Visiting The Library

Libraries are considered emergency services. During a snowstorm, or other extreme weather, they are one of the few places that must stay open, no matter what.

This is due to the fact that libraries are one of the few completely free locations left in the world. You can come in from any walk of life, and stay there, for free, while the library is open. You are not expected to pay a fee just for entering. You don’t have to purchase anything to be there. You won’t get in trouble for loitering. You have free access to wifi, computers, and hundreds, and hundreds  of books.

Libraries are welcoming, warm. I had never been to the North Adams Public Library prior to this project, and I am so glad that I was able to do so.

Admittedly, I was nervous before going for the first time. I had no idea what it was like, what it would look like inside, or what we would be able to get when we went. (The library is gorgeous – I was not disappointed)

Chandelier in the Library

On our first visit, we were deciding which location we were going to look into and research. Our first visit, we asked about another location, offhandedly mentioning the Hoosac Tunnel, but got information on another location instead.

The third time we visited, we made sure to ask specifically for information about the Hoosac Tunnel – and got a blank stare.

“What are you looking for?” The reference librarian asked us.

“The history, that kind of thing,” we replied. “Pictures, if you have them.”

She gave us a look, and turned away for a second, coming back with a binder.

“This is everything we have,” she responds. “You have the book, already, right? Builders of the Hoosac Tunnel?”

We nodded, we got that last time. We noticed a picture in the book with the caption, courtesy of the North Adams Public Library. So, we assumed there were pictures. Maybe hanging on the wall somewhere, we weren’t sure where it was, what we would find.

She opened the binder, and inside was, well, everything.

“Here is the table of contents,” she explains, pointing at it, flipping through the contents pages. “If there’s anything specific you’re looking for, you can find it here first. We have photos, microfilm, letters…” she flips to show us the lists and lists of stuff. “You know how to use call numbers, right? Just write it down and I can find it for you.”

She paused, then looks up at us.

“Do you know how to find stuff in the online database?”

Cassie and I looked at each other.

“What?” We say at the same time.

The librarian smiles and reaches for a sticky note. She writes down a URL to the library’s website, telling us how to find the online database as she writes everything down. She eventually goes over to the computer to log into it for us, and tells us to get her if we need anything.

By now, Cassie and I are grinning from ear to ear. We get it now. The first time we came here, it’s not that they didn’t have any information, it’s that they had too much, which is why they didn’t want to give us anything. The second time, nope, still didn’t get it that we wanted everything – but by the third time, they understood.

As of now we have practically full reign of the reference library. When Cassie and I are squealing over all the information we find about the tunnel and North Adams – they probably roll their eyes. I know they enjoy it, though, because when we smile and gush about how much we love libraries, the librarians tell us we’re preaching to the choir.

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