Saturday, September 18, 2021

The Timrod Library: A Real Historic Gem in a Small Town by Dorothy St. James

      Jenn McKinlay: There is nothing I love better than a mystery about books and libraries, so I am delighted to invite Dorothy St. James to tell us all about what inspires her amateur sleuth Tru Beckett in the Beloved Bookroom Mysteries volume two, which drops on September 28th!


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Dorothy St. James: When I started writing about Tru’s secret basement bookroom—complete with card catalog and book slips—in the Beloved Bookroom Mystery series, I started to pine for a library like the one I was writing about that I could visit in real life. I often do that. I wrote about a bean-to-bar chocolate shop in the Southern Chocolate Shop Mysteries and started to buy and savor high-quality chocolates. When I was writing the White House Gardener Mystery series, I took classes and became a master gardener. I suppose you could say that I tend to throw myself one hundred percent into my work.

 

Luckily for me, I didn’t have to go far to find a library like the one my intrepid sleuth had created. In fact, I found a wonderful library in the town where I grew up. Stepping through the doors of the Timrod Library in the Town of Summerville, South Carolina is like stepping back in time. Steeped in history, this private membership library has been operating in its current location since 1915.

 



 

At the Timrod Library, there are no computers. When you walk through the front doors, you’re greeted by a huge card catalog. The librarians who work there are welcoming and friendly and eager to help you find the book you didn’t know you’d come looking for. The collection has been carefully curated to meet the members’ needs. In the back of the library, a curious reader will be delighted to find the historic book collection containing two rooms filled with wonderful old books. If not for libraries like this one, some of these books might be forever lost.

 



Tru would certainly approve of the place if she had the time to visit it. But she’s been terribly busy dealing with the troubling rumors running around town about her. She’s also been investigating a mysterious lady who seems to have a connection to the used bookstore owner. There’s a vandal that keeps targeting the secret bookroom, a murder, and the most vicious apple pie contest this side of the Mississippi.

 



 

But don’t worry. Tru and her friends will be able to handle it all…maybe…we hope.

 

Does your town have a special library? What do you love about it?

 

 

To read more about Trudell Becket’s special library, be sure to check out A Perfect Bindwhen it comes out September 28.

 

A Perfect Bind

A Dead Body.

A Library in Shambles.

And a Town Drowning in Rumors.

 

"A librarian's guilty secret is imperiled when murder stalks the library. ... It’s not easy to guess the killer in this amusing cozy filled with romantic angst and peculiar characters." ~ Kirkus Review

 

 


 

Dorothy St. James is the author of several cozy mystery series. She lives in the Lowcountry of South Carolina with her sculptor husband. Dorothy is a member of Mystery Writers of America (MWA) and the International Thriller Writers (ITW) and Sister’s in Crime (SinC). This is her second Beloved Bookroom Mystery. 

 

Follow Dorothy Online:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/dorothy.stjames

Twitter: www.twitter.com/dorothywrites

Instagram: www.instagram.com/dorothymcfalls

Website: www.dorothystjames.com

 

52 comments:

  1. Oh, my . . . a real card catalogue. I could be just a bit envious . . . .

    Congratulations on your new book, Dorothy . . . it will be interesting to see how Tru solves this mystery.

    Well, although I think any library is special, the closest we have to an unusual library is a house converted into a neighborhood library . . . the kids all love it and that’s pretty special . . . .

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    1. My first public library was in an old house - I loved it!

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    2. I love libraries that are converted old houses, Joan. They're always so cozy. It's like visiting a friend's home. What a special library you have.

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  2. That library and the book both sound delightful!

    Our public library is housed in a lovely stone 1900 building. Frankly, it could use a modern addition. But there are framed historic maps on the walls, John Greenleaf Whittier's tall clock, and a quiet room upstairs where I can write when I need to get out of the house.

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    1. That's where I go, too. My local library has saved the Hooligans many a time.

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    2. The library in the neighborhood where I live now has a quiet room, too. Like you, Edith, I like to go there to write sometimes, especially when I'm working on this series. I sit there and soak up the atmosphere. And if I get stuck, I go and ask the friendly librarians for assistance.

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  3. Dorothy, I love the description of your Beloved Bookroom mysteries and will be looking out for #1 before I grab #2!

    I fondly remember all of the tucked away libraries on the Ohio State campus--you never knew where you'd stumble across another one--most of which started like our anthropology reading room--a professor left his personal collection of books to the department. We found a space for them and slowly more books were donated.

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    1. I love academic libraries, Flora. They do grow like mushrooms.

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    2. Thank you, Flora. I do hope you enjoy the first book in the series, The Broken Spine. It was recently released in paperback. When I was attending college, my future husband and I used to meet at the library and flirt. Such great memories for me.

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  4. I could smell that special library scent of old paper and books. Like Flora, I'll be starting with book 1 and looking forward to book 2.

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    1. It is a delicious scent, Kait! I hope you enjoy book 1, The Broken Spine. I had a fun time writing it.

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  5. Congratulations on The Perfect Bind, Dorothy !
    I love cozies and I love libraries, your book seems a good fit for me. Like previous commenters, I’ll begin with the first one.

    I can’t say that my town library has something special but it certainly have a special place in my heart. The staff is welcoming and helpful. I always feel happy when I walk into my library.

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    1. They are like an oasis, aren't they?

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    2. Thank you, Danielle. Good librarians are as special as the buildings the libraries are housed in, I think. The library that recently opened in my neighborhood is full of librarians who go beyond what's expected to help out the patrons. I feel lucky to be part of the community.

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  6. Sounds great, Dorothy!

    My local library is pretty wonderful. Next Saturday is there used book sale - I donated a lot of them and will probably buy even more! My personal library never gets any smaller. Yes, I have donated books and then a few years later bought a few titles back.

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    1. LOL - I've never bought titles back but I have bought titles again.

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    2. That's super! Our library has delayed its used book sale for over a year now. I cannot wait for it to return. And like you, Judi, no matter how many books I donate, my library grows ever bigger. But that's not a bad thing, right?

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  7. Welcome, Dorothy and congratulations on The Perfect Bind. I love cozies about libraries and books. Like so many others, I'll be looking for book 1 first.

    The library of my childhood was magical. It is a small stone building, one of the most important looking buildings in that town. As an adult, returning to town, I realized just how tiny it is. My library card had 4 digits beginning with 1.

    Now, my favorite library is about 3 miles away in the next town. They have one entire room dedicated to mysteries. For example, when I began to read Rhys Bowen's Molly Murphy series, they had every book! So easy. A short drive, a quick browse and voila! Jackpot!

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    1. Oh, I do love a good genre collection.

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    2. Oh my goodness, how lucky you are to have such a great library with a full mystery collection nearby. That must be wonderful, Judy!

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  8. What a charming subject for a cozy! I wish I'd known about the Timrod Library when my daughter lived in Summerville, eight years ago.

    Cincinnati is renowned for its libraries. The Public Library is excellent, but we also have several smaller ones, as well. The Lloyd Library, which focuses on medicinal plants and botany, was founded in the 1870s. A great resource for Master Gardeners, although I've not had occasion to visit.

    The one I have visited, many times, is the Mercantile Library, an exquisite jewel opened in 1835. It's tucked away in a downtown building, as is the Lloyd, a couple streets over, but when you step out of the elevator you enter a different era than the one on the street. Rich wood paneling and furniture, huge arched windows, and stacks and stacks of books greet the visitor. They have the daily papers hung on wooden racks, and busts of famous people scattered around. It's just a lovely place. Best of all, they are also up to date with an extensive catalog of ebooks members can borrow. Their lecture series always has interesting speakers, too, and it's open to the public.

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    1. That sound like library nirvana.

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    2. For a small town, Summerville has many hidden treasures. And wow, Karen, I would love to visit the Lloyd Library. It sounds like a place where I could spend hours and hours digging through the collection.

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  9. Lovely! I love card catalog, it just seems like there’s a treasure and everyone. They are so organized. But wow, what a chore to keep up! We have a little library in our village, it looks like a stone castle, but it’s essentially one big room with lots of big windows. There is a secret basement, though, there really is, and I’m not quite sure what’s down there! Maybe I should go explore the next time we drop off books for donation!

    And the books sound wonderful! Congratulations!

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    1. Secret basement? Now I'm intrigued.

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    2. Thank you, Hank! I'd love to visit your castle library and poke around the secret basement one day. It sounds like quite the place to find a new mystery. :)

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  10. If there is a library that is a private membership only, in my town, it is most certainly a well kept secret one. Our main county library is in the site of the old Carnegie in my town. It was removed for safety reasons. It was a stone building, weakened after the 1906 earthquake and it slowly got worse from there. Just last week a new satellite site opened in the South West section of town. Our old Carnegie was used in a Betty Davis movie, a couple years before I born, Storm Center. The script had it burning down, so Hollywood made it looked to be burning in the film. But a wreaking ball is what really took it down years later.

    I remember your White House Gardener series, really liked it. I'll need to check this secret library one out.

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    1. The Phoenix library system started in a Carnegie building. It still stands near the capital building.

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    2. The Carnegie libraries are lovely buildings, Deana. I am fascinated by the history of them. The librarian at my local library started out working at a Carnegie library. She inspired me to make the library building in my series to be one of the many Carnegie libraries in South Carolina. The one in Charleston, SC is now a private library. They host a library series, bringing in popular authors to talk about their recent releases.

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  11. As a former librarian, who started her career just as the card catalog was exiting, this makes me so nostalgic. There is nothing cooler than a librarian's hand written notes on a card in the card catalog.

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    1. Jenn, I am in awe of librarians of the pre-computer era. I can't imagine the training and memorization required to find books before we could search by name, title, keyword, etc. I'm pretty sure the librarians of my childhood knew every single number-subject pairing in the Dewey Decimal or Library of Congress systems.

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    2. Some stick with you forever like the produce code for bananas 4011 - LOL. Fairy tales 398.2, cooking 641.5, and so on...

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    3. I love that the numbers stick with you. Most librarians I've talked with, Jenn, have fond memories of the card catalog. I remember finding the best books by thumbing through the catalog. I don't have as much luck when working on the computer. Thanks again, for having me here today. I haven't been around as much today as I would have hoped. We're living in our van this month, traveling around the US and teaching my 8 year old daughter while out on the open road. It's a great experience, but doesn't lend itself to online work. It's amazing how often we are without cell service as we're driving around. We spent the afternoon sledding at White Sands National Park in New Mexico while learning about how the dunes formed so far away from an ocean.

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  12. Gosh. I love every library! The main library in downtown Houston is one I went to as a kid. Dad would drop me off and come back for me later. It was a three story brick or stone building with a Spanish tile roof. I found out years later that it's haunted. The library in Faribault, MN was stone, multi storied, and quite stately. I don't know if it was built to be the library or someone's home originally. The Harris County branch next to my school was tiny and crammed full of the kids' mystery books, Nancy Drew etc, that the Houston library banned. I loved that library!

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    1. Me, too. They're all different but all wonderful.

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    2. I love that you went to a haunted library as a child, even if you didn't know it at the time, Pat. It sounds lovely. All libraries are special, aren't they?

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  13. A secret basement library! What fun, Dorothy! My dream libraries are British (of course:-)) and I am the proud possessor of a British Library reader's card. It is a wonderful place, too--I could spend days there. But if you want atmosphere, the London Library in St. James has everything you ever dreamed of. You do, however, have to be a member, but I have fantasies of being able to work there.
    https://www.londonlibrary.co.uk/

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    1. So jealous of that library card, Debs.

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    2. Check out the London Library, Jenn! They are not doing tours at the moment but I imagine they will again. It is library heaven.

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    3. When I visited London several years ago, I never thought to tour the library. I'll have to add that to my bucket list. Thank you, Deborah.

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  14. Oops, I got so interested in the Timrod library I went down the Google hole and forgot to come back here and comment! Anyway, Dorothy, I LOVE old fashioned libraries, while also recognizing it's very nice to be able to borrow ebooks and audiobooks right from home.

    There are four small libraries in my area, each one open maybe 15 hours a week but staggered, so you can check out a book somewhere six days out of seven. The one I volunteered at still stamps cards, and in fact doesn't actually give out patron cards; instead we all have a number, which you give to the library director when she checks you out. Or if she's busy with someone else, you can check yourself out... VERY small, as I said!

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    1. Wow. That is an old school system.

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    2. Wow, Julia. How your library system works seems very similar to the library I created in my series. Very small. And if no one can help you, you check out your own books. For 20 years, I lived in a small beach town. The library there was open only a few hours a week. It was housed in the same building where they held community meetings or events. When the library was open, the librarian would open up the cabinets in the same room where the events are held, giving access to the books. A bit inconvenient, but we loved how going there made you really feel part of the community.

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  15. I forgot to mention that the town libraries in my area are all cooperatively linked to one another. You can go on line and request a book and it will be transported to the library you choose if you don't mind the wait. There are still occasions when a book is just not available in the system. Although that is disappointing, that's what Amazon is for, or Biblio or...

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    1. I loved that when I was a librarian in CT - the entire state shares resources through interlibrary loan - brilliant.

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  16. Ooh, library mysteries. Must go find this one. A great library? My hometown. I live in New York (city- yeah, we have libraries!) now but I grew up in New York (state), way north. In the early 1900's, it was very prosperous and supported civic building. Daughter of a former governor wanted to fund a memorial library to her father - white marble, columns, a copper dome, an impressive rotunda. AND marble lions in front. I can imagine a city govt committee saying, "If Manhattan can have lions, so can we!" It remains knockout beautiful, inside and out, and it expanded some time ago, to provide a children room, computers and other modern amenities. You could look it up: Roswell P. Flower Library, Watertown, NY

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    1. Patience and Fortitude, the lions at the Bryant Park Library, most likely give a roar of approval, too. I think every library should have lions.

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    2. That sounds like an amazing library, Triss. I will definitely look it up.

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  18. The first library I went to was in an old mansion downtown. It is now part of the Dauphin County Library System. Since I retired I use the newer one closer to my house. I usually use my Cozy Mystery Blog monthly list to request books and also get ideas from authors' Facebook posts, newsletters, and blogs.

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    1. I love libraries in converted houses. They're cozy, aren't they? Thank you for sharing your library experience. I've been downloading audiobooks from my local library for my family to listen to whenever we're on the road.

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