Friday, October 14, 2011

Detroit Public Library - Main Branch


Before I left town on my last trip to Detroit, I made an unexpected stop at the Detroit Public Library on Woodward Avenue, located across from the Detroit Institute of Arts. I had seen the main branch of the library many times from the steps of the museum, sometimes with students in tow and sometimes on visits with family or friends. The main building was constructed in 1921 in the neoclassical style, like many of the government buildings in Washington, DC and around the country.

After my book tour was finished for Zug Island: A Detroit Riot Novel, I had about a dozen surplus copies I didn't want to take back on the plane to San Diego, so I went over to the library hoping to donate a couple of them for their collection.

I explained my luggage situation, and the librarian at the fiction desk gladly accepted both books. I offered more, but she said maybe an autographed copy that the librarians could pass around would be fine. I walked out to my car, got another novel, and returned.

Seems in the short time it took me to walk out to my rental car, one of the other librarians walked by the fiction desk and saw my novel on the counter. She told the fiction librarian that she had just been reading about Zug Island on her computer, probably my website.

"The author was just here and he should be coming through the front door again any minute now," she was told.

By the time I returned, there were four librarians waiting for me. They were all smiles as I greeted each of them. They wanted to know more about my book and why I wrote it. I went into auto-author mode and gave them a shortened, informal run through of my book talk.

John Norman Collins, aka John Chapman
When they asked me about my next writing project, I told them I was in town doing research on the John Norman Collins - Co-ed Killings of the late Sixties. They showed an avid interest in that subject. Only one of the ladies was old enough to remember these murders. This topic seemed to fascinate them, especially the brutality and cold case aspect of these serial killings.

I want to thank all librarians for being guardians of the printed word, and these librarians in particular, for their kind words of support and encouragement for my success. It was truly unexpected and appreciated.

If that wasn't enough, I imposed on their time once again and asked if they might distribute my remaining ten copies of Zug Island to other branches in their library system. They happily agreed.

As it turned out, I had accumulated so much data and research for my next book, that I paid an extra $50 in overweight baggage charges to take it all home. But it was worth it. I got some great material.

Thanks again, ladies. Meeting and talking with you was one of the high points of my trip back home.