This post continues the narrative of my August adventures. If you missed the beginning of the story here’s the lineup:
I stayed another week with Musician Daughter and her family. When DTBAM went to his preschool class, I had free time during the day. Since Musician Daughter doesn’t have internet (the coverage is too sketchy in this small town to be worth the price) I decided to check out the local library, hoping they might have joined the 21st century. I discovered the quirky little landmark offered a perfect place to connect with the outside world – and write.
Write Anywhere #69: Carnegie Library
The Greenville Public Library belongs to a select group of libraries around the United States known as Carnegie Libraries. Carnegie Libraries were the brainchild of Scottish-American businessman Andrew Carnegie. His father was a weaver and, after borrowing money, immigrated with his family from Scotland to America in the 1840’s. Andrew Carnegie went from working at age 13 in a cotton mill to becoming a wealthy industrialist (at one time the second wealthiest man in the world) in the steel industry by sheer determination, hard work, and self-education.
He believed the wealthy had a responsibility to philanthropy for the betterment of the country, and became one of the greatest philanthropists of his time. Because of his own experience trying to educate himself in literature and science when he was poor, free libraries were something near and dear to his heart. He helped build 1,689 libraries across the country, but only on the condition that the local municipalities gave the land and contributed to an operating budget. He believed in helping those who would join with him in working hard as well. Interesting philosophies to consider for our times.
When I realized that the Greenville Public Library was a Carnegie Library, I had to check it out. I have an affinity for Carnegie Libraries, having grown up in St. Louis, where I spent a large portion of my childhood at Carpenter and Carondelet branches, both Carnegie Libraries. I enjoyed their beautiful architecture before I even knew what that word meant. Here’s what a library geek I am: a secret dream I have is to visit all the Carnegie Libraries around the country.
The Greenville Library, though small, does not disappoint architecturally. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the building was designed in the Classical Revival or Neoclassical style.
Opening the heavy wood doors and stepping inside the library, I felt like I had gone back in time. Velvet settees, leather wingback chairs and old wood library tables filled the upstairs rotunda, while the bottom floor housed the children’s books.
A beautiful elderly woman with rosy cheeks greeted me. Her name was Mary. Mary gave me the three minute tour (it really is small). Meeting the specific needs of its community, you can borrow a book for two weeks or check out a fishing pole for a three day loan.
When I inquired about internet access, Mary was as savvy about wi-fi as about the building’s history. I settled in at one of the tables, connected to the world wide web, and spent the afternoon surfing the web, checking email, and working on my WIP.
I also spent the afternoon people-watching. For such a small library, it had a large number of customers passing through. Everyone seemed to know each other, and stopped to chat about daily happenings, the weather, or the county fair being held that week. I left, my internet addiction satisfied and happy to have landed in Mayberry for a few hours.