The building is impressive, filling a city block. Manchester being the largest city in NH, it is appropriate that it has the largest library. The building was given by Frank Carpenter in memory of his wife, and it will celebrate its centennial in 2014.
The lobby has a helpful sign that tells what is on each floor and "what you can do" there. There is also a collection box for a local food shelf; I haven't mentioned them, but I saw these in most of the libraries I visited on this trip. Beyond the lobby is a handsome central rotunda, with a circulation desk. To the left are YA books, followed by adult fiction and non-fiction. There are classic "stacks"--I did not determine whether they are open to the public. The stacks that clearly are open are massive, 8 shelves high, with the lowest mere inches above the floor and the highest about seven feet up. Thoughtful signs remind patrons that if they have difficulty with things that are too high--OR TOO LOW--they are welcome to ask for help. Occasional empty shelves or with books that do not match the shelf designations are explained by signs that say "Shifting project in progress."
Tall windows surround the room. Each has a warm air duct and a pew-like window seat.
A sign on a centrally located table asks patrons to "Please remember that this is a public building. Please keep all valuables, especially children, close by." I like this, especially the idea that children are valuable.
The upper floor houses the New Hampshire room, genealogy resources, art, music, and a conference room. We did not go up to that level, but I'm willing to bet
that there is a grandfather clock up there! Perhaps someone from Manchester will read this and let me know if my hunch is correct.
The lower level has a large room for children's programs and a modest auditorium with raked seating. The rest of the area houses the children's collection. Although this space is partially underground, it is brightened by large windows. A long shelf held near-life-size reindeer and trees made of corrugated cardboard (by the children's librarian, I was told). The space was very quiet when I got there, but before I left a couple of small children burst in, clearly at ease and happy to visit the library.
Almost forgot to mention a teen program that intrigued me: "Ages 12 - 18 are invited to learn and play and enjoy new card, strategy and board games. Semi-professional gaming geeks will be on hand to mentor new players in an array of classic and modern games." What caught my eye is the presence of "semi-professional gaming geeks"--that should pull in some participants!
For more information about the Manchester library, visit http://www.manchester.lib.nh.us/ or their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/manchesterlibrary.
12/27/2013, bus, plane, car (and headed back to the airport)
If you look carefully, you can see part of "Carpenter Memorial Library."