The Libraries We Love & Why We Love Libraries

The Fonz Loves Libraries, Too

Henry Winkler, the actor and director once known as “The Fonz,” is now a children’s author. He kindly provided a letter about his childhood library as a foreword to Berkshire’s Heart of the Community: The Libraries  We Love. He writes about the excitement he felt every time he checked out a book and closes by saying, “The library is a living place—you have to visit it, use it, enjoy it to keep it healthy. Read your heart out!” Incidentally, we learned that when his Happy Days character, The Fonz, said, “’Hey, Ritchie, you can get a library card, and they’re free,” library cards issued in the United States reportedly went up 500 percent. Winkler’s books feature Hank Zipzer, “the world’s best underachiever,” who has to cope with learning challenges, just as Winkler himself did.

Good Library Manual

Karen Christensen writes:

I would not be the person I am without libraries, a lot of libraries. Berkshire Publishing would not exist today, but for the Poplar Bridges Elementary School Library in Bloomington, Minnesota, and the Cupertino Public Library in the heart of the Silicon Valley.

When I ran away from home in Cupertino at age 14, I went to a commune in southern Oregon. What did I do the first week? Joined the public library in Myrtle Point – using a false name, naturally, since I was listed on a police missing persons list by then.

I have belonged to libraries in every place and every country I have lived, usually to more than one library at a time.  When I first went to England in 1977, the Frimley Green Library is where I discovered the garden writer Beverly Nichols, for example.  As a student at UC Santa Barbara, I used the campus library and the public library, and I found the food writer M. F. K. Fisher there, as I browsed the shelves. The library in Sydney, Australia, gave me a chance to read most of Trollope – no small matter – the summer after college. I joined many different London libraries as I hopped from flat to flat in my early years there, and Camberwell Public Library got me some of the books I needed to write my own first book, and provided the lovely wooden bookshelves on which I arranged my research collection.

And today, I am a happy patron of the beautiful Mason Library in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, as well as the New York Public Library and frequent visitor to the Simon’s Rock College Library, the staff of which has been a frequent help with questions small and projects large. We’re delighted to make the Good Library Manual available now as a free ebook.

How about you? I’d love to hear about the libraries that have changed your life! Write to me anytime: karen @ berkshirepublishing [.] com.

The Good Library Manual is a practical guide to transforming any public library—large and small, city and rural—by making every aspect of the library experience appealing and enjoyable, from the moment someone sees the building and walks in the door to the time when they check out.


Limited Period Offer
Subscribe to our newsletter and get “The Good Library Manual” ebook (usual price $9.99) for free.


Heart of the Community: The Libraries We Love

A gorgeous coffee table book showcasing an icon of American life, the public library. Heart of the Community: The Libraries We Love is a treasure trove of historical information, inspiring stories, and beautiful images. Join us in celebrating the libraries we love!

From the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Camden Public Library in Maine to Z. J. Loussac Public Library in Alaska, libraries are the heart of our communities. This wondrous collection of stories and photographs includes eighty libraries chosen from hundreds of nominations from across the United States and Canada.


“Good libraries make us great” was our slogan when we published the Good Library Manual, a successor to Berkshire’s 2007 coffee-table title Heart of the Communitybetter known by its subtitle The Libraries We Love. The book featured 82 US and Canadian public libraries, selected from 300 submissions that were due, naturally, on Valentine’s Day. Karen Christensen explains that “Berkshire Publishing would not exist but for the Poplar Bridges Elementary School Library in Bloomington, Minnesota, and the Cupertino Public Library in the heart of the Silicon Valley.” Read more at the Berkshire Blog.

The Good Library Manual sells at $22.95 in print and $9.99 as an ebook, but you can download a free copy today and get 11 proven design strategies to make your library even better. Simply click here, fill in your name and email, and your special link to download the free ebook edition of the Good Library Manual will be on its way to you.

What librarians and publishers are saying . . .

  • “A beautiful book, the advice is practical and upbeat, and it’s delivered in a delightful style.” —Kathleen Zaenger, Howell Carnegie District Library, Michigan
  • “Tim Coates’s passion, imagination, and determination are an inspiration for all of us.” —Hugh Andrew, Birlinn Publishers, Edinburgh
  • “Tim Coates knows more about libraries and how to make them better than any number of management consultants.” —Richard Charkin, Bloomsbury Publishing

Mary Pope Osborne on the Magic of Libraries

Mary Pope Osborne, the author of the popular “Magic Tree House” books for children, lives in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, where Berkshire Publishing is  based.  Readers of her books know that librarians are important players in the Magic Tree House stories. Her characters Jack and Annie go back in time, through magical books laid out by the librarian of Camelot, Morgan Le Fay, their adventures part of an overarching quest to become master librarians.

Mary eloquently expresses her love of libraries in a foreword to Heart of the Community: The Libraries We Love:

When I was young in New York City and wanted to be a writer, I started spending all my free time reading and writing in libraries. I sat for many hours at the Jefferson Market Library and the Hudson Park Library in my neighborhood in Greenwich Village. I discovered the Mechanic’s Library in midtown. I was a regular visitor at the libraries of the Carl Jung Institute and the Museum of Natural History. I loved the reading room at the New York Public Library on 42nd Street and the austere stacks of the New York University Bobst Library where a village resident could apply for a community card.

I spent a great deal of time searching for old books about mythology, folklore, and fairy tales. For a collection of mermaid legends, I found a Japanese Sea Queen at the Jung Library and an Algonquin waterfall maid at the library of the Museum of Natural History. When I decided to write a book called American Tall Tales, I went to the 42nd Street Library and found the first article written about Johnny Appleseed in a nineteenth-century Harper’s Magazine, and I read an 1848 play featuring New York tall tale hero, Mose the Fireboy.

For my book, My Brother’s Keeper, I studied old newspapers at the New York Historical Society; and for another book, My Secret War, I studied articles published the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. When I began the Magic Tree House Series, I spent years visiting all my favorite libraries to research dinosaurs, knights, mummies, pirates, ninjas, the rainforest, and dozens of other subjects places. The imaginary worlds I’ve discovered in libraries over the years are as real to me as if I’d truly visited them. That’s why libraries seem magical to me. And that’s why the mysterious heroine in the Magic Tree House book—the woman who sends Jack and Annie on all their missions through time and space—is (you guessed it) a librarian.

Libraries as Third Places

Here’s an article about library designs that embrace the community, and a librarian, Mr Library Dude, writing about third places.




We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.