Ray Bradbury book collection going to Waukegan library

Printed in Daily Herald, 6/18/13.

A year after author Ray Bradbury’s death, the Waukegan Public Library is preparing to inherit a collection of books from the famed science-fiction master.

Best known for creating a book-burning, dystopian future in “Fahrenheit 451,” Bradbury was born in Waukegan and spent much of his childhood there.

He died in June 2012 at the age of 91.

Bradbury moved to Los Angeles in 1934 and spent the rest of his life on the West Coast, but his fondness for Waukegan never dissipated.

After his death, library officials learned Bradbury had bequeathed his personal book collection to the County Street facility.

It’s no small gift.

Every room had a bookshelf overflowing,” said Rena Morrow, the library’s marketing, programming, and exhibits manager.

The collection contains some books that could be valuable, such as first editions of noted works or autographed books, Morrow said.

The library also stands to receive copies of books Bradbury wrote, including some in foreign languages.

The collection’s value is being appraised.

The library may receive some of Bradbury’s personal belongings, too.

We’d like to get one of his typewriters,” library Executive Director Richard Lee said. “He had four.”

Officials also may organize a trade with the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies at Indiana University, which also is a beneficiary of Bradbury’s generosity.

The center is interested in getting some of the books, Lee said, and a trade could broaden the library’s collection.

A trade has the blessing of Bradbury’s daughters, Lee said.

Library staffers hope to build a permanent exhibit around the collection to honor Bradbury. Viewing Bradbury’s personal possessions could make his life resonate a little more for people, Lee said.

Despite moving away at 13, Bradbury was greatly inspired by Waukegan. He turned it into the fictitious Green Town in the book “Dandelion Wine” and in other stories, and local landmarks appear in those tales.

Bradbury also remained a supporter of the Waukegan library. He met occasionally with Lee, and the library has recordings of interviews with the author.

The city has a park named after Bradbury. The library holds a Ray Bradbury Storytelling Festival every Halloween, too.