Wednesday, April 20, 2016

My First Library (Well almost)





This was my first library. Well, almost. Earlier we had a mobile library because my section of Philly was considered almost a suburb. Most of the houses were built in the forties. What was your first library?

What I remember most about this glorious library was that I went every Friday after school and took out the number of books I was permitted often.  I have told this before but the children's librarian was an African-American woman named Mrs. Robinson. She was the smartest person I knew and tried to steer me from reading Cherry Ames and Sue Barton books and on to more classical works. A hard thing because I was wedded to reading dull books about nurses instead of exciting ones about going into space of boating down the Mississippi or Amazon. When I was twelve, I moved into the adult section and waved longingly to Mrs. Robinson who was trying her best with other kids by then.
I never had an overdue book and still dread having one today.

22 comments:

Bill Crider said...

I have a long post about this coming up on my blog.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Great!

Charles Gramlich said...

The Charleston Public library was a pretty small place in the basement of the Court house. I loved it

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

My first was a mobile van that came once a week, when we lived in Queens. I don't remember ever going to a "real" library until we moved to Brooklyn, when I was 9. Then we had the massive (to a kid), two-story Kings Highway branch only a couple of blocks away.

Al Tucher said...

The Dunellen (N.J.) Public Library was two rooms above the volunteer fire department. I don't think it had any librarians, just two volunteers, who gave me constant grief about reading adult books. My mother (who was a school librarian) finally went and told them, "Yes, he is able to read them, and yes, he has my permission to read what he wants to read."

John said...

Ridgefield Public Library in Ridgefield, Connecticut. It was tiny little place in a building that dated back to 1903. The children's library was in the basement with a separate entrance with an ivy encrusted doorway that was on Prospect Street right next door to the movie theater which I never knew until decades later was owned by the library (it was later turned into a bank). The adult fiction section which kids were only allowed to visit once they were in high school had its entrance on Main Street across from Ballard Park. In 1996 the library received its first modern renovation and building additions to accommodate more patrons and books. Then in 2010 the whole library was torn down (with the exception of one grand hall) and completely reconstructed at a cost of $20 million to give them a fully modern library.

I've not been back to Ridgefield since 1997 or so. The medium sized New England village feel it had in the 1970s and 1980s is long gone based on photos I've seen. They clung to their Revolutionary War era antiquity for centuries even referring to the town as "the village" in the local paper throughout the 1970s when I was in high school there. Now it looks like a small city more than the town I remember.

Kent Morgan said...

My first library was the Cornish Library in Winnipeg which was about two blocks from where I lived and across the street from the hospital where I was born. Both are still in operation. My mother took me to the library when I was very small and I guess that was why I learned to love books. When we moved to northern Manitoba when I was in grade 5, it was a shock to learn that our town had no library and the one at school was pitiful. But I did read every Tom Swift book in the collection. And I'm like you as I never have an overdue book. Took four books back yesterday and none were due. I have the need to return books as soon as I am finished with them because I think someone else may be waiting to read them.

pattinase (abbott) said...

It is so great how well we remember these libraries. Better than our birth, of course, but in a sense for us, it was our birth.

Mathew Paust said...

I'll be dreaming about being in mine--Columbus, Wisconsin--again tonite probly, thanks to you, Patti. It's within several blocks of where I grew up. I walked there often and spent many hours combing the shelves, and many evenings at a table doing homework. I can even smell the place at this moment, altho I haven't been inside for too many decades.

TracyK said...

I spent many hours at the West End branch of the Birmingham Public Library (Alabama). We lived about a mile away and I walked there often when I got old enough to go by myself. The main branch of the Birmingham Public Library seemed huge to me, and I spent a lot of time there when I learned to do research papers. A wonderful place.

Gerard said...

I often have overdue library books. When I was in grad school at U of Illinois I checked out a copy of John Irving's A SON OF INDIA. Reading the book took a while but I returned it. I started getting overdue notices and was kinda ticked off. I worked at one of the libraries but got the novel from a different, departmental library. I was greatly annoyed at that other library's obvious incompetence until I discovered I had a second copy buried under other books on my dresser.

Columbus, WI is about 22 miles from me but I have not seen the library.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Leave it to someone who works in a library to take returning books on time for granted.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I am fairly sure I have never been in the big library in Philly. But I was in the one in Boston. Remember filling out forms and hoping they'd come back with some of the books I needed in the stacks.

Todd Mason said...

My first library aside from the home collection would've been at the John E. Burke Elementary School in West Peabody, MA, in 1970. https://peabody.follettdestiny.com/cataloging/servlet/handlebasicsearchform.do?doTop10=true

My first public library would've been the Enfield (CT) Central Library, as it was first known after its own dedicated building was opened: https://www.librarything.com/venue/39550/Enfield-Public-Library-Enfield-Public-Library-System-Main-
On my way home from my aunt's wake last year, driving from Barre VT to the Philadelphia suburb in New Jersey, Collingwood, I stopped at the library. Oddly enough, while familiar on the outside, the interior had been somewhat rearranged since I'd left in 1976, a mere four decades before.

Todd Mason said...

At least you can browse most of the Free Library central branch, even if a fair amount of it is museum and meeting hall...some nice marble. The only largely unbrowsable library I've spent much time in has been the LOC, and not Too much time there.

Todd Mason said...

Collingswood, actually, but the Apple spell-checker keeps saying No, no S.

Richard Robinson said...

I grew up in the hills on an avacado ranch, and it was a 15 mile drive into town where the library was, so trips weren't frequent. Of course there was the little bookcase with the children's books in it, that my older brother and I had. But when I outgrew those my mother did drive us to the library every two weeks. She would then help us pick 2 or 3 books each to check out. My mother was a high school English teacher, so she did the picking. I don't remember the librarian doing more than checking out the books, stamping the cards.

The library itself sat in a small park, the size of a smallish house, it was single story, with double front doors opening off concrete sidewalk with grass and flowerbeds. Inside, the back wall was tall windows with long tables beneath them, and chairs. The other three walls were shelves and the counter. There must have been a card catalog but I don't remember it. The children's section was near the back, and that's where I found Captains Courageous and many other books I loved. The library didn't have any boys series books like Hardy Boys or Tom Swift Jr. so I was on my own for those. The library did have the Winston Science Fiction books, which I loved.

In my memory it was always sunny when we went to the library, but then it was Southern California.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Beautiful memories everyone!

Richard Robinson said...

To clarity, the library was the size of a smallish house, not the park, which was large, grassy and studded with palm trees.

Gerard Saylor said...

The central stacks at the U of Illinois used to have restricted access. I was a grad assistant at the circulation desk and we had Pages make constant runs into the stacks for requests. They opened access a few years ago. I'm almost always in favor of opening access but I wonder how orderly the stacks now are. The older section of the building was 11 or 13 floors and labryrinthian so I also wonder if they have people watching out for misbehavior.

George said...

When I was about three or four years old, my aunt took me to small public library. Sadly, that library has been leveled for "Urban Renewal." I remember choosing some picture books that my aunt would take out for me and my younger sister to look at. When I learned how to read, my parents took me to the much larger Library weekly for books.

Margot Kinberg said...

Some of my earliest memories are of going to our local library. I remember getting my first library card (how exciting!). I've loved libraries ever since.