Monday, December 23, 2013

217. Durham Town Library, Durham NH -- Revisit?

Is this a revisit or not? Well, I posted about the Durham library last June, after peering in the windows and looking at signs at their "temporary" (about 15 years) location in a small strip mall. This week I made my first visit to their new quarters, a stunning small building in this university town. Nestled into fraternity row, the new facility is comprised of an old house and an attached new building.

There's something new to see at every library, right? Here, it was outside: bike racks (no big deal) housed under a portico called the Bike Porch (very clever and thoughtful idea). Entering the lobby, the library proper is to the left. To the right, stairs and an elevator take you up one level to the main floor of the old house. A small room houses the Friends bookshop and a long room houses the self-service Cafe. Beyond the cafe and to the left is the original living room of the old house, now holding a long conference table and a fireplace.

Another level up is a large program room that can be divided. When I was there, a showing of Polar Express was just ending, with pajama-clad kids clambering down the stairs. The area outside the program room provides an art gallery for local talent, of which there is plenty.

OK, back downstairs and into the library. Initially I bypassed the adult area, on my way to see the piece de resistance, the life-sized reproduction of a boat known as a gundelow. [You'll have to go to their website to see this boat; see the link below.] Behind the gundelow is a large program room for the children's area, partially carpeted for story time, partially tiled for crafts. The boat and program room make this a real sister to the main library in LaCrosse, WI.

A flyer about programs includes the usual suspects, including a summer program, but also a few surprises: a University of New Hampshire "reading buddy" program, a middle school book club called "Bookeaters," a high school club called "Libros Lovers," a writing/blog group, and a reading patch program that rewards reading during the school year. [Note: The middle school group should check out and look for the Bibliovore T-shirts.]

The teen area is a separate room, with a door, right beside the youth services office and desk; this gives it a nice set-apart feel, but is close enough for good supervision. There are computers, games, and a large flat-screen TV. I learned that the library is within walking distance of the middle school, and is very lively with young people when school gets out. [I was there on the Saturday before Christmas; not a kid in sight!]

Each new section of the library has large alcoves with tall windows and comfortable seating. There is one such area for adults as you enter the library (with a seasonal reading porch outside), one in the children's area, one in the pre-school area, and so forth. the teen area, and the "back" of the adult area. Each has its own personality. The windows look out on buildings in a couple of cases, but also onto a lawn and wooded area. One view includes sculptures of a woman who was a major benefactor, her husband, and swans, famous in Durham.

Re-reading this, it seems that adults have been neglected. Not so...they have a couple of comfortable reading areas, computers, and collections of fiction and nonfiction. Staff is very friendly and helpful.

For more information, go to or their page on Facebook,

12/21/13, bus, plane, car

Sorry, I didn't have a camera with me; there are plenty of pictures on the websites mentioned above, and I strongly suggest that you have a look!


  1. What a unique library this is! Your words take me with you around each corner and into the spaces. Safe travels, Ellen!

  2. Hi Ellen - it was nice to meet you and let you in the door this time! I am wondering about "The boat and program room make this a real sister to the main library in LaCrosse, WI." Just wanted to clarify that we do not actually have a "main library in WI", but that you had mentioned that they also had a local type of boat in their Children's area. I haven't been able to find it online, though. Can you remember the name of that library? Thanks, Nancy Miner

    1. Nancy, the "main library" I referred to is in Lacrosse, Wisconsin. I went to their site and there no longer is a picture of the boat readily available. Best bet? Go to their very lively Facebook site,, and ask about the boat. Or reach out to Marge Loch-Wouters at, the librarian who showed me the boat and program room. Feel free to drop my name.


Comments are welcomed, and I will generally respond to them. Please be tasteful; comments that are in poor taste will be deleted.
Sorry about the "verification" step; I added it after a rash of spammish comments.