Phair's Reviews > Diary of a Village Library

Diary of a Village Library by Caroline M. Lord
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's review
Jul 10, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: on-books-and-reading, non-fiction
Read in July, 2010

The book, in the form of brief "daybook" entries from 1943 when Lord became librarian in Francestown, NH thru 1960 when she retired was certainly interesting, especially so for anyone in the library trade. Her tenure was more or less during my childhood and ended a decade before I took up my first (and only) library position but I recognized much that was familiar either from my childhood library-going experience or my early library work.

Fiction is hardly mentioned in Lord's daily entries and is more likely to pop up as children's books (ex Uncle Wiggly books, novels by Elizabeth Yates). I recognized a good many of the N-F titles she mentions as having been still on my shelves in 1970. Also many of the reference topics were all too familiar. Her patrons seem to come in mostly for non-fiction and her village seemed to have a well-travelled population with visitors coming from all over the country and world and the locals often journeying to other places and brining back items that went on display in the library. She herself seemed to be a library "mover and shaker" who reviewed for Horn Book and had articles written up about her library In LJ. Prominent library people always seemed to be visiting Francestown.

The library was also a historical museum so there is much about the displays and artifacts but Lord was also an avid naturalist and constantly filled the library with plants & animals (terrariums & vivariums), shell displays, flowers, bird nests, etc. to the delight of the children and adults. She also believed passionately in getting children out into nature & led nature walks and encouraged nature investigation.

I was amazed that there was never any mention of damage or loss with all the displays of historical artifacts, art, dolls, pottery, "treasures" that her patrons would loan for display on open shelves & tabletops - things collected on trips or sent by overseas visitors would just sit there along with appropriate books and be safe. Today if it's not under lock & key it's bye-bye. [I had an old box camera *tied down with wire* on display on the shelf above my books on camera collecting and it was gone with the wind within the year- so much for the idea of highlighting my Antiques & Collectibles section with various realia.:]

So this was a quick, fun read. Love the diary format. Chatty yet insightful with much to say about world affairs, education & other topics. Made me think of how things have changed over the years but also how she was in many ways ahead of the times [much of her library wasn't even Dewey'd as she never had time and now the trend is heading back toward that thematic grouping style of arrangement a la the bookstore model.

Glad I found this book in another library's booksale. Very pleasant read.


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Phair forgot to mention another of my "Woo-Woo" moments. In this book Lord mentions arranging a basket of toys to occupy toddlers visiting the library & one is a toy eggbeater. In the book I read just before this one, Birthmarked, one character tries to distract another by giving her a broken TOY EGGBEATER to reassemble. How weird is that! These strange coincidences are always happening in my reading.

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