A week or so ago one of my colleagues wrote an entry about The Libraries of the Future. I find that I have enough trouble wrapping my head around the Libraries of the Present, so I started to think back, fondly, to the library of my past. I grew up in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, and our library was the Adams Memorial Library, located at 1112 Ligonier St. where it intersects with Chestnut St. My grandmother lived on Fairmont, just a few blocks from the library. The day I got my first library card I remember lying stretched out on her sofa reading the first book I ever checked out, Paddle-to-the-Sea by Holling Clancy Holling.
At that time the library was under the management of the “legendary”, to quote the library’s webpage, Sara McComb. She was a tiny, spinsterish woman with slightly hunched shoulders and could be seen daily, walking through town to and from the library in her very sensible shoes. She never came off as menacing but the old Victorian house she lived in, the one surrounded by the pointy black wrought iron fencing, certainly did. It very much resembled the type of house that trick or treaters told scary stories about and avoided and, I think, added to Miss McComb’s mystique.
My library of the past even had a technology that has made a lasting impression on me, maybe because even then I understood it. While checking out I would watch the library staff process each book, making their notations with a pencil and then tilting that pencil forward to stamp the due date with this gizmo attached above the pencil point! It struck me at the cleverest labor-saving device I’d ever seen to that point in my life and I guess it’s still in my top ten.
All in all, my hometown library probably was little different from most anyone else’s. Still, it will always be a special place to me, as is any place that has enhanced my love of books and reading.
The following books about libraries are available through the DeKalb County Public Library system:
- The Great Libraries: From Antiquity to the Renaissance (3000 BC to AD 1600) by Konstantinos Staikos
- Library: an Unquiet History by Matthew Battles
- The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel
- Patience and Fortitude: A Roving Chronicle of Book People, Book Places, and Book Culture by Nicolas A. Basbanes