Anyone who loves books can appreciate the allure of a really great library. The smell of books, the sheer density of knowledge, and all those wonderful stories, just there for the taking. This week, the Chicks are talking about their favorites—although, who are we kidding? We really love them all!
I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I adore the main branch of the New York City Public Library. I made a point to go there on vacation and write part of Terror in Taffeta in the gorgeous Rose Reading Room—just so I could say I did! I also love the Orinda Public Library, which is one of my favorite places to write in the Bay Area. One day when I was working on the second book in my Destination Wedding Mystery series, Dying on the Vine, I overheard a woman turn recommending a mystery novel to another woman. When I looked up at them, they said, “Sorry, are we bothering you?” I said, “No, I’m a mystery author and I wanted to hear what you were recommending!” Turns out, they run the mystery group at the library and invited me to come speak at it. About twelve people came, and every one of them had read the book before the meeting. What great questions they had! It was a really lively discussion, and one of my favorite random encounters ever!
Built in 1974, the Sawyer Library at Williams College has been described by disgruntled locals in the colonial town of Williamstown, MA as “a big box dropped on campus from a midwestern corporate park.” We students thought it was pretty cool, though. Apparently it was designed to incorporate the preferred study styles of every scholar. So on each trip to the libes I got to choose my study space according to my mood. Double wide leather chairs to read cross-legged (or with a boyfriend), overhead couches (what better way to sleep off those Tater Tots from brunch?) and best of all, double decker telephone booths in the basement/lounge with pull-out desks. And oh yeah, lots of bomb shelters in case of nuclear attack by the Russians. Very recently, the College tore the whole thing down and replaced it with an 86-million-dollar, state-of-the-art monstrosity. Okay, fine. But does it have climb-up telephone booths to write 45 page term papers in 2 days? I think not.
There are two libraries from my childhood that made an indelible mpression on me. I lived in the New York City borough of Queens when I was a kid. The local library had a summer reading program and I was a voracious reader. I think you had to read about ten books, and you’d bring your paper to the library to be stamped every time you completed one. I lived at the bottom of what was the largest hill in the five boroughs, and I remember walking over that hill and crossing the always-busy Northern Boulevard by myself to get my sheet stamped. The library itself was a dull, 1950s red brick building with zero architectural charm. But God, how I loved that place.
The other library I’ll never forget was down the hill – yes, another hill – from the suburb we moved to when I was ten. The Scarsdale Public Library was housed in a gorgeous old stone library next to the Duck Pond (that’s what we called it; not sure if it ever had an official name). It had a stunning sitting room with a big, mullioned bay window; I loved nestling in one of its roomy club chairs with a book, preferably a Nancy Drew or Louisa May Alcott. I actually worked at the Library for a day – then the Dewey Decimal System wreaked havoc on my ADD, and I had to quit.
Just for fun, here’s what the libraries look like now. Scarsdale’s on the left, Queens on the right.
Readers, what’s your favorite library? Let us know in the comments below!
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