of people inside. It was named for the judge who lived there, John Wilder. He was also the postmaster, state representative, and senator. When he died his daughter donated the house for the purpose of a library. You could drive right by and not realize what a gem waits inside. I almost did. Below is the outside.

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You would not be able to miss the Wagnalls Memorial Library built in 1925 should you visit the small town of Lithopolis, Ohio. It is quite a bit larger than the Vermont one as you can see below:

 

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Photos from the library’s web site: http://www.wagnallslibrary.org/

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I had the opportunity to give a talk in a room at this library several years ago. I really need to go back for a tour, though. It’s gorgeous.

What memorial libraries or special libraries can you tell me about?

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6 Novels Genealogists Will Love

But wait, might there be more than six novels genbuffs will enjoy?

First, don’t shoot the messenger. There are surely more than six novels someone researching their genealogy will enjoy, but these are some that come to mind for me, and in case you haven’t read them, I hope I’ll be introducing you to some new reading enjoyment. And go ahead and suggest more in the comments section! (These are in no particular order.)

 

1. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

  • Why?ATreeGrows
    • Not only will the reader come away with a sense of time and space so accurate because the writer lived it, but he/she will also embrace this coming of age story because of course all our ancestors had to face growing up. Some themes are universal and this novel helps us realize that struggles and disadvantages can be learned from and moved past.

2. A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner

  • afallofmarigoldsWhy?
    • Because so many Americans had ancestors who came through Ellis Island, some having to stay for a while like the character in this novel. Because some lessons are learned over and over again. Susan’s novel explores that concept by using a parallel modern story relating to 9-11 in New York City.

 

3. Her Mother’s Hope by Francine Rivers

  • Why?
    • Because we arresized_her_mothers_hopee a product of our genes and upbringing, not doomed to be shackled but destined to grow through our disadvantages and become our own. Rivers explores this theme with an immigrant main character who is determined to fulfill her mother’s hope for her without repeating what she sees as her mother’s faults. Only the strong survive, and she’s determined to make sure her own daughter realizes this. A powerful message of what our ancestors probably experienced a the effect this determination had on their children.

4. Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

  •  Why?
  • Hotel_on_the_Corner_of_Bitter_and_Sweet_cover
  • This is another generation story illustrating the divide between the immigrant parents and their children who grew up in America. It also examines the prejudices prevalent during WWII on the west coast.

5. Galway Bay by Mary Pat KellyGalwayBay

  • Why?
    • Because millions of Americans have ancestors who migrated from Ireland during the Potato Famine. This is the fictionalized story of Kelly’s ancestors, but it could be yours.

6. whenwewereWhen We Were Strangers by Pamela Schoenewaldt

  • Why?
    • Because I know many of you have Italian roots and will love this story. While it’s another story of struggle (our ancestors surely did overcome obstacles) it explores the American-Italian culture in the Midwest and explores how friendships could become family. The character finds her purpose in the end, and that’s what we all want, isn’t it?
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Your Chance to Influence Book Three of the Ellis Island Series!

Reader Feedback!

I’m looking for your thoughts about what you’d like to see (or not see) in book three of the Ellis Island Series, Sofia’s Tune. No promises, but I might be influenced by what you all say! After all, these books are for YOU! And those of you who’ve read the first two books probably have some great ideas. Now’s your chance to share them!

This poll only lasts a week, so please chime in and send your reading friends over!

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Happy 75th Anniversary Wizard of Oz!

Wizard of Oz Turns 75!

If you look around in bookstores, on the Internet, and on television, you’re bound to notice sooner or later that this year marks the 75th anniversary of the movie The Wizard of Oz! This is a great time for fans of the movie to pick up memorabilia dedicated to this special birthday.

Annie's Stories Wizard of Oz

Wizard of Oz Merchandise

What collectables have you seen? 
Wizard of Oz Where is Annie's Stories?
Wizard of Oz for Annie's Stories
My friend Sandy sent me this card as I was working on the manuscript for Annie’s Stories

Wizard of Oz trashcan
She later sent me this for St. Patrick’s Day!

Wizard of Oz and Annie’s Stories

Of course I’d love for folks to include my new book Annie’s Stories in their collectables when gathering up items in this special landmark year. Long before the movie there was the book, you know. And I thought it would be interesting to explore what folks at the time thought of L. Frank Baum’s tale. From the New York Times, September 8, 1900 (Baum’s launch week of his new book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.)

“In ‘The Wonderful Wizard of Oz’ the fact is clearly recognized that the young as well as their elders love novelty.”
Now isn’t that the truth still today!
“There seems to be an inborn love of stories in child minds, and one of the most familiar and pleading requests of children is to be told another story.”
I certainly hope that’s still true!
“…it will indeed be strange if there be a normal child who will not enjoy the story.”
What an endorsement! :)

Do you love the story still today? If you’ve read Annie’s Stories, what part of what Annie read in the book resonated the most with you?

More Wizard of Oz Memorbilia

Because the cover of my book bears the cover of Baum’s book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, it makes a great collectable don’t you think?
Annie's Stories with the Wonderful Wizard of Oz
My friend Jaime Wright thinks so! :)
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Writer’s World Blog Tour

The Writer’s World Blog Tour Continues!

Fellow Tyndale author Cathy Gohlke invited me to join this blog tour. Several authors around the web will be answering the same questions. Below you’ll find my answers, but before I get to that, you should get to know Cathy and check out her books. I recommend them! Besides being a sister author over at Tyndale, she’s a wonderful weaver of tales. (At the end you can find out who I invited to continue the tour.)

Cathy Gohlke is the two-time Christy Award-winning author of the critically acclaimed novels Saving Amelie, Band of Sisters, Promise Me This (listed by Library Journal as one of the best books of 2012), William Henry is a Fine Name, and I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires (listed by Library Journal as one of the best books of 2008), which also won the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Book of the Year Award.

When not traipsing the hills and dales of historic sites in search of a story, Cathy and her husband divide their time between Northern Virginia and the Jersey Shore, thrilled with the new-every-morning joys of grandparenting.
Visit her online at www.cathygohlke.com and on FB at CathyGohlkeBooks.

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And now my part of the Writer’s World Blog Tour

What are you working on?


I’ve been busy promoting my latest release Annie’s Stories all summer. But now I’m beginning to get back to writing. I’m hoping to make some major progress on book three of the series (no publication date is set yet.) This book will feature an Italian immigrant who finds herself suddenly in need of a place to live because her Italian family can longer keep her due to a family secret that is threatening to take away her mother’s mental well-being. The male protagonist is a vaudeville pianist dreaming of being a concert musician and his sidekick is an adorable mutt everyone thinks looks just like the Victor dog on the record labels.
Photo by: The Sun and Doves via Flickr
After that I’ll be working on a different time period–a story with a contemporary line paired with a historical one that involves the Chicago Cubs in 1946.

Here’s a hint, something that will be an important part of the story:

Photo by: fourth photography via Flickr

And, if I decide I don’t need sleep or a clean house, I hope to put my out-of-print novel Brigid of Ireland out as an ebook along with a sequel I wrote years ago.–I guess these are my long-range plans, God willing!

How does your work differ from others in its genre?

In my Ellis Island series I’ve focused on a historical element that is well-known today: the Brownie camera, the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and the Victor dog and “His Master’s Voice.” I focus on the stories of our ancestors and what their lives (which I try to portray as appropriate to the times they lived it) have to teach us today.

Why do you write what you do?

I’m passionate about history and history’s lessons. I’m always exploring what the past can teach us and I believe God has instructed us to learn from the past and to keep the stories of our ancestors in our hearts as we journey along creating our own life stories.
Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.~Jeremiah 6:16 NIV


How does your writing process work?


The toughest question saved for the end! It really depends on whether or not I have a deadline. When I do, I’m committed to putting in several hours a day writing. When I don’t, no matter what I tell myself, I end up writing less. But basically I write full-time so whenever life events don’t get in the way, I’m in my office writing most days.

Learn more about my books on my “books” page tab above or click here.
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And next week continue the tour with these authors:


My friend Danica Favorite’s debut novel will be out this fall! Danica and I have the same agent and we’ve gotten to know each other at conferences and other events, and we both love tea so of course we hit it off!

A self-professed crazy chicken lady, Danica Favorite loves the adventure of living a creative life. She loves to explore the depths of human nature and follow people on the journey to happily ever after. Though the journey is often bumpy, those bumps are what refine imperfect characters as they live the life God created them for. Oops, that just spoiled the ending of all of Danica’s stories. Then again, getting there is all the fun. Her first book with Love Inspired Historical, Rocky Mountain Dreams, is out in November.

www.danicafavorite.com


Carole Brown and I met at our local Ohio ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) group. She has so much passion for writing and promoting her books in the marketplace that at times it’s difficult for me to try to keep up!

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons? 

http://sunnebnkwrtr.blogspot.com/

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Writing Again!

Really excited about the next few days!

My literary agency is holding its annual marketing seminar this Sat. in Nashville (and if you’re not repped by them, you can attend on Sun (same program repeated) for a fee: http://www.chipmacgregor.com/marketing-and-platforms/last-chance-join-us/)

So, I thought maybe I’ll go down to TN early and get a quiet place to stay and write. My husband liked the idea. He can come and golf and make me dinner–yay! And our anniversary falls during that time, and we get to have dinner when we first arrive with my friend editor Jamie Chavez! What could be better? I’m really planning to knuckle down on my next book so that when I get home I’ll be on a roll. Sounds like a plan!

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Happy 75th Anniversary Wizard of OZ!

While it’s been 75 years since MGM introduced the movie, my readers know the story has been around a lot longer than that. This fall will mark 114 years since L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was published.

But most folks are more familiar with the movie, and I have to admit it’s one of my all time favorites. Since the theme of Annie’s Stories is finding the place where your heart finds a home, I thought I’d celebrate with this clip.

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A Chance Encounter

I have met the most interesting people at Irish festivals, but at last weekend’s Dubin Irish Festival I did not expect this.

Listen, for you never know what wonders you may meet when you do.

It’s a lesson I’m continually learning. It’s way too easy to judge people by their appearance or mannerisms, or to not even notice them at all. When you are signing books in a tent with several other authors, spending hour after hour hoping you sell enough books to justify the time spent there, you notice people but maybe not for the right reasons.

The good reasons, the most valuable way to spend your time no matter where you are, is to look for who God may intend for you to meet and to respond. It’s not an easy thing to do at times. Let’s be honest. Some people go against the grain, grating on your tired nerves. But…listen when you have the opportunity, because if you don’t, you might miss something special.

An elderly couple came to my table, which was squished up against author Brenna Briggs’s books for young girls, mysteries involving an Irish dancer named Liffey Rivers. Brenna is a friend of mine. We’ve done these Irish festivals together before. (If you know of a reader in her target audience you should check out her books. http://www.liffeyrivers.com)

This particular couple intently studied a couple of my books and then some of Brenna’s. Brenna asked if they had children or grandchildren. They didn’t, but were still interested. The wife decided to buy a book from each of us. Then the husband commented on something he had seen in one of my books, Columcille. At Gethsemani, south of Louisville, Kentucky, the Irish brothers were often given the name Columcille.

Oh, right, that was where Thomas Merton was, Brenna and I remembered. We talked briefly about the man and his writings and soon it became clear that the man at our table knew quite a bit about Merton.

Thomas Merton, known as Father Louis.

“Did you know him?” Brenna asked.

“Oh, yes. He had a serious side, but he was very funny.” And he went on to tell a few stories as we signed books for his wife.

It turned out this man had been a Trappist monk at Gethsemani with Thomas Merton. I believe he said he was there for seven years. He obviously had moved on to other things, including getting married to the woman standing next to him who he said was “older”—by three hours, he joked. They’d been born on the same day.

Photo by Jay Paradis

We never would have imagined this man wearing dark sunglasses, a fishing hat, and a wide smile had been a monk or had met one of the deepest spiritual thinkers of the twentieth century, a man this fellow called “The greatest Catholic writer of the twentieth century.”

I felt blessed by the encounter and deeply honored that this couple planned to read one of my books. Our brief conversation reminded me that even those we look up to and perhaps stand in awe of are in fact ordinary people whose lives touch ordinary people who in turn move through life touching the lives of even more ordinary people, but often in extraordinary ways.

Thomas Merton (Father Louis) at Gethsemani

Gethsemani’s web site states: “Intently and joyfully, we live the mystery of Christ-among-us.” That’s the way to live, don’t you think?

I’ll keep trying to listen. I’m looking forward to the next surprise meeting!

“Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul.” ~ Thomas Merton

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Hear Me Talk About Annie’s Stories on This Show!

Always a delight to be on WATD, Boston, with Rob Hakala and Lisa Azizian. You can listen here!

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