Life Long Library Goer Remains Connected

I received a Tweet that my book, Ahead of the Flaming Front: A Life on Fire was Book of the Day at the Ketchum Community Library last week.

#BookOfTheDay Ahead of the Flaming Front: A Life on Fire by Jerry D. Mathes II Just added to the new book shelves @KetchumLibrary @jdmathes

— librarydenizenk (@librarydenizenk) October 15, 2013

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The first time I had a book in a library it was the McCall Public Library when I fought fire with the Krassel Heli-rappellers on the Payette National Forest. In conjunction with the local bookstore, the library hosted a reading for me. The book at the time was my collection of poems The Journal West. As fate would have it, the order for my books was delayed and not present at the reading. I ended up taking the names of people and sending them copies later and donated one to the library.
It is a great thing. For as long as I can remember I have been going to libraries. In the third grade I appeared in a newspaper photograph for an exhibit on reading books about cowboys. There I was my little reader self. Over the years my father took us to some isolated areas in the American West because of work. I always found my way to the library or wherever the bookmobile would pull up and sometimes it was quite a hike. It is a fine testament to the vision of Benjamin Franklin and the building of community that in those remote outposts I was able to read for free about any subject I wanted. Not only that, but the belief that we can contribute to the society to make it better and not worse. People can check out books for free, read them and turn them back in so others can read them. Almost sounds like a 20th Century Socialist idea and not a 18th Century notion of spreading knowledge for the common good. No matter.
As a working class kid off in remote areas, the library was my portal through which I traveled to learn how others lived and had lived whether they be cowboys, firefighters or Founding Mothers. Now my book is in a great library in a region loved by other famous writers, notably Earnest Hemingway. I too love the fall. But importantly, even in the age of connectivity, someone who is unconnected can stroll in and take my book off the shelf and read it. Hey stranger, this is what happened to me. Why even this week I checked out books on China and the American Gold Rush, researching a project no amount of internet connectivity can give me. Books go deep while the internet skims as it were and besides, I cannot afford to buy those books. The library, giving a connectivity not dreamed of or possible in your own privatized internet.
There I am. The life long connection I’ve had with libraries expands and turns and now I am both borrower and contributor, but still yet the curious kid.

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