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On Libraries

A truly wonderful, surprisingly great event was at the Jefferson Parish Library - East Bank (Girls Literary Night Out - March 24), where I joined two local writers Carroll Devine and Vicki Salloum. We discussed writing overall, as well as our backgrounds and experiences as writers. It was a very rainy night, but we had a good turnout. Carroll, Vicki, and I sat at a table and Chris asked us about our work, then turned it over to the audience.

At this point in the book tour, I am not only getting used to answering questions about the book and what it takes to be a short story writer, but I am really beginning to enjoy talking about my work. I suppose I am not the type of person who thinks anyone is all that interested in my process, so a lot of it is me understanding that yes, people are interested and they really want to know, for whatever reasons. I like the idea that I can help them write and feel better about their own stories, and if they are not published, then to help them in that regard as well. I am really thankful to Chris Smith, at JP Library. They have been very supportive of my work since last August (2015), when I was asked on a panel at their first Literary Festival.

Another library story happened last week when I was at my local New Orleans Library, and my sister ran over to me with a copy of the book (The Persimmon Trail and Other Stories) in her hands. She was surprised to see it on the shelf, and under Popular Fiction at that! I smiled, no actually, it was more of a gleeful chuckle when I saw it, with its library markings. How official, I thought. Now you've made it, Juyanne. HAHA. My sister wondered if I should sign the copy. I dared not, and did not.

Anyway, seeing the book there on the shelf of my local library made me feel as though I'd come full circle (of sorts); me, the little girl who always loved books. Me, the teenager who began to read so many of my favorite authors (Walker and Gaines, for example). Me, as a college student, who began to study the greats, the classics, the favored. Me, as a full adult, reading for pleasure. And me, quite often just hanging out at the library because that is where most of the books I read came from, where I rented music and used the library's services.

It also made me think about writers such as Richard Wright, who had to lie (and illegally so) just to be able to read a book from the library, and all those ancestors of mine who did whatever they could to get a book: to read, to learn, to become someone better than what was expected of them. For those people, but mostly for me, I felt really special seeing my book in the library.

I know that most of us go to the library for different reasons, and some people never go at all, but it is still a great place to be. Kids still hang out there after school, whether they are waiting for their parents or they just want to use the computer. I still smile when I see one of the librarians reading a book to a little group of children during the book reading hour. Ah, their faces, so full of the awesomeness of life. I still get books there. In short, the library is still a cool place to be. It's just a little more special for me, now that my book sits on one of the shelves.

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