Sunday, September 08, 2013

Foreword: A Night at the Library

Madison's new Central library (built on the bones of the old 1960's era library) opens in two weeks. Last night I attended Foreword, the black tie gala grand opening dinner, where I mingled with mayors (current and ex), bankers, lawyers, and property developers. Where were all the readers? Maybe they were there too (because of course you can be BOTH a reader and a property developer....) but I wish they would have had some kind of badge for those of us who were there to celebrate the books instead of the networking opportunities.While everyone else perused the silent auction, I wandered the stacks. I even hunted down a library staffer and asked if I could check anything out but was told alas, not until the actual public opening in two weeks.I'm extremely excited about this new library but the transition isn't without anxiety for me. Here are a few random observations:
  • Attendees at this event were offered the opportunity to trade in their regular old library cards for "limited edition" cards. As I waited in line to do this, I was dismayed that several of the  well heeled middle aged people ahead of me were actually applying for their first library cards. Well, better late than never, I guess.
  • And do I get anything for having a limited edition card? Is it like a Visa Platinum Card or something? Can I acrue points that will let me jump to the front of the hold line for example? I don't think so.
  • One of the really cool things I figured out from wandering the stacks was that ALL THE BOOKS ARE IN right now. Because the library has been restocked from storage, but isn't yet open to the public, no books are currently checked out. I could have had any book I wanted! So disappointing not to be able to take advantage of this. Again, shouldn't my new limited edition library card have helped me out here?  Do you think people will be sleeping outside the library on the night of September 20 in order to be first in the door on September 21? Kind of like lining up for concert tickets (which no one does anymore because of Ticketmaster) or the new Nintendo game system at Christmas... I bet not, though I'm up for it if anyone wants to join me.
  • While I am very focused on the books, the press coverage of the library seems not to be. This morning's article in the Wisconsin State Journal calls it a "whole new concept in libraries" and says that the public can "use the building for everything from study groups and business meetings to making video games, recording music, repairing bikes, and doing performance art."  The article goes on to stress the building's "modern retail feel" (code for "like Barnes & Noble," I think) and mentions the cafe and that the library will be available to host private events such as wedding receptions and corporate affairs. Don't get me wrong, I'm not against weddings or bicycles, I just want to make sure they don't make so much noise that I can't get any reading done.
  • I was surprised to learn that Madison used to have a Carnegie library at the corner of Carroll and E. Dayton St. (Which corner, does anyone know?) From the looks of the few pictures I can find, it seems like it was an imposing place. It also housed the first library school in the state; this program eventually became part of UW Madison. The library moved to the old Bernard Schwab building in the mid-1960's but I couldn't find any information on when the Carnegie building was demolished. It's certainly not there any more. Oh well. They probably wouldn't have allowed bicycle repair in there anyway...


Urdu Novels said...

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Anna said...

I moved out of Madison area a year ago and I miss its libraries. I used to live in Fitchburg, which has a very new and nice library too. I wish I could visit this new library in Madison...

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