Mar Vista librarians join forces to publish book

By Kamala Kirk

Local librarians Yago Cura (left) and Oleg Kagan (right) recently published a book featuring a collection of 43 stories about the positive impact of libraries.

For the past five years, Mar Vista librarian Oleg Kagan had been compiling a collection of stories gathered from library workers, volunteers and patrons that focused on the positive impact of libraries. Together with fellow librarian and HINCHAS Press owner Yago Cura and illustrator Autumn Anglin, Kagan published “Inspiring Library Stories: Tales of Kindness, Connection, and Community Impact” in September 2020.

“Library people do amazing work, but are often too shy or just too busy to share it,” Kagan said. “Essentially, I asked, encouraged, nagged, cajoled and pulled out stories from anyone you find around libraries—workers, members of Friends groups, teen volunteers and library patrons. It took a long time to gather these stories, but I feel like it was so worth it.”

The book features 43 true stories that are funny, moving and provide insight into what makes libraries such a uniquely treasured institution.

“It’s a bit like ‘Chicken Soup for the Library Lover’s Soul,’ except our book also has a few essays that give readers an insider look into libraries and what it’s like to be a librarian in this day and age,” Cura shared. “We conducted a pre-sale through August and it’s been selling steadily ever since.”

For every book sold, 30 percent of proceeds goes to EveryLibrary, a national organization dedicated to building voter support for libraries. EveryLibrary is also helping HINCHAS Press run a “One Book, One Congress” campaign where they send every legislator in Congress and the Senate a copy of the book to support the equitable funding of libraries across the country.

Kagan is hard at work on his next project of submitting a chapter about the role of public libraries in community empowerment for immigrant groups for “Librarians with Spines, volume 03,” which HINCHAS Press will publish in 2021.

“The world has so much to be sad about, thankfully libraries aren’t one of them,” Kagan said. “In fact, libraries have been a beacon of light to many before and during the pandemic. Though many have had their buildings closed, libraries have, as always, adapted to meet community needs by lending out laptops and wireless hotspots, pivoting to all-virtual programming for all ages, and more. ‘Inspiring Library Stories’ isn’t just a beautiful gift for anyone who loves libraries, it’s also a way to educate those who aren’t sure about their role in the digital age, and most of all, a way to take the love so many feel for our favorite institution and pay it forward.”

Print and e-book versions are available on hinchaspress.com

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