Tuesday, December 6, 2022

The Concord Free Public Library in December

Concord in December is an attractive place and I was in the mood to visit on Saturday, particularly because the library was having a book sale. 
The lobby/great room is decorated for the holidays
The Concord Free Public Library dates back to 1851 but, after the war, resident William Monroe began to envision a significant institution that would be a comprehensive repository for Concord-related manuscripts, archival records, locally significant books, ephemera, and works of art.  Early libraries were often the result of philanthropy and the desire to create a suitable showcase for cherished belongings.
He bought the land the current library stands on in 1869 and commissioned Boston architects who created a gothic-style building very different (but much admired) from the traditional white clapboard houses seen elsewhere in Concord. In the early days, affluent residents donated their book collections to the library but soon it had an acquisition staff. The collection and the staff size are now approximately twenty-five times what they were when the library first opened in 1873, and there have been several additions and renovations to the building.  The present lobby (originally called the "Book Room") was designed to house reference and book delivery/circulation.
Ralph (yes, we are on first-name terms)
As I walked in, I thought not only about Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Margaret Sidney (I suppose I should appreciate Thoreau more) but also more recent authors who lived locally and used this library: Jane Langton, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Betty Cavanna, Nancy Bond, and Gregory Maguire. In fact, Goodwin recently downsized and sold her gorgeous house to move to Boston (I would kill for this house). She donated a number of her research works to the library, which had a special table for her books at the sale.
from Doris Kearns Goodwin's personal collection
It seemed to be mostly civil war books which don’t interest me as much as other historical periods although I did take a look. Coincidentally, I just featured the Pulitzer prize-winning author in last week's Six Degrees (there are no coincidences).  I wound up buying four books at the sale: two Louise Pennys, one book by Marcia Willett, and a Frances the Badger book for the next baby shower I get invited to.  I resisted a matching paperback set of The Dark is Rising because I already own all five books, even if mine do not match.  Are you proud of me?
A locked shelf of rare Alcott editions
I did enjoy walking around downtown Concord, which looked very festive. I bought an ornament for the Betsy-Tacy ornament exchange, gifts for my siblings, and checked the Barrow Bookstore to see if Nancy Bond happened to be lurking there, as I had heard she used to work there.
I usually bring a copy of A String in the Harp or Another Shore in case she is there for an autograph but maybe I should just mail them to her with a polite note and return postage! 
It would have been wrong to leave empty-handed!


Sue in Suffolk said...

What an amazing library - thank you for the photos

Lory said...

What a gorgeous library. I miss American libraries, there is nothing to compare here.

Marianne said...

How beautiful. I would be happy to have only half of that, or a quarter. Or anything I can use.

And yes, no way you could leave empty-handed. LOL Enjoy your purchases.

Judith said...

Guess what? I was a frequent visitor and borrower at this library when I lived in Boxborough, Harvard, and Leominster, Massachusetts way, way back--let's see: from 1978-1985, when I was teaching in Lunenburg (next to Fitchburg). But I can't get over how much the library has changed--how interesting! I loved visiting Concord. Also love The Dark is Rising series and all of Susan Cooper's work.

LyzzyBee said...

Beautiful! And well done on the resisting ...

TracyK said...

What a lovely library, I would love to visit if only for the atmosphere. And gorgeous photos.

JaneGS said...

What a great post--a library look-around in one of my favorite towns and a Doris Kearns Goodwin book sale! What a treat. I'll bet Concord does look very festive for the season.