Mother’s Day at the library

Okay. I hate that the complicated, intense emotions  surrounding motherhood have been co-opted by corporations on the principle that every occasion can be leveraged to flog stuff. Surely there’s a way to celebrate  Mother’s Day without diminishing it to a jackpot for Hallmark? Well, trust libraries to figure out an answer.  Actually, I believe libraries are the answer (to just about everything). So: when my local library marked Mother’s Day by inviting kids to plant a flower for their moms in their community garden, we joined in gladly.

The flower just above the trowel was planted by my son FOR ME.

Some eager young planters with their moms. I’m the one back in the right in the blue T-shirt and ill-fitting green pants, busily eating a muffin. Because librarians understand that you can’t survive motherhood without caffeine and sugar —>

Coffee and eats were provided by local businesses, as were the plants. The library staff came prepared with a bucket of soapy water for washing little muddy hands, paper towels to dry off and even Toy Story bandages for those yet to develop fine motor skills. And when we finished planting our flower, we went in for storytime, where my son learnt about visual disabilities and treating differently-abled people with respect.

This is why we need libraries–to reaffirm the importance of civility and restraint and generosity, to demonstrate to impressionable young minds that the good things in life aren’t the most expensive, and to understand the value of community. And for a new mother, libraries are  safe spaces, they are panic rooms, they are sanctuaries. When I moved to my current city, my son was a year old, and I didn’t know a single person; the first friends I made were at library storytimes with other neophyte moms. And my son turned five last week, and he made me a card and a jewelry box and a necklace in candy colors for Mother’s Day, and then we celebrated some more at the library. If I haven’t said it often enough to librarians in my past and present: Thank you. You are all awesome.

(All pictures courtesy Caitlin Fralick of the Westdale library.)

Library love (in rural India)

Gone Reading is an American company marketing products for readers.

What, you ask, are products for readers; surely one needs nothing more than light and a book?

Um, sort of. Bookmarks are nice. Bookends, booklights, bookish games …. yeah, quite a few things actually.

If you’re planning to get a reading light, a journal, T-shirts or mugs with reading-themed epigrams, please consider Gone Reading. They donate 100% of their profits to charity. Specifically, to charities that promote literacy. More specifically, to charities promoting literacy in the developing world. Like this one, you picky-picky devils.

That’s a picture of a library in Geejhar, India, that Gone Reading and a local charity READ Global are building together. Here’s what Brad Wirz, CEO of Gone Reading had to say in his email:

“GoneReading just started marketing itself in September, but our goal is to bring the magic of reading to the far corners of the world by providing significant funding to organizations such as READ.  We donated just $4,500 last year, but our goal is to quadruple that amount in 2012, growing significantly from there.  GoneReading donates 100% of its after-tax profits.  We’re lean and mean, with an all-volunteer staff…”

Hear ye: philanthropy and the capitalist business model need not be mutually exclusive. So, instead of Amazon or Chapters or Brookstone or Williams-Sonoma or wherever you’d normally shop for such items, do consider Gone Reading, where your funds will help get kids reading. Gone Reading will further sweeten the deal by offering a 25% discount to all readers of this blog. Please please use NIRANJANA25 at the checkout (ends April 7, 2012).

Here are some of Gone Reading’s products. I was rather taken with these bookends.

And this game would pair well with a robust red.

And this cake charm bookmark is quite delish.

And if you usually shop at Oxfam or Ten Thousand Villages, well, yes.

Disclaimer: I’m writing about Gone Reading because they are a non-profit working in an area I’m interested in; I have not been compensated for this post. Gone Reading did send me this small but perfectly formed reading light that my son immediately appropriated.

I can testify that despite a week’s worth of abuse at the hands of a four-year-old who attempted to tie the stem into a love-knot, the light still works fine.


I also wanted to share this moving story from Canadian novelist Terry Fallis, whose book club remembered a member lost to cancer by setting up a library in her name.  The group wanted to “find a fitting way for us to honour what Vicki had meant to our humble monthly gathering of book lovers.  […] Money was raised and other arrangements made, and on January 31, 2012, there was a grand opening. In Dhaberi, a small farming village in central India, a children’s library opened its doors for business. Vicki’s Library. The funds donated purchased 500 children’s books and will pay a librarian for two hours a day, to work with the children and check out their books. Our book club has pledged to keep the library open. I cannot think of a better way to honour a good friend who loved books and reading as much as Vicki did. ”

Please read the entire story here.

A library in Timbuktu

From Architectural Record: “Just a few miles from the Niger River Delta [note: that should read Inner Niger Delta] in Mali, Timbuktu appears as a labyrinth of single-story mud buildings. A city of near-mythic status, it is the last outpost before the great Sahara Desert, a place synonymous with being almost impossible to reach. Despite its remote location, the city boasts a heritage of scholarship that has produced an astounding number of manuscripts. The new Ahmed Baba Institute of Higher Islamic Studies and Research, completed in 2009, introduces state-of-the-art techniques for conserving, exhibiting, and studying these famous Timbuktu manuscripts.”

Here’s  the exterior:

And here’s the interior:

And here are the books:

All pictures via. And thank you to my architect friend S. who pointed me here.