Sep 16, 2014

Face to Face with Ellen Airgood

When we first set eyes on Ellen Airgood, we have to confess that we didn’t realize it was her. We foolishly fell into the trap of thinking that a writer is just a writer. And didn’t realize that, like The Mom, Ellen Airgood is a woman who wears many hats (or in this case glasses and a purple bandana). The image of Ellen Airgood on the book jacket is as different from "real life Ellen" as Clark Kent is different from Superman, and if you really look, it is obvious. 
The Big Sister, Ellen Airgood, The Little Sister
Hiding behind Prairie Evers and South of Superior
photo credit: BFWP
We happened upon Ellen Airgood on glorious summer day in Grand Marais, Michigan just about one year ago. We took leap and invited her to do an impromptu interview (during the dinner hour, no less). And thankfully the beloved Michigan author of South of Superior was willing to emerge from the kitchen of the West Bay Diner, transform into "Ellen the writer" (she shed a bit of flour and removed her purple bandana), and joined us at our table for a short interview. All the while we enjoyed our dinner at Ellen Airgood's super hero hideout... The West Bay Diner.

 The following is a slightly abridged version of our interview:
BFWP: That moment we saw you earlier you blended perfectly into the restaurant, flour, purple bandana and all, what were you putting in the oven?  It looked like brownies, maybe?
Ellen Airgood:  It was cream cheese brownies!
(Note dear reader that The West Bay Diner was full of the scent of freshly baked brownies, can you smell it?! Okay, back to the interview.)
BFWP: We have to admit when we first saw you we thought, “Who is she?” And then looking at your book jacket, we realized “that’s her, that’s the author of South of Superior!”
The West Bay Diner Grand Marais, Michigan
Photo credit: BFWP
Ellen Airgood:   And not everybody recognizes the bandana. They had me take my glasses off for the book jacket photo and they had me wear makeup, which I don’t  – I had never done before.
First question from The Dad:
The Dad:  My question is about Prairie Evers, did you have any particular inspiration for the book, did you feel like “I’ve got to write a book about this”?
Ellen Airgood:  I did.  It was really cool.  Prairie was a writing gift to me.  And I don’t know if I’ll ever have another gift like that.  I got a grant from the State of Michigan in the winter of 2000 – to write a book, so I closed the diner down and I spent the winter writing a young adult novel.  It was called Tin Camp Road.  I worked really, really hard on it.  And I think, if you read it, you’d think, “Wow.  She worked really, really hard on this,” which is not really the effect you want in a novel. Well, I did it.  And then I thought, because I had to do writing workshops in schools, which I did around the U.P.   And I had to do a reading, which was very traumatic.  And I had a heckler, so I got that out of my way, right away.  And I had to write a novel, which I did, and I had to send it to my state rep, which I didn’t even know who they were, so I learned something.
BFWP:  And that was all a part of the grant?
Ellen Airgood:  That was part of the grant.  And it was the first time I got paid anything, well, I had made twenty-five dollars for winning an essay contest in the Old Farmer’s Almanac once.  And I had won a couple writing contests and got published in Dare Magazine.  But to actually make a little – I mean, it wasn’t some huge amount.  But it was real money from the grant, so that made me feel like a writer.  So, anyway, I finished that book.  And we were getting ready to reopen the diner.  And I was sitting on my bed.  It was raining.  It was April.  And I was, I wasn’t even trying to write another book.  I’m like “I’m so” – “I’m done.”  I mean, good – good to go.  I’ve got to go back to work.  And I heard this voice in my head, and Prairie said, “Folks said it could not be done, but I did it.”  And I literally – I was like, “What?”  It was like somebody talking in my head. That does not, happen usually, and I’m not that kind of writer.  
We couldn’t help but interrupt her with wows and ohhh, at this point.
Ellen Airgood:  I’ve written a lot, but I’ve never had that kind of thing happen.  And so I actually – I took scrap pages from this other book, the one I worked so hard on, and flipped them over, and I started – and I wrote that down.  I still have those pages somewhere.
The Dad:  Oh, cool.
Ellen Airgood:  And she told me she had moved from North Carolina to New York State, and that she hated it, that her grandma had always homeschooled her, and now she was going to have to go to public school, and she hated it, and that there were a lot of very gossipy people around, and that she hated that.  But she obviously wasn’t an unhappy kid, she was just very – she was like a force of nature.  She just had something to say, and she said it.  And that’s how I met Prairie.  And if I ever had that happen to me again in life, it would be awesome, but I don’t necessarily expect that.
BFWP:  What a cool story, can you tell us more about the work you did in schools?
Ellen Airgood:  One of the writing workshops that I had done was in Sault Ste. Marie, a tribal school.  And I am not a teacher.  I am not trained as a teacher.  I am trained as a scientist, and I work in, I run a restaurant.
The Mom:  Science! What did you study?
Ellen Airgood:  I have a Bachelor’s of Science in natural resources from the University of Michigan.  I wanted to work outside.  
The Mom:  Oh, that’s incredible.
We were amazed that Ellen could stay on point with all four of us interacting with her story —our “interview” was much more of a series of interruptions…
Ellen Airgood:  But a student there actually was the inspiration for Ivy -- the character Ivy in this book.  While working at the school a boy told his story very courageously about something that had happened in his family, which, as a non teacher, I wasn’t prepared for.  It happened during the writing exercise** (I’d usually done with veterans): write for five minutes, or ten if they’re older,  starting with, “I remember.”  And I offer them the chance to read aloud after.  So kids are saying, “I remember going to the fair” or “I remember Christmas,” or like -- all these fun – and then he stood up, and he said, “I remember,” and he told about something extremely traumatic.  And I was like, “Oh, I’m an idiot.”  Because it didn’t even dawn on me. He was very grateful and courageous.  And he stayed with me.  He still stays with me.  I don’t know his name – you know, I never saw him again.  
BFWP:  And that inspiration was the character Ivy?
Ellen Airgood:  For Ivy.  So that was a – kind of a long answer to your question.
Then The Mom got to ask her question:
The Mom: Do you have a favorite author, a go-to writer to inspire you, a muse?  Do you get inspiration from a writer?
Ellen Airgood:  Well, I can never pick a favorite writer, you know, but, like, I can – there’s a lot of great writers.  And I just – all I can ever do is say some books I recently read. Because I freeze like a deer in the headlights.  And since this came out, I’ve done a lot of book talks and stuff, which I really enjoy.  But every single time, they’re like, “Who’s your favorite writer?”  I’m like “Um, um, ahh” – I do read.  I mean, I like to read, you know?  I read voraciously.
The Dad:  Yeah.  There are so many good books!
Ellen Airgood:  I just read a book called, When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.
The Mom:  Ooh, that’s one of our favorites. It’s in our camper right now!
Ellen Airgood:  Isn’t that an amazing book?  And then “As Small as an Elephant,” which I just loved, another – so these are all middle grades, just because we’re talking about Prairie.  I mean, I love Dickens, and I love Steinbeck, and I love, I love – I don’t know what I — But have you guys read Kate DiCamillo?
The Mom:  Oh, yes, every single book!  
Ellen Airgood:  All right!
The Mom:  Well, we just love books. 
The Little Sister who happens to be a budding pasty chef and can handle her home kitchen like a seasoned pro was ready with the next question:
The Little Sister: What’s it like to be a chef in a restaurant?
Ellen Airgood:  It’s a very demanding job, and it’s really fulfilling. It’s both.  It’s the best of times and the worst of times.  
The Mom:  What role do you play in the restaurant? 
Ellen Airgood:  You guys (she asks some diners sitting at a table nearby) what do I do here?
A sweet couple at a nearby table became a part of the moment...
A “regular” named John:  It would be much easier for her to tell you what she doesn’t do.
The Mom:  Doesn’t do? 
At this point we all laugh and the interview becomes a little hard to follow, we’ll pick up as Ellen explains how she arrived at the kitchen’s door:
The Sisters and their first REAL Malts.
Ellen Airgood:  I married into it (the restaurant business).  When I was a little kid, one of my favorite things was to go into town to the bakery.  I loved that place.  And I have such specific memories.  And then when I graduated from college, people say, “What are you going to do?”  And I didn’t know.  And I kept saying, “You know, open a bakery.”  And I was totally kidding.  I mean, I thought I was kidding. And then I’d ask my sister stuff like, “Do you remember when we went to Kentucky when I was ten, and we ate at that little tiny restaurant that had those little white, thick china cups and the hot chocolate had whip cream on it?” And she’s like, “No.”
The Mom:  And you remember the details!
Ellen Airgood:  So that kind of thing, I think I was really drawn to the food and then the really, really spooky thing happened, my sister has the letter… I while ago I lived in New Hope, New York for a year (which is where Prairie Evers was set).  And I wrote my sister a letter.  And I don’t know why or how there’s this line that says, “Maybe I’ll restore a diner and open it someday.”
More ooohs and ahhs from the tables. 
The Mom:  No, way!!
The amazingly renovated diner.
Ellen Airgood:  Now, there are a lot of diners on the East Coast and  this was two years before it actually happened.  And I had no intentions of doing something like – but – well, not two years – I shouldn’t say that!  It was seventeen years before we did the diner, but it was two years before I married into the restaurant business.  
The Mom:  That’s so amazing.
Ellen Airgood:  So it’s very demanding, very, very demanding. For twenty-some years, a lot of the year, I have worked anywhere from twelve to seventeen hours a day, six or seven days a week.  It takes a lot of focus and a lot of dedication, but a lot of – that’s the first of my life – happened here, too.  And you meet friends. 
The Mom:  Including the friends that are sitting right here.  And I can’t remember their names, but their names are – what are your names?
Genie:  Genie and John.
The Mom:  Genie and John.  How do you spell “Genie,” Genie?
Genie: G E N I E.  It’s short for “Eugenie.”
The Mom:  “Eugenie.”  
The Dad:  That’s beautiful.
The Mom:  Beautiful name.
GENIE:  Thank you.
JOHN:  She popped out of a bottle for me.
The Mom:  I’d say.  Well, that explains your smiles.  Lots of wishes come true between the two of you. 
Dear Reader please note: this couple was adorable and we continued a conversation with them about their sweet love story —we were enamored and elevated (In case they read this: "Hi John and Genie! We hope you’re well.") 
Now back to The Big Sister’s question:
The Big Sister: So how do you juggle the restaurant and writing, and what is your daily schedule, as far as writing goes?
Ellen Airgood:  It’s very – it’s turned into a really hard juggle.  And that’s a really good question.  I haven’t quite figured it out yet.  Prairie Evers I wrote long before I wrote South of Superior, although South of Superior was published first.  And I didn’t – back then, nobody cared if I finished a book or anything.  It was just something I was doing.  It was between me and Prairie.  And I worked on it – not steadily, but off and on for five years.  And then South of Superior, I worked on it when I had time, for seven years.  So that’s how I juggled it, by taking a long time. 
The Mom:  Wow.
The Dad:  Thank you so much.
Ellen Airgood:  You’re welcome.  
She happily takes some time to ask about us as she signs our books!
Ellen Airgood:  Here you go, guys.
The Big Sister:  Thank you.
Ellen Airgood:  Can I have a widespread hug -- 
We share an unforgettable hug-moment. 
The Mom:  Hugging.  Hugging is good. 
The Little Sister: Bye! 
Ellen Airgood:  Bye.  Good luck with that cooking thing!
The Mom:  Who knows?  Maybe by the time you’re ready to retire, she’ll be in the market to take over a restaurant.  What do you think?
Ellen Airgood:  Well, keep in touch.
You bet we will Ellen!! 

That night we had a delicious meal, made three new friends, and we all fell in love with a restaurant, with a lifestyle and fell in love all over again with the stories behind the books. There are always so many stories aren’t there?! Thank you Ellen Airgood, we'll see you soon.
Now for more on Ellen Airgood, start clicking away! 
  • Read the story behind the diner, written by Ellen for the New York Times: A Side Order of Romance, Please
  • Learn more about Ellen at her blog, including a "Bucket List" story about things she plans to do --including making a dress inspired by none other than The Mom (she even shared my photo! Thanks Ellen!): Bucket List
  • Listen to Ellen on NPR's Weekend Edition: Novel Takes Place 'South of Superior'
  • Want to meet Ellen? We highly recommend it! If you live in the Traverse City area Ellen is making an appearance at Horizon Books on October 25, 2014. A talk at 2pm, followed by a Q&A and book signing. Jill Beauchamp, Events Coordinator at Horizon books shared, "we love Michigan authors and Ellen Airgood is one of our best sellers!" Hope to see you there.
  • **Writing Assignment: do the "I remember" exercise Ellen explained above! Share it with us if you feel inclined!
  • Find Ellen Airgood's Books at your local libraryclick here!
  • Find Ellen on Facebook: Ellen Airgood Author
  • Visit the West Bay Diner on Facebook

Words of Wisdom from the Diner's blackboard: 
"Such as are your habitual thoughts, such also will be the character 
of your mind; for the soul is dyed by 
the thoughts." -Marcus Aurelius


Aug 12, 2014

The Perfect Book to Read on #WorldElephantDay

The Little Sister's Suggestion for World Elephant Day:

An Elephant and Piggie Book
by Mo Willems

Elephant and Piggie books never get old.
Happy #WorldElephantDay!

Aug 8, 2014

A BFWP Story: The Little Sister's Discovery

A BIG UPDATE: Carbon Dating reveals she discovered a rare, extinct Eastern Elk! 
Read all about it!

Earlier this year The Little Sister made the discover of a lifetime: what may be an ancient elk. If not ancient, it may be an extinct Eastern Elk. The size of the antlers alone make it a very special beast. With the help of The Books for Walls project (her family), a team of scientific advisors and her amazing community, she has committed to researching the Elk and learning all about his past.

Click this link to learn the whole story --better yet, for as little at $1 contribution to her science research you can set the early scoop on all of the details!




Jul 21, 2014

Are you an Archeolibrarianologist?

This seemed perfectly fitting considering The Little Sisters plunge into Zooarcheology of late

A little bookish fun. Hope you are digging some good books.


Jul 7, 2014

A Reluctant Reader Can Become a Ravenous Reader with an Adventure at the Library

"If you're gonna do one thing for your kids, 
teach them to read." Rick Riordan


Rick Riordan was 12 or 13, James Patterson was 19, Diane Rehm was 21, and The Dad was 28, at these "late ages" each finally found their way to book love. Sadly, these wonderful people would have been considered reluctant readers in elementary school, fortunately all went to become ravenous readers. What made it happen? Was it worth the wait? How do we help the reluctant readers in our lives fall in love with reading?

"For many years we had 6 to 7 o'clock, that was our reading time," Rick Riordan shared. "I don't care what you're reading, but you're reading. I'm reading too, because if the parents say they're too busy to read, well, of course the kids are going to feel the same way." According to Rick if you want a child in your life to read it's all about what you do, not what you say.  We agree, The Four of Us read whenever we have a moment and make certain there are tons of books to choose from because as James Patterson explains one of the keys to getting kids to read is "freedom of choice." The Big Sister believes that any child would like to read, "they just have to find the right book, it may be a comic book, but that is a start!" The Little Sister adds, "Calvin and Hobbes is great book to read!"

Go on an adventure with your reluctant reader: together visit the library. Make sure you have time to wander and discover. And make sure you take turns, let your child watch you try to find a good book. And don't be afraid to ask for help, find a librarian, ask them how to go on a library treasure hunt. Then schedule your library adventures regularly, mark them on the calendar and plan accordingly. Whatever you do the first step is simple: grab a book and start reading!



Apr 18, 2014

Library Love Stories and BFWP's Top Ten Reasons We Love Our Library

This week is  National Library Week (April 13-19, 2013) so we were thinking about why we love our library.  We'll give you our top ten and an invitation to tell us your library love stories.  


Learn more: http://atyourlibrary.org/national-library-week
Why We Love Our Library* --The Top Ten (and believe us there are many more!)
  1. Our librarians know us by name and they are the best in the WORLD.
  2. They don't hold it against us when we check out our limit (40 books per person that's 160 total and we have maxed out.)
  3. "The library is nice and Quiet." (The Dad)
  4. Two words: Interlibrary Loan.  Book from Ohio, no problem, oh and no charge.
  5. There is always a book I wasn't expecting just waiting, for me. (The Mom)
  6. During flu season, I've watched as they carefully wipe down books and stand them on their spines in a row to dry, so lovely, like little inspiration soldiers all ready to get back to the field.
  7. "Has all the books we like and great owners." (The Little Sister)
  8. The entire catalog is online so we can browse and hold books anytime of the day, the Mom is known to do her best browsing late night.
  9. "So many great books that you can borrow for free." (The Big Sister)
  10. They email us three days before the books are overdue... so we can just go online and renew them (up to SIX times!)
(* We consider "our" library to be Interlochen Library, but it is part of the Traverse Area District Library --and without their Woodmere Branch and its amazing selection, we would have to Interlibrary Loan a bit more!)

Feel free to share any library love stories or tell us about your favorite library in the Comments below.  

This is an updated reprint from the BFWP Vault.

Apr 13, 2014

Celebrating: Detroit Public Library

Main Library opened: March 1921, the north and south wings were opened June 1963
Mission: "The Detroit Public Library enhances quality of life for the diverse and dynamic community in the city of Detroit. The Library enlightens and empowers its citizens to meet their lifelong learning needs through open and equitable access to information, technology and cultural/educational programs."
Collection Size: 8.3 million "4 million government documents, 4 million books, 150,000 audio recordings, and 100,000 video recordings. The remaining 50,000 are spread across electronic databases, print and electronic subscriptions to magazines and newspapers, and the archival collections plus "museum collectibles" in the Library's Special Collections units."
Collection Available Digitally: Approximately 5% of the 4 million books and approximately 1/3 of 4 million documents.
Current Director: Jo Anne Mondowney
Visited: May 20, 2011






On a beautiful Friday afternoon in May 2012, The Four of Us entered The Detroit Public Library's Main Branch. The Mom returned to an old favorite place; The Dad and The Sisters discovered a new favorite place. In a nutshell, this is what we learned: knowledge is power, education is freedom, which are free gifts to those who choose to use the Detroit Public Library.
The Mom, The Little Sister, The Big Sister -out from behind our books- 
with our new friend Uzoma Onyemaechi
We were welcomed by Uzoma Onyemaechi, Assistant Director for Main Library, or "Mr. Uzo", as he invited The Sisters to call him. We explained our goals for the visit: to learn all about Detroit Public Library, about its past, present and future and to ask three questions.

Question #1: What is the most interesting item held in the library's collection? After a short, thoughtful pause Uzo answered, "there is not one thing," and then lead the way to show us exactly what he meant. All along the way Uzo, an excellent guide, shared his vast knowledge of Detroit Public Library.
This painting sits opposite the Burton Historical Collection and was donated 
by Timothy Oriki, the artistWe learned that many people choose to donate art to the library. While art museums charge a fee to view art, libraries are free and DPL is full of art, for free!
Touring the Music and Performing Arts Department --oh, the sheet music, The Sisters were in heaven. And how about a treasure trove of record albums, 50,000?

A display of the E. Azalia Hackley Collection "presented to the DPL by the Detroit Musicians Association to serve as the nucleus for a special black music collection." Over the years the collection has grown in size and scope, unmatched indeed.
Upon entering the Burton Historical Collection, we were immediately drawn in as Uzo told the story of its remarkable history. The Sister's ears perked up as they heard names like Barack Obama, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Abraham Lincoln mingled with their own. Mr. Uzo described the amazing genealogical resources to The Sisters "since your Mom and her family are from Detroit, you will find information about her, your grandparents, great grandparents. People come from all over, finding out about their families." The Burton Historical Collection is a genealogy lover's dream
"At the moment that we persuade a child, any child, to cross that threshold, that magic
threshold into a library, we change their lives forever, for the better." Barack Obama
Our nation's current events are also represented within the walls of the Burton Historical Collection, "President Obama was in this room," Mr. Uzo told the wide eyed Sisters.  During his campaign in 2008 Obama spoke to a huge crowd if front of DPL; he chose to get ready in the Burton Historical Collection near the statue of Abraham Lincoln and Joe Biden, "the Vice President is a base ball fan," chose the  Ernie Harwell Collection
No beard, beard. Which Abraham Lincoln would you vote for? 
And the stories continued! Periodically"the Library of Congress sends guards here to borrow a letter to display which is a part of our collection." This letter, said to be worth over $1,000,000, is written by a young girl named Grace Bedell who suggested to Abraham Lincoln that he "let his whiskers grow... you would look a great deal better..." Many believe that without this letter from Grace Bedell, a beardless Abraham Lincoln may have lost the election. We learned all about Clarence Burton the man who had the vision to begin the collection so many years ago. All of the wonderful stories stopped us, for a moment transfixed, in the immense importance of what is held within the walls of the Burton Historical Collection.
Grace Bedell's Letter with amazing penmanship! To read her letter and have a closer look, click here.
Read and view President Lincoln's response in his letter held by the Library of Congress.
__________
BONUS INTERVIEW with Mark Bowden, Coordinator for Special Collections at DPL
What is your favorite part of working with the collection? "As Coordinator for Special Collections, I'm responsible for the five collections housed at the Library:  Burton, Rare Books, E. Azalia Hackley Collection of African Americans in the Performing Arts, Ernie Harwell Sports Collection, and the National Automotive History Collection.  One of my favorite parts of my job is making a presentation to groups called "Bibles to Baseballs:  Treasures of the Detroit Public Library's Special Collections" where I display about 50 items that document our local and national heritage.  Many are singular items of cultural, historical, and literary significance: Sumerian clay cone (2100 BCE), illuminated Book of Hours (15th century), George Washington's diary, Abraham Lincoln documents, Mark Twain and Laura Ingalls Wilder manuscripts, Fisk Golden Jubilee Singers scrapbook, Motown promotional materials, carbon copy of the Tigers' purchase of Ty Cobb's contract etc.  I'm extremely fortunate and honored to be the caretaker of collections of such variety and cultural richness."
Do children ever come to do research? "Rarely. We did, however, have a group of Detroit fifth graders do some research from our biographical files. Each child was assigned a prominent Detroit or Michigan African American from among several categories such as business, education, politics, and religion They had to take notes or make photocopies of the material and then write a paper about that person."
Do people every cry over things they find there? "One woman found her estranged father listed in the Social Security Death Benefit Index as having died two years earlier and she did quietly shed a few tears."
__________



A state of the art, freshly renovated
area, incredibly inviting.
Question #2: Why do you think libraries are an important part of a community? To us, the answer was clear by the abundant resources around each corner and on each shelf.  Uzo pointed out a few highlights: the seasonal tax center where the Accounting Aid Society offers free tax preparation by volunteers. On days the tax help is offered "there are lines before the library opens and the volunteers help as many people as they are able." And then there is The Technology, Literacy, and Career Center (TLC Center) offering help with everything from finding a job to learning to read, one on one. Through the glass window we witnessed an encouraging staff member helping a middle aged man, hands hovering above keyboard, tentatively, learningUzo clarified how important these types of resources are, used concepts like "Digital Divide" and explained that the library gives access to information and technology that otherwise would be unavailable to many citizens. Smiling, Uzo shared a tidbit of his own story: his father encouraged him with the idea that "education is freedom". Thanks to Detroit Public Library so many people find education and freedom, including the often overlooked and under served citizens. 

Happy Teens @ DPL
Enter H.Y.P.E. (Helping Young People Excel) Teen Center, you must be 13-18 years old to get in on this action --we were allowed, our Tour Guide, the privilege of a quick visit to witness the magic. This is what we saw: one group of kids playing the latest music video game; others huddled over books; a stage, waiting an impromptu performance; big, flat screens a-buzz with entertainment, children clicking away on computers, learning; a room filled with the loud hush of happy kids; comfy chairs for quite reading; and adults with a watchful eyes, ready to help and provide whatever these fortunate young patrons needed. Perhaps H.Y.P.E. should stand for Happy Young People Excel.
__________
BONUS INTERVIEW with Oneka D. (Wilson) Samet, Teen Services Specialist at the H.Y. P.E Teen Center:
What do you do every day at H.Y.P.E.? "As the Librarian, my task is to make sure the center runs smoothly and the teens have books to read. But most importantly, I am a resource for the teens. One of my nickname's is Oneechan. That is a Japanese translation of Big Sister. I order the materials, plan programming and keep the room organized. The teens are very talented and they love sharing those things with others. So I try to plan programming that encourages those talents or helps manifest those that they don't know."
Have you had an experience with a teen that stands out that you wouldn't mind sharing? "I'm very proud that many of our teens use their experience here as an amplifier for real life. There is a group of teens that meet here to practice writing music. We've let them practice and perform for the other teens here. Just yesterday, I went to their school to see them perform their pieces at the Spring Concert. I was really proud of the practice and effort that I saw them put into preparing for that moment. We have many moments like that here. Teens enjoy writing poetry and participate in our Citywide Poets program. It is very refreshing to see them get up on our stage and perform an original piece of poetry that they have written, edited, researched and now perform. These are the young people that will lead our society in the future."
The HYPE stage, ready for action.
What did you want to be when you were young? Did you think you'd love working in a library? "I went to Oak Park High School when I was a teenager. The library was literally across the street and I was one of those teens who did not want to be at home. I wanted to get away from my siblings and hang out with my friends so I spent a lot of time at the library. It was the people there who made the difference. It was John Martin, the Director of the library, who encouraged my love of the library, reading, and writing. I met great authors at my library like Gwendolyn Brooks and Julius Lester who encouraged me to write everyday. I fell in love with fantasy novels like the Wizard of Oz series and The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck. When I started college, I knew I loved books so I majored in English but I remembered my days as a young person at the library and wanted to pursue it even more so that I could have a positive influence like Mr. Martin did for me."
__________ 

Question #3: How can children support the library? Mr Uzo listed some suggestions: 
Adam Strohm Hall ceiling
One of our last stops and a moment that is etched solidly in our memories is when Uzo read the frieze of inscriptions that winds around the ceiling of Adam Strohm Hall. On the ceiling they are blended into one statement, but after doing a bit of research and learning that divided and credited, the quotes are no less moving:
"To promote self development by ample facilities for wide reading, in an atmosphere of freedom and morality." Sir John MacAlister, we think he was the founder of The School of Librarianship --we are still researching him (1856-1925)
"Read not to contradict and confute nor to believe and take for granted, but to weigh and consider." Francis Bacon, philosopher (1561-1626)
"Through seas of knowledge we our course advance, discovering still new worlds of ignorance." John Denham, poet (1615-1669)

"Books are the most enduring monuments of a man's achievements. Through them, civilization becomes cumulative." Cass Gilbert (1859-1934) the architect of the 1921 Main Library (An interesting fact we found when researching: the 1963 addition was designed by his son Cass Gilbert Jr. and Francis J. Keally.)
Our tour lead us all over an amazing library and everywhere we looked we wanted to know more and we didn't even begin using the library, we were just experiencing it as a placeDuring our visit and follow up research we spoke to several other members of DPL staff including Randolph Call, Assistant Director for Technical Services at DPL. He shared data about the library's collection and noted yet another wonderful truth: "libraries are community centers, a safe place for everyone." We'd like to thank Randolph, Mark, Steve, Janet, Oneka, Uzo and all of the staff and volunteers at Detroit Public Library. With their help we learned that libraries are so much more than just book repositories; libraries are portals through which we can visit our past and find our future; libraries are a free gift to our present, if only we learn how to use them.

During our research found an amazing resource "Detroit Public Library: Information for Readers and Visitors", originally published in 1922, the book is full of unmatched information about the historic building, click this link and enjoy the digitized version. Thank you to Kathy Daniels who is an amazing editor! (re)Discovering Detroit Public Library is dedicated to the memory of Dan Daniels. The Mom's Uncle Dan loved DPL and was very proud of the Burton Historical Collection. We think he would be proud that we are carrying on his library love legacy! (This article was originally published in 2012.)