Monday, October 29, 2012

Some Library Love


On Wednesdays, while I wait for my kids to get out of their judo lessons, I decided it would be easier and more economical to stop at the public library instead of going all the way home.  I mean, there’s internet access. And a decent children’s department with toys and little bean-bag chairs and enough books to keep my kids occupied in between driving around (with the added bonus that they keep their shoes on and their coats close and can no longer trash the house in the 30 minutes we’re home between lessons). In fact, all this place really needs is a coffee machine and it would make a great second residence. 

Maybe it’s the smell of these musty books (don’t you love that smell?), or the Halloween weather (my library used to host an annual haunted house) but I find myself thinking about the little town public library where I grew up. 


Unlike a lot of the bigger, more modern libraries in the surrounding districts, Aldrich Public Library first opened its doors in 1896 and, while the main Victorian-style building has undergone various paint-jobs and renovations, the truth is it hasn’t changed much in the last 116 years. 


I loved this library. The structure was so old, with sharp angles and shadowy corners and that lovely  smell of old books. In the summer, I’d participate in all the reading contests; devouring whole series of The Babysitter’s Club, Sweet Valley High, and RL Stine’s Goosebumps. 


And when I was thirteen-years-old, I began working there (for free). I shelved books, organized the catalogue and prepped newly received books for service for about two years until I was old enough for a real ‘paying’ job and started working at our local video store. 

Throughout all that time, the place totally gave me the creeps.  And I totally LOVED it. The best part of this creepy old library was the creepy old librarian.  Actually, she wasn’t that old, if memory serves. But she was petite and soft-spoken, and had that haunted, never see the sun or change with the times look (long, dark 60’s style hair, powdery pale skin)- like she had just stepped out of a Jane Austin novel and would be totally out of place outside the late 19th century library dwelling. 

So tell me peeps, what do you love best about your local library?  Is it different from the library of your childhood? Do you get to spend any time there? And for all my East Coast friends and followers, I hope you stay warm and safe during the monster storm ahead.

19 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Our local library is big and modern. I was a military brat and often visited the base libraries, which had no personality at all.
The hurricane is past us now although still causing high winds.

Laura Marcella said...

My town library is an old old building. It gave me the creeps when I was a kid, too, but I loved walking around and picking out my books alone anyway! There's something comforting about an old library no matter how old it is!

I would so buy a perfume that smelled like old, well-loved books. Love that fragrance!!

Louise Bates said...

Our library in PA actually had a coffee machine in the entryway. You had to pay for coffee, of course, but what a wonderful way to support the local library!

My first library was a tiny old stone building. The left side was children's book; right side adult. That's it! For something so small, though, they managed to have a marvelous selection of children's books, and I met some of my best friends in that library. None other has ever quite lived up to that, no matter how big or impressive!

Connie Keller said...

Our local library is a store front that's actually flooded a few times (Euw!) and doesn't have any comfy seating--only 60s plastic chairs. So I'm totally jealous of the gorgeous library you had.

Emily White said...

Our library is part old, part new. They added a very modern addition about fifteen years ago, but the old part is gorgeous. It's all limestone and columns. I love it.

shelly said...

I loved my old library. It overlooked a beautiful marina and a large body of water. It was a second home for me during the summer. I'd spend my mornings there until noon reading in on a sofa in front of the hug window overlooking the boats and the big body of water.

Hugs and chocolate,
Shelly

Melissa Ann said...

Our local library has this awesome castle-like seating structure in the children's book section. The monkeys and I love to seat there and read. Although on more than one occasion I have attracted a crowd of children and gotten a few not so pleasent looks from parents when they came to collect their offspring. (Not my fault kids like to be read to, I am not going to tell them to go away)

My childhood library always smelled like old books and had this awesome rocking chair. It reminded me of the one on The Friendly Giant.

prerna pickett said...

i love that our local library has a bird, guinea pig, and fish tank to preoccupy the kids...they love looking at them and asking questions.

LTM said...

I absolutely LOVED going to the library as a little girl. My g'mom would take me for story time, and I loved that part, too! So when I had my two girls, we got very involved in going to storytime at the local library in so-Ala.

Sadly, we've kind of fallen out of the library habit since we moved. But maybe we should get back into it... :o) <3

Dianne K. Salerni said...

What a beautiful building for a library! I can understand why you wanted to spend your time there.

We had a few local libraries in old buildings -- although nothing as picturesque as yours. But they have all moved to modern building that are bright and cheerful, but lacking that charm and character.

D.G. Hudson said...

Loved the old white marble library in my home town. I would also spend hours there with another friend who liked to read. It had the rolling ladders and quiet racks.

Both our girls read a lot, stoked by library trips when they were young.

In the city of Vancouver is a great library building which replaced the 60s minimalist building It's fairly new and designed like the roman amphitheatres with two curving wings.

I still love libraries and am reading The Story of Dorian Gray right now from our local branch!

Carrie-Anne said...

I now live again in the area where I grew up, and two of the libraries I frequent are ones I often went to growing up. There are also a few other libraries in the area I go to, and others I'm hoping to visit someday. There are so many libraries within a 20-mile radius.

One of the childhood libraries I haven't gone to as often anymore since some annoying, pointless roundabout was put in the way. My favorite thing about that one is that they have an upstairs, where all the adult non-fiction is. I've always loved just browsing all the shelves, looking for an interesting book. A lot of their books are old and out of print, which makes them even more exciting. They also have a very big children's room, and a relatively new teen room. I don't remember a teen room from my childhood. They must've moved all their existing teen lit into a new room in the wake of the YA explosion.

Matthew MacNish said...

That's a beautiful library. Makes me miss the little neighborhood one I grew up in.

Nancy Thompson said...

My local library is brand spanking new, super contemporary, and overlooks the Seattle skyline across lake Washington. How cool is that?! But while I spend a lot of time there, I took a bad fall on the slick wet concrete floor, so not all my memories are good.

Old Kitty said...

Now that's what I call a quirky lovely library!! And it's so great you worked there too - yay!! I hope it continues to remain as unique as it was when you were there!

My library of childhood is still around - all re-furbished and swanky and dragged to the 21st century but I continue to be very fond of its now gone 1970's slightly tattered and worn look!!

Take care
x

Theresa Milstein said...

Oh, what a beautiful library. My first library was in Queens, NY. I remember being so impressed with its grandeur. We moved when I was nine, and I haven't been back since. Now I'm looking it up on Google to see if it was really that fancy. (leaves)

Okay, this is it 1 year after I moved. Not impressive outside, clearly. http://www.flickr.com/photos/qbpllid/2340641297/

Hmm...

Lexa Cain said...

I moved a lot so went to a bunch of different libraries. None old and full of atmosphere like yours though. But I loved each and every one of the ones I used. Great post and pics! Have a Happy Halloween!

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, your hometown library sounds fabulous! I love spooky old places with sharp corners and nooks and crannies, too. My hometown library was old, but more traditionally library styled (though it did have the fat, wooden stair rails and marble steps--I love old institutional buildings. Our local one is SUPER convenient and I use it a lot, but I do most of my interacting with it online, then just pick up and drop off. They are trying to pass a levy to build a big, modern fancy one and I haven't yet decided whether it's needed.

Amy Jarecki said...

Nice way to save time, and spend it in an awesome place. I've never been in a library that I didn't love :-)

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