Celebrating Libraries

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By Dannielle S.

Originally appeared April 16, 2011 at http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.action?articleId=281474979231567

In honor of the American Library Association's National Library Week 2011 it seemed appropriate to take a look at how communities have created space for libraries.  While the word "library" harks back to the root word for book, that is by no means the sum total of what libraries bring to their communities.

We who love to read, love information and learning, love to gather together for knitting circles, preschool playgroups, and a host of other community events know that libraries are the heart, the center, of such activities.

I selected exterior photos for this presentation, since the variety of design reflects the wonderful variety of the communities themselves.  Some libraries are part of their school systems, some are owned by their township.  Some libraries are purpose-built, while others are creatively re-purposed buildings -- former residences, former grocery stores.  Each photo offers a link to more information about each library.

Libraries housed in former residences

Schoharie Free Association Library, Schoharie, NY.  (Hope Grietzer and I presented our Fiddling with Books music program at this library several years ago, and we both fell in love with this building, inside and out.  That's Hope in the foreground, taking her own photos.)

Your Home Public Library, Johnson City, NY. The only library I’ve ever visited that has its own monogrammed set of dishes.

Your Home Public Library

Oxford Memorial Library, Oxford, NY

Oxford Memorial Library

Some libraries are in shared buildings

Often, we find libraries sharing space with the community museum -- and most museums have their own libraries for research related to their collections.  It is the shared mission of education that makes for such a natural pairing, but communities take many approaches.

The Aurora Free Library in Aurora NY, was built in 1899 as a community center.  Upstairs is the elegant Morgan Opera House.

Aurora Free Library

One of the most delightful instances of "shared space” is the Roxbury Library Association…. and thrift shoppe!

Roxbury Library Association

Library design has transformed along with the changing times.  These days, libraries need computer/technology centers alongside the stacks, meeting rooms, and study areas, and there is always the challenge of lighting and temperature control.  The rest of these libraries were built to be libraries, and serve as a sort of trip through time, architecturally.

The Cazenovia Public Library, Cazenovia, NY, probably belongs up with the others housed in former residences, except that, according to their website, the old Greek Revival building that once housed their library now holds their museum collection and some quiet reading rooms, while the library itself has moved into their modern addition.

Cazenovia Public Library

The Village Library of Cooperstown, NY occupies a building that was originally designed as a community center, according to their website.

Village Library Cooperstown

The Cybermobile!


Speaking of grand and lovely Carnegie libraries, the Cady Library  in Nichols, NY, is the only building of this stature in the village.

Cady Library

Franklin Free Library, Franklin, NY.

Franklin Free Library

The William B. Ogden Free Library  in Walton, NY, is named for a native son who moved to the mid-west to become the first mayor of Chicago, Illinois. Longtime members of Gather might also recall this library for the devastating floods of 2006. They have fully recovered and the library is as beautiful and lively as can be.

William Ogden Free Library

Libraries are about more than books, more than reading.  They are communication and learning centers, as much the brain as the heart of their communities.  That they are always the first entities considered for budget cuts reveals a great deal about the dangerous disconnect between those who control public funding and the public they are supposed to fund.  If you love your library, let your representatives at every level know how you feel.  Fight for your right to be informed.  Fight for your libraries!

For more information and photos, view the original article.