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Library angling for visit from bestselling author

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014 9:47 a.m. CDT
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(Monica Maschak - mmaschak@shawmedia.com)
Librarians set up holiday display based on the books of Alexander McCall Smith for a contest to bring the author to DeKalb Library on Thursday, January 2, 2014. The winner will not be announced until February.

DeKALB – “If your ceiling should fall down, then you have lost a room, but gained a courtyard.”

So writes the great optimist Alexander McCall Smith in his book “The Right Attitude to Rain.” The DeKalb Public Library has created a display for a holiday contest that rewards the winning library with a visit from McCall Smith himself. It took a crew of nine six weeks to plan and execute the display.

Around the holidays, optimism is in full bloom — even though nothing else may be. People are happy, they want to stay happy, and they want to read something that will keep them happy. No author does that better than McCall Smith, most famous for his series “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.” The display features characters and scenes from each of McCall Smith’s popular series, including “44 Scotland Street,” “Portuguese Irregular Verbs,” “Corduroy Mansion,” “Max and Maddy,” “Harriet Bean,” “Akimbo,” “The Sunday Philosophy Club,” and “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.” Bookmarks, each featuring a different series and complete with a short biography, have been placed in front of the display for patrons.

The display is a dynamic arrangement that shifts every couple of days. Patrons can enjoy bright scenes from Africa, and stop in a few days later to admire the precise and detailed scenes from London.

“This is one of the best displays I’ve ever seen,” said Kathleen Hathaway, a government documents librarian from Poplar Creek Public Library.

Kristine Ohman, reference librarian at the DeKalb library, said the staff had fun creating the display.

“Our staff enjoyed pooling our knowledge of the variety of plots, settings, and characters in the McCall Smith books,” she said. “We tried to use identifiable features to fashion figures and backgrounds that were representative of his excellent series.”

The contest is sponsored by Random House. The winner will be announced by Feb. 3.

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