Checking Out At The Local Library

By | Friday, October 25, 2013 1 comment
My last permanent resident was poorly situtated for public library access; nothing remotely close, and the closest libraries weren't very good anyway. I did make extensive use of the nearest university library, especially when I was working at said univerisity, but their focus tended towards engineering materials, as the engineering college there was so good.

So anyway, now that I'm (mostly) settled in my new digs, I checked out the local library here, conveniently just over a mile away. I was most eager to see it because I learned -- in between when we found the house and when we finally closed on it -- that the city held one of those comic book burnings back in the 1950s. And while I'm certainly apalled at the notion of burning comic books, I'm also very curious to see how coverage of the event was handled at the time. So, my thinking was, the library in a town where one of these burnings took place would be an ideal place to research the local newspaper articles from back then. A university library might have archives of the New York Times or the Chicago Tribune but who's going to have the local rag besides that town itself? I've actually got a good stack of reading material that I own and haven't gotten to piled up already, so that research angle was what prompted me to check the local library out fairly quickly.

Turns out the library here is really impressive. The facilities look brand-spankin'-new, but it turns out that they moved into their current facilities 20 years ago. They've either been very adaptable over the past two decades or were exceptionally forward-thinking at the time, as the whole building and layout seem pefectly designed for the various computers, game systems and the like that couldn't have been installed back then. The building is large enough, too, to accommodate an very good-sized collection of materials and still have room to separate out quiet research areas from more communal open spaces.

I soon discovered that, of those materials, they had a pretty impressive comics section. The photo here shows one of two ailses of comics, ranging from your typical Superman and Batman collections to impressively long (complete?) runs of manga like Bleach, Naruto, and One Piece to more independent works like Jeff Lemire's Essex County and Alison Bechdel's Fun Home. Quite a wide range of material, and a good amount of every type as well, not just a couple of token titles to say they've got something by Robert Crumb or whomever. They even had a separate section -- larger than any I've seen in any comic shop -- dedicated to comics aimed squarely at young children. In the oversized book section, I stumbled across a huge biography of Winsor McCay that I had never seen before. I also caught glimpse of a slide running on one of the TV monitors promoting a "Teen Anime Club" that meets every two weeks.

I was a little short on time, so I didn't get to explore too much. I did confirm that they had newspaper archives I was hoping they would, but didn't have a chance to sort through them. That's definitely something I'll chat about here once I get a chance to read those archives.

But, holy cow, it's been so long since I've been in a good public library that I'd largely forgotten how impressive they can be. I can't wait to spend some more time there!
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Matt K said...

It's very nice to have a great library nearby. Mine is fantastic, and one of the best features of where I live.

Glad you've got a good one now!