The Week In Library Land: May 12th - May 18th
For the first time in a while things were relatively quiet in Library Land. Of course, quiet is a relative term! This week, we were still able to visit six libraries, including a number of first-time visits.
The week started with a visit to the lovely little Wayland Public Library. It’s such a sweet place but the town has outgrown the current site. The Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners offered the town assistance in the form of a Provisional Construction Grant worth just north of $10,000,000. Unfortunately, when the issue came up at a town meeting in 2018, support for borrowing the additional funds needed to secure the Grant and move the project forward failed to secure the necessary votes. This leaves Wayland in a real pickle. Hopefully some solution can be found. Library Land Score: 4.18.
The next stop on Tuesday was the Lincoln Public Library. We’ve made clear how much we like this library. It’s a go-to spot for us and it never fails to delight. This was the first time we worked in the Tarbell Reading Room, which is a great space. Despite having visited often and really loving the library, it wasn’t until this week that we finally got around to writing a well-deserved review!. Library Land Score: 4.45.
Wednesday was a busy, three library day. It started at the Malden Public Library. It was a strange visit, or rather, a strange library. As is often the case, there is an old building and a new one. The old building looks amazing, but - sadly - it isn’t always open to the public. That’s too bad as it would have been fun and interesting to check out that space. The new section, opened in 1996, has what we’re coming to recognize as a mid-90s style. It’s perfectly functional but doesn’t have the boldness of expansions undertaken just a decade later. The lack of study rooms - and the need to get a WiFi password - made it a less than ideal place to work. Library Land Score: 3.45.
From Malden, it was on to the Winthrop Public Library. Its old section was opened back in 1899 and it has two floors and a basement. On the upper floor is a small museum, a meeting room, and a history room, which was described by one librarian as Winthrop’s attic. That’s a nice way to think about the collections that make their way to public libraries over time. The newer section, built in 1972, is functional and orgainzed. It feels pretty institutional but it’s functional. The most unexpected part of the visit was the discovery of a HUGE and permanent used book sale in the basement. We’ve seen many libraries with a few shelves or carts but in Winthrop we’re talking rooms! While the Winthrop library make lack some of the amenities we look for, the welcoming staff and overall vibe of the place made it a productive and upbeat visit. Library Land Score: 3.91.
Our last stop was at the Parlin Memorial Library in Everett. We’d been to Everett’s Shute Memorial in the past but this was our first visit to the Parlin. It was kind of a strange visit. The staff were friendly but there seemed to be a pall over the library. It somehow felt subdued. We were there for a client meeting and situated ourselves in a particularly quiet corner of the library. We had a positive and productive meeting and then went on to look around a bit. The old section certainly had some charming spaces and the more recent addition some interesting touches, too. The procedures for using the bathrooms, and the many signs listing prohibitions (no drinks, hats, hoodies, etc.) made for a strange and somewhat off-putting visit. Library Land Score: 3.45.
Sometimes, when the work on our plate takes precedence over driving to a library we’ve never seen before, we fall back to a tried and true location. As always, Woburn is a favorite. We worked in the beautiful old section for a time and then worked in one of the marvelous study rooms. We needed a quiet place to work because we were working on our first podcast, which we’ll be sharing soon! In talking to the staff, it was good to hear that they are recognizing how the library is being used and making adjustments. For example, the Teen Room can’t keep up with the number of high schoolers that want to use the space (what an excellent problem to have!) and their enthusiasm sometimes spills into other parts of the library . . . Library Land Score: 4.85.
The final stop came on Saturday, with a visit to the Morse Institute in Natick. It being a Saturday, this wasn’t really a working visit, but rather an opportunity to shop at the library book sale. While not as permanent as the one in Winthrop, it’s a good event and always results in many book purchases as a reasonable cost! Library Land Score: 4.18.
That’s it for this week, we’ll see you out there in Library Land!