Sunday, August 30, 2015

Library Visit: The Norfolk Library, Connecticut

I've visited three libraries in Connecticut that have taken my breath away: The Blackstone Memorial Library in Branford, the Mystic & Noank Library in Mystic, and now the Norfolk Library.

The other day I ventured up into the Northwest corner of Connecticut to visit an historic library (more on that library next month) and drove passed the Norfolk Library on the way home. "Oh, another library!" I said to the empty car. I almost considered driving on, but my curiosity got the better of me and I turned around.

The Norfolk Library was established by Isabella Eldridge as a memorial to her parents. It opened on March 6, 1889 and was designed by George Keller of Hartford. The Great Hall, back alcove, and additional stacks were added in 1911 and also designed by Keller.

Here are some pictures from my visit.

Street view.
Approaching the main entrance.
The main entrance.
The view to the right when you walk in. Notice the water bowl for 4-legged friends of the library to the right of the fireplace. I love that.
As I walked into the entrance room and toward the fireplace in the previous picture, I saw beautiful stained glass windows to my right, but when I turned to the left--whoa!--I was blown away by this gorgeous view of the main stacks. The two levels of red oak bookshelves are capped by a graceful barrel-vaulted ceiling. The room glimmers like a treasure chest.

The circulation desk is to the immediate right in the photo above and it was there that I met Chris, the circulation librarian. I asked if the library was designed after the Trinity College library. I think Chris said that there's no documentation that it was, but the architect was from Ireland and may have been influenced by it. I think that's what he ears were a bit overpowered by my eyes.
Here's the view looking back toward the entrance. The circulation desk is to the far left and I believe the center portrait is of Isabella Eldridge, the library's founder.
Beautiful old cabinet, new books display.
Passing through the main stacks, you eventually walk into The Great Hall. Here's a picture looking back through the Great Hall, toward the entrance.
The Great Hall. Work tables, comfortable seating, grand piano, and large movie screen.
Fireplace in The Great Hall.

Fireplace detail. The Library's motto is INTER FOLIA FRUCTUS (Among the leaves, fruit).

A delightful old chair. Notice the window seats. Those are the back windows of the library.
A cozy book nook.
Stairwell leading to the second floor with bust of Abraham Lincoln above.

Looking down onto the hall.
Looking down into one of the book nooks.
From the second floor, at the rear of the library. There's a desk up here which may once have been someone's office. What a great view he or she had.
Another view from above.
After taking this picture I walked along the second floor towards the entrance of the library and thought it rather amazing that they still let people up there. The railings are very low, about mid-thigh on me and I'm just over 5 feet tall. 

As I stood above the circulation desk marveling at the beauty of the library I heard a concerned but firm voice say, "You can't be up there." I looked over at the stairwell that I hadn't noticed before which comes up to the second floor from the circulation desk. Chris the librarian was standing halfway up it looking at me. I apologized profusely and immediately followed him down the stairs. 

After he finished with the patron whose transaction was interrupted by hearing the creaks from my footsteps above, Chris explained that patrons aren't allowed on the second floor due to liability issues. The railings are so low because the architect designed them that way to create a better visual effect. The doorway leading up to the second floor was only open because a technician was adjusting the movie projector. I swear the only sign I saw was one telling me to watch my head.

How lucky was I to be able to go up on to the second floor? And since I didn't know any better  I don't even feel guilty about it.

Anyway, moving on....

Back near the circulation desk is a hallway where the restrooms are located as well as passage into the children's section, which was a 1985 addition.
A gift presented to Isabella Eldridge, the founder, on the library's twentieth anniversary located near the fireplace at the front entrance.

Remember when I first walked into the library and saw the fireplace with the water bowl next to it? You'll remember that to the left is that grand hall of books and to the right is this reference room with the stained glass windows that first caught my eye.

Across the stained glass windows is this wisdom: A WISE MAN IS STRONG / YEA A MAN / OF KNOWLEDGE / INCREASETH / IN STRENGTH. 





Now for more exterior shots.

Exiting the library and walking around to the right.

The arches.

The parking lot. It was full when I arrived, so I parked out front.
The great hall windows.

The back of the library. The window seats are on the lower level.

The opposite side from the parking features this seating area which is also just outside the children's room.

A view of the seating area from the second floor.
That's the children's room jutting out.

Turret and wheel chair entrance.
The library is soon undergoing some restoration.
Main entrance detail.
I'm so thrilled that I stopped to check out this library and look forward to a future visit when I'll have more time to admire the architectural detail and perhaps enjoy one of those cozy chairs for some reading time.

The Norfolk Library
9 Greenwoods Rd East
Post Office Box 605
Norfolk, CT 06058

Please read about the history of library here:

The building also has its own Wikipedia page:

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Classics Club Spin #10

Two of the WW1 titles on my list.

It's time for another Classics Club Spin!

How it works: On Monday, August 24th, the Classics Club moderators will choose a number between 1-20 and I'll read the corresponding number from this list:
  1. Ivanhoe, Scott, 1819
  2. The House of the Seven Gables, Hawthorne, 1851
  3. Crime and Punishment, Dostoyevsky, 1866
  4. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, Twain, 1889
  5. The Country of the Pointed Firs, Jewett, 1896
  6. Maurice, Forster, 1914
  7. The Good Soldier, Ford, 1915
  8. Three Soldiers, Dos Passos, 1921
  9. So Big, Ferber, 1924
  10. Goodbye to All That, Graves, 1929
  11. A Testament of Youth, Brittain, 1933
  12. The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck, 1939
  13. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Smith, 1943
  14. From Here to Eternity, Jones, 1951
  15. The Price of Salt, Highsmith, 1952
  16. Lord of the Flies, Golding, 1954
  17. Giovanni's Room, Baldwin, 1956
  18. Ship of Fools, Porter, 1962
  19. A Moveable Feast, Hemingway, 1964
  20. Slaughterhouse-Five, Vonnegut, 1969
How am I feeling about this list, you ask?

If numbers 3, 11, or 20 are picked, I'll feel like this was a game of Russian roulette.
If numbers 2, 4, or 14 are picked, I'll feel like I won the lottery.

These "iffy" attitudes may play-out very differently once the chosen book is actually read. Guess I'll know by October 23, 2015 which is when Clubbers are supposed to have read their spin selection.

If you're a reader of the classics or want to read more classics, join us over at The Classics Club blog!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Pride & Prejudice (#austeninaugustrbr)

1960s Paul Elek cover (source)

I finished Pride and Prejudice this morning and loved it! Thanks to #AusteninAugustRBR I've finally read a novel by Jane Austen. Huzzah! I've seen many of the film adaptations and have read about Austen and her works, but never actually sat down to read her.

All of the characters are delightfully drawn--it was as if I could feel the joy Austen had in developing them. I admire the way Austen weaves her plot to reveal everyone's character as well as many of the consequences.

I was most curious to see what I'd think of Mr. Bennet. Over the years I've come across arguments about whether or not he's a good father. While I don't think him a horrid father, Mr. Bennet is certainly a detached and rather careless father, which makes him, I think, a negligent father considering the precarious financial position his daughters are in due to the entail.

What happened to him and to the family that the first two daughters are so well-adjusted and the youngest two are so socially dysfunctional? Not to mention Mary, the lost middle daughter?

I'm only one book in and can understand why some Janeites devour fan fiction about these characters. Is there a novel about a young Mr. Bennet?

According to my Kobo stats it took me 2.7 hours to read P&P. My average reading session was only 2 minutes long which just goes to show that you can get a lot of reading done if you always carry a book with you to dip into while waiting at the doc, standing in line, or between bouts of boogie boarding at the beach.

What should I read next: Sense & Sensibility or Emma?

Monday, August 10, 2015

Hello August! Ahoy matey!

Greetings from the Outer Banks! It's been a busy few weeks and I haven't been blogging much of late, but I have been reading.

The other night I finished Anne Frank's Diary.  It is on my Classics Club list and was one of those books that I felt like I should have read long ago. While reading, however, I realized I was reading it at exactly the right time for me. The high school me would not have appreciated the magnitude of Frank's experience. So many thoughts and feelings circulating about it at this time.

I've also started reading Pride and Prejudice for Austen in August. I'm only 30% in and enjoying it very much. As I've said before, Jane Austen is one of those writers I've read more about than have actually read, so I'm thrilled to finally be diving in.  I'm reading her on my e-reader and also have Sense and Sensibility and Emma loaded and ready for action.

When at the Outer Banks I always try to read at least one nautical or ocean related book. This year I'm about to crack open Robert Kurson's new release, Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship. I read his Shadow Divers here back in 2008 (according to Goodreads) and that was an excellent book and one I highly recommend if you're looking for an adventurous nonfiction/historical read.

Eventually I have to take out my summer bingo card and see how I'm doing with that.

How's your summer reading going? If you have any nautical recommendations I'd love to hear them!

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