Monday, May 14, 2007

102. On Libraries

One of the five of my faithful readers, Nick Stump, posted a comment on my Library Tax entry from a few days ago. It bears repeating for all to read. We all have places in our upbringing which has led us down the roads we have taken in life, sometimes without our knowledge. Here is some of what Nick wrote:

I spent half my childhood in a small library in Hindman, Kentucky. My librarian was James Still, a very well respected writer in the 40's, (River of Earth) and in his day considered on par with and a friend of William Faulkner. Still never sought fame as a writer, preferring to live out in the country at a small cabin on Wolf Pen Branch. I don't believe, at the time, 50 people in Knott Country were really aware of what a great treasure we had in Mr. Still. He quietly lived his life and was always there to help guide an inquisitive child's thirst for books.

His comments reminded me of the libraries in my life. One of my first recollections of my childhood is in the library of Blue Lick Elementary, where I attended first (and second) grade. We assembled there - to the right of the office on the first floor of the building - to read the tale and listen to the music of Sergei Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf." The version we learned was narrated by Leonard Bernstein. I also recall the field trip we took in Ms. Hoagland's 2nd grade class to the Louisville Free Public Library downtown, where upon entering the old entrance on York Street, one made an immediate left into the Children's Section. I believe the location of that section remains where it was forty years ago. I could walk straight to the location of my favorite childhood story "From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler." The only other book I remember from the era was "Charlotte's Web." These books were first encountered at my 3rd and 4th grade school, Old Prestonia. The library at the old Prestonia School, all the way upstairs, was presided over by Mrs. Virginia Riegler. When the school moved to a new location the next summer, Mrs. Riegler and all my favorite books moved with it. New Prestonia's library was on the first floor in the first hallway to the right off the main corridor. It was there we made tapestries focussing on the "fertile crescent" of the lands between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, where we were taught civilization began, and where today we are concerned it might end. Little did I know then that those lands, as well as those in and around Israel, would be the central theme of foreign interest for most of my life, so far.

At Durrett High School, the library was on the second floor toward the bottom of the "F" shaped building, which was the Preston Highway end. The library was one of three places in the building which was properly heated in the cool months and air-conditioned in the warm months, the other two being the front office, and the wing leading over to the old gym. I quickly signed up to be an aide in both the library and the front office. Mrs. Patsy Meglemery was the librarian. (Durrett eventually closed and served for nearly a decade as an annex for the Board of Education. In 1990, it was remodeled and opened in 1991 as the new location for Louisville Male High School. I toured the new facility and noted the library has been relocated and extensively updated to a location on the first floor at the top of the "F").

Upon my enrolling at the University of Kentucky, I quickly familiarized myself with the Margaret I. King Library (South), the then-main building [actually buildings, a set of three] of UK's library system. Inside was a set of shelves, "the stacks" all in a scaffolding-like structure, which could be accessed at different and oddly placed points from the two older and newer wings of the building. It was quite an interesting place. Another of my favorite study spots was the Architecture (or maybe it was the Fine Arts since Architecture was over in Pence Hall) Department Library located in a basement of a newer building along the walk called Patterson Drive. I'm not sure if I could locate it today. Since 1998, the main library for the university is the William T. Young structure, built in a depression in the earth which back then was called Clinton Field, or maybe Pennsylvania Field, I'm not sure. It seemed like an asteroid may have hit there and caused the depression. It was an odd piece of terrain. Some people say the W. T. Young Library is slowly sinking into the earth.

At Bellarmine College, where most of my college credits (but not my diploma) were gained, the Library was nothing to write home about. Mrs. Klausing was the Chief Librarian. Bellarmine University replaced their library a few years back, moving it out of the old Administration Building and relocating it to a new and modern structure called the W. L. Lyons Brown, after a wealthy benefactor. At my collegiate Alma Mater, Spalding University, the library, another one which is nothing special, but does have a very interesting "Kentucky Room" with old volumes on Kentucky's history, is located, appropriately, on Library Lane, the northern terminus of which yields one back to the main entrance of the Louisville Free Public Library on York Street.

We all have libraries in our pasts and most of us continue to use them as we move through the present and into the future. Hopefully, the voting public of the Louisville-Jefferson County Metro will see to it that this opportunity appears on the ballot and the results are a positive move for our library and our community.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

To busy with White-Henry to post a comment?

The Archives at Milepost 606


Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.