2014-01-24 / Community

Library Links

Plan vacation at the library
By Rachel Davis

I’ve lived in Maine for the past 20 years. I moved here fresh out of graduate school from Tucson, Ariz. I wanted to live somewhere where there were seasons – I mean seasons that were discernable by more than a subtle change in the light, or a drop to tolerable temperatures. Tuscon had its own beauty, but with no deciduous trees, fall was barely noticeable, and spring was not particularly exciting since winter wasn’t really bad at all. I remember my first winter in Maine, which happened to be a pretty severe one in terms of snowfall, and how nervous I was commuting to Cape Elizabeth from Old Orchard Beach (which didn’t seem so far on the map, but proved to be a rather large distance especially when driving for the first time on snowy Maine winter roads). I used to grip the steering wheel whiteknuckled with Channel 6’s Storm Center music pounding through my head.

After 20 years, I don’t get nearly as nervous driving in the snow. I also live within walking distance from the library, so no long, stressful commute. And I actually still find the prospect of a big storm exciting. But in those 20 years, it’s become a truism that by late January or early February, people are dreaming of getting away to a warmer climate, if only for a weekend. If you’re among those lucky people who are planning a get-away winter vacation, the library has many resources to help you. If you’re only in position to do some armchair traveling, we have lots of books, audiobooks and DVDs to help with those inner world adventures as well.

Libraries regularly purchase a variety of travel guidebooks that can help you get started planning your vacation. If you’re uncomfortable bringing a library-owned guidebook with you on your travels, checking out the library’s collection is great way to find which guidebook you might find most useful to purchase for yourself. Different series have different merits. DK (Dorling-Kindersley) and Lonely Planet travel guides, for example, are filled with color photographs, and are great for getting you excited about places you might like to see for yourself. When it comes to nitty-gritty information, however, you might want to try one of the Unofficial Guides, or check out Fodor’s or Frommer’s. Even if your local library doesn’t have all of these guides for the places you plan to go, you can be sure that other libraries in our resource-sharing consortium, Minerva, can fill in the gaps. The same is true for travel DVDs, such as those produced by National Geographic, The Discovery Channel, and popular shows such as Rick Steves’ “Europe” or “1,000 Places to See Before You Die.” And if you’re looking for more entertainment than tourism boardtype information, you can also borrow DVDs of shows with a travel angle, such as “An Idiot Abroad,” or Michael Palin’s BBC series, “Around the World in 80 Days” and “From Pole to Pole.”

Did you know there are even travel guides for kids these days? My library just purchased a whole collection of Lonely Planet’s “Not for Parents” travel guides for kids. We also have the Birnbaum’s “Walt Disney World for Kids,” and some DK travel guides meant just for kids as well. In our parenting collection, we have a number of “traveling with kids” guides to various locales, including Montreal, Boston and Washington, D.C., as well as more distant international destinations.

Armchair travelers can have fun perusing guide books or watching video overviews of interesting places, but for more in depth and unusual glimpses into the world beyond, you might like to explore some travel memoirs. Interested in Australia? Try Bill Bryson’s hilarious “In a Sunburned Country” (or for more amusing travels, read any of Bryson’s other witty explorations of interesting places). The aforementioned Michael Palin has recorded his travels in book and audiobook form as well; this former member of Monty Python has got to be one of the most endearing and affable travel guides you can imagine.

Other popular titles to check out include “Lost on Planet China,” and “Getting Stoned with Savages: A Trip through the Islands of Fiji and Vanuatu,” both by J. Maarten Troost; and “A Thousand Days in Tuscany: A Bittersweet Adventure,” by Marlena De Blasi. Other interesting adventurous female travel companions include Mary Morris (“Nothing to Declare: Memoirs of a Woman Traveling Alone;”) Rachel Friedman (“The Good Girl’s Guide to Getting Lost: A Memoir of Three Continents, Two Friends, and One Unexpected Adventure;”) and Alice Steinbach (“Educating Alice: Adventures of a Curious Woman,” and “Without Reservations: The Travels of an Independent Woman.”) Interesting male companions include Eric Weiner (“The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places on Earth;”) Adam Gopnik (“Paris to the Moon,”) and Peter Allison (“Whatever You Do, Don’t Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide.”) To find more travel memoirs, do a catalog keyword search for “travel memoir.” You can also search for the specific place you’d like to read about along with the world “travel,” or ask your friendly local librarian for help and recommendations.

If you’d rather do your vicarious traveling via photographs, Maine libraries have numerous beautiful books of photographs of distant places. Some of these fascinating titles include “Phototrekking: A Travel Photographer’s Guide to Capturing Moments Around the World,” by Nick Onken, “Through the Lens: Naitonal Geographic Greatest Moments,” and “A Camera, Two Kids, and a Camel: My Journey in Photographs,” by Annie Griffiths Belt. You can find these, as well as books on how you can take terrific photographs on your travels yourself by doing a catalog keyword search for “travel photography.”

So if the weather is getting you down, and your heading off to exotic places figuratively or literally, consider the library to be your all purpose, multi-media travel agency. Anywhere you’d like to go, whether by bus, train, plain, or armchair, we’ll help you get there.

Rachel Davis is assistant director/children’s librarian at Thomas Memorial Library in Cape Elizabeth.

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