The Week in Library Land: June 16th to June 22nd
It was another super active week in Library Land! But it was more than active. It was one of the most inspiring weeks we’ve had! We saw nine libraries and there were some amazing visits. Perhaps the most memorable was our trip to the Lawrence Library in Pepperell. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves . . .
The week’s first library was in Beverly. We’ve seen the library at Beverly Farms and this was our chance to see its city cousin. It was built in 1913 and renovated and enlarged in 1993. The library is comfortable with plenty of natural light. Despite being 26 years old, the Beverly Public Library doesn't feel tired. Nice local artwork and video screens of local historic homes from Beverly and Beverly Farms are also featured. Library Land Score: 4.36.
On Tuesday we visited a favorite. The Walpole Public Library is one we really like and it’s always good to stop by for a visit. This was no exception. We’ve meant to post about it for a while but had no photographs! How silly is that? That problem has been solved and you can read our review of this excellent library here. Library Land Score: 4.73.
Later, that same day . . .
It was time to visit the Mansfield library. Built in 1989, this is a pretty typical suburban library of that era. It's fine and functional but lacks some of the pizzazz one finds in libraries built after 2000, when the impact of the information age was changing what libraries could be. There are a number of study rooms, which is nice. There are also TWO grandfather clocks!. Library Land Score: 4.45.
Just a few miles down the road - and also built in 1989 - is the Bellingham public library. It's a big one that has plenty of study spaces. Like many libraries of its era, it's relatively nondescript but that’s not a dig. It’s more a reflection of the way people were thinking back in the 80s. They do have a sweet seismograph, which is pretty darn cool. Library Land Score: 4.36.
On Wednesday, we rested.
On Thursday we visited Belmont. This library continues to be a real conundrum. It’s one of the busiest in the state - sitting in 12th place (as of 2018) in terms of circulation - but it doesn't convey that vibrancy. We hear there are plans to make this library the community centerpiece it ought to be and we will do all we can to support those efforts! Library Land Score: 2.82.
After Belmont we totally shifted gears and went to the main branch of the Cambridge Public Library. This wasn’t our first visit, of course, but it went a long way toward cementing this library as among the very top-tier in the state. We spoke to various staff people, spent time in a few different reading rooms, and did more exploring. Cambridge has embraced the co-working ethos more than most libraries with plenty of spaces for conversations and collaboration. It’s such a great library. If you’ve never visited or haven’t been in a while, make plans to visit this wonderful library. As sometimes happens, we ended up raising our score for the Cambridge Public Library. Library Land Score: 4.73.
A few weeks ago we visited the Tyngsboro Public Library. While we were there we met Steve Brogan, the head honcho at Tyngsborough TV. He invited us to visit again and to appear on a show. This past Friday was the big day and we had a ball. It was a ton of fun to talk with Steve about Library Land!
While we were in the neighborhood, we decided to squeeze in a few more visits, starting with Dunstable. Dunstable is a small town and this is a comfortable small town library. Given the size of the community, it's actually a pretty big library. There are no study rooms but a nice little reading room. It also has a wonderfully welcoming and friendly staff. Library Land Score: 3.82.
After lunch at Breen’s in Pepperell, we headed over the Lawrence Library. We often talk about the anticipation we feel when going to a new library. What will we see? What cool features will we find? What will we learn? These are the things that keep Library Land so fresh and fun. Visiting a place like the Lawrence Library is what makes Library Land such an inspiring experience.
We’ll be writing at length about the Lawrence Library soon but here are a few thoughts. First, the building is very cool from an exterior perspective. Inside, the space is no less compelling. The older section features a high and airy main room, two smaller rooms (one that serves as an art gallery and musical space and the other as a work area), and an interesting history room.
The most awesome thing about this library, though, is its staff. They’ve managed to do so much with limited resources - including the fact that they are the only library in the state to have an accessible nature trail! Such an amazing place and so much more to say - stay tuned! Library Land Score: 4.55.
The last library of the day (and the week) was the Groton Public Library. It’s a beauty and it flies in the face of our often stated claim that libraries from before 2000 are more utilitarian than those built after. Groton features an older section built in the early 20th-century married to an addition done in the latter part of the century. The two sections are so complementary that it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. And the new(ish) section? It’s so contemporary and comfortable that it really feels timeless. A super library. Library Land Score: 4.73.
That’s it from Library Land for now. There’s a lot on the horizon and we can’t wait to write more about our amazing experience in Pepperell!