Tiny Stories of Library Love (Part 1)

This summer we invited you to tell us a story involving a library in 100 words or less. Thank you to everyone who submitted a story! Here are some of our favorites.

Megan C.:
I walked the mile from my apartment to the Middle River library. Down the alley, through the right-of-way, past the Carberry’s house, past the Church of Christ, past the rec center, then across Compass Rd and into my refuge.

I signed out stacks of books, too many to carry, and I never brought a backpack. My arms ached and my face flushed with heat as I trudged home.

I carried my treasures upstairs to my room, poured myself a glass of sweet ice tea, and spent the rest of the sticky, sweltering afternoon in air-conditioned comfort in bookworld.


C. J. M.:
The last book in the series is finally out. I must find it. I check New Books. I check the regular shelves. The catalog says it’s here. The catalog is never wrong. Where is it?

“Can I help you?” asks a kind, wise voice behind me.

With the title and author name in hand, the librarian knows just the place. She leads me to the display case near the checkout.

At long last, my turn with this incredible book!

Teresa H.:
The ladies at the front desk always greet me with a smile one day I was so down I went into the library and I was crying my heart out one of the ladies came over to me and said whatever it is you will be ok and if you need to cry here all day do so I right here if you need me but at the end of your tears I must see you smile. After about another five minutes I went to the lady and we talk and smiled the rest of my visit.

Taína R.P.:
I doubt I would exist if it weren’t for the library.

My Father grew up in the Williamsburg of pre-gentrified 1955 Brooklyn. A Puerto Rican ten year-old, raised by a single mother with a sixth-grade education, he had zero statistical expectation of escape from those streets. The hood has never been designed for emigration. He should have been a factory worker, or a drug dealer, or a junky. Instead he became a scholar. All because he was gifted an old fat tire bike, and the library he found on his first ride.

Books to Check Out this Hispanic Heritage Month

¡Feliz Mes de la Herencia Hispana! We are excited to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 – October 15). In honor of the many contributions of Hispanic and Latinx Americans to the country’s history, heritage, and culture,  Here’s a look at books to check out!

American Poison
By Eduardo Porter


Cemetery Boys
By Aiden Thomas

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
By Erika L. Sánchez

Book | eBook
Mexican Gothic
By Silvia Moreno-Garcia

eBook | eAudio
Lost Children Archive
By Valeria Luiselli

Book | eBook
Love in the Time of Cholera
By Gabriel García Márquez

Book | eBook
With the Fire on High
By Elizabeth Acevedo
Book | eBook
Swift as Desire
By Laura Esquivel

By Ernesto Quiñonez

We are Not From Here
By Jenny Torres Sanchez

The Book of Unknown Americans
By Cristina Henríquez
Book | eBook
The House on Mango Street
By Sandra Cisneros

Book | eBook
In the Country We Love: My Family Divided
By Diane Guerrero


Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina
By Raquel Cepeda

Book | eBook

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life
By Benjamin Alire Sáenz


YA Author Spotlight: Elizabeth Acevedo

By Sara Wecht, Librarian

I want to preface this talk by saying that I adore Elizabeth Acevedo and her work. After The Poet X came out, I began to pick up her books without even seeing what they were about. The Poet X was a beautiful novel written in prose. Clap When You Land is in a similar format. It alternates between two perspectives, all in poetry. 

Clap When You Land
by Elizabeth Acevedo
Book | eBook| eAudiobook

Camino and Yahaira don’t know each other, but they are connected by a fateful plane crash killing their father. You learn about the two sides of his life- one with Camino, and one with Yahaira. Yahaira lives in New York with her mother and lives next door to her girlfriend. Camino lives with her aunt in the Dominican Republic, where she attends a private school and helps her aunt as a healer. Her father’s death means a lot of things for Camino: she can’t afford her school; she can’t rely on her father’s reputation to protect her from sexual advances and implied forced  prostitution; she probably can’t go to Columbia University and become a doctor; she probably can’t ever go to the states at all. Yahaira knows that her father had another wife. She lost all trust in him, but sorely misses him as well. Her grief, while valid, isn’t as life-shattering as Camino’s.

This book is about acceptance, loss, grief, poverty, and more. The two girls find out about one another and have to accept one another as family, though it’s difficult. They both deal with the loss and grief of their father, but Camino also deals with the loss of a life she could have had. Taking place in two different locations, this book is also about multicultural identity. Both girls want to visit the other’s home before they even know about each other. They struggle with embodying an identity that’s based on one particular culture. They have a longing for the other place as a missing piece to their identity due to their heritage. 

Don’t worry. Things get better. That’s all I’ll tell you!

Below are more books by Elizabeth Acevedo that you may also be interested in.

The Poet X
by Elizabeth Acevedo
With The Fire On High
by Elizabeth Acevedo
Book|eBook|eAudiobook|Compact Disc

A Look at Wes Moore’s new Book about the Baltimore Uprising “Five Days”

by Lisa Greenhouse, Librarian

Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City
by Wes Moore with Erica L. Green

Wes Moore’s and Erica L. Green’s Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City (One World, 2020) introduces us to nine Baltimoreans in the period following Freddie Gray’s death in police custody on April 19, 2015.  There is John Angelos, Executive Vice President of the Baltimore Orioles, who is tasked with making decisions about whether and how to play baseball in the midst of civil unrest. There is Greg Butler, former Poly basketball star, whose decision-making about how to express his anger is at a critical point commandeered by that very anger.  

Each short chapter is headed by the name of one of the nine people.  The names alternate throughout the book’s length, disappearing then returning as the days unfold.  There is Tawanda, an elementary school teacher, who has for two years protested her brother Tyrone West’s death at the hands of the Baltimore Police alone or mostly alone until joining forces with the Freddie Gray protestors.  And there is Anthony, a longtime manager of the Shake & Bake roller skating rink in Penn North, who watches the uprising unfold and draw in several of the young men he has mentored. 

Jenny is a juvenile court public defender, who monitors the protests and provides legal assistance to those arrested.  Maj. Marc Partee of the Baltimore Police is assigned to protect the Inner Harbor on April 25 and to protect Mondawmin Mall two days later on the night of Gray’s funeral.  

There is Billy Murphy, attorney and scion of the Baltimore family that founded the Afro-American newspaper, who represents the Gray Family in their suit against the Baltimore Police.  And finally, there is Nick Mosby, a Baltimore City Council member, who represents the district where Freddie Gray lived and died.

The racial geography of Baltimore is often compared to a butterfly.  The butterfly’s body correlates with the affluent, mostly white center running from Federal Hill north to Homeland and the butterfly’s wings correlate with the under-resourced, largely Black, formerly redlined east and west sides.  Unfortunately for the people who live there, those wings mostly don’t fly.  Moore and Green take us to the wings and to people from the body who have made a commitment to the wings.   

On April 25th, while Orioles fans and protesters are clashing outside of the stadium, John Angelos tweets a call for racial justice.  Nick Mosby, after graduating with a B.S. in electrical engineering from Tuskegee University, could have moved anywhere but convinced his wife, Baltimore’s future States Attorney, also a Tuskegee graduate, to move with him back to the Baltimore he loves.  During the uprising, Nick frantically tweets out positive pictures he takes of Baltimore, convinced that the media will concentrate on scenes of violence and destruction, painting an unrealistic picture.  Still, worried about their safety, Mosby sends his daughters out of town.

Like Mosby, many of the people in Five Days must confront contradictions.  Jenny who is a white ally, in the midst of the chaos ensuing on April 27 in Penn North, drops her cellphone. A young African-American man picks it up.  Worried that she will lose years of contacts and notes, she begs him to give it back to her.  The young man asks her simply, “You thought I wouldn’t?”  Jenny, thus, is brought face to face with her unconscious expectations.

The most compelling character in Five Days is Greg Butler.  Though having grown up in difficult and unstable circumstances, Greg excelled in school, was admitted to the Polytechnic Institute, and became a high school basketball star.  He almost made it off the butterfly’s wing but not quite.  A peculiarity in the way that weighted GPA was calculated in Baltimore City put an end to his college aspirations as he scored a hair under the GPA necessary to join the NCAA. 

On April 27, from a starting point in East Baltimore, Greg follows the smoke he sees rising across town to the heart of the uprising in Penn North.  There, dawning a gas mask and borrowing a bicycle, he takes a leadership role in the uprising.  But a split-second decision, which he later regrets, introduces him to the Baltimore legal system.  His life seems always at the mercy of small increments in a way that people on the butterfly’s body aren’t.

If you are interested in Five Days, you might also be interested in The Other Wes Moore (Spiegel & Grau, 2010), Wes Moore’s story of his own upbringing in Baltimore and The Bronx.  The Maryland Department carries those books and more.

Find a New Way: Coping with Quarantine with these Reads

by Naomi Hafter, Librarian

2020 has been an awkward, unusual time, where so much was turned on its head. Many things will continue to be different as we go forward. How shall we respond? Where shall we find meaning? As things begin opening up we may find ourselves creating an understanding of our experiences and learning new ways of handling what was second nature. Victor Frankl used his experiences to portray people’s survival.

We may not be able to change anything about our circumstances. We can shape our attitude and outlook. How we respond to our surroundings can change and help us successfully manage. 

Man’s Search For Meaning
by Viktor E. Frankl

Living through a perfectly ghastly experience of the Concentration Camps Victor Frankl saw people who survived as people who had meaning in, or purpose to, their lives. Meaning despite what was going on around them, their attitude and response kept them alive. Frankl was a doctor, having studied psychiatry and neurology, before WWII, his experience and found people who had a reason for their lives were able to bear their surroundings.

With many of our civil and religious rituals and lives changed, with mourning and grieving rituals stopped and as we forge ahead with new routines, where and how can we renew meaning?

Many things resonated with me, this sentence is one:

“The attempt to develop a sense of humor and to see things in a humorous light is some kind of a trick learned while mastering the art of living.” (pg 44)

There are many books we can read to help us find our way as we continue our journey. Here are several.

Start Where You Are
by Pema Chodron
Help Thanks Wow
by Anne Lamott
Book| eBook|Compact Disc
Wouldn’t Take Nothing For My Journey Now
by Maya Angelou
Book|eBook| Audiocassette
by Thich Nhat Hanh / Edoardo Ballerini