I commented recently that 2012 appears to be turning into a year of "library fiction" for me. Which immediately led to someone asking "Huh?"
To elaborate, a short story written several years ago about the meltdown of a post-apocalyptic library appears in the anthology Foreshadows. Interestingly, just as this came out, I was finishing up a manuscript where much of the action takes place in the Cobalt City Library.
Both stories probably sprang out of my longtime obsession with Carnegie Libraries, that grand building experiment by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie to provide free libraries across the United States and British Empire in the early 20th century. The majority of public libraries in my hometown, Seattle, were built with Carnegie's grants and still are wonderful warm places to discover new books.
Both also reflect my current frustration with government cutbacks across the board for one of the great institutions of democracy that provides free access to knowledge. Loss of libraries cannot be taken lightly. Like Carnegie, I believe that our next generation of thinkers -- be they writers, engineers, artists, industrialists, or politicians -- should encounter a broad range of ideas through the serendipity of discovering the classic or the newest of the new upon the shelves (or in the digital collection) of a public library.
If you have a favorite Carnegie Library to visit, send me a picture. I'd love to share it with other Carnegie Library fans.