Thursday, December 10, 2020

National Dewey Decimal Day! by Jenn McKinlay

 Jenn McKinlay: It's quite possible that only librarian nerds will appreciate this day in all its Dewey glory, but given that I am a recovering librarian, I am full on celebrating today, which is... 


Named after its inventor, the Dewey Decimal System came into being in 1876, developed by Melvil Dewey, who was just twenty-one years old at the time. It's now used in over 200,000 libraries in 135 countries around the world. 
How does it work? Well, Dewey's rage for order broke non-fiction down like this, leaving fiction to be filed by author's last name.


Of course, it's changed exponentially beyond its infancy but can you imagine how they were categorizing books before Dewey? By color? Height? Number of pages? 

Having sat on a reference desk for years where people come in asking for the "green book" or the "blue book", let me just say, I can not imagine my former profession without Dewey. 

Of course the library also makes a fabulous setting for...murder!
There are a host of library based mysteries sure to delight library lovers the world over. I would list them here, but it's a long list and it's already been done by the fabulous website Stop You're Killing Me! (click on their name to go to the full list) but I will highlight a few of my favorites:

The Aurora Teagarden Mysteries by Charlaine Harris. Lawrenceton, Georgia, may be a growing suburb of Atlanta, but it’s still a small town at heart. Librarian Aurora “Roe” Teagarden grew up there and knows more than enough about her fellow townsfolk, including which ones share her interest in the darker side of human nature.
 
With those fellow crime buffs, Roe belongs to a club called Real Murders, which meets once a month to analyze famous cases. It’s a harmless pastime—until the night she finds a member dead, killed in a manner that eerily resembles the crime the club was about to discuss. And as other brutal “copycat” killings follow, Roe will have to uncover the person behind the terrifying game, one that casts all the members of Real Murders, herself included, as prime suspects—or potential victims...

The Cat in the Stacks Mysteries by Miranda (Dean) James. Everyone in Athena, Mississippi, knows Charlie Harris, the good-natured librarian with a rescued Maine coon cat named Diesel that he walks on a leash.  He’s returned to his hometown to immerse himself in books, but soon enough he’s entangled in a real-life thriller...
 
A famous author of gory bestsellers and a former classmate of Charlie’s, Godfrey Priest may be the pride of Athena, but Charlie remembers him as an arrogant, manipulative jerk—and he’s not the only one. Godfrey’s homecoming as a distinguished alumnus couldn’t possibly go worse: by lunch, he’s put a man in the hospital. By dinner, Godfrey’s dead.
 
Now it’s up to Charlie, with some help from Diesel, to paw through the town’s grudges and find the killer before an impatient deputy throws the book at the wrong person. But every last one of Charlie’s friends and co-workers had a score to settle with the nasty novelist. As if the murder wasn’t already purr-plexing enough...
 
The Library Lovers Mysteries by Jenn McKinlay (Hey, that's ME!!! Shocker, I know).      
Lindsey is getting into her groove as the director of the Briar Creek Public Library when a New York editor visits town, creating quite a buzz. Lindsey’s friend Beth wants to sell the editor her children’s book, but Beth’s boyfriend, a famous author, gets in the way. When they go to confront him, he’s found murdered—and Beth is the prime suspect. Lindsey has to act fast—before they throw the book at the wrong person.

So, how about you, Reds and Readers? Do you enjoy a library based mystery? And do you love your local library? Give them a shout out if you do! Librarians need love!









75 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. Knowing there’s a day devoted to the Dewey Decimal System makes me smile :)

    I do enjoy library-based mysteries . . . I believe I’ve read books in all the series you mentioned, Jenn . . . Lindsey is one of my favorite characters. Yea for libraries!

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  3. Who knew there is a Dewey Decimal system day? That is so nerdily cool.

    When I worked as a student librarian in junior and senior high school, I had those Dewey numbers almost memorized shelving books and working at the reference desk!

    JENN, do you know why universities use the Library of Congress classification system instead of Dewey?! So much harder to learn.

    I really do enjoy reading library-themed mysteries, including the series you list above.
    I also would recommend the Lighthouse Library mystery series by Eva Gates (aka Vicki Delany), the Bookmobile Cat mysteries by Laurie Cass and the Haunted Library mystery series by Allison Brook. Oh yes, also the Murder-by-the-Month mysteries by Jess Lourey.

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    1. And I forgot to give a shout-out to the Ottawa Public Library. They have partially reopened since the summer and I get plenty of books either put on hold or by browsing the collection again. Sadly, the magazines are not available but I can survive that.

      Libraries and librarians rock!

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    2. Did not know that the Library of Congress classification system was different from the Dewey numbers. I learned something new this morning.

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    3. Diana, the two systems are so different. The LC system is based on 2 letters and a set of numbers according to the subject/class of the book.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_of_Congress_Classification

      I found the LC much harder to use than the Dewey Decimal system!

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    4. Yeah, I learned the LC system in library school and then there is the whole SuDoc system for Gov Docs, which is also different but - oh, man - what a treasure trove of info. I learned all about money laundering reading Justice Dept docs. I think academics prefer LC because Dewey is limited and the cuttering of numbers will go on forever when you get into specifics but I love my Dewey.

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    5. Jenn, ok thanks for the insight about the different system.

      As an "academic", I agree that the Dewey is more limited than LC but it is definitely harder to remember the various letter/number combos. Weird that the US has another system for Gov Docs...the Canadian government libraries also use LC for their collections.

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  4. That was the best part about going to the library was looking through the card catalog. I've read several books with a library theme/backdrop including yours, Eva Gates, Miranda James, Elizabeth Lynn Casey, Laurie Cass, Allison Brook, Jess Lourey.

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  5. Of course I love libraries! I nearly grew up in the public library in Temple City, California. Now I frequent Amesbury Library, which is housed in a beautiful 1900 stone building that desperately needs a modern addition at the back (the children's section is upstairs. NO elevator...). I miss going inside, but the librarians are awesome at bringing requested books out and setting them safely on a table. They also copy the NYT Sunday puzzles every week. Picking those up is part of my regular Tuesday routine.

    Seeing the name of Miranda James's protagonist - Charlie Harris - directly after reading about Charlaine Harris' library series made me wonder if James named Charlie in a nod to Charlaine!

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    1. I was thinking the same thing about Charlie Harris, Edith.

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    2. Charlaine and Dean are close friends, so maybe...

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  6. Jenn, I did not know that there is a Dewy Decimal Day. It is certainly worth celebrating.

    I miss going inside the libraries around here which cooperate with by sending books to one another and share their treasures on their websites. Since March, the sharing has changed. Now if you want a book only available in Simsbury, you have to call that library and arrange a day and time to pick it up off the table outside. I already did a bit of driving to get books from other town's libraries if I was in a hurry. Before the pandemic, I frequently drove over to Bloomfield which has one of the best mystery sections you've ever seen for a tiny town.

    I have read all of your library series and love that it is set on the Connecticut shore. Maybe next year I'll try some other library series authors. My TBR list is already over the top but I trust the Reds to give me good advice, especially about books.

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    1. Thanks you, Judy! CT has one of the best library systems in the country IMHO. :)

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  7. My first library job,between college and library school, was in the Cambridge Public Library, Main Branch, in Massachusetts. It was Victorian architecture gone mad, with arches and gables and a bell tower, and an interior of equal splendor. It was great! And I thought, even then, what a perfect setting for a mystery.

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    1. Oh, I'd love to work in a library like that. Of course, there's have to be ghosts, too.

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    2. Oh, ghosts, definitely. And given the city's age,location and history, you'd have your pick of famous ones -Justice Holmes, Longfellow and Julia Child!- are just a few former residents. Plus anyone who was a student or faculty at Harvard or MIT. Hmmm...

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  8. Jenn,

    I do love mysteries set in both libraries and bookstores.

    In the past I wouldn't say I loved my local library, the Wareham Free Library, but I have changed that opinion over the last year or so. The new library director (hired in late 2018/early 2019) George Ripley started a number of book clubs that met at the library (before pandemic, obviously) and gave them the support they need. He's a pretty cool guy so that helps as well.

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    1. The librarian profession is getting hipper every day. When I left there were a lot of young guns with purple hair, sleeves of tattoos, and brilliance with technology. It'll be amazing to see what they do!

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  9. I love libraries, and I enjoy mysteries set in libraries, although I seem to have missed Charlaine Harris's books. I spent many happy hours in the Springfield-Greene County Library in Springfield and Ash Grove, Missouri, as a kid, and more fruitful hours in the Parker County Library in Weatherford, Texas. Although I have a library card for the McKinney Public Library, I'm afraid I've fallen out of the habit of going there. I also heartily support university libraries, with all their many, fascinating special research collections.

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    1. Gigi, I agree with you that university libraries are wonderful resources for accessing unique collections. For me, it was the University of Toronto and University of Waterloo libary collections that were invaluable.

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    2. I felt fortunate that the Phx Pub had a rare book collection bequeathed to it which included folios from Shakespeare, etc. Super super cool!

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    3. And of course, the university and government libraries were absolutely vital for me to get academic/scientific journals from the stacks. These only became available online towards the end of my research career. I had the same wonderful reference librarian at Environment Canada (Roberta) for most of career in Toronto. She could get anything I asked from interlibrary loans...a real treasure.

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  10. I see I have a lot of books to catch up on! I bet most of us commenting have great memories of libraries from our youth. Who taught us everything we know??

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    1. My mom is a librarian, too. Definitely my formative years were influenced by my public library.

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  11. Ah, the Dewey decimal system. I got to know it very well when I was in college. I don't go to the library as much as I used to, even pre-COVID, but I still love them.

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    1. Libraries are home for me. No matter where I go I love to check out the local library.

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  12. I love organization, and I am always enchanted when someone comes up with a brilliant and logical way to make a complicated thing into a usable efficient thing. Imagine the effort and the devotion that took! It’s like Roget—how could he create a thesaurus? So thank you—I am celebrating!

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    1. Same! I love systems and organization - not that you can tell by me desk...sigh.

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  13. Love the Dewey! When I was a college senior, I had an assigned carrel in the stacks between regular floors of the library, next to stacks of books (maritime architecture?) I had absolutely no interest in reading.

    A shout-out to the venerable Victorian Chatham, Massachusetts library of my summer childhood, which stocked Nancy Drew books. I binged the series during several summer vacations.

    And a shout-out to my current Blue Ash library, part of the amazing Cincinnati-Hamilton County library system. The wonderful staff provide curbside and vestibule pickup.

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    1. I always stake out my turf in the library. When the frat house is rockin' I have one particular study carrel that I use at Scottsdale Public Library. Covid killed that - no wonder I'm struggling with this deadline!

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  14. As a Little Free Library steward I'm considered a librarian, of sorts. Which tickles me. My neighbor and I collaborate on the job--she is a real estate agent with a large church community that she also interacts with, and she's been amazing about bringing me books for the LFL. It's quite the responsibility.

    I had no idea Melvil Dewey was only 21 when he came up with this system. It's quite elegant really, and has help up pretty well over the last nearly a century and a half.

    In my junior year of high school I worked in our brand-new high school library. The school was in its second year, and they were still building the collection, so there was a lot to do. It reminded me of being in second grade, when my brilliant teacher, realizing I could already read chapter books, sent me to the peace of the lovely old school library in my Art Deco grade school during reading time. I can still see the dust motes hanging in the light from the enormous windows of that beautiful room.

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    1. To add to Margaret's compliments to the Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library, most of the members of my book club use it. Members have used their Braille, large print, electronic, and audio versions, as well as their special book club bundles and reader question guides. Both local book clubs I've been part of relied heavily on these services. And we choose our next books based on how many copies of mixed media are available through the local branches or electronic transmission.

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    2. I feel like you can get a sense of a community by their commitment to their library. Delighted to hear that you have such an excellent one.

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  15. I have loved libraries most of my life. When I was a child, the local librarian was a dragon lady--not very welcoming at all. I used her as a template for a character in a novella I wrote, so those early library experiences still came in useful ;-)

    My favorite library mystery series is, wait for it, yours, Jenn! That the setting is a library is a bonus--what brings me back are the characters and the setting.

    Our local library is much different from the dragon lady's time. We're part of a huge library system and for now the trucks are still running, so patrons can access books from libraries all over northeast Ohio. We're doing curbside pick-up and when the calls go out to patrons that they have a hold ready for pick-up, the library phones start ringing! And while I love my local library, I loved the library system at Ohio State the best--so many quirky little libraries all over campus--we once lost a professor--he went to the library and forgot to come back for class :-)

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    1. Thank you, Flora, very kind of you! I loved my college library. Mostly, I escaped my apartment for some peace and quiet there, but I had a study carrell that looked out over the quad and allowed me to recover from my hangover before class. LOL!

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  16. There are also a lot of fantasy novels set in and around libraries: THE INVISIBLE LIBRARY series (now up to seven books!)by Genevieve Cogman, THE LIBRARY OF THE UNWRITTEN by A.J. Hackwith, and A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES by Deborah Harkness, in which the libraries of Oxford are almost as seductive as the dark and handsome hero.

    There are lots and lots more - unsurprisingly, since if there's one common love among all writers, it's libraries - so if you enjoy the genre, I suggest you google "fantasy novels about libraries" and expand your TBR!

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    1. I'm just rereading the Harkness series now! I needed a meaty read and it delivers, plus, I love being at Oxford. The other two you mention are on my list!

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    2. I don’t usually read in the fantasy genre, but I have read several library based fantasy novels. I think the fantasy versions are very well written and a more sophisticated version of the library experience.

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    3. I don’t usually read in the fantasy genre, but I have read several library based fantasy novels. I think the fantasy versions are very well written and a more sophisticated version of the library experience.

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  17. I love libraries and library based mysteries. I can't think of any books or authors that have been missed so I'll just wish all a Happy Dewey Decimal Day!

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  18. I am a sucker for any mystery set in a library or a bookstore. I sometimes laugh at myself over it when I review my history in Goodreads!

    I am very fortunate to live in the area of the Worthington Libraries. They serve not just residents of Worthington (a suburb of Columbus, Ohio) but the entire school district, which extends well beyond the boundaries of the small suburb, and they are an AWESOME library system. They recently announced that they are one of only six U.S. public libraries that has been awarded a five-star rating in every one of the 13 years that the Library Journal has been awarding star ratings. My personal experiences with them have been so rewarding that last year I joined the board of the Friends of the Worthington Libraries.

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    1. Susan, I didn't realize you lived so close! How lovely to have this great resource nearby.

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    3. Susan, I lived in Worthington as I did my graduate studies at Ohio State--loved the library! One of my best friends (and fellow student) worked in the children's section. Walking there on a snowy day and going inside to find a fire going in the fireplace, maybe someone at the piano--such a pleasure!

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    4. Five stars?! That is fantastic!

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  19. I love libraries! I love library mysteries! I still remember the first time I went to the library and got my library card. Reading was important in my family. My dad took us to the library on his day off. (My mom didn’t drive until I was In Fourth grade.) Then the library started sending a bookmobile to my neighborhood, and we could walk there, I have fond memories of attending after school programs at the main branch of the library. I became a birdwatcher in part because of a talk on identifying birds. I was in third grade at the time.

    Although the library in the town where I live now is nice, my heart will always belong to the Ferguson Library in Stamford CT, where I grew up. And I DID grow up in that library. It provided books for me for every stage of my life.

    DebRo

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    1. Deb, I have similar memories. My mother never did drive until my dad died when I was 13, but she and I would walk the mile or so to the library twice a week, loading up with as many books as we were allowed to borrow. It is one of the clearest, fondest memories of my childhood!

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    2. Saturday mornings were out library day. Mom took my brother and I every week and we checked out stacks. It was glorious!

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    3. I always borrowed the maximum number of books. I couldn’t wait to be old enough to borrow as many as I wanted!

      DebRo

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  20. Libraries were a twice monthly adventure when I was a kid, whether it was the temporary rooms over some offices next to the old courthouse or the newly built one on the site of the old Carnegie library. I loved wondering the shelves, despite the static shock I got when touching that first shelf. I remember being excited about staying in the adult section while Mom took my cousins into the children section. I really like the little library at my elementary school. It wasn't much more than than a small space attached to the multi-purpose room but it was my safe space.

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    1. Such great memories. I ended up working at my public library from the time I was 14-18, and I soon realized librarians got the good books first :)

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  21. Jenn, great post! I remember when they switched from the card catalog to the digital catalog when I was at university.

    Your library mysteries is my favorite library mystery series. Yes, I love my library. I've been fortunate that I can borrow ebooks from the library during the pandemic. Before the pandemic, I would go to the library multiple times a week because I would borrow books and return them as soon as I finished reading them.

    When I was a kid, we used to walk to the neighborhood library from my house. It was a small public library and for a little kid, it was wonderful.

    When I went to after school day care, our babysitters would walk with us to the library near their house. They had a wonderful children's section. That library building is now the YWCA and they built a new library a few blocks away about 16 years ago. The new library shares a building with the Community Center.

    Diana

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    1. My first librarian gig was in Cromwell, CT and the library was attached to the town hall and the senior center - so smart. I used to do brown bag travel programs for the seniors. So fun!

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    2. I drove over there one day last year to grab a book that I'd reserved but hadn't received yet. I didn't know you'd worked there. How cool is that!?

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    3. Jenn, that's wonderful!

      Judy, cool!

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  22. I read yours and I read Dean's/Miranda's. I watch the Aurora Teagarden movies, but haven't picked up the books yet.

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  23. I love libraries and library mysteries, and the ones you mentioned are among my favorites--especially yours, Jenn!! I grew up in my town's library. I was volunteering in a local library while writing my first novel. Sadly, I don't use the library where I live now as much as I should, something to remedy post-pandemic. But I do have a British Library reader's card--one of my proudest possessions. Oh, to be able to go the British Library again!

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    1. I am so jealous of that British Library reader's card! I want one!!!

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    2. Can you take out ebooks from them, Debs?

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  24. I always managed to get to a library when I was a kid, either by hoofing it or getting a ride there. I think we were introduced to the Dewey Decimal System in elementary school to help us navigate the school library. I've very fond memories of school libraries, city libraries, county libraries, and university libraries. I volunteered in some, and worked for a pittance in my university library when I was a student.
    Here's some love to my Heights branch of the Houston Public Library!

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    1. Yay, Houston! I think city libraries are fascinating. So much going on with maker spaces, small biz start up sections, etc. It was really hard to leave my job with the city of Phoenix.

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  25. Thanks for the post, Jenn! My daughter is a children's librarian in the D.C. system, and while she misses baby story time and more, it's a challenging time for librarians when the public isn't compliant with COVID restrictions.

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    1. Oh, I used to love doing story time. Kids are so much fun. I had a signature puppet "Mikey the Monkey" and when I retired, my son bought a replica of the puppet so I could have him with me, always. I hope things improve for your daughter soon. I will not be writing any pandemic stuff into the library series because no...just no. :)

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  26. Also, the winners of the fabulous Fixer Upper measuring tapes are...
    The winners are:
    Grace Koshida
    David Wright
    Myersgirlmeli
    Pat D
    Bibliophile/Diana

    Please email Kate with your mailing address at:
    Kate at KateCarlisle dot com

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    1. Thank you so much. I already got a measuring tape from Kate at Bouchercon so please give mine to the next person.

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    2. Thanks for the good news. I already got a measuring tape from Kate at LCC2016 in Phoenix. I still keep it in my backpack/messenger bag since it is such a useful swag item. I will gift this second measuring tape to a fellow cozy mystery reader here in Ottawa.

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  27. I'm another recovering (retired) librarian, and I was a cataloger. Three cheers for putting things where patrons can find them!
    (I love your mystery books, and the other series you named, too.)

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  28. Oh, and some "helpful" person felt the need to point out that Melvil Dewey ended up resigning from the ALA in disgrace for being a racist piece of trash. Obviously, this post is about the system and its use in libraries not Mr. Dewey. I thought that was clear, but whateves...

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  29. I love my library and books about libraries. As far as Mr. Dewey, unfortunately everyone who does something great or positive isn't a good person in other parts of their lives. That doesn't negate the good that they did. Stay safe and well.

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  30. I do love mysteries with a library setting or theme or with a librarian as the main character. I normally love libraries in real life, too, but our local library has become less appealing in the past several (maybe more) years. On the other hand, I love going to my granddaughter's library with her, although it's been way too long now since we've gotten to do that. I've always encouraged her love of the library and using it. I have a library science masters, but I've not used it to be a librarian, something I regret a bit now. I wish I'd gotten one of the card catalog cases from our local library or any when things went online. I have a real fondness for them.

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