The Week in Library Land - April 13th

What a week! A regular whirlwind of library fun! How many libraries count as a whirlwind, you might be wondering? Not one, no. Not two, or three or four of five. Six? Nope. Seven? Eight? Nine? No, no, no. There were 12 library visits this past week - 12 libraries and one (TERRIBLE) library movie.

The week started with a short working visit to the Morse Institute in Natick. It was short but sweet and some good work got done. Bonus!

On Monday, we went west and really West. The sort of west trip started at the Whitinsville Social Library. It was a good looking place, but there was a feeling that something was missing. A certain spark that we often feel when visiting a new library for the first time. In the large main room, there are two areas that were probably once a reading room and reference room. They had the sweet antique feel that so many of these rooms have in older libraries. In this case, they have been repurposed as the children’s room and teen room.

Located just ten minutes from Whitinsville is the Uxbridge Free Library. While only a short distance apart, it is a world away in terms of experience. The space is bright and has lots of interesting architectural features - including a spiral staircase. (While the stairs are neat they also mean the building is not accessible). There is one study room, a local history room and a small auditorium. The staff - including the newly minted director - were super friendly and they and patrons chatted happily about everything from movies to taxes.

Adam ventured to Oregon this week to visit his sophomore son at University of Oregon. When not eating, drinking, watching WWE wrestling and Liverpool matches or driving to the coast, he took in a couple of excellent libraries. First, Eugene’s Downtown branch. This a welcoming, vibrant urban library built over three well-appointed floors. The library serves upwards of 3,500 patrons a day. Some patrons seem to spend most of the day here - a more noticeable homeless population than seen in many of our previous libraries. A library of this size could probably use more than two study areas (but heck, Boston and NYC main branches each have zero), but they can be reserved a day in advance - and they had a classroom area with additional computers available. The third floor has a maker space and separate media room, both available for use with library cards.

On Tuesday, things started at the Holliston Public library. It wasn’t the first visit. The library is having some work done (no renovation, just repairs). That meant things were a little more jumbled than they might have otherwise been. That, coupled with some wifi issues, made this visit a short one.

Needing a place to get some work done, west again it was! The search for a workspace ended in the super nice Bancroft Memorial Library in Hopedale. Like Uxbridge, Hopedale has a new director who is rightly proud of her library. On the main floor it features comfortable reading and reference rooms, as well as a Trustees Room. The building was fashioned after a library in Oxford and it gave off a genteel and refined vibe. The only bummer is the lack of study rooms.

Even farther west, Adam road tripped to a Liverpool bar in Portland for a big TV match versus Porto in Portland. Often referred to as Portland's Crown Jewel is the Central Library - a cherished historic building, downtown destination for locals and tourists alike. Central Library was built in 1913 and this  Multnomah County Library is on the National Register of Historic Places and was remodeled 1994 through 1997. Nearly 1,900 people visit each day from all around the county, the surrounding metropolitan areas and Southwestern Washington. Nice to walk up the marble and carpeted staircases and duck into the very high ceiling pink rooms with lots of natural light. What a library - pretty as a rose in The Rose City.

On Wednesday, the Library Land team was reunited at the Woburn Public Library. This continues to be a favorite. Improvements to the library’s wifi brings it as close to perfection as we’re willing to go - with a score of 4.91. It really is an amazing place and a perfect place for getting work done.

With time on our hands after a meeting with a possible new client, we decided to visit one of the few libraries in the area that we hadn’t visited yet - the Acton Citizens Library. This is an independent library with a full-time staff of one. Talk about spirit! The place is just a jewel. It’s true that there are no study rooms and that it’s a cramped and curious space, but it really does meet the needs of its community - as evidenced by the steady flow of patrons. There are now discussions to bring the library into the Minuteman Network, which would allow patrons to request books from across the state and for the library to have more staffing options. It’s a really comfortable and terrific little place.

Thursday was a big day in Library Land. We visited the South End Branch of the Boston Public Library system - our 160th Massachusetts library to date. We were there to meet with a reporter from Boston Magazine to tell him the story of Library Land and it was a lot of fun. As with the Acton Citizens Library, the South End Branch is very much a community library and it was busy and abuzz during our visit. We met in a comfortable area near the door with a wrap around couch and coffee table. There was a large public meeting room available, but we didn’t need it and were happy to be able to watch people come and go.

Later that same day was a visit to the Millis Public Library. The library itself was closed, but there was a performance by local folk duo Crowes Pasture taking place. The crowd was small, but enthusiastic and the pair’s version of “Mercy Now” was outstanding.

The final library visit of the week was to the Boston Public Library in Copley Square. Not a first, of course, but we wanted to see preparations for the upcoming Boston Marathon.

Finally - and with regret - we have to report on The Public, Emilio Estevez’ movie on a homeless “occupation” of the Cincinnati Public Library. They say that if you can’t say something positive it’s better to say nothing at all. We disagree! This movie is terrible. Terrible terrible terrible terrible terrible. It’s awful. We love libraries but HATED this movie. Sure, a conversation about issues of mental health, human rights, race and economic inequality is needed - and the role libraries serve in urban centers - but this movie is just too cookie-cutter with an “after school special” treatment, even if it’s heart was in the right place.

Well, there you have, a total whirlwind of a week, but only a hint of what’s to come - we’ll keep you updated about a possible Boston Magazine article.