Kelly Strom | Stories with fictional librarians

Kelly Strom | Stories with fictional librarians

We've just ended another fantastic National Library Week here in Champaign. We've had an author visit, musical performances, radio broadcasts, displays, story times and a painting party. Thank you to everyone in the community who helped us celebrate the values of libraries.

I've read a few books that feature the everyday lives of fictional librarians that I thought would be fun to let you know about. We're not all cardigan-wearing, finger-shushing, tight-bunned librarians. And despite what some kids think, we don't live at the library.

Try out these books for fun stories about some hard-working librarians.

"The Nearness of You" by crowd-favorite Dorothy Garlock takes place initially in 1937, where we meet a small family filled with love and light.

After the sudden death of her mother, the story jumps to 1952, when Lily Denton is grown up and working at the local public library. Although happy in Hooper's Crossing, in upstate New York, Lily has always been drawn to the big city and dreams of finding a more adventurous life.

When her friend Jane devises a plan to leave town in the middle of the night, she asks Lily to join her. Lily is all for it, until they start to pull away. Then she knows she'll miss the neighbors she's grown up with, the quiet streets, the quaint shops, but most of all her dad, Mayor Morris Denton.

So she jumps out of the getaway car and elects to stay in the sleepy town and find her path in life.

It's the time of year when the village hosts a huge fall festival, complete with games, music, crafts and great food. It brings in visitors from far and wide, including some who can only be described as unsavory. Most of the tourists are great, with lots of money to spend in Hooper's Crossing. But two of the guests have nefarious plans involving the local bank and it's next-to-nothing security detail. And one of them has an eye on sweet and pretty Lily.

Boone Tatum, a photographer from Life magazine, is also a guest, sent by the magazine to cover the event with shots of Americana. He's bored in this small town, accustomed to traveling to places like Cuba, France and Japan. But he may get more than he bargained for during the short trip to Hooper's Crossing.

This was a great story of different characters finding their way and coming together. At its heart, "The Nearness of You" is a traditional romance. This title is available in regular print, large print and e-book formats.

"Books Can Be Deceiving" by cozy mystery author Jenn McKinlay is the first in a new series featuring new library director Lindsey Norris. She arrived at the Briar Creek Public Library after losing her job as an archivist and following her best friend, Beth, the children's librarian.

The characterizations of the library staff was a hoot, and it was fun to see them interact. Also in town is a Caldecott Award-winning children's author, who also happens to be dating Beth. He's kind of a jerk, but Beth doesn't see that side of him, until the unthinkable happens.

Beth had been writing a children's book of her own for years. Lindsey loves the book and has encouraged Beth to meet with an agent or publishing rep to get their opinion.

Unfortunately, Beth's boyfriend Rick isn't so supportive. He tells her that it's amateurish and isn't worth the professional queries.

When her friends set up a meeting with a New York editor, Beth shows her the story and her illustrations. Everyone is shocked when the editor shows them an ad in a publishing magazine that displays her drawings and the title of the upcoming book.

How did they get this information? Apparently Rick had stolen her ideas and presented them to the publisher as his own. But the editor is accusing Beth of plagiarism!

Beth is understandably angry, and Lindsey feels helpless in supporting her maligned friend. When they go to Rick's house to confront him, they find that he's been murdered. After numerous people heard Beth threatening him in anger, she is the top suspect. Lindsey takes on the task of proving her friend innocent, with the help of library patrons and a handsome townie named Sully.

This was a fun start to a great cozy series and has all the trademarks of success in the genre: likable characters, a little romantic tension, small town quirks and a murder that can only be explained with the townspeople's help.

There are currently eight titles in the series, so start here, and the rest of the titles should keep you busy until mid-summer. The series is available at the library in regular print, audiobook and e-book formats.

Kelly Strom is the collection manager at the Champaign Public Library. She orders books, ebooks, magazines, newspapers, audiobooks and CDs.

Sections (1):Living
Topics (1):Books