As I begin this Library Study, I’ve been first looking at logistics. Where can I get power? Can I sneak behind shelves or beyond closed doors? I’m seeking rifts in the space around me and finding some fantastic and explicable things…just what I like.
As I’ve been soaking up the space and looking behind the scenes, I’ve also been observing patrons inside and outside the library and searching for possible materials on their way out that I might put to good use.
I’ve been reading documented public histories and devising ways to capture personal histories as well.
In 2009, The Public Library of Brookline celebrated 150 years of service, and published a fantastic history that you can access here. One of the most fantastic bits I’ve come across is excerpted below, documenting the move of the original facility. The entire building was shifted more than 200 feet over the course of two months without even an hour of service interruption! An engineering and logistical feat.
According to this history, Brookline opened the first children’s room in a public library in 1890. Initially it was in the basement with space for 16 children under the supervision of Mr. Orcutt, the janitor. They were allowed to read Harpers Weekly or Youth Companion if their hands were clean! At certain points, the children’s room became so raucous during certain hours that it required regular police supervision.
It is clear that The Public Library of Brookline has been an innovative institution from the very start, continuing today with the open and exploratory nature of this excellent AIR program which I have the pleasure of inaugurating.