I have decided to leave bookselling and the UConn Co-op Bookstore in Storrs Center sometime between the end of June and the beginning of August. It has not been an easy decision. It is a job I have dedicated myself to, and one that I have loved. My years at the bookstore have been filled with literary pleasures and wonderful friends. It is a job that has brought the most amazing and wonderful people into my life: fellow booksellers across the country, many of whom I have become very close to, publishers and publishers’ reps who work so hard to bring us all good books, the many talented authors whom I’ve met over the years, the faculty and members of our local community who come through our doors, and of course the people I work with every day here in the bookstore. No one has had better fortune in friends than I have. I am so grateful.
My decision has been precipitated by recent events in my family these past several months: the loss of my mother who lived to an old age, and the loss of my sister, who did not. In such times, it is impossible not to think about one’s own mortality and wonder what time one has left. I have already been graced with two more years on earth than my sister.
Bookselling, especially the way I have done it, requires long days and long weeks. And that has been fine. I have truly and passionately loved every minute of it. Now it is time to turn my attention and focus to my family and my own work, to make some big jars and dinner sets and finish the long overdue book on sunken gardens and maybe host a party or two. I look forward to taking my granddaughters to the Smithsonian and to being able to do more things with Joe. There are books all over my house waiting to be read. The gardens need freshening. Perhaps I will even catch up on the teetering stack of New Yorkers that weigh down the dinner table.
Over the years, the bookstore and I have enjoyed wonderful relationships with the cultural centers and institutes. Those partnerships will continue. We have had close ties with the English Department, especially Creative Writing, with Fine Arts and Music and the UConn Libraries. Partnering with the Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry and with Dining Services here at Storrs Center has made every day fun. There is nothing more magical than a place with books and puppets and art and music. With everyone’s help, we have created a lively bookstore, a cultural hub. Our shelves are filled with ideas and wisdom and knowledge. I think of the authors who have read for us, the music we have been able to host, the art we’ve shown, and I smile. I hope you do too. How fortunate we have all been.
We think – I think– books and a vibrant bookstore enhance the college experience. It is our gift to the community. It is the Co-op’s intention for all these things to continue, but your support is needed. A vibrant bookstore requires vibrant customers. I ask you to become evangelists. Tell your friends. Shop local. Please buy your books from your member-owned independent bookstore
I will continue with the Connecticut Children’s Book Fair at least for the next year. The Fair, a project of the UConn Co-op and the UConn Libraries brings highly respected authors and illustrators of books for children and teens to campus and attracts thousands of visitors. It is a truly amazing event of which I am deeply proud. Even if you do not have children in your life, you will find the talks our guest artists and authors give very interesting. I will also continue with Poetry in the Park, a project of the Curbstone Foundation. These readings take place in the Julio de Burgos Park the fourth Thursday throughout the summer.
And I invite you to stay in touch with me after I have left the bookstore. My pottery email is firstname.lastname@example.org and my personal email is email@example.com. My website is http://www.willowtreepottery.us and that’s also where my blog BiblioPotter resides. You can also sign up for my occasional newsletter on pot making and gardening. And I am on Facebook. But your visit does not have to be virtual. I participate in Connecticut Open House Day June 13 and Artists Open Studios every fall. Take a ride out to beautiful downtown Ashford and say hello.
And of course, I will come into the bookstore to shop and attend events. Maybe I will see you there.
UConn Co-op Bookstore at Storrs Center