Search for one summer pleasure, find another. When excursions down straight, long, Southern Maine roads did not turn up the farm stand we sought, friends stopped for a brief respite at this tiny red gem perched at a crossroads.
The road ahead says rain . . .
Zadoc Long Free Library, Buckfield
These shelves are stocked with history.
One of my favorite quirks of the main branch Boston Public Library is how items move around within -appearing and disappearing seemingly on the whim of the library staff. For example, there’s a little nook (vestibule, foyer?) where statues reside, just outside of Bates Hall in the McKim building. I’ve seen many different statues there.
Most recently, this one:
(Please excuse the dark photo; new point-n-shoot! Just getting adjusted.)
So what is happening here, you ask?
1.) The child appears to be either teasing or feeding the swan.
2.) Is that a swan, or perhaps it’s a goose?
3.) Why is the clothing so loose on this child? Any moment, to the floor!
In a world filled with decorative items, I suppose statues aren’t required to make sense. In any event, I’m curious to see what will replace it when the time comes. Whenever that is.
As I may have mentioned on this blog, I have an enormous appreciation for libraries. But have I mentioned that, running nearly parallel with my library-love is an undying adoration for MAIL and letters? (Notice the struggle to contain my excitement; how MAIL must be written in all caps? And bolded. >ahem<)
With that in mind, imagine my excitement to discover not just a bona-fide hand-written letter in my box this week, but also the first edition of Taproot Magazine, a new publication with whole-hearted-life themes that I’m very excited about.
I’ve been so excited, I haven’t yet opened either. Just to savor the experience.
My mother alerted me to an interesting article in the Nation about the New York Public Library’s plans to create a sort of library-within-a-library at their famous branch on 42nd Street in Manhattan. There is an intention to create a state-of-the-art computer-oriented library -called the Central Library Plan. However, in doing so, NYPL will displace the existing stacks -sending (according to the article) 3 million books to storage and demolishing the stacks (shelving.)
So the library is dumping Books and hooking up with Computers? Curious. I suppose if I lived in NYC and frequented that branch of the NYPL, I might be sad to see the books go. Except, as far as I’m aware, those books don’t circulate. And unless one is doing research, how often do people actually read full books while in the library? Isn’t part of the beauty of libraries the act of borrowing, to be trusted with public treasure in one’s own home?
The Nation article carried a tone of nostalgia and called to mind old, gilded rooms devoted to one type of literature or another. Rooms I’d probably never enter. It also quoted a librarian who feared that the new computer-centric offerings will probably draw noisy crowds to what is now an impressively quite and calm atmosphere. I’ve seen these crowds in other city libraries, so I appreciate that librarian’s sentiment: it’s important to reserve spaces for quiet contemplation, as well as respectfully preserve a culture’s literature.
Seems to me a clash of cultures (also a bit of change-fear.) I’ll keep tabs on how this pans out.
“Adult” though I might be, teen/YA rooms have long been my favorite spaces in libraries. There’s something about having a space of one’s own amid all the heaving shelves of history and classics and computer manuals and picture books and DVDS, and all the other books intended for grown-up or baby eyes.
These are the areas I gravitate to with my camera when I visit a new (to me) library. Below, a small sample as diverse as the libraries they belong to, but united in their attempt to draw young adults (near adults?) to come, sit, read, stay a while.
This past weekend, I had the opportunity (and good fortune) to visit the Field’s Corner branch of the BPL. Unfortunately, my camera ran out of battery just when I was about to go crazy snapping photos. Fortunately, I enjoyed a ten minute conversation with the children’s department librarian about all-things library: from the politics of funding for branch libraries, to the whys/hows/and why-nots of displaying books, to culling collections, to how children learn.
Our conversation was fascinating, and brought one concept to light for me: I often engage with a library through it’s structure and architectural design not because I like architecture (which I kind of do,) but because it’s a way for me to experience the library beyond just checking out materials.
Put more simply, I’m looking for light, I’m looking for cozy, for the parts of the library that appeal to my kid-self. I’m looking for what would draw my mother, my father -what keeps their particular interest (magazines for Dad, travel DVDs for Mom.) I’m looking for the eating spaces, the opportunities to tuck oneself away for much desired solitude in a busy, people-stuffed life. To the efforts by library staff to tantalize teens: the computers and comics, the clubs and activities. For me, more than books does a library make!
During a New York weekend, I found myself quite by accident (for reals! I wasn’t looking . . .) on Library Way. This, of course, led to the famous, stone building guarded by two white lions. My first time inside the NYPL, I couldn’t locate the books. On this trip, I was a little more clever.
And, what’s this? A library hotel!
Dear Walpole Library,
You are adorable and woodsy enough to contend with the wildly appealing and aesthetically addictive L.A. Burdick cafe and chocolate shop across the street. I’ve seen you twice, both on days you were not open. Too bad! Maybe a third time will be the charm.
Yours in curiosity,
Photo courtesy of Sage Radachowsky.