It’s the elephant in the room, and no one can ignore it. Tusks in the air, a wooden pachyderm greets patrons near the main entrance of Akron-Summit County Public Library on South High Street in downtown Akron (OH). The hand-carved elephant lumbered more than 8,500 miles before finding a refuge at the Main Library. This month marks the 40th anniversary of its public unveiling.
According to Mary Plazo, manager of Special Collections at the library, the elephant was a 1979 gift from Louis and Mary Myers of Myers Industries in Akron. It was carved from a single piece of teakwood in Thailand and shipped to the United States. “The figure is 40 inches long, 56 inches high and 20 inches wide,” Plazo noted. “It weighs over 500 pounds.”
Trish Saylor, manager of the Children’s Library, said former librarian Ione Cowen once told her that the Myerses donated the elephant because “it was so heavy that it was making their foundation sink.”
It took five men to roll the elephant into the library — perhaps the city’s first pachyderm parade since the days when circuses marched into the Akron Armory. With its curved trunk, flared ears, pointed tusks, gaping mouth and raised front foot, the whimsical carving made a good first impression.