“On Libraries,” Friends of the Library, Fort Pierce, April 4, 1985

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“On Libraries,” Friends of the Library, Fort Pierce, April 4, 1985
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Burt, Al
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University of Florida
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"On Libraries"

Talk to Friends of the Library, Fort Pierce, Florida, April 4, 1985

I think if libraries as a safe haven for ideas, ideas packaged in books. They are always ready to use as
conveniently as fast food. They never have to be thawed out or heated up like TV dinners. Their
atmosphere, their sense of quiet, the feeling I get that I am in a storehouse where the minds of great
men and women are kept alive-nothing separates me from great discoveries, wisdom, tolerance that
comes with knowing the substance of many different and conflicting ideas except some thin little book
covers. The library is an exciting, wonderful place.

Harry Crews, that extraordinarily talented and wild writer who teaches at the University of Florida, sold
some of his novels to the movies ....and I once asked him if he did not worry about what they might do
to his creations. "My books are in the library," he said. "Nobody can hurt them."

The people who run libraries are interesting, too. Crews offered another example. After he became
successful enough to get his picture on page one of the newspaper in his mother's home a small town
in south Georgia she was appointed to the local library board. He liked that. His mother only went to
the second grade in school, but she was on the library board.

"Ma's never read a book, except the ones I've written," Crews said. But he thought it was a good
appointment. "Ma at one and the same time is primitive enough and sophisticated enough to know that
it's all magic, anyway," he said.

After he sold his first novel, The Gospel Singer, Crews called his mother to tell her about it. She had just
one question: "Son," she said, "You didn't try to pass that off as the truth, did you?"


Al Burt Papers


University of Florida Libraries










Library boards have a big responsibility, and they take it seriously. I was reading just last year about a
library board up East that was screening its material for things that might be objectionable. They came
across a book called Making It With Mademoiselle, and of course they threw that one out. Obviously, it
was too racy for the children. But later, as one board member went back and got the book to read a
matter of professional research, I am sure he discovered that it was only a sewing guide for
Mademoiselle magazine.

Educated people, of all sorts, impress me. I like to be around people who understand and appreciate
realities, people like the man I once met while touring Mount Royal with a friend whose mother had
been a public school teacher. We bumped into one of her former students, and the fellow insisted on
expressing his appreciation. "Yessir," he said, "I love your Mama. She was the one that learned me
English."

Libraries are free, legal, exhilarating and non-fattening. When I find myself running low on imagination,
getting down to the cottony dry stuff, I search for a library the way a thirsty old tippler looks for a
saloon. There, I can tipple all day and still walk.

Under the same roof, maybe on the same wall, they might have Billy Graham and Harry Crews and Dr.
Norman Vincent Peale and Henry Miller. And nobody will be arguing or fighting. All of them will be
standing there like gentlemen, right side up, each waiting his chance to make an argument.

When you lift a cover it is like opening Pandora's Book, not the mythical box, and releasing ideas. Maybe
they are pleasing and maybe they are disturbing, but you are in full control. You can interrupt books but
they will never interrupt you.

I love libraries. I love to visit them, and I love the idea that my books are in them. Maybe I am only in the
corner over there, alongside something like Making It With Mademoiselle, but I love it anyway. What
could be a nicer though than imagining that somewhere, in a library, at any time of the day, some
stranger might be lifting my cover and finding entertainment?

I made it into the libraries under cover most recently with a book called Becalmed in the Mullet
Latitudes. It was my third book and was a collection of columns written for Tropic magazine, The Miami
Herald's Sunday magazine. I have worked at the Herald for 30 years, but these columns came out of the
past twelve, during which I have been a roving columnist in Florida.

My work is similar to what I once did as a correspondent in Latin America. I make an attempt to
interpret the state in a broad way, keeping in mind that most of my readers live in the southern half of
Florida. That's not so far-fetched an idea when you consider that the differences between Miami and
parts of North Florida are nearly as great as those between Miami and Latin America. I try to visit each
part of the state at least once a year. I look at Florida as a layman would, not as an expert. I am
concerned less with the blood-and-guts events that make headlines than with the common joys and
dilemmas that help explain what life is like for the average Floridian.










For me, the mullet latitudes arise out of our individual moods and musings about the mystique of
Florida, the things that make us love it. The mullet latitudes are like Indian Summer and Blackberry
Winter, mysterious but nevertheless real.

They envelop newcomers and natives and urbanites and country Crackers alike, and they inspire a kind
of reverence for Florida's natural side a persistent concern for its fragility.

People get lost in those mullet latitudes. They become becalmed. It changes them. It is like falling in
love. We have to hope that this sort of chemistry will work more powerfully. We have to hope because
that is the best way.


2011 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.
Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement.




Full Text






Educated people, of all sorts, impress me. I like to be around people who understand and
appreciate realities, people like the man I once met while touring Mount Royal with a friend whose
mother had been a public school teacher. We bumped into one of her former students, and the fellow
insisted on expressing his appreciation. "Yessir," he said, "I love your Mama. She was the one that
learned me English."

Libraries are free, legal, exhilarating and non-fattening. When I find myself running low on
imagination, getting down to the cottony dry stuff, I search for a library the way a thirsty old tippler
looks for a saloon. There, I can tipple all day and still walk.

Under the same roof, maybe on the same wall, they might have Billy Graham and Harry Crews
and Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and Henry Miller. And nobody will be arguing or fighting. All of them will
be standing there like gentlemen, right side up, each waiting his chance to make an argument.

When you lift a cover it is like opening Pandora's Book, not the mythical box, and releasing
ideas. Maybe they are pleasing and maybe they are disturbing, but you are in full control. You can
interrupt books but they will never interrupt you.

I love libraries. I love to visit them, and I love the idea that my books are in them. Maybe I am
only in the corner over there, alongside something like Making It With Mademoiselle, but I love it
anyway. What could be a nicer though than imagining that somewhere, in a library, at any time of the
day, some stranger might be lifting my cover and finding entertainment?

I made it into the libraries under cover most recently with a book called Becalmed in the Mullet
Latitudes. It was my third book and was a collection of columns written for Tropic magazine, The Miami
Herald's Sunday magazine. I have worked at the Herald for 30 years, but these columns came out of the
past twelve, during which I have been a roving columnist in Florida.

My work is similar to what I once did as a correspondent in Latin America. I make an attempt to
interpret the state in a broad way, keeping in mind that most of my readers live in the southern half of
Florida. That's not so far-fetched an idea when you consider that the differences between Miami and
parts of North Florida are nearly as great as those between Miami and Latin America. I try to visit each
part of the state at least once a year. I look at Florida as a layman would, not as an expert. I am
concerned less with the blood-and-guts events that make headlines than with the common joys and
dilemmas that help explain what life is like for the average Floridian.

For me, the mullet latitudes arise out of our individual moods and musings about the mystique
of Florida, the things that make us love it. The mullet latitudes are like Indian Summer and Blackberry
Winter, mysterious but nevertheless real.

They envelop newcomers and natives and urbanites and country Crackers alike, and they inspire
a kind of reverence for Florida's natural side a persistent concern for its fragility.





PAGE 1

Florida s Roving Reporter and Miami Herald Columnist On Libraries Talk to Friends of the Library, Fort Pierce, Florida, April 4, 1985 I think if libraries as a safe haven for ideas, ideas packaged in books. They are always ready to use as conveniently as fast food. They never have to be thawed out or heated up like TV dinners. Their atmosphere, their sense of quiet, the feeling I get tha t I am in a storehouse where the minds of great men and women are kept alive n othing separates me from great discoveries, wisdom, tolerance that comes with knowing the substance of many different and conflicting ideas except some thin little book covers. T he library is an exciting, wonderful place. Harry Crews, that extraordinarily talented and wild writer who teaches at the University of Florida, sold some of his novels to the movies ....and I once asked him if he did not worry about what they might do to his creations. My books are in the library, he said. Nobody can hurt them. The people who run libraries ar e interesting, too. Crews offered another example. After he became successful enough to get his picture on page one of the newspaper in his mother a small town in south Georgia she was appointed to the local library board. He liked that. His mother only went to the second grade in school, but she was on the library board. Ma s never read a book, except the ones I ve written, But he thought it was a good appointment. Ma at one and the same time is primitive enough and sophisticated enough to know that it s all magic, anyway, he said. After he sold his first novel, The Gospel Singer, Crews called his mother to tell her about it. She had just one question: Son, she said, You didn t try to pass that off as the truth, did you? Library boards have a big responsibility, and they take it seriously. I was reading just last year about a library board up East that was screening its material for things that might be objectionable. They came across a book called Making It With Mademoise lle and of course they threw that one out. Obviously, it was too racy for the children. But later, as one board member went back and got the book to read a matter of pro fessional research, I am sure he discovered that it was only a sewing guide for Ma demoiselle magazine. Al Burt Papers University of Florida Libraries

PAGE 2

Educated people, of all sorts, impress me. I like to be around people who understand and appreciate realities, people like the man I once met while touring Mount Royal with a friend whose mother had been a public school teacher. We bum ped into one of her former students, and the fellow insisted on expressing his appreciation. Yessir, he said, I love your Mama. She was the one that learned me English. Libraries are free, legal, exhilarating and non fattening. When I find myself runni ng low on imagination, getting down to the cottony dry stuff, I search for a library the way a thirsty old tippler looks for a saloon. There, I can tipple all day and still walk. Under the same roof, maybe on the same wall, they might have Billy Graham and Harry Crews and Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and Henry Miller. And nobody will be arguing or fighting. All of them will be standing there like gentlemen, right side up, each waiting his chance to make an argument. W hen you lift a cover it is like opening Pan dora s Book, not the mythical box, and releasing ideas. Maybe they are pleasing and maybe they are disturbing, but you are in full control. You can interrupt books but they will never interrupt you. I love libraries. I love to visit them, and I love the id ea that my books are in them. Maybe I am only in the corner over there, alongside something like Making It With Mademoiselle but I love it anyway. What could be a nicer though than imagining that somewhere, in a library, at any time of the day, some stran ger might be lifting my cover and finding entertainment? I made it into the libraries under cover most recently with a book called Becalmed in t he Mullet Latitudes It was my third book and was a collection of columns written for Tropic m agazine, The Miam i Herald s Sunday magazine. I have worked at t he Herald for 30 years, but these columns came out of the past twelve during which I have been a roving columnist in Florida. My work is similar to what I once did as a correspondent in Latin America. I make a n attempt to interpret the state in a broad way, keeping in mind that most of my readers live in the southern half of Florida. That s not so far fetched an idea when you consider that the differences between Miami and parts of North Florida are nearly as g reat as those between Miami and Latin America. I try to visit each part of the state at least once a year. I look at Florida as a layman would, not as an expert. I am concerned less with the blood and guts events that make headlines than with th e common jo ys and dilemmas that help explain what life is like for the average Floridian. For me, the mullet latitudes arise out of our individual moods and musings about the mystique of Florida, the things that make us love it. The mullet latitudes are like Indian S ummer and Blackberry Winter, mysterious but nevertheless real. They envelop newcomers and natives and urbanites and country Crackers alike, and they inspire a kind of reverence for Florida a persistent concern for its fragility.

PAGE 3

People get lost in those mullet latitudes. They become becalmed. It changes them. It is like falling in love. We have to hope that this sort of chemistry will work more powerfully. We have to hope because that is the best way. 2011 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries. All rights reserved. Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement.


















Florida's Roving Reporter and Miami Herald Columnist

"On Libraries"

Talk to Friends of the Library, Fort Pierce, Florida, April 4, 1985

I think if libraries as a safe haven for ideas, ideas packaged in books. They are always ready to
use as conveniently as fast food. They never have to be thawed out or heated up like TV dinners. Their
atmosphere, their sense of quiet, the feeling I get that I am in a storehouse where the minds of great
men and women are kept alive-nothing separates me from great discoveries, wisdom, tolerance that
comes with knowing the substance of many different and conflicting ideas except some thin little book
covers. The library is an exciting, wonderful place.

Harry Crews, that extraordinarily talented and wild writer who teaches at the University of
Florida, sold some of his novels to the movies ....and I once asked him if he did not worry about what
they might do to his creations. "My books are in the library," he said. "Nobody can hurt them."

The people who run libraries are interesting, too. Crews offered another example. After he
became successful enough to get his picture on page one of the newspaper in his mother's home a
small town in south Georgia she was appointed to the local library board. He liked that. His mother
only went to the second grade in school, but she was on the library board.

"Ma's never read a book, except the ones I've written," Crews said. But he thought it was a good
appointment. "Ma at one and the same time is primitive enough and sophisticated enough to know that
it's all magic, anyway," he said.

After he sold his first novel, The Gospel Singer, Crews called his mother to tell her about it. She
had just one question: "Son," she said, "You didn't try to pass that off as the truth, did you?"

Library boards have a big responsibility, and they take it seriously. I was reading just last year
about a library board up East that was screening its material for things that might be objectionable. They
came across a book called Making It With Mademoiselle, and of course they threw that one out.
Obviously, it was too racy for the children. But later, as one board member went back and got the book
to read a matter of professional research, I am sure he discovered that it was only a sewing guide for
Mademoiselle magazine.


Al Burt Papers


University of Florida Libraries










People get lost in those mullet latitudes. They become becalmed. It changes them. It is like
falling in love. We have to hope that this sort of chemistry will work more powerfully. We have to hope
because that is the best way.


2011 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries.
All rights reserved.
Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement.





PAGE 1

On Libraries Talk to Friends of the Library, Fort Pierce, Florida, April 4, 1985 I think if libraries as a safe haven for ideas, ideas packaged in books. They are always ready to use as conveniently as fast food. They never have to be thawed out or heated up like TV dinners. Their atmosphere, their sense of quiet, the feeling I get tha t I am in a storehouse where the minds of great men and women are kept alive n othing separates me from great discoveries, wisdom, tolerance that comes with knowing the substance of many different and conflicting ideas except some thin little book covers. T he library is an exciting, wonderful place. Harry Crews, that extraordinarily talented and wild writer who teaches at the University of Florida, sold some of his novels to the movies ....and I once asked him if he did not worry about what they might do to his creations. My books are in the library, he said. Nobody can hurt them. The people who run libraries ar e interesting, too. Crews offered another example. After he became successful enough to get his picture on page one of the newspaper in his mother a small town in south Georgia she was appointed to the local library board. He liked that. His mother only went to the second grade in school, but she was on the library board. Ma s never read a book, except the ones I ve written, But he thought it was a good appointment. Ma at one and the same time is primitive enough and sophisticated enough to know that it s all magic, anyway, he said. After he sold his first novel, The Gospel Singer, Crews called his mother to tell her about it. She had just one question: Son, she said, You didn t try to pass that off as the truth, did you? Al Burt Papers University of Florida Libraries

PAGE 2

Library boards have a big responsibility, and they take it seriously. I was reading just last year about a library board up East that was screening it s material for things that might be objectionable. They came across a book called Making It With Mademoiselle and of course they threw that one out. Obviously, it was too racy for the children. But later, as one board member went back and got the book to read a matter of pro fessional research, I am sure he discovered that it was only a sewing guide for Mademoiselle magazine. Educated people, of all sorts, impress me. I like to be around people who understand and appreciate realities, people like the ma n I once met while touring Mount Royal with a friend whose mother had been a public school teacher. We bumped into one of her former students, and the fellow insisted on expressing his appreciation. Yessir, he said, I love your Mama. She was the one tha t learned me English. Libraries are free, legal, exhilarating and non fattening. When I find myself running low on imagination, getting down to the cottony dry stuff, I search for a library the way a thirsty old tippler looks for a saloon. There, I can ti pple all day and still walk. Under the same roof, maybe on the same wall, they might have Billy Graham and Harry Crews and Dr. Norman Vincent Peale and Henry Miller. And nobody will be arguing or fighting. All of them will be standing there like gentlemen, right side up, each waiting his chance to make an argument. W hen you lift a cover it is like opening Pandora s Book, not the mythical box, and releasing ideas. Maybe they are pleasing and maybe they are disturbing, but you are in full control. You can in terrupt books but they will never interrupt you. I love libraries. I love to visit them, and I love the idea that my books are in them. Maybe I am only in the corner over there, alongside something like Making It With Mademoiselle but I love it anyway. Wh at could be a nicer though than imagining that somewhere, in a library, at any time of the day, some stranger might be lifting my cover and finding entertainment? I made it into the libraries under cover most recently with a book called Becalmed in t he Mu llet Latitudes It was my third book and was a collection of columns written for Tropic m agazine, The Miami Herald s Sunday magazine. I have worked at t he Herald for 30 years, but these columns came out of the past twelve during which I have been a roving columnist in Florida. My work is similar to what I once did as a correspondent in Latin America. I make an attempt to interpret the state in a broad way, keeping in mind that most of my readers live in the southern half of Florida. That s not so far fetched an idea when you consider that the differences between Miami and parts of North Florida are nearly as great as those between Miami and Latin America. I try to visit each part of the state at least once a year. I look at Florida as a layman woul d, not as an expert. I am concerned less with the blood and guts events that make headlines than with th e common joys and dilemmas that help explain what life is like for the average Floridian.

PAGE 3

For me, the mullet latitudes arise out of our individual moods and musings about the mystique of Florida, the things that make us love it. The mullet latitudes are like Indian Summer and Blackberry Winter, mysterious but nevertheless real. They envelop newcomers and natives and urbanites and country Crackers alike, a nd they inspire a kind of reverence for Florida a persistent concern for its fragility. People get lost in those mullet latitudes. They become becalmed. It changes them. It is like falling in love. We have to hope that this sort of chemist ry will work more powerfully. We have to hope because that is the best way. 2011 University of Florida George A. Smathers Libraries. All rights reserved. Acceptable Use, Copyright, and Disclaimer Statement.