Library Love Stories: In Her 'Golden Years,' Zenobia Orimoloye Found A New Calling At The Library

Oct 17, 2019

A while ago, we teamed up with Austin’s Library Foundation to collect stories about what your public library means to you. 

We’re hearing those stories this month as the Austin Public Library and the Library Foundation prepare to wrap up this year’s Mayor’s Book Club — with an afternoon with author Susan Orlean at the Central Library on Nov. 9. Find details here

When you think of a public library, the first people you may think of are kids. But of course, libraries are for people of all ages. Zenobia Orimoloye had been going to the library since she was a child, but when she took a class at her local library in Austin in 2012, she found something that would change her life.

I was introduced to the library system in Chicago by my grandmother who took me there to get my first library card. It was the beginning of my love affair with the library. I've lived in Chicago, Milwaukee, Knoxville, Detroit, Cincinnati and Austin. I found the local library in all those cities because I enjoy reading and the quiet atmosphere.

I moved back to Austin in 2007 and retired in 2009. I had time on my hands and needed something to fill the void of not working. I joined an African American book club and got my books at the Austin Public Library which saved me time and money.

It was in 2012 that I took my first class offered by APL. It was a poetry class for seniors. My poem "Anticipation" was selected for publication in a special chapbook of poems about hope through adversity. I was also invited to read it at a community event. It was the beginning of a beautiful relationship with APL.

I continued to take the free classes sponsored by APL — computer classes for seniors, playwriting, creative writing workshops, Middle Eastern poetry and many other classes. The instructors were passionate and inspiring. They encouraged me to write about my experiences through poetry and short stories.

I never thought of myself as a writer but taking the APL courses gave me the confidence to continue writing and finally take the next step. In 2016, I wrote and self-published my first book "Bits of Pieces" (16 poems & 4 short stories). I reluctantly had a book signing, which had an excellent turnout. Some of my instructors came to support me. It was glorious!

In 2017, I self-published my second book, "Reflections" (13 short stories), and a third book in 2018. I've had book signings in Chicago and San Antonio. 

I've written three short plays: Deception, Brothers and The Visit. I write only short stories. My readers prefer short stories instead of novels.

I'm amazed that in my golden years; I've found a hobby that I enjoy and it's fun. I engage with all types of people and have made some new friends because of my books. Two of my books can be secured through APL. 

The Austin Public Library — especially the Carver Library — has a special place in my heart.