A conversation with Secret Garden Bookshop owner, Christy McDanold

secret garden 001“Welcome,” Christy McDanold said when we met at her business, Secret Garden Bookshop , this past summer. “This is our front porch. It’s wonderful to have a library on Ballard’s front porch. When you have a gem like the Ballard branch library near the business core it draws people and keeps people in the area of commerce. We’re in a city that survives primarily on sales tax and secondarily on B and O tax. If retailers don’t see customers then the city doesn’t collect sales tax. If you’re going to rely on tax then you need to ensure that the business core is kept in mind and realize that there are public services, like the library, that impact commerce, well being, and health.”

Secret Garden partners with Ballard branch library to host author readings. “We’ve produced about 100 readings,” McDanold told us. “We wouldn’t be able to do our author readings without the Ballard branch because we don’t have that much space available. The rent we’d pay by square foot would be prohibitive. In exchange for using the public space we open our events to the public. Library patrons value that access to author events because we hear about that all the time.”

McDanold first saw the value of library meeting space when she headed a tutoring program for the Central Area Youth Association. “It was a tutoring program for at risk youth. We paired over 2000 volunteers with youth and they met together in branch libraries,” she explained. A teacher before starting her own business, she has great appreciation for libraries. “Libraries are the brain trust. Libraries translate questions into ideas and resources,” she told us.  But her strongest reason for library support  springs from her perspective as a  mother, “The one thing that consistently makes a difference in a child’s life is a caring adult in the community. As a parent I’ve always looked for someone that can connect with my children. The chance of it being a librarian is as good as it being a teacher. A library is a public open space. It’s a place where kids go even if they’re not looking for a book. As a society we should never back off from making places where that can happen. It’s a community responsibility.”

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