Regular readers know I love sharing a monthly round-up of what I’ve been learning lately, ranging from the (occasionally) significant to the (mostly) shallow.
This season I passed up the monthly updates, and if you’re thinking I’m about to blame that on my book deadline, you’re right. But I learned some things that are too interesting not to share this spring, so today I’m bringing you my spring update.
1. In many cities, libraries are top tourist destinations.
I’ve spent a lot of time in St. Louis these past few years, but I didn’t make it to their downtown Central Public Library until this spring. I was surprised to see it’s the #9 top tourist attraction in the city. How did I, of all people, not know this?
This spring I also finally got to visit the Kansas City Central Library, which I’ve long wanted to visit thanks to photos my fellow readers have shared, like the above. Actually, I got to visit it twice, because the first time my family went we didn’t know about the chessboard on the roof! Thanks to Instagram, we realized our mistake and made a return trip.
2. Ebooks are expensive for libraries.
Should I have known this already? Probably. But did I? Nope. This spring I’ve done several events with librarians all over the country, who all echoed the same sentiment: the current model of lending ebooks to patrons is not sustainable, because the costs libraries pay to offer them are substantial. But patrons love ebooks.
When libraries put new paper books on their shelves, they simply buy the book. When libraries put ebooks into circulation, they don’t just buy the book. They buy ebooks at a significant markup, averaging $25 per copy in 2018, and they can only use them for a limited time before they are required to pay to renew the license. Some publishers don’t sell to libraries at all; they want every individual reader to purchase every book.
For more info, check out this breakdown of how much libraries pay for ebooks from publishers. It’s not the most current—and one top publisher just announced changes to their pricing model yesterday—but it’s thorough.
3. Kids love typewriters.
We happened to visit the St. Louis Central Public Library while they were hosting a special exhibit called Print to Pixels. My kids were absolutely transfixed by the vintage typewriters that were part of the exhibit. It was interesting to watch the other patrons approach the typewriters: the kids were universally fascinated, while older adults were nostalgic.
I tried to follow the exhibit’s prompt and use a 1939 typewriter to write myself a letter. It was HARD. I’d like to think I could get used to it, but I’m definitely accustomed to my soft-touch keyboard.
4. The second Tuesday in April is Fountain Day.
We visited Kansas City this spring, for family reasons, and thoroughly enjoyed our time in the city. We loved the parks, the food, and the coffee. (Sooo much good coffee!)
I’d been told in advance that Kansas City boasts an incredible number of fountains, and was looking forward to seeing them in person. Alas, we learned the city turns on their 48 public fountains all on the same day, the second Tuesday in April, and we just missed it.
I think this means I need to come back during fountain season, maybe for a book event this time. (If you have any KC connections, let me know?)
5. Kansas City barbecue is legit.
I almost tucked this important lesson into the previous nugget about Fountain Day, but Joe’s Kansas City BBQ deserves its own number. I’m still dreaming about the Rocket Pig sandwich. My kids are begging to go back one day. Copious thanks to Whitney for pointing me this direction. Book people are the best people, even when they’re talking barbecue.
6. Tulsa is home to a 1/4 – sized version of the World Trade Center.
I had the pleasure of visiting Magic City Books for Independent Bookstore Day in April, and thoroughly enjoyed my time in Tulsa. I love Art Deco architecture, and was happy to discover that Tulsa is full of it.
It’s also home to a replica of the World Trade Center, a quarter-footprint, half-height skyscraper completed in 1976, just a few years after the Twin Towers were built in New York. I’m so grateful my host (hi Jeff!) pointed it out.
7. I’m getting the hang of tulips, but need help with zinnias.
For years, I admired everyone’s tulips in the spring, but could never remember to plant my own in the fall. For the past five years, I’ve been nailing the tulips, and my yard is the happier for it. So why am I struggling to remember to plant simple zinnias, that require a much shorter time frame?
I’ve been planting zinnia seeds since my early twenties, but somehow these past few years I’ve completely fallen out of the habit. If you have any gardening tips/tricks that might help, please share them in comments.
8. Always set an alarm, just in case.
I never sleep particularly late, even if I want to—especially not in unfamiliar beds, like when I’m traveling. But when I was in Tulsa, I decided to set an alarm just in case, even though I had a late morning flight and the airport was eight minutes away. The only reason I did this was an author friend of mine once slept straight through an event, not realizing how well she’d be able to sleep in a pitch black hotel room!
It turns out sometimes I can sleep till 9:30 a.m. I wished I’d gotten up earlier to go for a run and get some work done, but at least I didn’t miss my flight.
9. This lovely plant is a horsehead fern.
A friend gave me this back in the fall, and I’ve never been able to identify it. But then I spotted it at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, in their lovely home gardening area.
10. Veronica Mars is coming back!
I was surprised and delighted to see this is happening, and soon: July 26! Get the details here. HULU, TAKE MY MONEY.
What did you learn this spring?
P.S. That beautiful plant up top is a citrus tree that we found in a breathtaking greenhouse in Kansas City, a visit that confirmed I want to grow my citrus collection. Pun intended.