Marcia Strykowski

Libraries–Big & Small

Libraries of all shapes and sizes have been around for centuries and it seems I’m drawn to them wherever I travel. I recently visited a large modern library in Seattle, WA. This enormous building (362,987 square-feet!) was newly designed in 2004 and has eleven floors.library 2double escalatorlibrary 8 (1) - CopyThe Seattle Central Library is beautiful in a flashy sort of way, but definitely not as cute and cozy as one I popped into last weekend. The Woods Hole library in Massachusetts, moved to this new fieldstone building in 1913. There are some beautiful works of art displayed on the walls inside, including historic paintings and a village quilt, as well as a wall hanging by fellow blogger Salley Mavor.library 1DSC00772DSC00773library 7Now let’s go across the pond to a very impressive library. Over 400 years old, the gorgeously designed Bodleian houses a vast quantity of information for the University of Oxford. Although much more spread out than shown in this picture, one of the highlights is the Radcliffe Camera (c. 1740) left, which was taken over by the Bodleian in 1860. Visit if you can!bodleian-library fixHere’s another small library, the lovely 1897 Ogunquit Memorial Library, located just a hop, skip and a jump from the Marginal Way, an enjoyable coastal walk.maine library - smallerWhile we’re in Maine, we might as well visit the Belfast Library, another stone beauty and gorgeous inside, as well.library 6 BelfastThe pretty library below, built in 1903, can be found in Auburn, ME.Library,_Auburn,_MElibrary BermudaSome libraries are rather plain, almost like a storefront, but their signs can still be fun to see. And you just might find a terrific sculpture sitting out front. This rendition of a mother reading with her children is at the Bermuda National Library in Hamilton and is called “The Joy of Reading.”joy of reading bermuda
Another historic library is the Boston Public Library. The below illustration shows the reading room. Somewhat recently, BPL had a big renovation and now there are glowing tiger cubs in the children’s room!library Reading_Room_of_bpllibrary bplI can’t leave out the very famous and important Library of Congress in Washington, D. C. I’ll include a couple of inside shots to show off the beautiful architecture.library of congress public domainloc 2locLast, but not least, another one of my favorites: the Nevins Memorial Library in Methuen, MA, happily sharing books since 1883.dsc09501-copydsc09502-copydsc09503-copydsc09504-copydsc09505-copydsc09506-copydsc09507-copyIf you’d like to learn about the history of libraries, I found this to be a well done video: click HERE  The video that follows it is a bit dated, but also interesting, wherein a Simmons College professor talks about how technology will shape the future of libraries.

At my library, we are always hoping to hear what people want–our faithful patrons, as well as those who hardly ever stop in. Nowadays, libraries are about communities, not just for research or quiet study, but more often a meeting place to share ideas, learn new skills, and meet new friends. What do you want from your library? Do you go often or not at all? If not, why not?

43 Comments

  1. WOW! what a range of wonderful and beautiful! I am so grateful for libraries!!

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  2. What lovely photos! I adore libraries and used to go once a week. Now I do almost everything on line. *wistful sigh*

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    • There is so much available on the internet. Many of our patrons download eBooks and audiobooks, or read magazines and newspapers online, all free through our system by using their library cards.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have been to 3 of those – Bermuda, Boston and LoC. I am actually sitting in a library right now – the Mitchell, one of the biggest reference libraries in Europe. (Well, actually I’m in the cafe having lunch but I’ll be heading upstairs to do some research shortly.) This morning, I went to my local library just as it opened to return a book. I was one of a crowd of maybe 20 people waiting for the doors to open, from small children to old age pensioners. I have to say my heart swelled at this and I felt quite emotional. Long live libraries!

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    • The Mitchell must be in Scotland, and huge! So wonderful to hear people are waiting at the door for your local library to open. Libraries really are (or can be) a strong feature of every community. Thanks for your comment, Anabel!

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  4. Wow! I had no idea the Library of Congress was so beautiful inside. Must plan a visit!

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    • Oh, yes, the buildings are beautiful with a lot to see (free tours!) including a replica of Thomas Jefferson’s library, a hand-written bible, and a map room.

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  5. Louise Pryor

    As you know, I LOVE my library in Hampstead, NH. I’m there as often as I can be! Like you, I’ve collected pictures of libraries over the years. I’ll tell you more about my collection in a separate e-mail. I really like the pictures you posted, though!
    Louise

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    • Your collection sounds interesting and yes, you do have a wonderful library. Thanks, Louise!

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  6. I LOVE libraries and these are all fabulous. The Vancouver Public Library is very impressive as well. Indeed a meeting place where people can learn and have fun. A great post.

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    • I’ll have to look up the Vancouver library, sounds great. Thank you, Darlene!

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  7. Marcia – the results of my June blog experiment are up on my blog; you’re there, check it out!

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  8. Bette Norton

    I love learning about the many different libraries you posted. Each one so different from the next, yet all so beautiful! I do not use libraries as much as I should.What fun to visit them on your travels. I never think to do that. I am missing out! I hope libraries will always be around because they are a great place to build community and to just have fun!
    Thank you for another very interesting and enjoyable post! 🙂

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    • Nice to hear from you, Bette! Good that you appreciate libraries even if you don’t always stop in.

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  9. I also love libraries. The pictures nicely convey how diverse libraries are, as well as how they are all in their own ways welcoming places that draw readers in. .

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    • I guess libraries are kind of like people, all shapes and sizes, but very much the same at the core.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I love this! I will link to it on my Pinterest Board called Literary Destinations. Thanks for a great read!

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  11. Love love love this post Marcia!! My Dad took us to the library every week growing up. And in Jr. High I took “library” as my elective (shelving, dusting…). I worked at the public library through college and started an English small library (about 1000 books) for American kids in southern Spain the years we lived there. And now I’m best friends with our Fullerton librarians here! — my favorite library on your post was the beautiful Belfast! It looked like a nicest sort of country home library–like a place you’d want to just sit and read! All those libraries from the grandest to the coziest. They just seem like generous places– free books– all the learning and exploring you could ask for!! So thanks. Another wonderful post. Hugs from CA.

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    • Oh, Rhonda, your library experience sounds fascinating. How wonderful for the children in Spain to have all those English books because of you. I’m sure you’re one of Fullerton’s favorite library patrons. Thanks for your interesting comment!

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      • And thanks back– love your blog. I just retired from teaching– but would have loved to be a librarian!! So I enjoy it all from yo second hand.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. My day has brightened much after reading this post, Marcia. Thank you! I love grand libraries and the cozy ones, too. (Flashy contemporary ones . . . not my style but hey, as long as I get the books I want, I don’t mind the decor.) I visit my NLB branch at least every fortnight because of research for clients, and for my own blog features. I like the variety and stock we have. The only thing I’d hope for is better food and beverages at the cafe. Right now, the pastry case is bleak and the tea and coffee selections aren’t inspiring enough, lol. (I love sitting at the cafe reading, writing, and looking out the glass panels to the glowering trees across us. So a good cup of tea and a tasty pastry would really hit the jackpot for me.)

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    • How wonderful for you to have a cafe in your library, not a familiar sight here in the states. Where I work we do have a small coffee machine, but it’s rarely used. I’ll have to suggest a pastry case. 🙂 Thanks for your comment, Claudine!

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  13. Ashley

    I like seeing all these pictures of libraries. The Ogunguit one looks charming. My town library isn’t too fancy, but I should visit there more.

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  14. I can’t stop “oohing and ahhing”, Marcia. These photos make my heart pound 🙂 ! Thanks so much for bringing these gorgeous structures and rooms to us. How wonderful!

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  15. mirkabreen

    Best virtual tour of libraries I’ve seen. Thank you, Marcia. My personal preference goes to the cozy and old fashioned, a sort of reading room I dream of having at a home I would love to have. You have some in the post.

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    • I prefer cozy and old-fashioned, too. I call the little room where I type and read, my library. Sounds better to me than office or study and all my old books make it valid. Thanks, Mirka.

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  16. Gorgeous!!! I’m drooling over the one in Oxford. I love libraries and our little branch is within walking distance so it’s perfect.

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    • Nothing better than being able to stroll over to your public library without getting into a car (I have yet to experience that!).

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  17. I go to the library at least once a week and enjoy each visit. I’m a minimalist at heart and like the idea of being able to borrow from their vast selection and then return it when I am done. Our librarians also still provide old fashioned customer service which is rather hard to find today. The library is my tax dollars being put to good use. :-0

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    • Sounds like you have a wonderful library and it’s great that you appreciate the service you receive there. Thanks for adding to the discussion, Judy!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I love this post, Marcia. I have read it twice, soaking in the wonderful photos, and will be reading it again. Libraries are the best, no matter the size or location. Once inside, you are in a different world; mine is one of adventure and feeling at home, both at the same time. I wonder how others feel. Many thanks! -Jennie-

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  19. A fascinating post! I shared it on Twitter 🙂

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  20. Hello Marcia,
    I’m pretty sure our local library would fit into the entrance of The Seattle Central Library – eleven floors how amazing! What a place of treasures it must be, but I’m rather fond of the cosy kind of library small in stature but with a big heart. We’ve seen The Radcliffe Camera but never been inside. The last time we visited Oxford we joined a queue outside only to find we should have booked in advance. Very disappointing but at least we now know so next time we will be sure to book.

    When I visit the library which is not as often as I would like I want books and lots of them. I don’t go to use the computers or look at videos, but I know others do, and personally I think libraries are doing a pretty good job. I also love the story corner, not that I have any small children, but I just like to pause and see the expressions on some of their faces. I’m sure it must be possible to pick out the avid readers of the future.

    I thoroughly enjoyed all the images, thank you for sharing them. xx

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    • Hi Barbara, nice to see you here! I like small libraries best, too. Although I’ll take all of Oxford anytime. The buildings and landscape are so beautiful. My son studied there for a year and I fell in love with the whole campus when I visited. Happy to hear libraries are doing well in England. Thanks for your comment!

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  21. Beautiful photos! I love the ones with the stone fronts.

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