Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Some past memories

 For some reason I was thinking about the old Hudson Library and Historical Society. When I was growing up, it was practically downtown, in a white Colonial-style (in keeping with the town's wannabee New Englandness) building. I can still picture the building in my mind and I admit I'm slightly sad that the library is now elsewhere (though the original library was probably too small for the town). 

The old library was the one I knew - the new one was built in the early 2000s and I've not been back to Hudson since 1989. I think I might find the new library a bit discombobulating to go to.

The old library had at least one renovation during my lifetime; I have very vague memories of it as a child before the renovation, and then later, the newer, fancier arrangement. I think my memories of the children's and young adult section are from after the renovation, though maybe the locations of things didn't change that much? For example, I can close my eyes and picture where the Bill Peet picture books and the little, dark-green, library-bound versions of the Beatrix Potter books were, and I would still have been fairly small when I was checking those out. The "children's chapter books" (which I never knew by that name; I just knew them as longer books with longer stories than picture books had) were in a separate section, and the non-fiction (history, crafts, that sort of thing) were near the picture books. I remember MANY times checking out Steven Caney's "Kids' America" from the library - it was a book of many different activities and the sort of nuggets of information I loved as a kid. 

I seem to remember that one was checked out a LOT - it was a popular book - and you couldn't always find it. Same with the "Anno" books (Mitsumasa Anno, as it turns out ): picture books with tremendous detail, the idea was to find things in the pictures (Kind of like Where's Waldo, but without Waldo, and before Waldo ever made the scene). Those were out a lot, too, and I think at one time there was a waiting list for them?

The library was a safe place and a good place. We used to go there a lot - once a week during the school year, sometimes twice a week in the summers. Our mom usually took us; our dad was usually at work when the library was open or when my brother and I wanted to go. 

One other nice thing about the library was it was air conditioned and our house was not - so those few really unpleasant hot days we'd get in July or August, we could spend at least part of them at the library, which was cool, and was free to hang out in. 

The children's librarian in those days - she was Miss Grissom when I first knew her, later on Mrs. Origlio (I think her first name was Marjorie). She was nice, she was sort of the ideal children's librarian. When I was very young, there were story hours in the basement of the library, I went to a few of them, and she was the one who read the books. Later on, she ran the summer reading program (which I've written about before) and once I aged out of it, she encouraged me to volunteer for it to help out, and I did.

I found out a few years back she had passed away and I sent a small donation to the library in her memory. She was one of the people (along with my parents) who encouraged my love of reading as a child. 

Another thing I remember were their *excellent* used-book sales. Hudson was a wealthy and fairly well-educated town (and we had Western Reserve Academy, with its teachers and students) and so a lot of interesting books got donated. I still have a big omnibus (I think it was an Everyman's Library edition) of Jane Austen's work that came from there. It was fun to go there - I think they had it on Saturdays, or maybe one Saturday a month? You never knew what you might find. We also donated books to it, so that kind of completed the circle. 

I don't think I've been so involved with a library since - when I lived in Ann Arbor, the library was far enough of a walk I didn't go there often, and in Normal, while I checked out books from the library, it wasn't a part of my life the way it was when I was a kid. Now, I own so many of my own books I admit I don't really use the local public library other than to go to things like the quilt shows there.


Roger Owen Green said...

Yeah, libraries.

purlewe said...

I can also remember my old library extremely well. It is now a community center with space for events (ie gutted downstairs) and offices for community non-profits upstairs. The new library is nice, but not my cup of tea. But the old library was too small for what it needs to be now.

My sister and I would spend lots of time there. walking there from something else (summer things like church camp etc) and then when they closed walk to my grandfather's store downtown or walk to church up the street to meet with family for mass. Sometimes we got there before it opened in the summer and we would have a picnic under the magnolia tree. I definitely spent more time there than most places. I read to toddlers, I sat at the librarian's desk when she went to lunch, I shelved and cleaned up things. I still use my library now. but it is different. We have so many branches that it isn't like "my" library. And during the pandemic Sue picks up the books from the closest library to her work and brings them home to me. I order all books online and read them and she takes them back.