The year was 1931 and residents of Riverside gathered to celebrate the dedication of its new library, built after residents passed a referendum to fund it. This year the library will commemorate its 75th anniversary on Sunday, April 24 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the library, 1 Burling Road.
The library has seen many changes over the 75 years as trends in libraries have gone from just books to a true resource center.
My memories of the library go back to when I was a child and it was a big deal to be able to get a library card. Being able to write your name meant you were responsible enough to get the card and take
Of course, that didn’t mean we waited until we had a card to go to the library. No, you could go to the library and there would be a story hour, where a nice lady would read to the children who sat Indian style on a rug in a circle. The room where we were read to was in the lower level of the library, and it always felt very warm and comfortable.
As you grew older, you began to search the shelves for books, which would expand your horizons. Selections were limited to certain shelves that were age- and reading-level appropriate. Somehow I believed you could not go to other shelves or the library police would come and move you back. I may even have thought a library misdeed would go on my permanent record.
It was in this lower level of the library where I was introduced to the twin series of books, and my favorite Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, the original nanny. Many other characters came to life through books and remain cherished memories.
The building itself seemed to me, through a child’s eyes, to be very old at the time. However I now know it wasn’t as old as it seemed. Perhaps it was the wood throughout that gave it that effect. The fireplace seemed to be the place I wanted to sit but, alas, children were relegated to the lower level, or so I thought.
Through grade school and high school the library was the place to go. High school students working on reports could be seen going through the card catalogs, checking the shelves and moving a stack of books to a table to begin a report most likely due in a few days. How much easier students have it today with computers as the resource tool of choice.
It was a rule, or maybe even a law, you were to be silent in the library. “No talking!” a particular librarian referred to by teens as “Madame Library” was quick to remind us if we whispered too loudly. Perhaps she didn’t realize the teens were making plans where to go and what to do next.
The library was also a good excuse to get out of the house on a school night. After all, no parent would discourage their child from going to the library. Was that where we went? Well, most of the time. But if we didn’t, we knew what time the library closed and how soon we should be getting home.
There have been many changes in the Riverside library in its contents and interior. But the charm of the building has remained the same as it has moved through time to accommodate today’s library needs. Each time I enter the building, I still see it as it was, and I still think it is a good idea to be quiet in the library, so when you enter, “Shhhh!”
Contact the library at 442-6366 for further information on the anniversary and celebration events.