Takoma Park’s city library

23/03/2015

A young couple during the 1980s, my husband and I were looking to put down roots; we were drawn to Takoma Park, Maryland for many reasons: proximity to D.C., wide variety of socio-economic classes & houses, but most importantly because it felt “real.” In a metropolitan area where pretensions about self-importance, whether it be a style of house, income level, or the newest car abound, this one community seemed to stand apart.  So, in 1981 we made it our home and we hope to “age in place.”

Working as an artist during the 1970s through the 1990s and with a flexible schedule, my first impulse led me to the library at the bottom of our street.  I began volunteering there while pregnant – stamping new books and writing titles in a ledgers – before technology. During the raising of our sons, soon to follow, we became regular patrons as a family. Our boys participated in children’s programs no other county library offered – the celebration of the solstice, Eagle Bear, Morris Dancers are among the few in addition to being avid readers. Twenty years later while pursuing my M.L.S., I interned at TPML eventually working as a part-time shelver and librarian before my career as a school librarian.

rendering of the library in 1935This place – this library – has remained steadfast, growing from a small house on Jackson Street in 1930 to its current “new” building erected in 1955.  Its friends and patrons, programs, City administrators, and even librarians, have come and gone, yet it provides what it always has – a solid center for new residents and a home for those who remain.  It has nurtured generations of residents, and has never asked for much in return, as the community is a supportive & generous one.

My first impression of Takoma Park was based upon the library; it endeared me to this city – the building, the librarians, and the ambiance, oh, so many years ago; now, if I were that young woman, hoping to buy a house and raise a family, I would look at that building and it would tell me a sadder story about the values of Takoma Park.

Rendering of 1955 library Now is the time for the City to be generous.  It is the same building space as 1955, yet is 2015. The building is tired. It strains to hold the collections, the patrons, the programs – rugs are worn, aisles tight, offices crammed, windows small.  A library speaks about the community and their values.

I can think of no better way to honor our city and the values we hold dear, than by creating a library for the 21st century – one for all our new immigrants and little patrons, all who someday will live and work here.

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