I have always been a huge fan of public libraries. These buildings are to be a sanctuary for so many, and effortlessly grow with the reader and user--from tots' story time, to science fair project and term paper research, and on. I loved my main library growing up and as a high school student volunteered in the children's section during the summers. By the time I was deciding on colleges, I used the size and style of library as my main decision maker. I don't doubt using the library as a ruler.
My first blog in my library series should be my home library--the Main Branch of the Memphis Library.
The main branch moved to a new location and building in 2002, and it is a grand place for a reader, learner, writer, and thinker to visit. The new building's design is striking. Frank Ricks, the architect for the library, designed an entrance that is both inviting and thought provoking.
Inspiring texts and art decorate the walkway to the Library entrance. These texts are engraved in concrete and marble honoring the academic: mathematicians, readers, writers, speakers, and revolutionaries. The observant patron approaching the library is filled with a sense history and importance as he or she reaches the entrance. Right inside the library doors, a Friends of the Library Bookshop and provides an excellent selection of books, magazines, records, and CDs.
The natural light and vertical lines of the entryway welcome visitors into the library. As the needs of the library have changed, so have the spaces. Cloud 901, a creative learning spot for teens, has taken the place in the library that previously held the VHS and DVD checkout. There are ample places to read magazines and newspapers just past the entrance, clear signs leading to the other 3 floors of the library and, to the left, the Children's Section.
As a child I spent hours on end in the Children's Section of the old library located on the corner of Peabody and Linden, the old library is gone, but the original "Reading" sign from my youth has survived. It graces the walls of the new library's Childrens Section. It serves as a pleasant reminder of my early years as a reader. My daughter's favorite spot (and I'm sure most of the visitors) is the colored glass house where one can cozy up with a book and read for hours. And that she does.
If you're a Memphian, you know what a treasure we have in our library. If you are not a Memphis resident, but are planning a visit, consider a stop to the Memphis Library. It's a gem.