“I’ve never seen a castle inside a library before!” Those weren’t the exact words, but since I am getting older, my memory in some cases is not as stellar on some things than with others. Yet, the implication as told to me by the Friends of the Library at Lewes reinforced the way I felt when I walked in the Lewes Public Library.
It had been maybe 12 years ago when I found myself in Delaware, and I fell in love with the look of the Lewes library, and “had” to volunteer there, based on how I felt when I walked in. Imagine my surprise when I returned to Delaware, and witnessed the “new” (wasn’t the Lewes library new in 2005?!) and I was – well I was floored.
The fireplace in the back, the amazingly LONG space that looked like a hall from a scene in Game of Thrones, yes in a castle, there are simply NO WORDS. The feel of the books and how they draw you in is about 70% of my love for librarians, and being a Media Specialist Librarian, but the personality is the remaining 30%. Yes, a majority of my life to date, has been surrounded with either librarians with much personality and like a family member, or no personality and the cardboard cutouts of the Presidents with more personality, there never seemed to be much in between. THEN, there was the personality of the library itself. Without having to say a word.
Visiting the Lewes Public Library in a new spot but not far from its former location, and with this new “outfit” had me reeling. Being here first for the Fall Book Sale in general, then a week later for the Lewes Historical Book Festival, and being able to accommodate so many aspects of titles needed for our own High School library at a fraction of a cost it would normally cost, many revelations came out.
The relationship between communities is never strong enough, nor enough in general. I saw a direct line of working together between the public libraries and school libraries I wanted to strengthen. Right here was a community within a community, the Friends of the Lewes Library helped fund the books needed on part of the library, and the store within the Lewes Public library was itself a novel idea yet another step in how a community insured their public library will only continue to grow in relationship to its ties to the community.
I cherished the relationship we started with Greenwood Public Library in getting students their own library cards, showing them how their research projects could be delved into more deeply, and not just through the high school library, and the ability to bring in the community to the high school, an exchange of the outside, in, and the inside, out. Thank you Donna Carter, we have only just begun to redefine the roles of libraries in our communities.
The staff of the Friends of the Lewes Library, and the Lewes Public Library itself was a breath of fresh air. I stood outside watching the tall Kentucky-like grass
blowing in the wind, in front of the “castle-like entrance”, there was such a calmness. I saw the neighborhood coming in and out, and this truly was a center for Lewes, as such every public library should be. Building a home within the library for the Friends of the Lewes Library, as such an integral part of any library, and community, it was easy to see the bonds for the library, the search for knowledge, relaxations, and information for information’s sake would never disappear thanks to the events, as well as the materials open to the public and invested in.
In a world today that is so full of competition, politics that border on tyranny and unrest, the need for a sense of community and revaluing the projects that add to the wealth of neighborhoods had never been more important or essential to put the meaning back into lives that often have to jump to keep up with the newest, latest, and best, and frankly, that just drains you of the valuable time to reflect, enjoy, and relish other’s contributions to the world and your local community itself. This model of libraries, ties with volunteers helping fund materials when funding does not seem to be as important for culture and the arts as it used to be, as well as the community continually being the backbone of information, was inspiring.
I saw a microcosm of what the educational field should be to all students. A daily field trip of possibility of what the future can hold, and what individuals can creatively do to redefine their neighborhoods and make connections to so many ideas, creative possibilities, and the future of learning. I hope individuals realize they can step off the light speed-paced technology highway every once in awhile to look at themselves and allow time to grow within their own neighborhoods.
Seeing how the Lewes Library works hand-in hand with the Friends of the Lewes Library and taking the time to find out what interests, abilities, talents, topics of interest are in their immediate community, I saw a business model of what I would want a library to do for me: Know me, cater to my interests based on knowing who I am in the community, and always challenging me with new ideas, new experiences, and new projects. Certainly the Lewes Public Library did in this in two weekends I was there, and to think of how much more they do this on a daly basis, is all the more reason to seek out what possibilities exist in your own neighborhood. The course and institute I took from the Jane Goodall Institute kicked in again where I valued what was in our community and what wasn’t to fit the needs of the immediate community. It was so refreshing to see the Lewes Public Library and the Friends of Lewes Library in tune with this aspect on such a high scale.
I am proud of how we have begun to transform our own high school library. We have placed a puzzle on a table that attracts the most unlikely students every day on a activity hat brings them a sense of calm. Yes the beanie babies we have everywhere in the library ARE picked up and rested on desks of students as they find themselves in the library. Love the fact that one of the mostly looked at books in the library has been the yearbooks from the past 10-15 years on display throughout the library. I love the fact that the graphic novels set up everywhere bring topics students never knew existed AND they are checking them out. It is inspiring to see the scholarship and collegiate section, a section of its own, frequented much more than ever before as seniors and juniors get a jump on the things that will boost their future. Add to this the mix of items you’d see in a TGIF’s restaurant and you have a place that is safe, fun to visit, a place to hide, a place to relax, a community center. Welcome to the Media Center library, a community castle if you will.