Last night was an evening of firsts at the Charles M. Bailey Public Library. It was the first time the newly expanded library was open to the public. It was the first time the new events room was used, and it was the first time for the new blue folding chairs, quite an improvement over the old wooden ones. It was the first time our new town manager—Peter Nielsen—came to an event. (He’s promised to come to all of them.) Firsts, firsts, firsts.
What a wonderful feeling to walk through this library and admire the wood, the layout, even the light. One man said, “Bravo, bravo!” as he wandered through the stacks in the adult section. After all the hard work—and, yes, the setbacks and the criticisms—how good it was to hear this.
The children’s section, once housed in the basement, is now on the first floor, and simply put, it is a magical place. I know. Magical is a word that can be overused, but the children’s area is now so delightful that no other word will do. It has everything that children and the young at heart will love—large stuffed animals, giant planes, a play area, a reading nook, and lots and lots of books. Lucky Winthrop children!
The first event of last night was a concert by the Winthrop Handbell Ringers. The bells’ tinkling, ethereal notes seemed like a welcome and a benediction.
After the concert, Earle Shettleworth, the state historian, spoke about the history of the Blaine House, the governor’s mansion in Augusta. Shettleworth was articulate, informative, and funny. He spoke for an hour, but I could have listened to him for even longer. Along with his talk, there was a media presentation—what would have once been called a slide show—of stills about the Blaine House and its occupants through the years. Best of all, Shettleworth was quick to name the various dogs in the photos, and he apologized when he didn’t know a dog’s name. He also praised the design of the new addition and noted how well it tied in with the original building. (Thank you, thank you, Phil Locashio, architect extraordinaire!)
What an auspicious way to begin the second hundred years in our newly expanded library.