Parsimonious Family Road Trip Brainstorm: Public Libraries

June 13, 2007


One summer c.1987, my dad packed the family into the Suburban and took us on a Ghost-Towns-of-West-Texas themed road trip. In addition to being completely miserable, it was also economical. I got to see the Marfa Lights (free) and got to feed a Lone Star to a goat (price of small-town Lone Star c.1987).

Matt Gross, aka the Frugal Traveler has an equally thrifty, yet million times geekier suggestion in yesterday’s New York Times: the public library. During his road trip to Columbus, Ohio he cruises by I.M. Pei’s Cleo Rogers Memorial Library, which in addition to being one of the town’s architectural gems, also serves as Bartholomew County’s main branch. Might I also suggest any number of the presidential libraries, such as the Clinton Library in Little Rock-the architectural features allow for the spectacle of a beer drinking goat with some history thrown courtesy of the National Archives.



May 12, 2007

Bilbo Baggins

This private (?) collection of J. R. R. Tolkien manuscripts and artifacts possibly has the coolest private library building on earth. If you are a geeky hobbit-lover…

[And I know this article comes from Fine Homebuilding, but couldn’t they have said a little bit more about the environmental controls? This archivist wants to know how those precious manuscripts are being housed.]

Originally found on BoingBoing.

of kitchens and card catalogs

April 30, 2007


the Carnegie-built former Dallas Public Library

While we wait for Anne Simmons’ next dispatch from ARLIS-NA, take the next available chance (I suggest the Whole Foods checkout line) to browse the May issue of Saveur , where the regular “Kitchenwise” feature offers C.M. Reinhardt’s storybook-like account of life/space transition: giving up a fast-paced life as a New York television producer to work freelance and live in rural Burwell, Nebraska, there remodeling an abandoned, outdated Carnegie Library building into a sleek, modern living space. (And no, the story’s not online, but you can get a detailed account of the remodel from Burwell’s Independent. Registration required, but I was able to read it from the Google cache.) Reinhardt even went so far as to purchase a card catalog cabinet at a prop auction, which she notes is an excellent kitchen amenity, for storing matches and her bottle-cap opener collection.

Although the limitations of Carnegie buildings became unavoidable to the last generation of public library administrators, their endearing qualities are obviously not lost to the world. The canonical building style thus gave us expectations for the form and function of a library, and many systems, including NYPL, still operate out of theirs. Indeed, many other Carnegie buildings are living on in various reincarnations: Mud Bay Granary, an organic pet food operation, houses their offices in the former Carnegie in Olympia, WA. As demonstrated with Reinhardt’s renovation, people feel ownership and intimacy with library buildings that often isn’t a part of blah residential architecture. (As a child, I told my mother I wanted to go live in our neighborhood public library, but ours was a more high-modern affair.)