Write Anywhere #69


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

Greenville Public Library, Greenville, Illinois photo by kristin nador

Greenville Public 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.

Portrait of Andrew Carnegie at Greenville Public Library, Greenville, Illinois photo by kristin nador

portrait of Andrew Carnegie over the library fireplace

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.

Greenville Public Library, photo courtesy Jerrye and Roy Klotz MD, Creative Commons

Greenville Public Library, photo courtesy Jerrye and Roy Klotz MD, Creative Commons

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.

Greenville Public Library Children's Room, Greenville, Ilinois photo by kristin nador

The children’s room

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.

George Washington bust, Greenville Public Library, Greenville, Illinois photo by kristin nador

This guy randomly sitting across from me

'Apollo of The Lyre' statue, Greenville Public Library, Greenville, Illinois photo by kristin nador

‘Apollo of The Lyre’ statue hanging out by the cookbooks. Looks more like an Athena than an Apollo, though…

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.

Where did you write this week?

11 thoughts on “Write Anywhere #69

  1. I love reading about what might now be called an old-fashioned library. I worry they are an endangered species. There’s a new Texas library that has no physical books. Just looking at the pictures you posted brings me some comfort. I haven’t followed the rest of your journey, so I jumped in cold on this post, but I’ll work backwards now. Sounds like a fine adventure.

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  2. Oh my gosh….I love old libraries, especially with such great architecture. There is an ambience, even a smell, different than the newer square brick buildings of today. It may have been small, but I bet they had all the classics on the shelves!

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  4. What a beautiful library!! My Mom Person shares your fascination with Carnegie Libraries. She also searches for them on her road trips. Sadly many no longer exist. I wish that I could visit some of them . I’m sure that the smell inside is exquisite! A lovely space in which to spend your day.

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