By Kristine Korman
Growing up in Queens, NY, 60 years ago, I was lucky to have two libraries within walking distance. When I was very young, I was only permitted to walk the three long avenue blocks downhill to a small library on the corner of a tree-lined block. The independence of walking by myself to the library was a great accomplishment but the destination was the reward.
My parents encouraged my love of the library and took me often even when I was too young to be allowed the gift of a library card. I was free to wander in the children’s section while they quietly selected their own books. It was a special place to me. The noise of the adjacent six-lane avenue would disappear as the heavy glass door suctioned closed. The quiet, the bright lights (even in the day) but mostly the smell of the books would enchant me.
When I finally was old enough to get my own library card, I went every week all summer long. My friends and I would walk home up the steep hill carrying armloads of books that we were only permitted to keep for a week. We would sit in the shade of an awning of someone’s house and read and tell each other the stories from our books. The library opened a world of imagination to us. An escape from the hot summer in a city.
This past Saturday, June 3, the Joslin Memorial Library celebrated 110 years of being established. Shevonne Travers organized an event for the community to celebrate this special anniversary. She researched the history of the library and the individuals responsible for creating it. She fleshed out these historic figures by recruiting people from the community to act out scenes about the purchase of the land, the Joslins’ vision and generosity, the architects, librarians and host of others who helped orchestrate the creation of this library. With the help of Doug Bergstein and other talented people from the community, they brought to life the founding of the Joslin Memorial Library and many interesting facts about that period of time. As I walked from scene to scene, I felt catapulted to the past. A glimpse of life then, complete with clothes and details that made you look around and see this building, the books and the community itself in a way I had not appreciated before. It was an outstanding event and I thank you, Shevonne, for your intellectual curiosity and energy.
The librarians, staff and volunteers of our community are working hard to keep us engaged in our society. They are working hard to acquire the latest books, provide technology, assistance with research, programs for children, cooking clubs, book clubs and even Trivia night at Deco once a month. The libraries deserve a big thank you. Without them, we would lose a place to lose ourselves or find our direction. We would lose a cloistered escape from our busy lives.
To the librarians -- Jason Butler, Marie Schmukal, Amanda Gates, Anna Church, and Cory Stephenson -- of the Mad River Valley, thank you. Thank you for keeping us in your plans, for working so hard to be a very vital part of the community, nurturing our thirst for knowledge and; for your imaginations and creativity. Thank you for showing us there is always something to be learned, enjoyed, and remembered.
Korman lives in Warren.