Get Blog Posts Via Email

View RSS Feed


March 14, 2015

As I begin my sixth year of writing Marilyn’s Mystery Reads, I need to give a shout out to public libraries, and the Minuteman Library Network in particular.  I believe at its start it had 19 participating libraries, and now it has 43 in total, 36 public and seven college libraries.  I patronize bookstores, of course, but libraries are my “go to” resource.

I am very fortunate to live in Needham, a town with a wonderful library.  When I first moved here, there was a main library and a very small storefront library, the latter within easy walking distance of my home.  I remember pushing my toddler son in his stroller to the branch, located conveniently at the railroad crossing so he could watch for passing commuter trains from inside the library while I chose my books. 

The small library closed a few years later, leaving the main library as the repository of all the town’s books and collections.  While I loved the library I was aware that it was quite outdated and overcrowded, made for a population much smaller than the town’s size at that time. 

In 1991, Needham had an override to fund library expansion, and it failed by twenty votes.  The resulting shortfall had the effect of shortening the library’s hours to below the state minimum required for funding, as it was open only twenty-six hours a week.

This had a double effect on the town’s readers.  Not only were we deprived of our own library, but surrounding ones refused to let us participate in inter-library loans.  We could read books while we were there, but we couldn’t take them home.  And, really, who could blame them?  Why should their taxpayers, in effect, be paying for us to read the books they had purchased when we refused to fund our own?  This “borrowing freeze” had the desired effect on Needham voters, and at the next election the override passed and normal hours were resumed.  

I don’t believe there’s ever been a request that I made to the library personnel that hasn’t been fulfilled.  I’ve borrowed books from across the state and beyond when my own library didn’t have what I wanted or needed.  And all kinds of events are held at the site, including children’s reading programs, senior exercise classes, speakers on topics from parenthood to military history, and an annual Art in Bloom weekend, featuring floral arrangements by three local garden clubs paired with art by our town’s high school students.

At the moment, I have twenty books on reserve.  What would we ever do without our public libraries?   I, for one, never want to find out.




Leave a Reply