Printed in Daily Herald, 6/18/13.
A year after author Ray Bradbury’s death, the Waukegan Public Library is preparing to inherit a collection of books from the famed science-fiction master.
Best known for creating a book-burning, dystopian future in “Fahrenheit 451,” Bradbury was born in Waukegan and spent much of his childhood there.
He died in June 2012 at the age of 91.
Bradbury moved to Los Angeles in 1934 and spent the rest of his life on the West Coast, but his fondness for Waukegan never dissipated.
After his death, library officials learned Bradbury had bequeathed his personal book collection to the County Street facility.
It’s no small gift.
“Every room had a bookshelf overflowing,” said Rena Morrow, the library’s marketing, programming, and exhibits manager.
The collection contains some books that could be valuable, such as first editions of noted works or autographed books, Morrow said.
The library also stands to receive copies of books Bradbury wrote, including some in foreign languages.
The collection’s value is being appraised.
The library may receive some of Bradbury’s personal belongings, too.
“We’d like to get one of his typewriters,” library Executive Director Richard Lee said. “He had four.”
Officials also may organize a trade with the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at Indiana University, which also is a beneficiary of Bradbury’s generosity.
The center is interested in getting some of the books, Lee said, and a trade could broaden the library’s collection.
A trade has the blessing of Bradbury’s daughters, Lee said.
Library staffers hope to build a permanent exhibit around the collection to honor Bradbury. Viewing Bradbury’s personal possessions could make his life resonate a little more for people, Lee said.
Despite moving away at 13, Bradbury was greatly inspired by Waukegan. He turned it into the fictitious Green Town in the book “Dandelion Wine” and in other stories, and local landmarks appear in those tales.
Bradbury also remained a supporter of the Waukegan library. He met occasionally with Lee, and the library has recordings of interviews with the author.
The city has a park named after Bradbury. The library holds a Ray Bradbury Storytelling Festival every Halloween, too.
Do you ever wish you could have your own personal librarian? Well now you can, for at least 30 minutes. Starting June 17, you can contact the library to book a knowledgeable staff member for a free one-on-one help session about library services, eBooks, research topics, genealogy questions, and even for recommendations on what books to read.
Scheduling an appointment is easy with the online form on our website. Appointments are available weekdays in the morning and afternoon for both English and Spanish speakers. After the form is received, library staff will contact you within two days to schedule a meeting at a time that is convenient.
Patrons may also drop by the reference desk, call, e-mail, or chat with a librarian from the website. Please note that while librarians cannot offer legal, medical, or investment advice, they can assist in finding the information needed to make informed decisions. Librarians will also not handle credit card transactions, type documents, or translate documents.
For anyone who is feeling discouraged or has been searching everywhere and can’t find the information needed for a project, the Book a Librarian service can be very helpful. Call the reference desk at (847) 623-2041, ext. 238 for more information.