“Libraries aren’t in the business of books — they’re in the business of communities,” notes Curtis Rogers of the Urban Libraries Council. And while the ongoing pandemic has made it a challenge for many public spaces, luckily the Rancho Mirage Library and Observatory is open with limited hours (Tues.-Sat. 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; closed for mid-day cleaning 12-1:30 p.m.) to serve the community.
In the same way experts advise shoppers to have a list when venturing to the grocery store, let this guide you in order to be efficient and safe during any in-person trips to the library. Additionally, many offerings can be accessed online, allowing patrons to enjoy the benefits of the Rancho Mirage Library and Observatory without leaving your safer-at-home location.
No matter how long you’ve lived in Rancho Mirage, there’s always something new to learn about the place you call home. Located at the back in the non-fiction section, patrons can find local histories of Rancho Mirage, surrounding towns, and the state as well as works by local authors. These include:
“Lush & Efficient: A Guide to Gardening in the Coachella Valley” by Eric A. Johnson, David Harbison and Dennis C. Mahr. With many people becoming “COVID gardeners,” this well-organized book provides insight on the wide selection of Southwest desert plants that make it possible to move beyond a landscape of gravel, boulders and cacti.
“An Introduction to Southern California Birds” by Herbert Clarke. This is a perfect reference book for identifying all the birds you see outside the window now that you’re sitting at home more often.
“Rancho Mirage: An American Tragedy of Manners, Madness, and Murder” by Aram Saroyan. Based on the 1981 murder of Bob Sand, this true-crime whodunit is a page-turning novel by the author perhaps best known for his minimalist poetry and the memoir he penned about his father, author and playwright William Saroyan.
“Haunted by History: Separating the Facts and Legends of Eight Historic Hotels and Inns in Southern California, Volume 1” by Craig Owens. This uncovers little known facts about the origins of ghost stories at Southern California hotels: The Banning House Lodge, Hotel del Coronado, Victorian Rose Bed & Breakfast, Julian Gold Rush Hotel, Mission Inn Hotel & Spa, Alexandria Hotel, Wyndham Garden Pierpont Inn, the Banning House Lodge, and Glen Tavern Inn.
“Sunnylands: America’s Midcentury Masterpiece” by Janice Lyle. This is a must-read for fans of the estate and midcentury design. It includes images of the impressive art collection, furnishings and original plans for the home.
Any book at the Rancho Mirage Library and Observatory can be reserved via the website or by calling the library. Doing so allows for quick pick up and go. Need suggestions for great reads? Operations Manager Bob Rekuc recommends:
“Hamilton” by Ron Chernow. This book was the inspiration for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony award-winning play. It is a good companion to the film version now available online.
“The Splendid and the Vile” by Erik Larson. The author of “Devil in the White City” and “Isaac’s Storm” examines the leadership of Winston Churchill.
“The Guest List” by Lucy Foley. Longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger Award and picked as The Times Best Crime Fiction of the Year, this 2020 release has been on the bestseller list for a couple of months. Any fan of Agatha Christie will find this to be a similarly well-crafted mystery.
“The Boys in the Boat” by Daniel James Brown. This author was wonderful at past Rancho Mirage Writers Festivals. His novel looks back at the 1936 Olympic U.S. crew team that narrowly beat Italy and Germany to win the gold medal.
New to view
If you’ve had too much Netflix and are tired of the news, pick up a DVD or click on Kanopy (free for any library card holder to access). Bob Rekuc recommends:
- “Casablanca” – The 1942 classic with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. “The characters and dialogue are wonderful,” says Rekuc.
- “Out of Sight” and “Get Shorty” – Both based on Elmore Leonard novels.
- “Charade” (Kanopy) – This 1963 romantic comedy with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn is another great classic.
- “Loving Vincent” (Kanopy) – The world’s first fully-painted feature film explores painter Vincent van Gogh and the circumstances of his death.
- “Goonies” – Rekuc says this cult classic was something his kids just watched for the first time. “I probably haven’t seen it in 30 years. They loved it; it’s just a fun adventure story.”
- “Back to the Future” – Rekus says this 1985 Robert Zemeckis film starring Michael J. Fox is “a good escapist film for the summer.”
But wait, there’s more
In addition to their vast physical collection, there is much to be found online, including:
- Digital magazines
- Audio books
- Great Courses lifelong learning lectures
- HeritageQuest genealogy research tools
- brainHQ games
- Mango language lessons
- Kanopy Kids streaming videos
- Rancho Mirage YouTube Channel
The staff is also currently working on digitizing oral histories from local residents as well as developing a resource to help students and parents with distance learning. These resources will be available to patrons soon.
Libraries can be incredibly helpful and cost-effective resources for everyone in the community. As we all navigate the pandemic, it’s important to note that Rancho Mirage Library and Observatory resources are accessible for any Californian, not just Rancho Mirage residents. Additionally, late fees have been eliminated for any item that was previously checked out but not yet returned.