Delving Into History With The Otis Library

In 1989, I was born in Hartford Connecticut to two really smart and creative people. Early on, I wanted to write and create books. I briefly tried acting and ballet, but what I really wanted to do was to write and eventually create art. We moved to Norwich in the very early nineties, where I spent a great deal of time at the Otis Library. It was the coolest place to me back then, especially before the renovation. I love old buildings, because of the history and architecture but also because I find them so interesting. There is a sense of mystery to them that I can’t always put into the words I would quite like to.

We were friendly with the librarians, and familiar with the children’s section. There was a cave, and a wall mural featuring a wizard, knight, and princess standing before a castle in the distance. The Otis Library had one of the finest young adult collections I have ever seen (although it is different now I suspect.) They had the original Three Investigators Series, The Escape to Witch Mountain books, all of The Hardy Boys books, as well as the Cherry Ames Nurse Series. There were many others, and I spent so much of my childhood immersed in these books. The Otis Library had the best activities for children, and the librarians were always so kind.

Recently, I read online about something called The Jim Lafayette Writers Series for science fiction and fantasy writers. I had no idea that this event had been going on for a decade, and I really wish that I had known because I would have loved to be a part of it in some way. Jim Lafayette was a young man who passed away at age 26 due to Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Disease.

He spent a great deal of time reading and writing science fiction, and this allowed him to escape being confined to his wheelchair. I was deeply moved by his story, the story of such an intelligent and creative person whose life ended far too soon. Jim graduated from Norwich Free Academy (the same school as myself) in 1995. He then went onto Connecticut College and graduated with honors in English. His parents donated his large science fiction collection to The Otis Library, which I found fascinating. I myself have looked through the science fiction and fantasy section there myself and might have come across his books.

I find Mr. Layfayette’s legacy very touching because he was a writer like myself and also sketched as I do. I had no idea that this very cool person once existed in the town of Norwich, CT that I grew up in. I wish I had known a long time ago. He is also inspiring to me because although he had a handicap, he went to school and studied what he loved. He immersed himself in reading and writing science fiction, and also wrote a weekly video game review for The Norwich Bulletin.

In my own ways in life I have struggled, of course, very differently and much less severe than Jim Layfayette. My depression and anxiety have made things very difficult for me, and my writing and art are a way for me to express myself and share my life in a positive way with others. My goal is to turn what troubles me into something beautiful instead– be it a book, a painting, or a drawing.

The yearly event features writers of the science fiction and fantasy genres, but this time was different. This time song and performance was incorporated with the literature being read as I understand it. I very much hope to attend this event in the future. Thank you to the Otis Library and to others for keeping his memory alive.

To Learn More About The Jim Layfayette Writers Series:

http://www.otislibrarynorwich.org/lafayette-writers/

http://www.theday.com/article/20170624/NWS01/170629609

 

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