June 11, 2009
Thursday, June 11, 2009—The One-Card Tour continues. Last Friday afternoon, our group checked out the Dover Town Library, located, as you likely have guessed, in the town of Dover (in this case, Massachusetts). I can’t help breaking into the old song, “Put on your old grey bonnet, with the blue ribbon on it, while I hitch old Dobbin to the shay, and through the fields of clover, we’ll drive up to Dover, on our golden wedding day … ” Continuing on that tangent, I just found some neat early-1900s’ recordings of ”Put on Your Old Grey Bonnet” (plus a bonus “By the Light of the Silvery Moon”) at the site of the Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project of the Department of Special Collections, Donald C. Davidson Library, UC Santa Barbara. But I digress . . . (though will go back to that site at some point.)
The Dover Library received thumbs-up from all of us. Oh, let’s face it, it’s hard for us to give any of these libraries a thumbs-down. Still, this one has its own special vibe. From the brickwork out front, and this being an old New England town, I expected a darker, possibly creaky main floor. But when you walk in, it’s quite a different feel altogether. An expansive glass entryway is just beyond the front doors; you can take a moment to observe the sweep of the library before you become part of its activity. High ceilings, skylights, and extra-long windows provide lots of light. Your eye immediately catches the artwork along the white walls.
As far as selecting books, you can browse the stacks or pluck from stack-end library picks, “some great books you may have missed.” The YA area is on the main floor; comfortable—I’d say coffee-shop like, just minus the barista.
Where the upstairs is about light and open space, the downstairs children’s department is cozy and kid-scale. The green book shelves and classroomish-environment transported me back to my own elementary-school years, though the book selection is current and diverse. It’s a visually alive, hands-on room.
A note from the library’s Web site: The Dover Town Library has been ranked 7th in the country, and first in the state, by population category, according to the HAPLR library rankings.
Also noted on the Web site, if you need a new library card, you can donate one nonperishable item to the food-pantry program and receive a free library-card replacement.
May 18, 2009
Monday, May 18, 2009—This story is over a month old, though blogging about it on the late side seems fitting to me: A library book overdue for 110 years has been returned.
The book: a five-inch-thick, leather-bound Webster’s Dictionary.
The library: Lyn Public Library in Ontario, Canada.
The story: A man named Mutt Baird checked out the dictionary in 1899, but forgot to return it when he moved with his family to New York State that winter. Last month, Baird’s nephew, 83-year-old Dale Fenton Baird, Sr., of Denver, Colorado presented the book to the Lyn Heritage Place Museum in time for Lyn’s 225th anniversary. The library fine of $9,000 has been waived.
This story does make me feel a little better about my own record of overdue books. It also underscores the forgiving nature of many public libraries. And for anyone who has ever questioned why their library keeps a copy of the dictionary for library use only, this might explain why.
I think of the evolution of language and the many words that have been added to the dictionary in the years since 1899. Interesting to note that today’s Webster’s does, in fact, include the word “oops.”
And if you have any library books that need to be returned, you might want to take care of that sometime soon.
Image by fotolia.
May 15, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009—Unfortunately, 21 wasn’t with us. And we ended up at the library late in the day, too close to closing time for a lengthy visit. So we debated whether we should call last weekend’s visit to the Framingham Public Library (main branch) an official stop on the One-Card Tour. We’re calling it official, but with an asterisk to go back again with our full group, for a full visit. We love this library.
This is one of those places where you feel pulled in as soon as you enter. Stacks, tables, racks filled with books beckon you. Signs abound telling you where you’ll find what. It’s casual and comfortable here.
We like the kids’ room, too, thoughtfully organized so kids can jump right in and locate favorite series or books by interest. The room also includes good old-fashioned play space as well as a souped-up, kids-only computer area.
We’ll be back.
As a postscript, there’s lots of news and information on the library’s Web site, including a notice about new Massachusetts library license plates (proceeds to benefit public, academic, special, and school libraries that belong to a regional system). Also news about an online voting competition to bring $100,000 to Framingham for a restoration project involving the historic Edgell Memorial Library. (The library is one of several historic places in competition for a preservation grant. Too bad these sites need to compete with each other for funding. But that’s an editorial for another time.)
May 7, 2009
We’d all been to this library before. (Having grown up in the town next door, I remember going to this library to work on reports when I was a kid, though I’ve only been there a couple of times in recent years.) Nonetheless, when you go as a “library tourist,” you might notice things you wouldn’t otherwise.
And let me back up a little. We picked Concord so that we could also stop and see the Concord Art Association’s The Unique Print show, celebrating a really cool variety of techniques in printmaking by New England artists (I probably could do better than saying “really cool,” but I’ll leave that for the art reviewers. Some of the techniques on display were really cool.) I also appreciate the historic space the association occupies, the 1750 John Ball House–or rather, the juxtaposition of old New England house with new works of art in the upstairs gallery. Good call, Virginia, on taking in the show before it closed this week. Added bonus: free admission.
The Concord Art Association, by the way, is just a stone’s throw from the Alcotts’ Orchard House, where Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women. Also quite close to Walden Pond, where Henry David Thoreau lived for a couple of years, inspiring the book Walden.
The list goes on as far as places of historical significance in Concord. And that list includes the Concord Free Public Library.
Just walk in the front door and look to the left to read a bit about the founding of this library:
Or look to your right:
Walk into the great room—with balconied second and third floors, books wrapping around the room; statue of Ralph Waldo Emerson; and busts of Louisa May Alcott, her father, transcendentalist Amos Bronson Alcott, politician and lawyer Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar, and Ephraim Wales Bull, the “Father of the Concord Grape,” among details your eye takes in—you know you are in a place that celebrates the town’s connection to history. (There is also a piano in the room, covered and not in use the day we were there. Maybe for special events? It’s a good fit, music and books.)
Continue into the building, and you’ll come to the YA room and children’s area (which you can also access by coming in the side door). The children’s section includes a spacious, bright yellow reading room. And while you can view a painting of Paul Revere’s ride and artifacts from the Revolutionary War elsewhere in the library, here, the treasures are kids’ books—and, lining the wall, signed artwork by author/illustrators Tomie dePaola, Eric Carle, Susan Meddaugh, Grace Lin, Steven Kellogg, and others!
Thinking about “favorite things” about this library, Virginia notes that the art section alone is “worth the drive,” and also appreciates the book write-ups/recommendations that are posted in the library, through which she has found some new treatures.
Bubble’s favorite part of the library is the YA room. Lola was glad to have found more FoxTrot comic-strip collections to add to her reading pile. And 21′s favorite part of the day actually came after the library; she liked best (climbing) the wonderful old trees near the North Bridge, part of Minute Man National Historical Park.
One additional note, I happened to be reading Laurie Halse Anderson’s novel Chains around the time of our Concord trip—historical fiction about a teenage girl who is sold as a slave to a Loyalist family in New York during the time of the American Revolution. A moving story and a great read for anyone interested in history beyond the battles we learned about in social studies class.
And a final note: Those interested in the town’s history can learn more from the Concord Library’s Special Collections, “the most comprehensive archive of primary and secondary source material related to Concord history, life, landscape, literature, people, and influence from 1635 to the present day.” The collections include these online exhibits.
April 23, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009—It’s officially launched: a tour of all 41 libraries in our local Minuteman Library Network.
Who’s part of this event? Close friends who often head out on field trips together: Lola, age 8, who first suggested the tour; Bubbles, age 9; and 21, age 11; along with their moms, Virginia and yours truly. All of us, library lovers. The kids even more so when they travel together.
Why the tour? It’s pretty amazing that we can stroll into any one of dozens of libraries, browse the stacks, settle into a cozy corner to read, then check out all sorts of wonderful reading material just by presenting this one single card, free of charge. So we’re celebrating that fact. At the same time, each library has its own character, and we’d like to discover that as the tour unfolds.
Details: Well, we’re still working on those. Do we include all branch libraries (giving us a total of 64 places to visit), or just the main libraries? (All branches would be fun to try for.) What’s our time frame? (We had thought about the end of summer, but maybe it will take the rest of the year, or into next year?) We tend not to hurry once inside a library, so I have a feeling the details will just sort of fall together over time. (We’d never make it as Minutemen.)
Library # 1: Yesterday, Earth Day, we decided to officially start the tour with a library that none of us had been to before and that wouldn’t require too much gas for travel. So we picked the Goodnow Library in Sudbury.
More soon from the tour.