Friday, May 31, 2013

161. Nashua, NH, :Public Library

This is the "new" Nashua library, built sometime in the 70s. To see what preceded it, put "where I got my start" in the search field. My mother worked as a reference librarian in both the old and new libraries; My sister and I were pages in the old one. I never knew the new library well, as I had moved away before it opened.

The reference area is now marked by a large red-on-white REFERENCE sign hanging from the ceiling. Nearby are large print books; world language books in French, Spanish, Portugese, German, Hindi, Lithuanian, Russian, and many in Chinese; and about a dozen public computers. The reference collection is quite large, and includes a card catalog (really) that appears to be an index to the Nashua Telegraph newspaper, pre-computer times. The non-fiction collection is next to this area, and I noticed that oversized books are shelved flat on the bottom shelf. A cute poster with a very large and very small dog, asked, "Where are the oversized (Q) books?" and then explained.

A north-facing window wall has clusters of study carrells and a sign advising patrons "Do not leave valuables unattended." That's good advice in any setting; seeing it here suggest past and perhaps current problems.

Moving along the outside walls, I found an alcove that at first glance seemed to hold full shelving carts. Closer inspection showed it to be a staging area for books heading for a local nursing home. A wall display labeled "Freedom Shrine" included framed replicas of many historic documents. The Hunt Room is dedicated to genealogy and Nashua history. A clipping file with many drawers is outside the Hunt Room. I opened a drawer at random, pulled out a folder, and was looking at an old clipping about the Nashua Boys Band, which was begun many years ago by my grandfather. (Not quite the way the article tells it, but I researched this for my own article some years ago.)

Back in the lobby I saw a display called Readbox: Seen the movie? Read the book. Book rentals $0.00. There was also a display for International Towel Day, May 25. "Grab your towel and don't panic." Near this was a box for donated towels. And there were flyers for an adult summer reading program, with raffle entries awarded for reading books and attending events. I've seen only one other library that has a summer program for adults, with prizes.

The children's room is a totally separate space with glass doors. There is a wonderful puppet theater that looks like a cabin or cottage; see the pictures. There are a significant number of world language books for kids, and a cabinet displays a former mayor's elephant figures, made of everything from china to plush.

Picture books are labeled J and are in bins. Easy Readers are on two shelves, grades 1 and 2, and grade 3. Beyond that are shelves labeled "Juvenile Older Fiction" for the upper elementary grades. I've never seen books divided or labeled quite that way. Recorded books are shelved alongside the paper versions, another first for me and one I think makes sense. I think they must have all of the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books! There are four computers for little kids, six for the bigger kids.

The lower level of the library houses a theater, restrooms, an art exhibit, and the Music, Art, Media department. Many of the '700' books are here, plus all of the DVDs and CDs. Signs by the CDs say "Copying music? You're breaking a Federal Law. Stop it. Now. Really." There is a grand piano in the middle of the space. It looks as if this lower level is being reconfigured in some way, but I'm not familiar enough with the "old" way to figure out what they are up to.

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5/31/2013, car, with Jean

The window curtains open to create the puppet theater stage.


  1. this is the only Nashua Library I've ever know, but haven't been in for years....maybe the girls and I will do a Nashua adventure this summer.....Andrea

  2. Thanks for your review of the Nashua Public Library, which I stumbled upon while researching for estate planning purposes.

    I was a patron of both the old and "new" libraries, although more the new than old since I was born in 1964. I grew up in the adjacent French Hill neighborhood, in a small house just a short walk from where drug dealers freely staked their place on street corners. The new library was about a mile away and I visited often. While I didn't think of it as a refuge back then, I see it now, and recognize that time spent there gave me a wealth that my family didn't have.

    I've long since moved away and have done fairly well, and I wonder what part of my success is owed to the Nashua Public Library. I'm forever grateful.

    1. Anonymous, I'm so glad you found the post and took the time to share your memories. You probably met my mother, who worked at the "new" library! I'm glad you have, in your words, "done fairly well," and if the library played a role in the outcome, any librarian would be pleased.


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