From the Stacks
By Carol Ann Robb
There’s More to the Story, Continued
If you were to walk into our library on any given day, you might find children gathered around Gail on the story time rug, listening intently as she reads to them. Perhaps there’s a group assembling in the meeting room and Tori’s taking a cart full of books out to the bookmobile for delivery. Go upstairs and you’ll see adults reading the daily newspapers while nearby, others are busy typing on computers or quietly studying. And yes, there are those looking for their weekly stash of books.
There’s always more to the story of the library—how did it come to be, why some people come daily (and others not at all), what the institution means to each visitor. Several of the staff believe a library would make the perfect setting for a sitcom—it’s been done in Australia and “Shelved” has just premiered on Canadian TV so why not here (we’re available to serve as consultants if any screenwriters are interested!) We could tell so many stories…
Such as the one about the first library director Ella Buchanan who, when told by the library board president (and city attorney) Morris Cliggett that she should remember she was “just a city employee” responded by saying, “as are you, sir.”
Or perhaps you’ve never noticed the stained-glass windows on the north door of the original building that depict sunflowers, and where that motif has been incorporated into the addition (ask and I’ll show you).
There’s the heart-breaking story behind the “Alice Through the Looking-Glass” painting that was commissioned and given to the library by grieving parents after the untimely death of a beloved daughter—a piece of art that’s come to be remembered by so many children over the years but staff knew little about the story surrounding it until recently.
And the story closest to my heart, that of the gentleman in a wheelchair who approached the handicapped accessible addition on the day it opened in June 1998. When I asked if I could get the door for him, he kindly declined, saying he had waited seven years to come back into the library and that door wasn’t going to stop him.
Andrew Carnegie—yes, the one reviled by workers but admired by library lovers—said, “A library outranks any other one thing a community can do to benefit its people. It is a never-failing spring in the desert” (showing there is even more to his story).