Heidi Cullinan: Sleigh Ride ~ For the Love of Libraries

For the Love of Libraries: Librarian Heroes, Real and Fictional

sleigh-ride-quoteWhen I was little, I lived on a farm in the middle of nowhere. The closest town was five miles away, but there wasn’t much in it. My school, a few service stations, some places to eat, a bank, a post office. For a little while there was a grocery store, but that closed before I was seven. My church was there, along with two others.

No library.

My closest library was about twenty miles away, in our county’s seat. The Maquoketa Public Library looks the same today as it did then: squat, brick, monstrous. I remember the way it echoed when you walked under the dome. It seemed to urge you to hush. I remember the smell too. Musty, old—moldy paper. Leather spines. The books there were not new, especially in the upstairs. I remember searching the main floor stacks because they were so impressive and I felt very adult browsing there. Mostly, though, I lived in the basement with the kids’ books. I think I read half the downstairs library. We got to the library every time we stocked up on groceries, and sometimes I got to stay at the library while my mother shopped. I’d leave with a teetering stack of new things to read every time. Sometimes I’d revisit an old friend, but it was too easy to find something I hadn’t explored before. I couldn’t resist forging down new roads.

I wish I could tell you I remember a librarian as wonderful as Gabriel Higgins, but I don’t have anyone specific to name. I only remember that every librarian was like a magician, someone who could always find the book. I have no memories of a librarian laughing at me or scolding me or discouraging me. I lived in a great host of cities and towns in my life, and when I conjure librarian a jumble of smiling faces lean down, usually over spectacles, and tell me they’ll look that up and be right back, or they lead me to the stacks. Librarians in my life have always been lovers of learning, of finding, of sharing.

I always feel like I more unwrap than shape my characters, but I have to say, every wonderful librarian I’ve ever met got grafted onto Gabriel Higgins. Now that I’m an adult, I know librarians are liberal in the most wonderful sense of the word: they’re rarely political, but they are liberal in that they want to shower knowledge on their patrons. Or better yet, lead them to the well to drink themselves. Librarians are like party planners whose favors are always books and articles and secret veins of information. They don’t care where someone comes from, and they don’t judge—if someone wants to know, they’re the people you want on your side.

I’ve loved watching librarians defend their patron’s rights to keep their searches out of government security indexes—regardless of what party or President was at the apex of the order. Librarians are always the ones standing as a wall against parents and community members wanting to ban a book—most libraries I’ve ever been in proudly display banned books, making the controversy a selling point. See this book? Someone doesn’t want you to read it. Doesn’t that make you want to check it out?

I’ll admit, I love librarians to this day. If someone follows me on Twitter and I see they’re a librarian? Autofollow. If a librarian asks me for something? Automatic yes. When I was a child, they helped me see beyond my tiny town into the whole wide world. When I was lost and lonely in college, they gave me solace. When I need research help for writing, I turn to them. As an author, I’ve come full circle, and sometimes when I browse the stacks, I see my own work there, ready for checkout. My turn at the secret door, the window I made for someone else to peek into a world they might not know.

For free. All of this is for free. Librarians are paid, and God knows I’ve built several libraries with the fines I’ve accrued in my lifetime—but the books and movies and art and programs and classes…the knowledge is freely given. Paid for by governments and institutions and foundations, loved by children and adults. Curated with joy and passion by librarians.

Thank you, librarians I have known and those I have yet to know. I might build worlds and create characters, but you are the guardians of possibility. You’re the reason I’m an author.

May you always find us another secret door to open.


Coming November 11 from Samhain Publishing

Book Two of the Minnesota Christmas Series

The way to a man’s heart is on a sleigh.

Arthur Anderson doesn’t want anything to do with love and romance, and he certainly doesn’t want to play Santa in his mother’s library fundraising scheme. He knows full well what she really wants is to hook him up with the town’s lanky, prissy librarian.

It’s clear Gabriel Higgins doesn’t want him, either—as a Santa, as a boyfriend, as anyone at all. But when Arthur’s efforts to wiggle out of the fundraiser lead to getting to know the man behind the storytime idol, he can’t help but be charmed. The least he can do is be neighborly and help Gabriel find a few local friends.

As their fiery arguments strike hotter sparks, two men who insist they don’t date wind up doing an awful lot of dating. And it looks like the sleigh they both tried not to board could send them jingling all the way to happily ever after.

Warning: Contains a feisty librarian, a boorish bear, small town politics, deer sausage, and a boy who wants a doll.

Buy links: Samhain, Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, iTunes, Goodreads, Excerpt, Book Page on Website, Book Page for Let It Snow (book one in the series)


Heidi Cullinan

Heidi Cullinan has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy, romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren’t enough of those stories out there. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, knitting, listening to music, and watching television with her husband and ten-year-old daughter. Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights and is proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality. Find out more about Heidi, including her social networks, at www.heidicullinan.com.

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  1. I love libraries–I think I have cards for six of ’em (some too far away to be practical were it not for OverDrive), and I use them all…

  2. I like visiting the library. I spent a lot of my childhood in one, reading, participating it the reading programs and other programs and when I got into my teen years just volunteering there.

  3. Jules Lovestoread

    This post is so fantastic. Libraries, and librarians, are indeed MAGICAL. :)