Oline H. Cogdill

As readers of mystery fiction, I think we can all agree on how important literacy programs are and how important it is to support our local libraries.

I love libraries and try to always make myself available to moderate a panel, introduce an author, etc., when asked by area libraries.

Each year in the Fort Lauderdale area there is a terrific event called the Literary Feast sponsored by the Broward County Public Library Foundation.

And next month I will be moderating some panels during Palm Beach Peril put on by the Palm Beach Library System.

Now some of you readers who don’t live in Florida are wondering "what this has to do with me?"

Well, everything.

The Florida connection doesn’t matter. What matters is that each of you has a local library and supporting a library is vital to a community.

During the mystery fiction panel I moderated, everyone one of us had a story that was either shared with the audience or said later in private about how much a library can mean to a community.

My panel included Michael Sears, Archer Mayor, Karin Slaughter and John Searles.

During the panel, Searles, author of the highly rated Help for the Haunted, talked about how as a child he would often go to the library after school to avoid the bullies. The library became a refuge for him and a place to learn about the world outside his home.

Karin Slaughter
is one of the founders of Save the Libraries Foundation, which raises money for libraries around the country. Slaughter told our audience how much she values libraries.

Michael Sears and Archer Mayor also love libraries

I also conducted the interview with Martha Grimes and a separate interview with Robin Cook. Before both events, we chatted about the Literary Feast and how important libraries are.

These library events usually offer books for sale and there also is a ripple effect.

A reader may end up buying more books by an author after the event, or encourage their friends and family to buy those books.

The Literary Feast brings authors to the schools and those high schoolers often will then buy the book or encourage their parents to buy the book.

A library also was important to me as a child. I spent countless hours after school and on Saturdays at the library in my hometown of Charleston, Missouri. I learned so much about the world beyond myself there. And it was after I had pretty much exhausted every children’s book there that my mother suggested I try her mystery novels.

The rest is, as they say, history.

For readers, libraries supply us with so many reading options.

For authors, libraries buy books and often will buy more books by an author if enough readers demand it.

Everyone wins when there is a local library.

Everyone loses when a library closes.