What Does Local Mean?
This is part of an ongoing discussion of Library books by Local authors.. Most of that happens off-line.
In conversations with members of the Guild, and staff at the Library, one of the topics in this area is who and what does the designation ‘local author‘ really mean.
Initially it’s a simple concept – if they live(d) here, wrote and published a book then they are a local author and their book is the product of a local author. If that book that ends up in the Library then the community has access to it, which is a core reason libraries exist. And a condition (local author’s books in the library) we would like to maintain.
How about if they live in the next town over?
That’s Greenwood to the West and Christina Lake to the East. Generally most people I’ve talked to agree that these could be considered ‘local’. It’s a half hour drive or less. We’re all living in small towns and a lot of us know a lot of the others in the towns close-by: Grand Forks has a lot of ‘locals’ from nearby doing their business in town.
To the North of us is Edgewood.
You can get there going straight North but a large portion of that trip will be spent on Forest Service Roads – not something you want to do with a low riding car or lacking a map or GPS or guide. It’s not as if Edgewood is far away – under three hours or less if you have a tough truck. That’s only 110 Kilometers. Down in the Lower Rainland, er, Fraser Valley that’s an hour or less on the freeway. Here in the mountains it takes a bit longer . . .
But to get there by highway means going around and it’s hours and hours. The route West is 379 Km long and would take just under 5 hours. The shorter route East is 317 Km and would take just over 4 hours.
Okay . . . that all sounds a bit removed but the other day I was visiting the Library and was asked ‘is this local: Author from Edgewood, Printed in Grand Forks?’ I glanced at it, saw a Doukhobor cookbook and said ‘”Sure, that’s local.” I didn’t even really have to think about that one. So it has been added to our growing list of local authors’ book at the local library. You can see that here: The Sunflower Recipe Collection – A Doukhobor Cookbook
Local means different things to different people – even different versions of the same person at different times.
I guess somewhere along the 17 years I’ve lived here my mental map of ‘local’ has adjusted. When I lived in a major city local became the neighbourhood I lived in, the area around where I worked. Grand Forks is small enough that you can get around the whole town on foot or a bicycle. If you have a vehicle the next towns are almost guaranteed to be on your list of stops or destinations for any drives you might do.
The thing about small towns compared to big ones is the pickings mean picky people have to pack it off to pick in places close-by. Which means the towns nearby. ‘easily accessible’ morphs into a larger Local than it used to be.
Previous to this was another ‘is this local’ question.
One of our current members is related to one of our previous members, he was her uncle Frank. He moved here to be close to family in Christina Lake. (actually if memory serves he lived here for a time before I was even born) They have written and produced 6 books. But they moved on to another community in BC further east.
Our member purchased a few copies of their most recent book (a cookbook) and donated one to the local library.
They live in Creston . . . but they used to live here. Christina Lake, but that’s ‘here’. And when I mentioned this in passing I found out a few people I know now knew them then. And now their latest book is in our library . . . so I’ve included it in the local authors’ books to be kept from purging project. You can see that here: From One Small Garden
Frank Brummet was a member of our group for years but he eventually followed them – family, you know? Frank has since passed on. But he did leave a collection of poems which his family will be publishing eventually. And that will be purchased and donated to the library and added to the list. A lot of that writing was done while he lived here.
To the South of us is the USA. It’s only 5 Km from town.
If we have books written by someone in Ferry County Washington which is geographically in our area (or we’re in it’s area) and they are in our library I would likely add them to the list as well. We have shared geography and history. Even though the author might be in another country they’re close enough that when the borders open again (COVID still has them closed) people from our respective areas will be crossing over and spending time and money in each others’ neighbourhoods. I know a lot of people who used to cross over daily to pick up parcels and gas up. That’s way it was before things got shuttered and the way it will likely be after the border reopens.
On the other hand . . .
I’m reading a book by the grandson of a friend who is a local. The friend that is – the grandson is not local. When asked the ‘is this local’ question by the library director I answered No without too much hesitation to think about it.
I think the answer has more to do with what kind of connection the author personally has / had to the area. If they lived here for any reasonable length of time, wrote and/or published while they were here, spent every summer here as a youngster, and is / was known by locals then they kind of have that ‘local author’ feel for me.
It is up to the library if a donation is accepted into the collection or not. Most libraries are stuffed with books written by authors who have never lived there – reserving space for local authors isn’t the library’s job. But figuring out which ones we want kept and doing something about that depends on those of us who care about it.