If there were a library the likes of the Norfolk CT one around me, established in that venerable year, 1888, I’d probably use it as a second home. One without taxes, mortgage, lawn to mow, or mother constantly chattering in my ear. I’ve not been in such an inviting space since a kid, at my local fairy tale building library. The architecture is not Tudor, nor does it have any of the leaded paned windows of my memory, but what it does have is a cosy, warm, friendly atmosphere, and window seats. Window seats! In my dream house, window seats abound, and I picture myself lounging on one each day, book in hand, Crystal Light in a tall cool glass, my dog at my feet as I leisurely read the latest from Laura Lippman, or an obscure title by Milton Propper. Doesn’t matter–the main thing is the comfortableness of a seat next to a sunny window and a book to devour.
The library has such a place, and more. You enter and directly to your left is the front room, with some antiquarian pieces and display items. Once out of the small room you walk straight down a hall with modern bookshelves to the left and right with balconies above. My husband immediately tried to mount the stairs, alas, it’s been closed to the public because of the low railing. I can’t help but think–that low railing has been there since the place was built–how many fatalities have there been? Any? And did they really slip, or were they pushed? Because it drives me to distraction that so many things are off limits now because of undue concern over idiot people having accidents. And no doubt it’s not the library itself that wanted to close off nearly half their space. It’s called insurance. The insurance companies demand certain concessions or won’t insure the property. And then, when something does happen, believe me, your policy won’t cover it–no matter what it is. That’s how those things work–ask all the poor victims of storm Sandy–most are still waiting for payouts, some will never get a penny from that company to whom they paid a ridiculous sum each month supposedly for times like these. But as usual, I digress.
The ceiling is amazing–all wood wonders. A children’s wing was built in the last century-ha, you think I mean the 1800s, but no, I mean sometime in the last 30s years–the 1900s. That’s now the last century. Ah-the exact date–1985. As we approached the building to take exterior pictures, a school bus unloaded and a bunch of little kids went in for story-time, apparently. Very 1950s of them. And nice. The library knows its special, therefore have a written explanation of materials, architect, dates, and founder. Who was Miss Isabella Eldridge? Right there I conjure up a woman who either had no offers of marriage, or had no interest in that state. Which could mean nothing, or something, depending on how far one’s imagination goes. Mine goes forever and only stops for snacks. Miss Eldridge established the library as a memorial to her parents, which also tells me she was no young chicken when this thing was built. Miss Eldridge was no recluse either, apparently, because her intention for the library was not only for learning but a social outlet–a meeting place for clubs etc. An addition was attached in 1911. A description of the exterior includes siting Longmeadow stone ,fish scale shingles, and “then original fluted Spanish tile roof, which suffered the ravages of frost and fallen branches has been replaced by more mundane asphalt shingles.” Ha! I love that mundane point. Someone didn’t agree with that decision!
One of the cooler things attached to the library interior is an owl sculpture over a vast fireplace in what is called the Great Hall. Which, is true, if Great means a nice size dinning room. The room does have many tables to sit and read, or do research. The owl is holding a book with the inscription “Inter Folia Fructus” which is the library’s motto, and is not translated within the folder. My guess would be–in the fruit book. No, wait, Fructus has no i, so In the book building? Where’s an ancient greek when you need one? Naturally I could google, but that would require my leaving this article and what happens if the entire thing is wiped out? Yea, good for you, the reader, your eyes wouldn’t glaze over. (hours later) Aha! I was right!!! It’s Among the fruit! But, with a little more pizzaz–fruit among the leaves, or Between the leaves of a book you gain knowledge. This little motto is also found in the Jefferson Memorial. It’s the owl part I love anyway. There are little cubby hole reading areas surrounded by shelves of books, and that window seat–a nice long window seat. Did I mention that as we walked into the library I saw a water bowl on the floor–an odd thing for a library. My husband assumes they have a cat–some bookstores do, so why not a library. No, the person in charge has a dog. A dog. And, patrons are allowed to bring their dogs inside. INSIDE. A LIBRARY. I shout because I can’t believe it. Why, oh, why must it be a billion miles away from me? If locals aren’t at their library several times a month, they don’t deserve to live in that quaint lovely town. A certainly shouldn’t be given any time on the window seat when they do occasionally drop by. I am vicariously sitting with Louie at one foot, Lucky at the other, reading The Strange Disappearance of Mary Young and once in a while glancing out the broad window to the world beyond. Sigh.
Footnote–as soon as I find time to download my darn camera–I’ll add very nice photos–I hope.