From the Maplewood Memorial Library Foundation
Eva Bacon was born in Alzenau, Germany – a small town with some striking similarities to Maplewood: They both have about the same number of residents; they’re close to a major city (Frankfurt in this case) and airport; Maplewood and Alzenau are both historic and walkable towns; and they’re the kinds of places where you know and talk to your neighbors. Eva fell in love with books long before she could read: her parents adored children’s books and read to her a lot.
One of the best sources of new reading material was their local (newly renovated! Light filled!) Library with a dedicated kids section, where she remembers spending many hours and schlepping home stacks of books.
“I have such a vivid memory of our library. The smell, the light coming in through the many windows, the carpet (it was the 80s, after all!), The always helpful librarians. Not to mention getting my own library card! Libraries are some of the first places that grant kids a sense of independence. They trust you to check out books and return them. Long before businesses treat you as a valued customer, they give you a space where you can read, play, study, and attend events – or later organize events! To me, libraries are freedom. A foray into the world. ”
What was a book that changed your life?
A lot of them have. But probably none more profoundly than the ones I read as a child. The books of Helme Heine, Janosch, Astrid Lindgren and Sven Nordqvist taught me that kids are supposed to be wild and free and that the world is ultimately what you make of it. That was a lesson for life.
Why did you join the Foundation?
I joined because I’m excited about the Foundation’s part in building our new library! And because I believe that you have to be part of the change you want to see in the world and that engaging in a community is a) great for the community and b) great for you! You get to know the people in town, form friendships through joint projects – and when you pop into GreenWay market, you always end up running into at least one familiar face.
You’ve translated novels from your native German to English. When translating, how do you keep the author’s essence intact while navigating words and colloquialisms that aren’t directly translatable?
I try to be faithful to the spirit and flow of a text more than the literal words. I hate it when books feel overly “translated.” So I try to make them read as if they were written in English. I’ve done a number of translations together with my husband. As a children’s book author, he’s the expert for the flow, and I’m the expert for the original meaning. I do the first draft of the translation, then we read it aloud together and negotiate. It’s fun. And it helps us practice our negotiating skills – which is probably not the worst thing for a marriage.
What do you want the residents of Maplewood to get out of library updates?
I’m excited about a lot of aspects of the new library, but probably none more than the new community event space. It will have a separate entrance, so not limited to library hours, and it will provide a great space for local groups and organizations to meet and hold events. And it will not feel like your uncle’s damp basement! There are so many great organizations and so much civic engagement in Maplewood. Soon our community will gain a new, terrific place to meet!
The Maplewood Memorial Library Foundation is building a 21st Century library that is Open For All. To learn more information about the Maplewood Memorial Library Foundation or to donate, please visit our website at https://www.maplewoodlibraryfoundation.org.