My mother said to me recently that I was destined to be a Librarian with my obsession with books beginning before I could even read and spending time after school starting in 5th grade helping at my school library. Match that obsession of libraries with my Celtic ancestry and I long imagined spending my professional career working in the Library of Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland guarding the Book of Kells or translating Gaelic books into English at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh. Since I realized during my graduate work in Library Science that I enjoyed the idea of public libraries much more than academic libraries and since I never managed to learn Gaelic those dreams were set aside. However, I knew I found my calling in public libraries among popular materials and have never looked back.
In 1995 I took a position as the Adult Services Librarian in Albert Lea, Minnesota and was excited to be assigned the collection development of fiction. It wasn’t long after that when I uncovered how I could bring by Celtic obsessions and literature together when I was replacing copies of the first two titles in the popular Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. The downfalls of collection development is an insatiable appetite to read everything that you purchase. Although I suspect that’s what many people think Librarians do, with access to thousands and thousands of titles, we are forced to make our choices quite carefully for what we actually take home to read on our own time. Although 600 plus pages of book 1 seemed daunting for a book covered with a rather inconspicuous book jacket, the synopsis sent chills down my spine! Claire Randall, a former World War 2 combat nurse travels to Scotland for a 2nd honeymoon with her husband in 1945. An unexplainable course of events occurs while walking through an ancient circle of stones and bringing romance, mystery, history and science fiction to the same story line she falls through one of the standing stones and is hurled back in time to the Scottish Highlands in 1743. She soon comes across a gallant young Scots warrior, Jamie Fraser who changes her life, heart and history forever. I’ve mentioned in this column before that authors are like Rock Stars and Diana Gabaldon tops that all-star category for me and she just can’t write fast enough with book 9 now in the works! Now referred to as “Droughtlander” the time between books is unbearable!
When word spread a few years ago that Starz had picked up the option to create a full scale series based on the books there was great speculation for success. Come on – we’ve all seen it before – rarely can anything beat the book. And I’m just not saying that as a librarian! The detail and historical accuracy in Diana’s books is incredible and with each book with monster size page counts how could anyone condense this for the screen? But sometimes we eat our words or I guess in this case our written pages! On the heels of such phenomenon as Harry Potter and Game of Thrones, the 2nd Season of Outlander ended last month and the fandom of the series is now at critical mass!
While the torturous wait for Season 3 continues, fans are flocking back to the very books I first discovered 20 years ago. My fangirl obsession is in overload! When your favorite characters come to life on the screen and they’re more perfect than you could have ever imagined your status moves from fan to fanatic! Irish actress Caitriona Balfe, Englishman Tobias Menzies and Scottish heartthrob Sam Heughan walked right off the pages of Diana’s incredible books! Now add to that the ability to connect with other fans around the world so easily through social media and if you haven’t heard of these books and this series by now you need to get over to one of the La Crosse County Library locations in Bangor, Campbell, Holmen, Onalaska or West Salem today to track down the books or audio version along with Season 1 available on DVD. At this point, I can’t even imagine which to recommend first although the books will definitely keep you busy now through this current Droughtlander as fans await Season 3 on STARZ and book 9 from Diana Gabaldon.
For more information about the La Crosse County Library, check out the rest of this website, find us on Facebook or stop by my office in the Administrative Center of the Holmen Area Library and I’ll be glad to tell you all about my membership as a Heughligan with Sam Heughan’s enormous online fan community!
Chris McArdle Rojo, MLS
La Crosse County Library Director
103 State St.
Holmen, WI 54636
608-526-9600, opt. 1