I’ve never gone through the doors of Riverton’s butter hued public library. I don’t consider visiting neighboring towns’ libraries, I assume they serve the immediate population, not the town two doors down. And considering how teeny the quaint Victorian building is, I doubt that more than a few people can fit among the bookshelves. One day, every year, I am sure to pass by, on yard sale day. Riverton, NJ, a small picturesque town on the banks of the Delaware river, with Philadelphia’s air pollution close enough to cough, and the surrounding towns blending so easily into each others borders, you don’t know when you’ve crossed into Riverton, and out again to Palmyra or Cinnaminson–have a town wide’ Treasure Day’, and believe it or not I have found a few keepers each visit. Another well attended day is the Fourth of July. Riverton harkens back to days when celebrating an American holiday, meant a town parade, with veterans, politicians, wacky ingenious boats racing, car-box competitions, and until recently, majestic fireworks splashing across the riverbeds. Thanks to a small minority of outside onlookers who leave trash by the truck load, the town felt it necessary to pull the last firecracker plug.
I’ve been intrigued by the Burlington County Library Branch. I can’t figure out how books and humans manage to occupy the same space. It has managed, since 1899. A group of volunteers must have believed that a lovely town such as this should have well read and intelligent people, because they were responsible for the establishing of the branch. The library’s princely sum of $50,000 is supplied mostly through donations and fund raising events. Riverton is a commuter town, with a local rail line directly out side front doors, something recently revived, and not universally loved due to constant horn blowing to keep idiots from crashing the red blinking light and being side swiped by a moving train. The majority of homes in this once vacation town, are refurbished Victorians, and Arts and Crafts Bungalows. Throw in a couple of choice Tudors, and you almost have a town called Storybook.
The fairy tale library is a family destination. Parents are commonly seen pushing baby carriages through the heavy metal fence, with toddlers hand in hand. Story Time is a weekly event for one and all, and the kids are treated to songs, and tall tales, while the parents engage in social contact, not physically assessable via the computer and internet. Neighbors meet each other, and actually chat! Oh frabjous day! There is one paid full time employee, all others are part timers and volunteers. When story time begins, children are quiet and polite, listening carefully as the reader plays all the parts in the book with different voices. The magical library is a community staple, and would create a huge vacuum in the close knit community if gone. I have dreamed of reading for kids dressed as Mother Goose for years. Most people look oddly at me if I confess this desire. In Riverton, though, I bet they’d welcome me heartily, and ask where I wanted to park my gander!
Thanks to the local little Burlington County NJ paper ‘The Wire’ for info on The Riverton Free Library and to Paige Martin’s blog for the image