Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Another Step Back

1915 Library
I honestly can't remember a time when I didn't read.  I don't necessarily mean literally read.  My much younger days, even before learning the alphabet, included a large stack of Little Golden Books.  Although I only have a couple of them left, I remember the drawings in them, if not the words.

But it wasn't only those cardboard and colorful children's books I read.  There were trips to the library.

The other evening, a friend and I were talking about the big library downtown.  She never went as a child.  I went quite often.  I loved going to the library.  Not only for the books, but because of the atmosphere.  Walking up the stone steps to the door always gave me a flash of excitement.  Stepping through the door, the scent of books, the sound of footsteps on the marble floor, and the sight of the John Brown mural would come together to remind me that, once again, I'd be finding a story that would take me into another world or make me live as another person.

Library reference desk
In 1876, local business owners funded the establishment of the library. It became a Carnegie library in 1912.

Inside the doors and ahead was the main section of the library, with its hexagonal reference desk.  To the right, marble slab steps led up to my destination, the children's room.  As I climbed them,  my footsteps echoed in my ears.  "Whisper," my mother would remind me, as we reached the top.

Children's room

I don't remember all the tables and chairs in the children's room.  What I remember were the rows and rows of bookshelves that filled the room.  I knew exactly where to find the books I wanted to read.

My favorites.
In first grade, I read both of them, while sitting at home with the mumps at Christmas. 

 And let's not forget the Bookmobile that brought new books to our schools and offered us more to read than what our small, school libraries could contain.

To move the thousands and thousands of books from the original library, students formed a brigade, passing the books to the new library across the street..  Novel idea, isn't it?

In the summer, we take my grandkids to one of the branch libraries and participate in the summer reading program.  It's nice there and has a fairly large children's area. If only we could teach the four of them what QUIET means, we'd have it made!

I miss the old library.  It sat empty for several years, but is now occupied by a financial group.  I don't think I'll miss the current library nearly as much, if at all, when an even newer library is built on the river bank.  Although the opening date for that was in 2012, I'm not even sure ground has been broken.  That library promises to be even bigger and better.  For me, it own't have the memories the old one still does.  Isn't that the way it always is?
Take care of all your memories. For you cannot relive them. ~ Bob Dylan

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