Elizabeth Percer

Elizabeth Percer: "It's really the place where we get to find common ground as a family"

"My elementary school librarian made school far more interesting for me than any standard teacher could."

Oh wow.   I think  the library in my elementary school was probably the only place I felt comfortable other than the art room,  and I would toggle between those two spots.   Mrs. Walsh was my elementary school librarian and she just... she made school far more interesting for me than any standard teacher could, because she really just let me go and explore. 

So, that was my first and lasting   memory of libraries. 

And, when I was in college and studying I worked for GBH and I got to go into the Harvard stacks the library at Harvard, and it was an incredible experiences, you would go down several floors, and it just sort of gave me a sense of the enormity that libraries can be and how much knowledge is stored there that's rarely visited sometimes. 

So it really sort of was part of my, the birth of me as an academic. 

We have a new library in our town the Redwood Shores Library.  And I have three young children, and we're always walking over the bridge to the library.  And I hide there when I need to work and be away from the children.  It's really the place where we get to find common ground as a family, because despite the different things we do with our lives we're all readers.

The library is a place where we can celebrate that and enjoy it. 

[On budget cuts] I think, in my mind it's similar to the  the problems that independent bookstores are facing, that we're losing them and it's a tragedy in the making. We don't realize how much having the opportunity to collect, as individuals or communities, around books is so much connected to great literature itself. 

Great literature should be a conversation, and libraries enable that to happen as do small bookstores. And when we lose them, we lose that essential conversation that's often times about  the common ground we have... just across cities, cultures, towns, whatever, so obviously I'm not a fan. 

My latest project is "An Uncommon Education" and it's the coming of age novel that's set in New England, just outside of Boston and also at Wellesley College. And it's sort of a love letter to women of my generation who inherited this great feminist opportunity that our mothers fought for so hard.

We were told we should do everything and be everything, because they were not allowed to be that or do that, and as a result, I think we sort of got lost along the way. We got so forward directed that we stopped just sort of existing as individuals, enjoying the ambiguities of life and not always searching for a title... or for a label of some kind. It's for all the misfit toys out there who, like me, have a love of learning that didn't necessarily want to turn it into something professional and commercial.

Creative Commons LicenseAll author videos are available for use under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 license. We encourage libraries and library supporters to reuse this content and ask only that you provide a link back to the website. To request a copy of an author video contact the ALA Office for Library Advocacy at advocacy@ala.org.

Book Title: 

An Uncommon Education

Library Name: 

Redwood Shores Library