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shelf esteem

For most of us, it begins early, this habit of reading.We might start with the Golden Books or Dick and Jane and move on to Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys on the way to Harry Potter and To Kill a Mockingbird. Before we know it, we've got a library. Some of us have huge libraries. Some of us have smaller collections. On the eve of the Times Festival of Reading, we wanted to share the stories of a few people and their books.

Jeff Klinkenberg, Times staff writer

'book addict'

LIBRARY OWNER: Katherine Scott


AGE: 14

OCCUPATION: Freshman at Sickles High School

My old friends call me Katie, but to my new friends I'm Katherine. I like "Katherine.'' It sounds more formal, like something out of Jane Austen. I'm a huge Jane Austen fan. I've read a number of her novels, including Pride and Prejudice. I love her beautiful language and reading about 19th century England. Here's my favorite quote from that novel: "Oh, what are men compared to rocks and mountains?'' I feel the same way. I became interested in reading because my mother used to read the Harry Potter novels to my sister Maggie and me as we went to sleep when we were little. I first read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn when I was in fourth grade but I didn't get it so I reread it recently. I'm almost finished with Wuthering Heights. On my own MySpace Web site I call myself "Book Addict.''

'the history garage'

LIBRARY OWNER: Raymond Arsenault

RESIDENCE: St. Petersburg

AGE: 58

OCCUPATION: University of South Florida history professor and author of Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice and other books

My students call this "the history garage.'' We had it built in 1988. At one time I think I had as many as 10,000 books in here, but I've moved some to my office at school. I have mostly history, Southern history, arranged chronologically. My wife, Kathy, is the dean of the USF library on the St. Pete campus. She tells me all the time that "you know, you can borrow books from the library.'' We've thought about selling our house and buying a condo, but the only thing that's stopped us is the question of what we would do with these books.

'sports & science fiction'

LIBRARY OWNERS: Jeff and Zach Smith

RESIDENCE: St. Petersburg

AGES: Zach, left, is 8; Jeff is 9.

OCCUPATION: Students at Perkins Elementary Magnet School for Arts and International Studies

Jeff: I love to read about sports. One book I've read is By My Brother's Side by Ronde and Tiki Barber about growing up. Right now I'm reading Stop That Pass! by Bill Carol. On Halloween, I'm going to dress up as a football player when we do the Parade of Costumes at school.

Zach: I like science fiction. I really like anything about Star Wars, and I liked Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I've been reading Homework Hassles by Abby Klein. It's about a kid who loses his homework. And here's something I really like. It's the Lego City Catalog. It gives you an idea of what to ask for at Christmas. I really love building things out of Legos.

'i used to have 7,000 books'

LIBRARY OWNER: Kathleen Hipson


AGE: 54

OCCUPATION: Utilities clerk

I wasn't a reader as a child. I had vision problems, progressive myopia, which meant reading was exceedingly difficult. My parents always read to me, so I grew up associating reading with being loved, comforted, feeling happy. Years later, my vision was corrected, and I could read. The first long book I ever read, in college, was The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu, written in the 11th century. I'm fond of poetry and philosophy, ghost stories and folk tales. I used to have 7,000 books when I lived in a house. I have fewer now. I have less room for books in my apartment.

'magician at night'


RESIDENCE: Clearwater

AGE: 58

OCCUPATION: City of Tampa engineer

I'm an engineer during the day and a magician at night. I've always loved books about magic and I've always loved books about odd topics. Here's one about the guy who invented the toilet: The Story of Thomas Crapper, by Thomas Reyburn. I actually own several copies and give them away as gifts. How about the gross photos in Diagnostic Picture Tests in Dermatology by G.M. Levene and S.K. Goolamali? I picked this one up at the Old Tampa Bookstore, where I often go during my lunch break: Offbeat Museums by Saul Rubin. Oh, check this out! It has an entry about the Museum of Menstruation in Maryland. Yes, you've got to include that one on any road trip!

Special thanks to Del Marie Brenn, library information specialist, Perkins Elementary Magnet School for the Arts and International Studies; Penelope Livingston of Old Tampa Book Co.