Tuesday, August 22, 2017

466 Ogunquit Memorial Library, Ogunquit, Maine

A lot of the content of this blog is borrowed from a Welcome booklet I picked up at the library.

I've wanted to visit here for five years, ever since I started visiting libraries and writing about them. I get to the York/Ogunquit area every couple of years, but usually only for a brief visit. Perhaps a walk on the Marginal Way or a meal at a restaurant or a visit to Perkins Cove. I would see the library, want to visit, but discover that I either forgot my camera or have arrived during the 12 to 2 lunch break. This time I have three days in York, and my sister is willing to brave the Ogunquit traffic.

The original part of the building dates back to 1897 (opened to the public in 1898). An addition was built in 1914. The library is in the National Registry of Historic Places and The Ogunquit Historic Preservation Commission.

Looking down the side of the library allows a hint of the handsome landscaped grounds.

Stone stands up to just about anything, but in 2007 the handsome doors succumbed to age and weather. The picture below shows the handcrafted replacements, which should be good for another 110 years.

The plaque above the entrance reads
Free Memorial Library
Ogunquit Maine
Erected in memory of
George M. Conarroe
of Philadelphia Penna:
By his wife August 1897

It happens once in a while...I get caught up in pleasant conversation with library staff and scrimp on note-taking and wandering about.

The corner below is immediately to the right as you enter. The table holds assorted literature about the area and the library.

The need to avoid people in my pictures led to this awkward view of the massive stone fireplace that was once the sole source of heat for the library. The pamphlet that is the source of most of my information (because I was talking, not taking notes) mentions that the interior of the library has changed little over the years.

Though they have very little in common, this library reminds me of the Forest Lodge Library in Cable, WI. I think the common links are consistency over the years and a certain "one-of-a-kind-ness,"

A large room to the left holds part of the collection..

More of the collection. A book sale was underway at a large wooden table in another part of this room..

This is no dollhouse; it's a 2-foot replica of the library, build with stones by a local resident, probably in the 1930s.

I missed the grandfather clock. (I simply needed to turn 180 degrees; no excuses. a kind!) I think the staff person said that his grandfather built it. The leaflet says that it was made from a black walnut piano case, with inlaid designs made from the ivory piano keys. That's got to a one of a kind.

The children's books are limited. I find this understandable, since Ogunquit has long been a tourist town and art colony, and thus quite adult-oriented. However, the six-drawer card catalog has books at least as recent as Harry Potter. I love that the kids get a real card catalog! There are a few plastic kid-size chairs available.

Borrowing privileges at the Ogunquit Library are free to residents of Ogunquit, Wells, York, and Cape Neddick. Visitors may borrow by paying $25, which is refunded when the last book is returned.

Over the years, donors have provided generous endowments that fund the library to this day. This enables the library to operate full-time and year-round "without the aid of any federal, state, or municipal funds." [Donations are always welcome!]


Monday, August 21, 2017

465 James Prendergast Free Library, Jamestown, New York

My goal: find a library to visit that is on my route from Middleburg Heights, OH to Cazenovia, NY. The only other criterion: it must be open on Saturday. Thanks to MapQuest, I found Jamestown, New York, the home of a very handsome library and art gallery.

The historic building has a commanding position on a hilltop. The newer building is visible to the right.

I fed a couple of quarters into a parking meter. Did I need to on a Saturday? I couldn't tell, and I didn't want to take a chance. Then I walked down the sidewalk to the entrance in the newer building.

It's always tricky to blend a new building with an older one, but in my opinion the effort worked here. There is no mistaking the two buildings, but I feel no jarring effect.

The library has two levels of stacks down each side, with access from a number of stairs, an elevator, and a bridge between the two sides. I went to the upper level in search of an angle from which I could show the overall sense of this large space, without including recognizable people. From here you can see the "bridge," a browsing area with easy chairs around the newspapers, and the beginning of the on-going book sale, marked by the cart full of the distinctively yellow National Geographic magazines.

The teen area is at the far end of the upper level. Graphic novels and Y fiction are shelved nearby. To the right, just out of the picture, is a small area, up one step, with more seating for a few kids. Perhaps a study group, at least sometimes? 

Back on the main level, the book sale uses the lower stacks from this point back to the wall. Note to a fellow back home who thinks he can make money from his old VHS tapes: Here they are 25 cents each...or you can fill a shopping bag for $5.00, two bags for $7.00. The sale books are shelved "in order," and the shelves are helpfully labeled with fiction and Dewey Decimal indicators.

Reference books are becoming rare as people turn more to the Internet. I've seen this practice in a number of places, intershelving reference books with non-fiction books. This is the first place, however, that I've seen such clear signage explaining the practice to borrowers.

Here is a closer view of the browsing area I saw from the upper level. Notice the newspaper rack in the center...

The newspapers are still mounted on split sticks. This certainly keeps the papers neat, but I know from first-hand experience in my high school years that the daily mounting of the papers can be quite a chore.

One area (not pictured) of the lower stacks includes periodicals, newspapers (off the sticks), microfilm and -fiche readers, material relevant to local history and genealogy, and city directories from from 1922 to the 'nineties. Nearby are about 20 computers for public use.

The entrance to the children's area is marked by a hexagonal aquarium. I like that pictures of the various fish are provided, with the question to kids, "Can you find these fish?" A sign indicates that "no food, snacks, or drinks allowed in children's room. Please use designated tables in the main library." I didn't spot those tables, but I like the idea of providing an alternative, rather than imposing an outright ban.

The summer reading program theme was "Build a Better World.' Here the challenge was to "fill the toolbox" with a star for each book read.

A display of new books includes "Chapter Books," "Picture Books," and "Information Books." Ten computers are available for kids, and at 11 am on this Saturday morning, eight of them were in use.

Packets for Parents provide a book, guide, and directions for an activity. These are available for ages birth to 1, 1 to 2, 3, 4, K, and first grade. Some topics I spotted were "Speech," "Alphabet Books," and "Behavior and Emotional."

The selection of this library for a visit was serendipitous; the visit was grand.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

274a Cazenovia Public Library

This was a re-visit; my first visit was August 6, 2014. At that time, I was not taking interior pictures, so this post will serve as a fuller introduction to this handsome library. [Note: there is also a history museum here, but I did not visit it, as I arrived less than half an hour before closing.]

One thing I remembered, not specifically about the library, was the free public parking in back. Not just library parking, but public parking. Free! This meant that I didn't have to worry about finding parking on the busy main street; I could simply drive around a couple of corners. I hope Cazenovia can keep up this practice

Walking up from the parking lot yields a rear view of the building. Perhaps not the first thing to see, but at the end of that sidewalk...

...you can turn around and get the full impact of the classical facade. A note on the door directs the visitor around to the side...

...where a sheltered portico runs the length of the building. Keep walking...

...past the sunflower/book/bike rack. I think it's a bike rack. Why do I think so? there is a clue on the left-hand leaf of the first flower.

Beyond the bike rack is the official greeter. I remember this creature from my earlier visit, but I don't know the significance.

I don't usually make second visits; there are so many libraries! In this case, however, I wanted to see if Page was still on the staff. I met her on my first visit, and this time I had a gift for her from my Frankie and Jerry. And there she was, patrolling the premises. She is the fourth in a line of library cats going back 32 years:

  • Dewey, 1985 to 1988
  • Kitty, 1988 to 1999
  • Jesse, 1999 to 2009
  • Page, 2009... and going strong for many more years, I hope.


The Lego Checkout Club has spent the summer adding to a Lego structure one piece at a time, each piece representing a book checked out by a kid. I understand that this is very popular. However, younger kids are likely to move pieces that are already part of the structure...and older kids are likely to remember exactly where they put that yellow piece, and why isn't it there now?

There are plenty of books of all types, and the preschool area includes blocks. These have prompted this sign: "Blocks are for building, not throwing. When others are building, please don't knock over their work." I was slightly alarmed when I read this, picturing wooden kindergarten blocks of maple; the blocks I spotted, however, are similar in shape and size, but made of foam. Whew!

This part of the children's area invites parents to sit and read to their toddlers, or watch them at play.

Many libraries include thematic bags or boxes of related books. Here they are called "Grandma Sally's Bookbags;" themes I saw were "Birthday Celebrations" and "Read and Guess," each with 10 books. There were quite a few others on the shelf.

I include this picture for two reasons. First, to give a good look at the painted border that runs around the wall. Second, to show the Nancy Drew silhouette, on the prowl with her magnifying glass so that you will "get caught reading."

This final picture gives another look at the border, the high clerestory windows, and the much-larger-than-life monarch butterfly.

It appears that I have totally ignored the adult portion of the library. No pictures, but I do have some notes. There are a couple of reading/studying tables that caught my eye because some of the wooden chairs have cushions. Nice, for a prolonged study session especially. Four computers are available for patron use.

In the media area, there is a significant collection of foreign DVDs. You can borrow a fancy cake pan, not here but at the Kirkland Town Library. A Facebook post that I chanced to see today says that the Cazenovia library also lends fishing gear (I've seen that quite a few places) and croquet sets (a first).


464 Roger B. Francis Branch Library, South Bend, Indiana

This branch of the South Bend library system is in an agricultural area. I knew this from the countryside I'd been traveling through, and especially from missing the turn for the library driveway and discovering a horse farm just beyond the library property.

The library was designed to fit into and honor its agricultural heritage, which it does well, both outside and in. It is named for Roger B. Francis, the South Bend Public Library Director from 1952 to 1977.

On the day I visited, a glass case in the lobby held a display by the Haiku Club, with books, some Japanese articles, and many cards with haiku that I assume are by club members. I especially liked this one by Ray Flory:
With large hungry eyes
Waiting on log fence...
The black barn cat.

Double-hung windows on two sides of the lobby, between the lobby and the library interior, give a down-home feeling to the space.

A neat display of books was labeled "Last chance to read. Give these books a second life." I checked with staff, and my hunch was right: These are books that were about to be weeded from the collection because they had not circulated in a long time, This is a neat idea, and I haven't seen it anywhere else. Sort of the library version of an animal shelter that tries hard for adoptions!

A prime example of the agricultural theme is the red silo reading area for kids. It reminds me of a similar feature in the Farmington, Minnesota, library.

This corner of the children's area provides comfortable seating and ample room for little ones to play.

I've seen the chairs with cut-out animals several places, and they always catch my attention. Such a small detail, but it just adds...something.


Four iPads are available on the red tables, ready for kids to use. And the Very Hungry Caterpillar (or maybe a bookworm) is guarding the books that are stored under the padded window seat.


The tall ceiling and long sight lines evoke the rustic barn theme. At the far end, a fireplace provides a focal point for a seating area. A piano is to the right with a sign: "Do you play? If you'd like to play a few pieces, ask at the desk."

These constructions, and many others like them, intrigued me. I read an interpretive sign about them, but didn't really dig into what they are all about. They are fascinating and would reward a longer time of consideration.

This expansive snack bar is near the adult and youth graphic novels. I'll bet there are times when this area is jumping; right after school gets out, perhaps?

I like these stone pillars that are throughout the library. In another life, they would be holding up the hay loft!

I hadn't really spotted this bench on my way in; my attention was taken by the over-sized double-hung windows. On the way out, I couldn't miss the pitchforks that form the back of the bench. A patron entering the library looked at me as if it was a bit strange for someone to be taking a picture of a bench. But I love it!


463 German Branch Library, South Bend, Indiana

My gps said "turn left, arriving at...", but the only buildig in sight was a medical center of some sort. Hmmm? A couple hundred feet more and ... WOW ... there it was, looking just like its website picture, the German Branch!

First, outside. There is ample parking, but instead of a massive rectangle of cars, it is divided into several landscaped bays. Different parts of the grounds are linked by curving sidewalks and a circular driveway at the entrance allows easy pick-up and drop-off.

Notice the tower; we'll come back to it later.

A meeting room off the lobby was humming with a meeting that involved ... sewing machines! A display case held baseball memorabilia that I was too uninformed about baseball to appreciate, but it looked to me like there were some very special items there. 

After getting permission for pictures, I started my wandering around. First, I noticed that the automated book return offers receipts, like the ones in St. Paul. It's a very nice feature, expecially for anyone who has had "claims rturned" issues in the past.

Next, I came to the Scan and Fax Station shown below. Here you can "Convert books, documents, photos, to PDF, Word, or JPEG. While I stood here scribbling in my notebook, a young man on staff came over to offer help. Although I did not need help (if I'd planned to use this station, I certainly would have!) I saw this as a great example of staff being alert to library users and their potential needs and responding proactively.

There are four of these wooden tables with white lamps in the center of the library, and all of the chairs have these attractive designs in the back. Tables, reading lamps, chairs, have been library staples since Carnegie's time or earlier. Little touches like these give a sense of tradition and continuity, without in any way looking old-fashioned.


There are a couple of these nooks that allow a person to curl up in moderate privacy with a book or device...note the electrical outlets. To the left is the mirror image of this space.

A fireplace is almost an essential in modern libraries, it seems. Whether wood-burning or gas, real or decorative, they provide a welcoming focal point for "living room" settings. Other clusters provide outside views. I like the contrast, which I didn't notice until I was assembling the pictures for this post, between the "light" fireplace area and the darker area on the right. This is probably part of the reason this library seems designed for everyone; there is such a variety here.

The metal pull-out shelves for CDs are very practical, but a bit surprising among all of the wooden furnishing.

I like maps, so I was surprised and delighted to see these tables in the children's area. These two show Middle Earth and Narnia. Two others show the Winnie the Pooh woods and Hogwarts. What can I say? They are wonderful!


If you go back to the very first picture, you'll see a round tower. Now we are in/under that tower, looking up. I'm showing this picture extra-large so you can see the owl overhead and the rabbits gamboling on the wooded path below. It's quite magical.

Remember the reading alcoves over in the adult area? Kids get something similar on either side of this circular area. Circles certainly do rule here!

Now I'm going to back up a little bit. There is an enclosed place for reading, using devices, and snacking...it even has a vending machine. It's also popular, so no picture.

Through that area and there is another very private-feeling reading area, with wicker furniture and a sign "Patio is Open." [And a patron; no picture.] I went outside, surprised that nobody else was there; it was a beautiful day. Here there are paths, gardens, benches, more circles, a paved area that looks a little like a sundial (but I didn't spot a gnomon. [I took a picture, but it's totally fuzzy.]

I'm often asked, "Which is your favorite library?" I truly do not have a favorite--how to choose between a tiny storefront staffed by devoted volunteers, on the one hand, and the Minneapolis Central library that I use so often, on the other?

But if I were to try to choose a favorite, German Branch of South Bend would be right up at the top of the list.