The Week in Library Land: August 11 to August 17
One of the most awesome things about Library Land is how different each week can be. Some weeks we may visit a ton of new libraries. Other weeks we’ll find ourselves at some old favorites. There are also times that have a nice balance and that’s what this past week was like. That, and we had some really super meetings with people.
The week started with something I thought I’d never see - our smiling faces looking up from the front page of the Cape Cod Times! A really nice story.
The first library of the week was the Ashland Public Library on Monday. It’s one we’ve visited twice now and it’s a real beauty. What I love most about it are the arches in the new section of the building and its wonderful natural lighting. I was there for a meeting with Bob Gierschick - a marketing and communications guy and a former Friend of the Ashland Library. We chatted about our careers, current projects and activities, and - of course - libraries. It was an interesting and constructive conversation. While there, I also spoke with Paula Bonnetti, the library’s director. She described a robust scope of programs and services. (She also pointed out that the library had been poorly rated and that perhaps we hadn’t noticed the free municipal lot across the street. She was right and we’ve updated the library’s rating.) Updated Library Land Score: 4.36.
On Wednesday, I drove to Tiverton on the far-eastern edge of Rhode Island. I was there to meet Jessamyn West, an absolutely amazing librarian and so much more. We chatted about libraries, books, and more. I think I was originally introduced to Jessamyn by another librarian. As Adam and I are doing with the Library Land Project in Massachusetts, she is doing in Vermont with her Vermont 183 project (183 being the number of public libraries in the Green Mountain State). Beyond a shared completionist compulsion to visit and document libraries, our perspectives overlapped in ways that were really affirming as Adam and I try to get our heads around what Library Land is and could become.
The Tiverton Library itself is an amazing place. It’s a relatively new library (2015) designed by Union Studio Architects. It exudes both a strength and an airy grace. The large central room has a high ceiling and vast open spaces that seem to effortlessly draw you in. The circulation and reference desks are front and center - but at the same time unobtrusive, being semi-circular and not at all imposing. It created a feeling of connection with the staff person I spoke to, who was an enthusiastic and helpful fellow.
There is a large reading porch at the library. We’ve seen a number of libraries sporting these of late and they are really wonderful. This one was shady and very casual and conducive to sitting and chatting. Another neat feature of the library is a mosaic in the Children’s section. It features the alphabet with the letter tiles made by local artists and the rest made by kids in the community. I thought of how it would feel for a parent in the future to bring their child to this piece of art to point out their contribution. I can only imagine how wonderful that will feel.
Add Tiverton to the list of amazingly unexpectedly awesome libraries. If you find yourself in the area, be sure to stop by for a visit. Library Land Score: 4.55.
Also on Wednesday, Adam visited the Kirstein Business Library and Innovation Center at the Boston Public Library in Copley Square. It’s funny, we had an old library list, which said the Kirstein Business Library was located near School Street. After Library Legislative Day, this past March, we walked up and down School Street and in and out of alleys looking everywhere but we just couldn’t find it.
When Adam did make it, it was terrific. Not only was it there for him when he was on a deadline, but it features a ton of amazing amenities and services. From a podcast and green screen studio to large conference room to free 3D printing and on to business resources like Bloomberg terminals, Gale public indices and Morningstar data, the materials and spaces are all there . When combined with small business mentoring, SCORE workshops, resumé and cover letter drop in help, other job seeking tools, and knowledgeable business librarians, this is a complete suite of entrepreneurship and innovation resources in a public library setting - and it is all free.
Why would we ever need expensive co-working spaces when resources like these are available at the public library?
To round out our week, on Friday we met with Cathy Husid-Shamir, the principal at Husid Media, at the Public Library of Brookline in Brookline Village. We were meeting because Cathy has one of the best PR clients in the world: the Berkshires. It’s an amazing part of the state and one that features some beautiful towns, fantastic libraries, and MassMoCA!
We were talking about Library Land making a tour of some of the libraries out in Western Massachusetts. Unlike the Eastern part of the state, where libraries are open six or seven days a week, many of the libraries out West have more limited hours. I think we’ve put together a plan that will allow us to see a lot of libraries over a few days.
Watch this space for more details and updates!