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Possumhaw: The best things in libraries are free


Shannon Bardwell



People always say that you can't get something for nothing but that's not true. Not at the library. 


As a little kid I'd hand my book to the librarian. She'd flip to the back of the book and pull out a card from a small pocket. She'd write my name on it and say, "This is when the books are due." 


Then she'd put my books in my little book bag (everything was little back then) and there I'd go out the door with my books that gave me much and cost me nothing. 


"Defacing public property fine $500 or six months in jail." That red stamp in the book always petrified me. Did people really go to jail for six months for writing in a book or turning down the page corners like my dad did? 


Ever since the library loaned me those free books I have loved books and libraries. They have taken me places I could have never gone and introduced me to people I could have never met.  


So it's no wonder the day found me sitting in West Point's Bryan Public Library partaking of chicken salad, broccoli salad, congealed strawberry salad and an assortment of cakes prepared by the Friends of the Library. I was also there to see Starkville's own Laurie Parker introduce her hidden picture book, "Garden Alphabet." 


The cover of the books says, "For Girls and Boys and Grown-Ups Too." It's a beautiful book especially when one is longing for spring, being outside, flowers, butterflies, birds and bees. 


Opening the book's back cover there's a picture of Laurie and her cat Wordsworth and if you wonder if after writing, illustrating and publishing over a dozen books if that photo really looks like Laurie nowadays, I'm here to tell you it does. 


I met Laurie sometime back in the 1980s and she hasn't changed a bit. We've since crossed paths time and time again because we tend to gravitate to the same quiet people, bookstores and libraries...until. 


There in the Bryan Public Library quiet little Laurie belted out the lyrics "Tin roof rusted. Love shack baby...huggin' & a kissin' at the love shack...," from the B-52's 1989 hit "Love Shack."  


Laurie credited the song with her inspiration for the rusted tin roofed shack in her book on the "T" page. If Laurie is passionate about anything it's her writing, her art, books, reading; libraries, and her new singing career. 


And thus in support of all things reading, Laurie has generously donated a signed copy of "Garden Alphabet" to The Columbus-Lowndes Public Library for their book sale fundraiser on Thursday, March 21, 11:30am until 6pm and again on Saturday, March 23, from 10am until 4pm.  


Regretfully Laurie will not be on hand to do her impression of Cindy Wilson and the B-52's. However Laurie and Wordsworth send their regards and well wishes to all things reading.


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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