Sunday, March 08, 2009

Guest Blogger Kim Garza

It's hardly a secret that libraries are suffering from the hard times along with everyone else, but Kim Garza, Collection Management Librarian at Tempe Public Library in Tempe, Arizona, has noticed a reading trend that should cheer mystery writers considerably.


The fact that public libraries are busier than ever in tough economic times has been all over the news lately. Of course , the unfortunate part is that because of the economy, libraries are also facing historic budget cuts.  People are not only coming in for free entertainment and the internet, but they are using the public library as a major resource in their job hunts.  In fact, Tempe Public Library was pictured as an example in an article in the New York Times on Sunday, March 1, in an interview with a job hunter.

One thing that is not in the news, though, is the resurging popularity of the old fashioned mystery.  By this I mean a good cozy murder, and not a thriller or suspense novel.  You can call these English country murders, cozies, domestic mysteries, whatever.  It seems that in bad times people want a nice comforting murder to help them get by.

There definitely is something comforting in revisiting a favorite sleuth or village.  These books are predictable in a good way.  The traditional mystery is not like real life.  It has a beginning, middle and an end.  Everything gets wrapped up, and justice is served.  This is why we read mysteries.  We want to get lost in a world we wish really existed and forget about our grocery costs and our mortgage payment.  

We are in the process of planning a remodel of our library, so I have been massaging, weeding, whatever you want to call it, our mystery collection.  While I have been out there I have had many library users commenting that they are re-reading their old favorites because there haven’t been any new books by certain authors.  I have also noticed how battered and worn out most of the old-faithfuls are, and I am busily replacing those I can.  Most of these books are still checking out at a rapid rate no matter how they look.  I get excited whenever I discover one that is still in print.

These days because of shows like CSI we know too much forensically.  A crime scene no longer holds the surprises it used to.  This is also why an old mystery is more comforting. Because we only know the clues the author wants us to see.   Most of us don’t read for the puzzle anyway.  It is for the setting, characters and atmosphere.  Pick up a Christie, Allingham or Sayers if you don’t believe me.  You will fall in love with mysteries all over again.

Kim Garza

Collection Management Librarian

Tempe Public Library


Maggie May said...

I have been revisiting the Agatha Christie's of my youth- my mom had a huge collection and I fell in love in my teens.

Donis Casey said...

I rediscovered Graham Greene not long ago. There is a reason why some of these writers of the past are considered classics.