Thursday, May 17, 2012

For Love of Libraries

ATTENTION BIBLIOPHILES: The Friends of the Pottstown Regional Public Library Book Sale
starts tomorrow at 10 a.m. in the basement!
This was the John C. Hart library I saw outside
my window growing up in Shrub Oak, NY.
If you love books, then chances are you love libraries.

I had the great good fortune of growing up across the street from one -- the John C. Hart Memorial Library in Shrub Oak, N.Y..

Begun in a grand old clapboard Victorian directly across the street from the grand, old clapboard Victorian in which I was raised, it was big news when a brick extension was added.

(There have since been several expansions)

My next library was the Mt. Pleasant Public
Library, in Pleasantville, N.Y.
In middle school, we moved to Pleasantville, N.Y. (yes, it's a real place) and found, next to the middle and high school complex, a fantastic, well-stocked and incredibly comfortable library -- the Mount Pleasant Public Library.

All of which is to say that it would have been a surprise if I had grown up to hate books.

No surprise, I don't.

Perhaps that's also due to the fact that that grand old Victorian I called home actually had  a room in it that was a library, for all my dad's books.

Dad's super-cool blog photo
(He has a blog too and wrote about that collection in this March 27 post. His most recent post, about "Reading Robert Caro," made me want to rush out and "catch-up" on my understanding of Lyndon B. Johnson.)

(And by the way, if you like to write about books you read, or read the reviews of ordinary folks, you can join Goodreads, where I and hundreds of thousands of others, do quick write-ups about our most recent reads.)

But I digress. This is not a memoir!

This is a community service post about Pottstown's own best resource, the Pottstown Regional Public Library.

Photo Theft from Ivy Lane Designs
Pottsgrove High School's National Honor Society collected books for
the last book sale.
First of all, before we get too far down and you lose interest, you should know that the best bargain for book lovers in town starts tomorrow at 10 a.m.

The Friends of the Library's semi-annual book sale begins at 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Friday, and opens its doors again Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

If you are like me, when you see a book you may want to read, you usually have to buy it if you can afford it because you have too many in line (in my case, on a window sill) already and know that if you take it out of the library, you'll never get to it before its due.

In that case, the book sale is for you. I have found copies of books I "meant to read" and forgot about, as well as those I have been looking for.

Book blogger Michelle Karas
The last time I was at the sale, I snuck away from work with Mercury book blogger extraordinaire, Michelle Karas, and found a wonderfully worn out old copy of "Moby Dick which, I shudder to confess, I have never read -- despite a near encyclopedic knowledge of turn of the century whaling.

This sale will feature "classics, modern novels, cookbooks, children's books, young adult books, puzzles, audiobooks, and way more at the cheapest prices you'll find ANYWHERE," according to the posting on the library web site.

(Fellow TownSquare blogger Ivy Lane Designs posted about December's sale. In fact I stole two of her photos! If you want to get a sense of what you'll find at the book sale, click here.)

Mercury Photo by John Strickler
Susan Davis, the Pottstown library's new director.

And, if you read today's Mercury, you know that I also interviewed the Pottstown library's new director Wednesday. Her name is Susan Davis and she too seems to have loved libraries, "from the time is was in the sixth grade."

She talked about how the library is more than just a place to find books. In our new digital age, it is also the place you look for a job, update your resume or register for Social Security. It's the place you rent DVDs or play video games or have a book group.

Which reminded me of the great summer programs my son enjoyed there while he was younger, particularly the Summer Reading Programs and Science in the Summer.

Science in the Summer is a great (FREE!) program
So I thought I would provide some info on that too, (also to be found in the Parks and Recreation summer newsletter, I might add.)

  • The Summer Reading Program, in which kids, tweens and teens can read for prizes, free food certificates and gift cards, beings June 18.
  • Science in the Summer runs from July 23 through July 26 and is held for kids entering grades 2 through 6.
  • From June 25 through Aug. 6 is "Manly Mondays" for boys only at 6:30 p.m. (I can only imagine what that's about!)
  • Pre-School Story Time, which includes snacks, crafts and stories, will be held on the following Tuesdays, June 19, July 3, July 17 and July 31 at 10:30 a.m.
  • Whatever Wednesdays is for teens only and runs from June 20 to Aug. 8, with the exception of July 4, from 5 to 7 p.m.
  • Porter Fun Fridays runs from June 22 to Aug. 3 at 2 p.m.
Registration is required for all of these programs, so it sounds like you had better hurry on down and check in at the library.

Registration is NOT required for the following FREE Wednesday morning performances, all of which occur at 10:30 a.m.:
Magician Eric Dasher
  • Philadelphia Zoo, June 20;
  • Ran'd Shine Magic, June 27;
  • Dragons and Dreams Sciencetellers, July 11;
  • The Magical Entertainment of Eric Dasher, July 18;
  • Fryed Folk, Aug. 1
As long-time library trustee, former borough councilman and former Pottstown High School teacher Art Green recently told borough council, the library is a great deal.

According to its annual report, in 2011 it had a circulation of 130,642; ran 433 programs which attracted 13,200patrons; was visited 107,348 times and its computers were accessed 36,141 times -- and all for just over a half-million dollars in local funding.

The state's $109,435 share last year covered only 18 percent of the library's budget.

Pottstown provides represent 26 percent of the library's funding; Lower Pottsgrove 10 percent; Upper Pottsgrove 4 percent; West Pottsgrove 3 percent, while 9 percent comes from fundraising; grants 17 percent and library fees, 12 percent.


  1.    A Comfortable Host 

    Horizons meld hills for eyes to climb,
    Far distance blurs their sharp images,
    Also, does the real passage of time.
    Nineteen twenty one (1921), vestiges

    Long gone : trolleys and their rust weary rails,
    Rutted cobblestones, worn down brick,
    Etchings of wagon wheels mark their trails.
    Four score years grows memories thick.

    The Century Club chose Potts's High Street
    Casselberry House for it's beginning.
    Forty years there, double it, repeat,
    Forty years while still remembering :

    The smell of linseed from shoe hardened old wood
    That squeaked and groaned with each foot step.
    Dappled light peeking in where tall windows stood.
    "Shhh ! Be quiet, please !" Rules strictly kept.

    When words emerge from their book covers :
    Distance alters and time accepts change,
    Dreams seek children, their fathers and mothers,
    Stories flow rivers, climb mountains, ride range.

    Facts flow from open pages into the mind
    And swells clear, deep streams of knowledge.
    Wonder grows wisdom we all may find,
    Cause reading hones that sharpened edge.

    Libraries draw far off horizons close,
    Time finds them a comfortable host.

       Ronald C . Downie

    Written for the occasion and read to the assembled commemorating  the eightieth anniversary of the founding of The Pottstown Public Library .(2001) 

  2. Thanks for the shoutout! Let's go shopping again soon.