Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Perfect Library Down The Street

So we'd lived here 5 1/2 weeks yet I'd not visited our local neighborhood library only one mile away.

Yesterday I changed that.

Partly to make up for the hairy visit to WalMart (where, truthfully, the people there didn't bother me--it was all the stuff) and partly for the overdue adventure of it all, I decided to finally drive to the ancient two-story brick library and see what was what.

Actually, I'd visited there once before, probably 13 years ago. I had used the front entrance and stepped into a room with dusty old men reading dusty old reference books. There were stairs, yet I couldn't see a sign saying go ahead and use them so I--at that time--hating to ask for help lest I appear stupid (oh, the pride), pretended to browse a bit then left and chalked up the library as one for reference only.

Good grief. That's the kind of results you get from so-called 'shyness', being too prideful to make a mistake or sound ignorant.

Well, yesterday I walked in the back door, instead, and oh! the difference. I stepped into a dark, mysterious room and instantly felt catapulted back 80 years and into a whole other land. But actually, this room housed shelves and shelves of books for sale so the dark mystery of it all proved not quite so great, especially when you've got over-40 eyes like mine which can barely read without glasses in the light, let alone the dark.

Well, after lots of squinting and carrying books to the middle of the room beneath the one sorry-excuse-for-a-light, I delightedly found two treasures:

Amazing start to my visit and 100% better than the one years ago. So with my two lovely books I stepped through a doorway into a tiny room to the left, one filled with sunlight from two huge windows, a sitting room with oak chairs worn smooth and the latest newspapers and a few magazines. Then I stepped into a hallway, turned left and followed voices and black-and-white framed photos of our town's early days until I came to a larger room with arched sunny windows and shelves full of adult fiction. While wandering around, I discovered a tiny corner room, perhaps 8 by 4, and I believe it held maps. It had no window, but the same tall, tall ceiling and was painted that 1940's green.

How fun to just wander through this 1800's brick building where even the women's restroom off the hall appeared delightfully old, what with its heavy wooden door with a sheet of that special glass you can't really see through and it's marble floor and one stall made of beautiful stained wood.

Anyway, from the room of fiction a wide open doorway led to the place with all the action. A smallish desk where the librarian sat, technically in the children's section, then to the left was the mystery section with a couple old round tables around which a few patrons sat, reading. While browsing for Joanne Fluke's books, I covertly peeked into another tiny room labeled Computer Room, where a couple young men sat computering (smile). Also in the mystery section was the dvd collection and I made a mental note to tell Tom about that.

An enclosed stairway had a sign saying children weren't allowed alone upstairs at the computers so I thought I'd save an upstairs adventure for my next visit. I never did find that area I'd stepped into all those years ago--my head felt quite turned around since I'd come in from the back, instead, this time. I'll save that reference section for my next perusal, too--perhaps it's located in the basement. There were so many doors and so little time.

Happy sigh. A mysterious, old library just down the street with tall, tall windows and tiny rooms like cubby holes off larger rooms, all rather maze-like, though not huge, but confusing in a fun, nostalgic way. In the 1920's the library shared that building with the police station, jail and post office (until the 1950's). There used to two smaller branch libraries like this one (the main city library is huge, modern, just one gigantic room, and I've visited there probably fifteen times over 18 years), but this is the only neighborhood library (I read online) which has survived.

And oh my, am I ever grateful it has.


After reading that this building was one a police station, all those tiny rooms now make sense. Interrogation rooms and personal sheriff offices, etc., alas! Feels odd to think, though, that children were coming to this library while people sat in jail cells, below. Hmmm.... The article I read said that the post office moved out in the 1950's, but it didn't say when the police station left.



Judy said...

I'm transported back just by remembering the SMELL of an old library.

I passed my husband an old rescued library book the other day just so we could sink deeply into the smell of it.

Ahhh.., the memories - both old and new!

Elizabeth said...

sounds like a very interesting place to visit. I love buildings with small rooms and oh the green paint...

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

Oh this sounds just delightful, Debra. For a variety of reasons such libraries have often vanished. Three in my 35 years of living in this area of Bath Township and its neighbors. And I miss them. I know the new ones are more practical. But I miss the happy feeling of two libraries which had been old homes and one which was once a church. (Even though the children's room was in the basement with worn large stones on the floor that always had standing water on them after a good rain.) Sometimes I'm too romantic! But I'm thrilled that you have this treasure so close to home!

Morning's Minion said...

Whenever we've moved [too frequently!] the local library has been one of my first visits after getting settled. This sounds like a unique one--maybe a bit more challenging to figure out where everything is, but a building with character.
I wore out a similar copy of "The Outermost House"--Beston's 'Northern Farm' is my favorite of his books.

Echoes From the Hill said...

My town had a library like that and it was very charming. Then the city council decided we needed a new, "modern" library. They built it next to the old library, and turned the original library into a museum, so it is still there and is a wonderful museum with lots of local history. Too many towns have torn down those lovely old buildings.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you will find plenty there to read for a great long time!! Old courthouses type buildings are interesting..reminds me of one in Alabama we visited in a teeny town last spring...found good records from my great grandparents and families!! Happy exploring and reading!!
Elizabeth in NC

jodi said...

How much fun you will have there!

Anonymous said...

Love your library, what a pretty building. I like the Beston books, too. Joyce