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Lorain County Declares Feb. 18 Toni Morrison Day

Lorain County Commissioners have declared Feb. 18 Toni Morrison Day, coinciding with the late author's birthday.

The Nobel and Pulitzer prize winning writer grew up in Lorain and worked for the library there as a page in the 1940's in the Carnegie Building, according to Lorain Public Library System Director Anastasia Diamond-Ortiz.

"She even said herself that she would just kind of pick books off the shelf and kind of read them as she was re-shelving them," Diamond-Ortiz said. "So, to go from that to Nobel Prize winning and just the amazing impact that she had on the world, that's been just awesome to see."

Stories from Morrison's time at the library have been passed down through generations of employees there, Diamond-Ortiz said.

"She read these books and she thought, 'Well, why can't I write these books?'," Diamond-Ortiz said. "She was looking at other authors that were so powerful in their communication and wondering how she could write her own story that hadn't been told yet."

Diamond-Ortiz says they'd like to bring a screening of the Morrison documentary "The Pieces I Am" back to Lorain and get public input on more events between now and Feb. 18, 2020, when a larger celebration will be held.

"Even just as simple as book discussions to potentially commissioning artwork or expanding some of our research collections," Diamond-Ortiz said. "We do have a room dedicated to her at the main library."

There's been a surge of interest in Morrison's work since her death Aug. 5, Diamond-Ortiz says, and just providing the library as a space for those interested in her life could lead to something big.

"For people to come together and figure out what that means is going to spark creativity and something new," Diamond-Ortiz says. "I mean, we might see the next Toni Morrison coming out of these events where they're talking about her work. And that is just amazing."

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