Monday, November 4, 2013

Haunted By Libraries

I had no sooner finished my last post than I felt haunted by the specters of other libraries I have loved. Looking for all of those photos to post on my last blog was like paging through old journals -- and it took about the same amount of time -- which happens to be much longer than the amount of time I normally allot for writing a blog post.

So I did what any good writer does -- I stuck with the information that went with the slant I had chosen. But today, I'm back. Turns out I couldn't change the subject without acknowledging a few other libraries.
The library at the top of this post is one I've never been in. So, how did it make the cut? Well, it's the library that replaced the one to the right of this paragraph, one I ventured into sometime between 1983 and 1985.

For most of the 20th century, the Himmelreich Memorial Library in downtown Lewisburg was Lewisburg's public library. It was a beautiful building, and one I didn't spend much time in until I considered myself more a Lewisburg resident than a Bucknell student -- which was, if memory serves, the last summer I spent in Lewisburg. I only went there a few times, but I remember pulling open the heavy front door and walking into a room that immediately gave me that wonderful, peaceful library feeling. While I'm sure the library that replaced it is much bigger, with many more amenities, the Himmelreich Memorial Library was a pretty nice place for a lonely graduate student to visit in the late 1980s.
At the other end of the spectrum is a library my daughter fell in love with during a trip to New York a few years ago, the beautiful, ornate, enormous New York Public Library. When my daughter was small, PBS had a show called Between the Lions, with the lions being the ones in front of the NYPL. We spent time wandering that library during one of our visits to New York, and found a few fun souvenirs in their gift shop. But the best souvenir for me was the fact that we went to NY, and my daughter wanted to spend time in a library. Pretty amazing.

Finally, closer to home, is a library I discovered when my daughter was three. It lacks the spectacle and architectural splendor of the Himmelreich and the NYPL, but it has been our favorite library for almost thirteen years. When she was in first grade, it nearly got absorbed into the local school system, and both she and I fought for its independence, writing letters to board members and the editor of the local newspaper. Aptly named The Village Library, it not only maintained its independence, but last summer, it expanded into an empty storefront, bringing its book sale inside, and ushering in a whole new era. I always thought I would volunteer there when I retired.

And perhaps someday I will. 

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