Thursday, May 21, 2015

331 Bedford Public Library, Bedford, NH

This 1996 library is housed in a handsome building that fits well in its Colonial town setting. If you look at the cupola in the third picture below, you'll appreciate how light and bright the lobby is. As I walked to the building from the parking lot, I passed two picnic tables and was amused to see signs that indicate these table are "Reserved for library staff 11:30-1:30. Nice! This would indeed be a pleasant place to eat lunch during some parts of the year  Inside, behind the circulation desk, a flat-screen display is mounted on the wall. In the rotation with library program announcements was a display of staff members and their dogs. I learned later that there is another with cats, which I never saw--just wasn't looking at the right time. A book sales room is off the lobby, next to a large grandfather clock.

The upper level holds the adult collection. Each end of the space has a large bow window with chairs facing in. (Look at your book, please; don't be staring at the scenery!) One of these areas has this sign: "You asked, we listened. This is a designated quiet area." A group of tables and carrels near the reference and non-fiction shelves is designated a quiet study area "For reading, studying, researching, thinking deep thoughts, and daydreaming."

I noticed that non-fiction books have Dewey Decimal numbers in the standard manner (641.2 but instead of a second line with a Cutter number (A25B) simply has the author's name. I don't recall seeing this system in use at any other library. It's certainly effective and in many cases would make shelving and finding easier than the full Dewey/Cutter system.

The lower level houses the children's area. It also has a lobby and an entrance directly from the parking lot. In the lobby is a large display cabinet that held, at the time of my visit, an extensive collection of everything Harry Potter, including Quidditch uniforms, books, wands, name it! This collection, and a collection of bells upstairs, are both in memory of Rosemary McLaughlin.

Then there is the train display. When the librarian upstairs told me to be sure and see the train, I pictured a wooden train set as is often seen in children's areas of libraries, so I was surprised to see a model electric train set up. There is a second layout visible on the other side of the wall. I had the pleasure of watching a small boy, probably 3 or 4 years old, make a discovery. He was looking at the larger layout, pressing a button on the wall to make the train run, then dashing to the other side of the wall to look for it. No luck, it was never there (the two layouts are separate). Then he discovered the buttons on the second layout and learned he could make those trains move, too. It's a wonderful display, and the interactivity is terrific.

Inside the children's area, tables and chairs line the walls to the left. An unusual item is a child-sized map case with a sloping top and pull-out shelves below. A map of the United states is mounted above and several atlases were on the top. I also saw a floor-mounted globe. As a fan of maps, I was glad to see these.

An area for the smallest library patrons includes a Duplo table and an unusual rocking "fire engine." There are seats for adults and children and a collection of books for parents and teachers. A bow window area holds picture books.

The largest feature of the children's area is the Storytime Castle with a barred gate. Inside is a program/craft area with tables, cabinets, and a sink. A sign on the "gate" warns "Halt by royal decree. The Storytime Castle is currently closed. Please do not enter." ["Royal decree" and "Please" are an interesting combination!]

The media collection includes some Playaway-and-book kits that I have not seen before. I saw shelves of books for teens, but no designated teen area per se.

Talking to the children's staff, I learned that in a few weeks the summer reading program will start and is expected to serve 1000-1200 children! There is also a summer program upstairs for teens and adults. These programs will help relieve the crowding on the fiction shelves as everyone chooses books for summer reading!

There were a couple of bookshelves of children's books for sale downstairs. I bought a stack of books for next Halloween (instead of candy), then I bought a very nice Bedford Library tote bag to carry them--and to add to my collection of library tote bags.

Finally, as I left by the lower level door to the parking lot, I saw a pay phone mounted on the wall. I didn't check, but it appeared to be working, a true relic of the pre-cell phone era.

5/20/2015  car

For more about the Bedford NH library, go to or visit them on Facebook at

Upper and lower bow windows facing the lower parking lot;
the lower level entrance is to the right....

....under the Library sign.

The cupola that fills the upper lobby with light

A glimpse of one of the train layouts.
It's behind glass, and buttons on the wall control the trains.

Halt by royal decree!

Don't even think of scaling the castle walls!

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