My hotel didn’t have my room ready when I arrived, so the fabulous librarians at the Richmond Public Library let me hang out in their board room and work this afternoon. I like these digs!
If you know me, you know how much I love libraries, and how I like to duck into libraries when I travel. Today I posted this picture of the 3rd floor of the Oak Park Public Library and added the hashtag #librarytourism on a whim. Turns out a ton of people use it — I lost quite a few minutes scrolling through…
My favorite part of the library is the 4th floor, which used to just be storage (hence the sign when you come out of the elevator: YOU’RE IN THE RIGHT PLACE), and is now a gigantic creative lab, with a Zine collection, 3D printers, laser cutters, a vinyl plotter, photography studio, screen printing, power tool, and all sorts of other stuff:
On the second floor, there’s even a full-blown recording studio that you can reserve for a 3-hour session with your library card:
I love doing library gigs so much, because 1) I’m a former librarian and librarians are my people 2) I get inspired by all the amazing ways libraries are adapting themselves as resource centers for their communities.
As I’ve written before in my posts about how much I love my local library, library tourism, and my summer reading assignment, I think of the public library as one of the last spaces in this country where you can go and feel like a real citizen. You’re not being sold anything. You’re welcome to be who you are, or work on becoming what you want to be. The library is there for you.
Here I am speaking with Mayor Andy Berke in the wood-paneled auditorium. (It’s a bicentennial building, built in 1976.)
Here’s a bonus photo of Josh — he teaches marketing to culinary arts students — I loved how his tie matched the post-it notes that were packed all over his copy of Show Your Work! so I asked if I could take a picture.
(You also learn something every time you visit a library: one of the women in the signing line was named Tonette — a musical instrument I’d never heard of!)
Special thanks to Corinne Hill, Mary Jane Spehar, Andy Berke, and the Friends of the Chattanooga Library and the Chattanooga Airport for having me out. (If you’d like me to speak at your library, drop me a line!)
From our home base of Melbourne, Australia, we would build the trip around highlights. In Switzerland: Zurich’s Bibliothek and the wonderful 18th-century Abbey Library of St. Gall. In London: the British Library and Lambeth Palace. At Oxford, the Bodleian. In the U.S., the Morgan, the Folger, the Houghton, the Smithsonian, plus the great public libraries of New York and Boston, and the “head office” of them all: the Library of Congress.
A lovely idea: library tourism!
Even if you don’t plan a whole trip around them, libraries are excellent spots for weary travelers: free, quiet, cool, full of locals, and staffed by people whose job is to help any visitors who walk in the door.
Wherever I travel, I research the nearby libraries and try to pop into any I happen to come across while walking around. In Milan, I stumbled onto the Braidense National Library and saw an excellent exhibit of book art. Driving the California coast, I discovered that the public library in Encinitas has a view of the Pacific. This summer we’re planning a visit to the brand-new Eastham Public Library during a week on Cape Cod.
Of course, I’m also a big proponent of being a tourist in your own town. Here in Austin, we have a glorious new central library, and yet, I still meet people in town who haven’t seen it!
When friends visit, I say, “Let me take you to the library!” They think I’m nuts, but it’s really the best this city has to offer right now. (Especially in the sweltering summer.)
Above: inside the APL, below: outside the library, on the pedestrian path under the bridge