A Sunset editor lauds libraries

Friends of Lincoln library column
By: Lora Finnegan Special to The News Messenger
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Visit Kathy Brenzel at her corner office at the headquarters of Sunset Magazine in Menlo Park and you could guess that she’s the garden editor. A fragrant bouquet sits on her desk and photos of plants and flowers are scattered everywhere. And, of course, a copy of her latest effort — the re-creation of the “Sunset New Western Garden Book” — considered by many as the backyard bible. I’ve known Brenzel for decades as a co-worker at Sunset Magazine, and in a recent chat, I also learn of her love of libraries. “I always wanted to be a writer,” Brenzel explained, “and I haunted the local library as a kid. Plus, we had an extensive library at home.” Born in Santa Monica, Brenzel summered in the Pacific Northwest and, according to her bio, “learned early on to love the differences between the cool forests around Puget Sound and balmy, palm-lined canyons of home.” Her writing talents plus her love of “the world of plants and bugs” made a perfect fit for a career with Sunset. “I got here right out of San Jose State University and loved it from the beginning,” she noted. Today, Brenzel’s books alone could fill a library shelf. While overseeing the magazine’s garden content, she edited “Sunset’s Gardening in the Northwest,” “California’s Top 10 Garden Guide,” “Gardening in the Southwest” and the “Sunset Western Garden Book of Edibles,” as well as “Sunset’s Western Landscaping Book.” Her passion for great garden ideas has taken her all over the West. Not long ago, Brenzel’s writing about Hawaii’s native and endemic plants led to an Environmental Journalism Fellowship at the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Lawai, Kaua’i. Brenzel is a popular speaker at home shows from Los Angeles to Seattle and has appeared regularly on TV, including “The Victory Garden” series for public television as its West Coast hostess. And she also blogs. Still, magazines remain her first love. “Magazines fascinate me,” Brenzel said, “and that’s another reason I love libraries — they carry so many magazines, from the serious to the not-so-serious.” Further, she contends, you can just browse in a way that you can’t do online at a library. “You can go beyond your comfort zone and really get a depth and richness of topics,” Brenzel said. “Great discoveries are often made when you’re not looking for them.” This award-winning writer feels it’s important to support libraries. “They carry a wealth of great writing — from books to magazines,” Brenzel said. We think so too, especially when you can find so many wonderful works by writers and editors there such as Brenzel. How you can help: The Envelope, Please Look for our new donations appeal envelope tucked into the Oct. 4 issue of this newspaper’s Inside Lincoln section, at the Twelve Bridges Library, or donate to the Friends of the Lincoln Library via Paypal at Funds raised are spent locally: buying new books for the library, purchasing the latest DVDs and CDs for your families to check out, paying for the popular Summer Reading Program and more, plus it will help us continue the beloved Mother Goose on the Loose learning program for tots. Ten reasons to love the Lincoln Library: Reason 6 We’re continuing our series of our Top Ten reasons to love the Lincoln Library through Oct. 4. 6. Online renewal. The Lincoln Public Library permits one book (not eBooks) renewal per title to be done online, providing there are no holds on the title. On the Calendar Free Family Movie Night: Sept. 15; “Adventures of Tin Tin.” Doors open 5:30 at Twelve Bridges Library. Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War through Sept. 24 at the Library of William Jessup University. It’s the only Northern California stop for the exhibit. This column is part of a Friends of the Lincoln Library series. Have a question? Contact the Friends at 434-2404, at or e-mail. Lora Finnegan is a Friends of the Lincoln Library member. This column may or may not necessarily express the opinions of The Lincoln News Messenger.