Posted by: Brad Nixon | April 16, 2010

Booked Up and Bound to Go

Today concludes our observance of National Library Week. Scroll down through the site to see the previous 4 entries.

On Wednesday, I dashed off a short list of  some notable libraries, both real and fictional, and invited readers to add to the list. We got not only some excellent additions, but a couple of charming anecdotes, too.

Brother Mark recalled, as almost no one else on the planet does, the movie Zardoz, in which a pivotal scene takes place in a library. He also remembered a book (and film) I wish I had thought of, “Farenheit 451,” by one of the world’s great advocates of libraries, Ray Bradbury.

Faithful commenter Bill pointed out another big omission from my list, the U.S. Library of Congress, and, representing his vast first-hand knowledge of Paris, he recommends to us the BIBLIOTHÈQUE DE L’ARSENAL for our next trip to Paris (look it up in Wikipedia, or see the French Web site HERE).

The Counselor reminded me of one of the world’s remarkable private libraries that we have seen and which you can visit, at Hearst Castle. See it HERE. (It’s on Tour 2 of the Castle.) She also corrected my vague recollection of a library scene in”Love Story,” reminding me that Jennifer (Ali McGraw) works in the campus library in the story.

3-D animator extraordinaire, Brian, described the inspiration he derived from being able to study first-hand some examples from the Golden Age of Comics in the BGSU Pop Culture Library (site HERE). I am going to cruise through that site myself. Brian’s dad recalled the fact that in HIS college days, the massive library at Ohio State was the first place he used a computer – to access the card catalog, of course. He also adds to our list of film-set libraries scenes in “Ghostbusters,” the second “The Mummy” movie and one of the James Bond films.

Most engaging of all, fellow Global Jam member Jill told the charming story of her husband’s boyhood encounter with the town librarian. Thanks for that one, and thank Roy, too!

There’s lots more detail to these entries. You can see them in their entirety under the “comments” section of that day’s blog, HERE.

A couple more examples occurred to me, too. One real-life example is very near the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.: the Folger Shakespeare Libary. In fiction, who can forget that Captain Nemo, prepared to dwell perpetually under the sea, has a remarkable library on board his submarine, the Nautilus.

Thank you, everyone, for these wonderful additions to our observance of National Library Week.

Libraries are going to mean different things to another generation than they did to us, but they should be a part of the future for a long time, despite some wrenching changes. In the current economic downturn, libraries have become a bastion of information (and Internet access) to millions of out-of-work people, and librarians have found themselves helping people not just with information, but with job searches, resume preparation, career guidance and moral support — it’s been a big strain on institutions which are themselves are suffering from cutbacks in funding and staffing levels.  Libraries are proving to be a critical resource in communities lacking services that might come from other quarters.

People are hungry and sick and there have to be programs to help with those problems. But they also have to be able to read in order to understand and to have access to books and CDs and magazines and the Internet to reach beyond what they can experience in the everyday. Take a look some time at what your local library does in the way of children’s programs and in supporting children of all ages with school and special projects. That library card is still a ticket to a very special journey. I hope  you’ll all remain active fans of libraries, and do what you can the next time your local system needs your support. If you haven’t been to a library for a while, I recommend a visit. I can just about guarantee that at some point as  you walk around seeing what’s there you’ll say, “I didn’t know they had THAT.”

And thanks to all those librarians out there, too.

© Brad Nixon 2010, 2016


  1. Brad,
    Thanks for the great articles this week on libraries! Loved your description and information about the Carnegie Library in Lebanon. Your comment concerning the placement of the building on an angle to the street: that library looms large in my life, I know it sits at that angle but perhaps have just accepted the idea. But why that placement? Something else to ponder.

    In 2005 we took our vacation to the East Coast; one of our final stops on a great trip was the Adams National Historical Park in Quincy, MA. This is where both John Adams and John Quincy Adams were born, the original saltbox style homes still there next to one another. It was a high light of our trip. The Park also is home to the “Old House” where the family later moved.

    Next door to the Old House is the Stone Library. This was the place where the tour could have stopped and allowed us to stay for a few weeks or months to browse the 14,000 volumes included in the Adams collection. John Quincy Adams had this building built separate from the house as the place to store his books and papers. And those Adams’, smart folks all around, John Quincy made sure that this separate structure was fireproof!

    Thanks again for all the information about libraries!


    • And thanks for that addition to the list. Have to get there!


  2. I meant to reply earlier with the link below. I wonder if anyone else has been there, since it is very out of the way, even for those of us who’ve lived in Columbus.

    Still, an unbelievable facility in such an anachronistic spot, especially considering the consistent references by Johnny Carson to the mayonnaise jar on Funk and Wagnalls’ front porch.


    • Lithopolis? Is this real? I had no idea. 42 years in Ohio, and I missed it entirely.


      • Yes, it’s real. Even better, to get to it you drive through some typical central Ohio suburbia and countryside (I recall a junkyard and some used car lots along the way) and wham, round a corner and you’re in the Cotswolds. The building and grounds are (or were 10 years ago) manicured and immaculate.


  3. The McFarlin library here at the University of Tulsa is probably my second favorite building on campus (after the theatre, of course). The building has beautiful stained glass. I had the chance to visit our Special Collections, which is home to a large collection of James Joyce manuscripts, and got to handle a first edition copy of “Frankenstein”. Steve Martin even mentioned visiting our library while he was on tour in the 70s in his autobiography “Born Standing Up”.


  4. Nancy has made me start thinking of the Presidential Libraries we’ve visited, and Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, which I’m sure has a library in it.


    • It made me think of the same thing! I have a followup post I’ll put up either this week or next about Jefferson’s LibrarieS. It’s a fascinating tale.


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