An Open Letter to Libraries, From A Cupcake Cookbook Author

Terry Hope RomeroLibraries: Are you ready for your close-up?

Terry Hope Romero is a best-selling vegan cookbook author. Her first published cookbook was Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World in 2006, so she knows a thing or two about the cupcake phenomenon. We asked her to share her thoughts on NPR’s proposal that libraries are the new cupcakes.

Dear Libraries,

It’s come to my attention that you, libraries, share a common feature with cupcakes, that of being on the verge of becoming the sprinkle in the eye popular culture (normally I don’t recommend getting sprinkles in one’s eye, but this is an exception). This is excellent news, as I not only am I an expert on cupcakes (well, vegan ones at least), I also adore libraries. Libraries, dare I say I’m one of your biggest fans? Did that make you blush? Well, you had better get used to all that attention now that you’ll be soon in the big leagues of pop culture adoration just like the humble cupcake.

Listen up libraries, as you navigate this new world of cool there will be those naysayers, those who would want to deflate your rubber ducky of hope as she sails that mounting crest of public adoration. With cupcakes, fo example, some say they are no longer chic and have reached maximum public saturation. Cupcakes appear on even the most unassuming cafe menus and are a regular feature at even the most formal of weddings. I can count on all fingers and toes how many cupcake tattoos I’ve seen this summer, and then there’s cupcake wristwarmers for the winters. But to say this is “too much” is just plain silly. Will libraries attain such a status to merit real-estate on people’s bodies? I have no idea, but I’ve been lucky enough to witness the cutting-edge melding of punk shows hosted at libraries (looking at you Bloodhag, the death metal band that performs songs about sci-fi authors) and believe me, you have not rocked until until your mosh pit circles the YA section.

One other thing you have going for you, libraries, just like cupcakes: you’re a part of our collective childhood nostalgia. When I was a kid, the secret real value of libraries (not the one I told grown ups of course) was as a precious “other” space for those of us not quite old enough for routine independence. Not school and not home, it provided a place to be away, as my parents trusted and felt good about giving me free reign to roam our town library unattended at an early age. My mom had no problem dropping elementary-aged me off at the library for a leisurely afternoon: I can’t say she’d would have done that at a mall, bookstore or movie theater. I wager a lot of us can comfortably say the library was one of the first public spaces where we first felt the subtle adult-like pleasures of choosing how exactly best to spend our time, even if it meant doing a little bit of work. This is powerful stuff: nostalgia squashes down negativity every time, just like a lick of frosting or getting your first library card.

Libraries, my dear friends, I know you’ll handle your waves of fans with grace and steely aplomb. The peak of a cultural trends–from inanimate baked goods to public libraries supported by scores of thinking, feeling, smart people–may ultimately be fleeting, but the effects are forever lasting in ways we can’t always see perched up at the top. I’ll call it out right now: Dewy Decimal tattoos: sure they are forever, just make sure to get one before your best friend does.

Terry Hope Romero is a vegan cookbook author (Viva Vegan!, Veganomicon, Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar), contributor to VegNews, and if she had to explore a haunted house at midnight she’d bring a librarian with her (and a wooden stake and a flashlight). You can find Terry at the BEA Expo, publishing events and vegetarian food festivals all over the country.

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