Libi’s Library

By: Angie Haddock

I know social media gets a bad rep sometimes – it can definitely be a drain on our brain power, right? But somedays, I am amazed at the wonderfulness I randomly come across! Such is the case with Libi’s Library, which came to my attention through Instagram.

Elizabeth “Libi” Jane Upshaw died on March 21, 2020 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Libi loved playing piano, snuggling her pomeranians, growing plants, drinking coffee, phone calls with her daughter, relaxing on the back porch with her husband and most of all, cutting hair. When it came to hair styling, Libi was one of the best in the business for over 40 years.

Libi also loved reading books! Her favorites were mystery and thriller. Over the years, she collected hundreds of books and enjoyed sharing them with others. She even kept a “library” in the back of her salon for her friends to check out.

Her daughter, Mallory, says that what most people don’t realize about her mom is “how incredibly brave, strong, and selfless she was. She was diagnosed with small-cell carcinoma in July 2018. We suspect she had been sick for some time prior to that but she had spent the last several years caring for her dad who lived in a nursing facility with Alzheimer’s. She rarely missed a day to visit him… She continued to work as much as she could until about a month before she died. In fact, she was on hospice and very frustrated with me because I ‘wouldn’t let her work.’ “

After her death, Libi’s husband kept her hardcover books. Mallory inherited the paperbacks – to the tune of 1,147 books. She says, “I was devastated about the idea of them sitting in a box in my garage. However, I also knew that it wasn’t realistic space-wise for me to unpack and keep them.” So Mallory and her friends came up with Libi’s Library, as a way to share Libi’s love of reading.

People who hear about the books can contact Mallory through the website, or on social media. She ships books to them, with the understanding that the books will be distributed to local Little Free Libraries in the area. She usually sends about 10-20 books in a shipment and has books currently in 21 states. She hopes to have sent books to all 50 states by the end of the year. She has also received permission to start a Little Free Library at a local bakery near her house, so she’ll have her own location to keep stocked.

All the books have stickers on them telling Libi’s story. Libi’s books also have a gold star sticker. Mallory explains: “I would love to be able to continue to collect and share books in her memory even after all of her books are distributed, but I wanted a way to identify which ones were actually hers.”

Be sure to follow along with Libi’s Library on Instagram and Facebook, so you can see all the places her books travel! If you find a book of Libi’s in your local Little Free Library, post about it and share the story. And if you’re around Nashville, keep an eye out for the books I’m dropping off in the area.

February is National Library Lover’s Month

By: Angie Haddock


February has a lot going on: Black History Month, Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, the Super Bowl. Among the many causes to stop and reflect, February is also a time to celebrate a place dear to most readers: the library!

A local library in Nashville.

For many of us, the library has been a great place to find new books, or learn new things. I know that my library system has been closed to the public since March of last year, though. They offer curbside service only, which still allows me to get books and movies – but no browsing.

I asked two of my librarian friends what these past months have been like for them and their libraries.


Missy works for the Memphis Public Library, as a Librarian Assistant specializing in tween programming.

Q: Is your library currently open, closed, or something in between?:

A: We are open with limited capacity, shortened hours, rotating schedule, no in person programming or meetings.

One of Missy’s take-home crafts!

Q: How has your specific job been affected by the changes your library has had to institute this past year?:

A: I implemented a successful take home craft program across the library system with grant money that may continue post-COVID.

Q: What (job-related) thing are you most looking forward to when things return to being fully open?:

A: I am most looking forward to hopefully hosting my big Harry Potter Halloween bash that got cancelled. Other programs are special too, but I really want this one to happen this year.

Q: What’s something you’ve read this past year that you’d recommend?:

A: “Know My Name” by Chanel Miller and “They Called Us Enemy” by George Takei. My recommendations aren’t entirely reflective of what I usually read, but I’d also like to shout out anything under the “Rick Riordan presents” banner.


Theresa works as an Adult Programming Clerk for a countywide library system in Ohio.

Q: Is your library currently open, closed, or something in between?:

A: Currently open–depending on whether or not our county has a stay-at-home order in place. No meetings or in person programming. When the buildings are closed to the public, we still have staff answering the phones, providing reference assistance, offering curbside or drive through pick ups, and we recently added individual laptop reservations–because so much of what the library provides now is computer and internet access, so someone could reserve a block of time to use a laptop in an enclosed meeting room for school work, job searches, meetings, etc.

Q: How has your specific job been affected by the changes your library has had to institute this past year?:

A: Because my department plans programming and author events for the entire county library system, it’s been a big shift from in-person programs to virtual. Last year there were several months of different teams trying to figure out the best platforms for different kinds of programming. Looking ahead, we’re planning to have a full schedule of programming for our spring season–but everything will be virtual for now. But it’s raised questions about how to provide equity and access for people who don’t have internet at home to participate. So many people use the library primarily as their sole source of computer and internet access. I think most libraries have worked on boosting their wi-fi signal so that when buildings are closed, people can at least access the internet from the parking lots any time of day.

Q: What (job-related) thing are you most looking forward to when things return to being fully open?:

A: I think it will be great to be able to host in-person programming again–there are some limitations to virtual that you’re never going to be able to overcome without being in the same room. But I also think virtual programming is here to stay in some form–although it limits some people, it opens opportunities up for others. There was one instance with someone who has a hearing disability and was not going to do a workshop any longer, but then realized that the virtual version of the workshop actually made the program more accessible because it was easier to hear the group conversation through speakers or earbuds. Everything we can’t do right now is frustrating, but I really think that what we’ve learned from adapting to COVID is going to bring more options to life in a post-COVID world.

Q: What’s something you’ve read this past year that you’d recommend?:

Read more N.K. Jemisin

A: NK Jemisin’s “How Long ‘Til Black Future Month” is a vivid collection of short stories that really shows her range–hard sci-fi, fantasy, magical realism, historical, and a couple stories I can only describe as “culinary fantasy” (yeah, it’s gonna make you hungry).

And I’m in the middle of “The Overstory by Richard Powers right now. I feel like I was a little late to this one–everyone was talking about it 2 years ago, but no one could really describe it beyond saying something like, “It’s a novel about trees. I can’t explain it but it’s amazing.” It’s gut-punchingly emotional, and at the same time, makes me want to do everything I can in my little corner to save the world.


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