West Branch, Somerville MA

Back in May (this post is just a little delayed) I visited a library in Somerville, MA. I had walked by the building on the way to work for several years but never entered. By coincidence my visit was on the 101st anniversary of the dedication.

Somerville West Branch Library facade

Residents of West Somerville accounted for 70% of library business back in the 1860's. They relied on mini branches located in shops in Davis Square. John F. Foster took up the cause for a permanent building and approached representatives of Andrew Carnegie for a funding grant. In the latter part of his life, Carnegie donated over $56 million to fund 2,509 libraries.

Somerville West Branch Library interior

The building was designed in the Classical Revival style, featuring Greek columns and symmetrical open rooms. The interior has wonderful details including a chandelier in the entrance.

Somerville West Branch Library chandelier
Somerville West Branch Library ceiling decoration

Some of the details have been lost. The walls and ceiling were once painted with decorations, some little of which has been uncovered. The second floor auditorium had the worst of it, losing not only the skylight which was filled in, but receiving carpeting on the floors and wood paneling on the walls. The 70's were truly a decorative nightmare.

Somerville West Branch Library auditorium

The childrens room in the basement needs a little help as well. Hopefully no one will paint over the murals.

Somerville West Branch Library camelot
Somerville West Branch Library merlin

I couldn't take pictures of the whole childrens room because at the time it was being used. There were three tables set up with a half dozen people per group. The people were of many different nationalities and backgrounds and were there to practice speaking english and prepare for their citizenship test.

Have I mentioned lately how much I love libraries because they are not just about bound paper books? If you'd like to see more pictures of the West Branch library, click here to view the photo gallery.

Sources: "West Branch Library Historic Structure Report", Somerville MA 1999.

2011 Summer Reading Program Grand Prize!

It has been a crazy busy season but you all have rocked the Summer Reading Program yet again. Twenty-two people participated, reading an amazing 146 books! I managed to get close to my goal, finishing 18 titles. Between the two efforts, I will be donating $112 to The Children's Literacy Foundation, the highest amount ever.

But wait, that's not all! Two generous pledgers made commitments to CLiF as well. They will be donating an additional $75, for which I am humbled and grateful.

But wait, you still haven't finished that epic five-book trilogy on the history of paprika? No worries, there is still time to participate in Janiece's Hot Chicks and Smart Men Read Summer Reading Program which runs through September 6th. So you can still read, read, read right through labor day weekend!

So, did I forget anything ...

Oh yeah! The Trader Joe's Challenge! Fellow crew members from four different stores participated. I wish it could have been more, but as a co-worker pointed out, the crew are more likely to be playing video games (or drinking beer) than reading books. So it goes.

Okay, that really should be it right? Grand totals. Thanks to everyone for playing. Roll up the sidewalks and turn the lights out when you leave.

Oh, right. I promised to give out some money to a lucky reader as well. Through random selection conducted by a rigorous process of cutting up little pieces of paper and shaking them about in a box, the grand prize winner of the 2011 Summer Reading Program is ...

Jessica! Congratulations! You will be receiving a $50 Amazon gift certificate.

Thanks again to everyone for all the support. Enjoy the rest of the summer!

One Week Left!

We have come to the end of the 2011 Summer Reading Program. As usual, it all seemed to go by too fast.

You have one week left to finish books you've started.

You have one week left to start books you want to finish.

And if you meant to get around to reading something and never did? No worries. You can do it this week. Really, you can read a whole book in a week, right?

And then add the book to the contest:

One week. 7 days. A, uhm, whole bunch of hours. Read, read, read!

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