musings about food, travel, creativity and life

On the Road to Inspiration

Libraries inspire me. I love reading, doing research in quiet nooks, finding unexpected intriguing books, and am married to a former school librarian! 

Luckily, we are currently in Ketchum, Idaho, which has a remarkable Community Library. (http://www.comlib.org). So many elements make this a special place. First of all, it has one of my favorite go-to spots in the winter–a large central fireplace where a real fire is always burning. Second, the library is a cultural hub for the community, providing classes and speakers throughout the year.  Two authors we have seen and heard are Anthony Doerr, an Idaho resident, who spoke about his All the Light We Cannot See and Jon Meacham, who discussed his book, The Soul of America. Third, the children’s library is both inviting and whimsical.

I also like the history of the library. Seventeen local women founded the library. They each contributed one dollar to a library fund, then opened the Gold Mine Thrift Store in 1955 “in a one-room log cabin to earn funds to build and operate a library.” The first library opened two years later.

Today, the library is more than thriving, and it is still entirely privately funded, with no tax dollars as a part of its operation. Currently located on almost an entire city block, it is going through a renovation. When I walked into the foyer, for example, expecting to see the traditional check out desk, I instead was greeted by an art show– over 20 yellow glass Ulysses Cylinders created by glasswork artist Dale Chihuly and his collaborator, Seaver Leslie, inspired by the James Joyce novel Ulysses. Wow!

And the Gold Mine Thrift Store is also still thriving and contributing all its profits to the running of the library. And we do our part by shopping there! Imagine finding inexpensive treasures and shopping guilt free, knowing that the money goes to a favorite institution.

This week’s library finds?   Though I went there hoping to find the cookbook Heirloom Kitchen that a friend recommended–not in the collection yet–I did check out a book by Gretchen Rubin called Outer Order, Inner Calm. I also discovered a brochure on a walking tour of places Ernest Hemingway frequented during his many years spent in this area. Every year, the library sponsors an Ernest Hemingway Seminar; this year’s September seminar will focus on For Whom The Bell Tolls.

SO…there you have it.   Let’s hear it for libraries, thrift stores with a good purpose, and one of The Community Library’s mottos: Be Mind Full. I like that.



12 thoughts on “On the Road to Inspiration”

  • You made me think about ALL the small libraries that open their doors across the country through the hearts and visions of their communities. What a lovely start to my day, Thank you Lynn…I’m off to my local library today. Diane

    • You’re so right, Diane. There are so many libraries that are there for information and inspiration for all and daytime respite for many. And there are all the Little Free Libraries (littlefreelibrary.org) in so many communities–sweet exchange areas for books. Have fun at your library–another good one! I wonder what you’ll pick up to read.

  • Hello dear Lynn,
    Your post stirs my soul. I, too, love libraries. I’m instantly flooded with childhood memories of the West Portal Library. Light flooding through transom windows, smell of ink and furniture polish, tantalizing rows of books in stacks waiting for my touch, my eyes. The San Francisco Public Library’s History Center gave me and Patricia Araujo, my painter friend, the most wonderful event last spring complete with 1939 GGIE memorabilia featured inside of Julia Morgan’s designed bookcases. Patricia’s paintings of the GGIE and text from my book, Beautiful Illusion, printed on banners floated on the walls. The Ketchum Community Library sounds divine in every way. I’m currently reading The Library Book by Susan Orlean. Do you know it? You and John would find it fascinating. It’s about the history and tragic burning of the LA Library in ’89. That said, I’m dreaming up ways to donate my novel to libraries if not across the USA then in California. If either you and John have any idea of how to execute such a plan, I’m all ears. The postage could be prohibitive, but perhaps there’s a way to fund that cost. A fan wrote to say she thought every library in the Us should have the novel, otherwise I would not be so bold to believe she may be right. Love, your old friend, Christie

    • Wow, Christie! So wonderful to hear from you and to hear of all the wonderful adventures you and your book are having…and will continue to have. I’ll e-mail you with ideas about your book distribution to libraries. Ah, yes, libraries–now and then. While you were happily surveying your West Portal Library, I was perusing the Irving Branch Library and during the summers the tiny one in Fairfax where I remember sitting on the floor and starting to read through my pile of six, as I recall, books. Weren’t we, aren’t we lucky to love books, libraries, and writing. As for The Library Book you mentioned, I gave it to John and will let you know what he thinks of it after he reads it. And now…I’m giving thanks for our friendship of many decades.

    • Yes. Isn’t that a great phrase! Another I saw at a nearby library goes something like “Reading helps the circulation.”

  • Our own Carmel Valley is blessed to have an excellent library. Housed in the Buckeye, the site of a former restaurant and bar, it is full of country charm. It is a favorite stop of our 4 1/2 year old granddaughter. On a recent visit here from Santa Barbara, she said, “Be sure we go to the library, Gram!” So of course we added it to our busy itinerary. She has been there already so many times that upon arriving, she walked in with confidence and ease, like she owns the place. And in a way she does. Libraries belong to all of us, don’t they! And they are busy everywhere, keeping our minds full!

    • Indeed, Trudy. Libraries are for all of us. How lucky we are to have such a fine one in our home area. And I love remembering its old configuration and all the fun I and friends had there. 💥🎈 And how great that your granddaughter feels so comfortable there❗️

  • I have found that libraries also have the cleanest bathrooms and often benches outside on which to picnic. Many a time while on the road in the wilds of Idaho while motoring from one fishing river to another, I’ve “dropped into” a library for those two reasons. I also have never meant a librarian I didn’t like. In my opinion, parks and libraries are the souls of a city.

    • Good points, Carrick. I especially love your reflection that “parks and libraries are the souls of a city.” How lovely. And how lucky we are to reap the benefits of those folks who had the vision to create these oases for us all.

  • My son and family are in Sun Valley right now. They go for 3 weeks in the summer and 2 weeks in the winter. Her parents are there also. They take the granddaughters to that library every summer and winter. They all love it. Love the Gold Mine also! We joined them last summer and enjoyed the library also. Also the fabulous free concerts!

    • Love this “small world” story. This area is pretty special in many seasons. The outdoor free concerts are such an upper. We’re fans of sitting out on the lawn with our picnic dinner enjoying both the music and the views of the mountains and the sky. Gifts, all. Glad you got to experience it!

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