The Week in Library Land: June 9th to June 15th
So funny how things work sometimes. After a few quiet weeks it was an absolutely blisteringly busy week in Library Land.
It started in Woburn, where so many good things happen. We were there to do a conference call in one of their fine study rooms. The ability to do calls and have private meetings are two big reasons why we love libraries. Library Land Score: 4.91
We have visited a lot of the libraries in the greater-Boston area so decided to go a little further afield on Monday afternoon. Our first stop was in Tyngsboro, up near the New Hampshire border. The library and the town hall share a building, but this isn’t one of those one-room libraries you might have found in a small town town hall in the past. The Tyngsboro library is a large wing on the building. It features a large central reading area, a separate children's room and a nice collection of Library of Things items. Library Land Score: 4.18.
From Tyngsboro we headed to the MacKay branch library in North Chelmsford. Located in a little red house, this is the north branch of the two library Chelmsford system. It's quaint, it's cute, it’s pretty sweet. It has two floors, a modest collection and a few places for quiet work. The library has a lot of character, is in great condition and the staff is super friendly. Library Land Score: 4.27
Tuesday almost went by without a single library event; but what’s this? The Natick Bookmobile! Parked at an apartment complex, the Bookmobile was there on its regular rounds. We’ve seen the Bookmobile in its garage at the Morse Institute but the first sighting on the streets. During our visit there was a constant stream of people browsing, signing up for library cards, chit chatting and generally having a good time. The Bookmobile was like a magnet that drew the community together. It was super great to see.
Wednesday was another busy day for Library Land. We started out in West Boylson at the Beaman Memorial Public Library. It’s a fine town library that has been expanded to meet the changing needs of the community. The director, Anna Shaw, and her team (including an award-winning children’s librarian) offer a wide range of programs and services. It’s a great example of a library meeting the needs of its community - especially its youngest members. Library Land Score: 4.45.
Our next stop was the Sawyer Memorial Library in Boylston. An old stone library with internal restorations that reveal a truely classic New England library. Old carpets were pulled up to reveal beautiful wood floors, original furniture and fixtures all look great. The only bummer is a lack of study rooms but there are plenty of quiet spaces to get work down. Since the restoration, the hours have been expanded to keep up with community demand. How awesome is that? Library Land Score: 4.18
The reason we were out this way in the first place was to attend the groundbreaking for an expansion to the Worcester Public Library. As we’ve already described, this was a really impressive event with a big crowd, great participation by local leaders and a vision to make the library more integral to the life of the city. Hats off!
We’ve visited a lot of libraries but so far, only one has gotten a perfect score. That was the Gladys E. Kelly Library in Webster. On Thursday we got to sit down with Matt Oudens and Conrad Ello, the principals at Oudens Ello Architecture, which designed the library. We tried not to fanboy too much but when you’re talking to this team it’s hard not to. We came away from the discussion deeply impressed by the approach - and the thinking behind the approach - that Matt and Conrad bring to their work. Their library in Millis (Library Land Score: 4.55) is also worth visiting. Can’t wait to see more of their libraries!
Friday was a quiet day. There was a lot of writing that needed to be done. Where better to do some focused writing than at the library! The first stop was the Morse Institute in Natick. Something we’d never noticed before was the vaulted ceiling in the second-floor reading room. In some ways, it’s reminiscent of the ceiling of the Bates Reading Room at the Boston Public Library (though on a far more modest scale, of course). Library Land Score: 4.45
From Natick, it was on to the Framingham main branch. It’s a comfortable and spacious library with plenty of quiet areas to get work done, as well as study rooms for those times when work isn’t exactly quiet. It’s a friendly place that’s doing fun things - like their seed bank - in the community. Library Land Score: 4.18.
Further afield, we received the first dispatch from our Library Land intern, Lydia. You can check out her photos on Instagram and read about some of her favorite New England libraries at Lydia’s Libraries. She wrote to us from Sedona, Arizona:
"We were in Sedona, AZ for a few days and I was able to make a quick stop to the Sedona Public Library. It was a beautiful library and a nice break from the 90+ degree weather. There was a Native American flute and poetry reading going on when we were there. There is also a little used book store next to the library run by the Friends of the Sedona Public Library that had a great selection of books!"
Keep your eyes out for more posts from Lydia’s travels!
A busy week for sure and more fun and excitement on the horizon. We’ll be sure to tell you all about it!