Saturday, May 23, 2015

332 Rockingham Free Public Library, Bellows Falls Vermont

This good-looking Carnegie library is one of five still in use in Vermont. Although the Carnegie Foundation did not specify the design of libraries, there were guidelines, leading to a "family resemblance" in many of these buildings. The prevalence of windows is one clue; another is the "ceremonial steps" leading to this source of knowledge. And I think every Carnegie I have seen, including this one, has a fireplace or two (or more), though often these are no longer working.

This library has a comfortable reading area with a living room ambience. Here, it is to the right as you enter, and old card catalog files are being cleverly used as end tables.

Near the reference section there are five public computers and a microfilm reader. A man worked at his laptop in the periodical section by the fireplace. Fiction is shelved in the other end of the building, to the left of the entrance. There are study tables by the windows, a catalog computer, and a copy machine in the alcove by the elevator. In my experience, all Carnegie libraries still in use have made at least two changes: the addition of an elevator and an alternate entrance (minus those ceremonial stairs) for ADA compliance.

The children's area is downstairs. There are five computers for the kids, and a meeting / project room.  A sign I like says "Keep YA weird...because normal is boring." This is accompanied by a shelf of YA books and graphic novels.

A couch, chair, and rug designate the picture book and board book area. One corner houses the J collection. Biographies have their own area, which I think is helpful. An active Lego club is represented by some good models.

Although this space is partially below grade, it is kept light by windows and window wells.

5/21/2015, car

To see more about this library, go to or visit on Facebook at

The classic look that says "Carnegie"

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