Alexander McCall Smith, best-selling author of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series (among others) mentions the Lilly Library with his usual warmth and gentleness on page 156 of his 2009 Isabel Dalhousie novel The Lost Art of Gratitude London: Little, Brown, 2009, in Isabel’s voice:
“‘And there’s to be a major conference to mark each new volume. Bloomington, Indiana. Tel Aviv. Helsinki. Siena. Sydney.
She watched him. He was quite still. ‘Starting off in Bloomington,’ she went on. ‘Have you been there, Professor Lettuce?’ Lettuce shook his head. He had coloured slightly, she noticed.
‘I had a wonderful visit there,’ Isabel said. ‘A few years ago—in the spring. The blossom was out and it was just perfect. I was very well looked after. They took me to the Lilly Library. They have the most remarkable collection there—literary papers from all sorts of people, all neatly boxed away. And an astonishing collection of miniature books. Tiny ones. Smaller than that plum tomato you’re trying to eat. You should impale it on your fork, you know.'”
McCall Smith visited Bloomington in April 2009 to give a public talk in the Indiana Memorial Union’s Whittenberger Auditorium as a guest of the College Arts and Humanities Institute at Indiana University.
Special collections in the Lilly Library — including the miniature books and works by Alexander McCall Smith — may be requested for use in the library’s reading room during operating hours.