My Life with Little Libraries

The town I live in, Easton MA, is in the process of putting “little libraries” in 6 spots in town. A lumberyard in town donated the wood, the students at the technical high school in town built them and local artists decorated them. My favorite so far is of course this one that has sheep on it.

sheep pasture lib front

Little Library at Sheep Pasture in Easton MA

sheep pasture lib backIt is at a place called Sheep Pasture which is on the grounds of an old estate where I can go when I need a sheep fix. Wool spinners are nodding as they read this because we all have to have an easy source. Sheep Pasture is owned by the National Resources Trust of Easton and a wonderful spot with trails, woods, farm animals and many events and workshops.

The little libraries hold maybe 15 or so books. Anyone can take a book and leave one, or return it. No computer catalogue, sign out or library card needed. The books will be constantly shifting as people take and leave them. Finding the boxes is a little treasure hunt for me.

Seeing them reminded me of my rich history of spending time in little libraries. Not as small as the ones here of course but pretty little by today’s standards. I grew up in Waterford CT and I distinctly recall my mother taking me to the little town library which was in a small Cape Cod style house on a hill  off of Great Neck Road. I remember the room of books and where the children’s books were in that one room. The far back corner on the left by windows and a window seat. Just now I had fun, with some bittersweet feelings about times and people long gone, researching the history of that library to put dates to my memories. I recognize last names of people involved in creating the first town library in the 1920’s.

I learned that the library books were moved in Feb of 1961.  I was 4 1/2 then which would make that first little library one of my earliest memories. At that time my mother would take me to my brother’s football games and she claimed I looked at books the whole time. I still prefer books to football. He was 13 years older than me.  I distinctly remember the moment in First Grade when everything coalesced in my brain and I knew I could read so I know that I wasn’t actually reading at his games, just looking at my books and being absorbed in the pictures and stories. I also remember how nice my teacher Miss Lyons was at Great Neck School and how encouraging she was about my reading in First Grade. That day I could read was truly like a light bulb going off in my head. “See Jane. See Jane run.”I don’t think I was reading this line in the Dick and Jane series necessarily but I certainly did learn from them.

I do remember when the books were temporarily moved to a larger space, an old post office near the old library building in the section of town called Jordan Village. My best memory there was being 7 or 8 and feeling so grown up one time because my mother actually let me stay there and read while she did an errand or two. I sat at a table near the check out counter and can still see two women working there who sort of kept an eye on me. Sort of because what was I going to do- I was perfectly happy sitting and reading and didn’t need to wander around. My mother knew that when she gave me that responsibility. They told me to let them know if I needed anything but I didn’t- I had it all at that moment!

My mother did not particularly enjoy reading books but as always helped me to do the things I liked even when not sharing them herself. I also remember at a young age that occasionally she would let me read books at church during the service rather than go to Sunday School. 🙂

Waterford built a lovely large library soon after which I avidly used until I moved out after college in 1979 and married. In 1982 we moved to East Glastonbury CT and much to my delight were close to a little branch library which was in an old 2 room schoolhouse. When I was pregnant with my first I walked a mile each day and often walked there.  Glastonbury itself had a large beautiful main library and I remember that the first place we took our second child to was that library when he was a few weeks old. Going to choose books for myself in the stacks, alone, in peace and quiet for a few minutes while my husband stayed with our sons in the children’s section are memories I still hold dear.

In 1987 we moved to Holden MA, a town which became home for 25 years. Okay, I knew when we moved there that the library was being expanded and renovated and that a little old meat market was housing some of the books and functioning as the library for a couple years only. Even though I knew this intellectually the first time I went in my heart sank. It was just so small and had no big children’s room. Of course I adjusted and now a memory my second son and I share is going there when he was 4 on a field trip from nursery school and being taken behind the scenes and seeing books stacked in old meat bins that were once refrigerated. So funny to us.

Holden soon opened the doors to the expanded library and it became a weekly stop for pretty much the rest of the time we lived there. I remember the excitement when each of our children were 6 years old and could get their own library card. I still have one.

A rite of passage. kyle lib card

After they left for college I became active with the Friends group and stayed that way until we moved, making dear friends, again a little bittersweet as now some of them are also gone. I was so lucky to have known them. holden lib bag

So now I have sort of come full circle and am enjoying a different kind of little library than the one in Waterford 54 years ago. My husband was not surprised when I went to the first one in the Queset Garden at the back of the Ames Free Library in Easton and started organizing the books so all could be seen and would stand up straight. I used to do that at the large and sadly now closed Tatnuck Booksellers in Worcester which is next to Holden. I would neatly arrange the knitting books and even sometimes feature one if there was space for the cover to be shown. I figured if they didn’t like it someone would tell me to stop and no one ever did. Why would they stop someone who was doing their work for free.

Now I get to discover all the little libraries here in Easton!



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