Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff Roars for Libraries
Welcome to Library Lions interviews. Best-selling author, Elizabeth Koehler-Pentacoff is stopping by to share her books and Library Love with us. Take it away Elizabeth.
I’m the author of ten books, including my memoir, The Missing Kennedy: Rosemary Kennedy and the Secret Bonds of Four Women, a New York Times Bestseller.
(note: Library Lions readers can enter below to win as copy signed by the author.)
My other books consist of: The ABCs of Writing for Children, a Writer’s Digest Book Club Selection, Jackson and Bud’s Bumpy Ride: America’s First Cross-Country Automobile Trip, illustrated by Wes Hargis, and seven other books for children.
Pride of Programs
For the past fifteen years, I’ve taught creative writing and drama for middle school students at local libraries.
We’ve had sixty students packed into a small room! There is a real lack of creative writing classes within public schools today, with the focus on writing reports and nonfiction. This is one example where libraries rescue children.
Contra Costa County’s Pleasant Hill Library is fortunate to have the most amazing Senior Community Library Manager Patrick Remer.
When I first saw him lead story time I stood with my jaw agape. He shares stories with such energy, enthusiasm, and creative drama-musical skills, participants of all ages become active and engaged.
Programs at the Pleasant Hill include science and robotics, pets, arts, games, education, and more. I’d like to thank every librarian who makes libraries and books interactive for children and adults!
Currently, I love libraries so much my name is known there for frequent book requests! As an author, the library has always been the first place for me to do my research. For The Missing Kennedy, I requested a multitude of books and articles about this family. After I read all I could, my husband and I took a trip to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. We only could stay a handful of days, so my husband took photos of files while I made hard copies of others. Once we arrived home, my real work began.
In the 1990s, I wrote an article for the San Francisco Examiner about how ridiculous the lack of funding for our libraries has been. Communities throw money at sports’ stadiums and athletic departments while libraries and books get the short shift. My own college funded athletics in an exorbitant way while the library and books suffered. If a college isn’t able to have sensible priorities, who can? And without libraries, how will disadvantaged people experience literacy and learning skills? Personally, as a child, I would have suffered greatly. Even middle class people can’t afford to buy every book a child needs throughout life.
Before I was a writer I taught elementary and middle school. At the time, our tiny school library only held donated books and a handful of others. So I built a small classroom library, making it available to all upper grade students throughout certain hours during the day. But it still wasn’t enough. Nothing and no one can replace a real library, with librarians who know books and students.
Library Love as a Cub
As a child in the 1960s and 70s, my second home was our local library in small town Oconomowoc, Wisconsin. Built in the mid-1800s, with a hardware store inhabiting what later became the children’s section, the building was later enlarged and held, at various times, “The Loiterer’s Club,” a bank, and a blacksmith shop. It became a library in 1901.
I loved the two majestic iron griffins guarding the entrance. Once inside, I’d make a left into the cozy children’s room, with its inviting stone-white fireplace. Mom allowed me to choose a bag full of books, and on the walk home, my reading anticipation grew. As I matured, reading was a reward to cherish, once homework and chores were completed.
As a teen, I worked at the library after school and on Saturdays. But it wasn’t work for me. It was fun! As a “page” I shelved books, delivered magazine and newspaper requests from the quirky basement, (rumored to be haunted, but the coolest place ever!) and learned to type catalog cards for new books. But my favorite job of all was answering patrons’ questions and giving advice about good children’s books. Even as a teen I loved them, and have never stopped reading books for all ages.
Thank you, Elizabeth for your terrific interview!
Elizabeth has kindly offered a signed copy of The Missing Kennedy: Rosemary Kennedy and the Secret Bonds of Four Women to a lucky Library Lions winner! Enter to win.
NOTE: To those of you who are new to rafflecopter, the only thing you have to do is tweet. The tweet is written for you ahead of time. You just need to click it. Also you need to click “I Tweeted” to confirm the entry. Good Luck All!
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Note to Librarians: If you’re a Youth Librarian working in a school or public library we’d love to hear about you and your library. Email Janet via the Contact page on this website to set up an interview.
Note to Authors: If you’re interested in Roaring for Libraries on this blog, contact Janet.