Truly a new cycle is upon local bibliophiles as Main Street in The Village of Mecosta is now an important midpoint stop on “Book Route M-20” between Big Rapids (Ferris) and Mt. Pleasant (CMU). We have an expanded Public Library (http://morton.michlibrary.org/) housed inside the Village, across from the Post Office, and the recently opened J & J Book Dealers at 196 W. Main, as well as the long standing Mecosta Book Gallery at 171 W. Main (mecostabooks.com), imported from Grand Rapids in 1999. We dare to tempt fates now with the idea of a true Book Village.
Anyone who has ever visited large public book collections and experienced a “real-time” book run - that is, has gone elbow to elbow in a crowd of “book heads” gathered in “real-time” exploration, and interfaced - face to face - with book people pouring over printed works: strangers exploring the works of dead and living authors - such an individual will see people of all kinds embracing the gamut of genres: philosophy, history, practicality, entertainment and inspiration; and if such a visitor will take note, they will notice a pool of humanity engaged in an activity of brotherhood, that is - humanity in action, and at times – humanity inspired.
We all tag ourselves as “something” - we are this or that, and we wear our badges concerning distinctions in one way or another. Quite often in a serious book-seeking crowd (a crowd not armed with bar code scanners – oh please!), we find that our various shields and class statuses drop off; sometimes even our personalities fade. We, as a crowd, become overtaken by human spirit. No political, sectarian or partisan or religious exclusiveness exists on the surface inside a public, well-stocked store of books where one is under the spell of the written word: stories or ideas opening to stage right or stage left or down the middle concerning dogmatics, doctrines, secularisms, religious ideas, pantheistic or scientific outlooks. In a real book store we become one group, one humanity. As one Bookseller I know says, everyone is on neutral ground. The idea of a Book Village is simple; the Village can also become neutral ground where inspiration can be found.
We have the Public Library and two Bookshops open; there are also two private libraries, one housed at the Russell Kirk Center and another buried in The Annex on Main Street. As with any worthwhile endeavor we need the blood of brave souls; we need daring hearts to risk public service, to open more shops as booksellers or other forms of cultural service. Empty buildings are available, so bring out the brave, bring out the books: initiate change. When we came to Mecosta in 1999, we were told the only business rules here are “no livestock in the Village Limits”. So, Chop Chop.