A recent vacation in the Adirondack mountains of New York found us, as usual, visiting libraries.
Some we only saw from the outside: the lovely stone library in Brandt Lake is no longer used as a library, but offers a picturesque photo opportunity.
Lake Placid’s library was located on the main street, and offered a box of “free” stuff on the porch steps.
Raquette Lake’s library had steps from the water and tucked in a grove of trees.
But some libraries we were able to visit inside. One was the Adirondack Museum’s library. Yes, the museum had closed for the season a month earlier, but thanks to a brilliant tip from a friend, I had previously e-mailed the librarian, Dr. Jerold Pepper, to ask for a tour. Jerry not only showed us his wonderful library full of great books and fabulous manuscripts, highlighting such characters as Winslow Homer and the Roosevelts, but he also gave us a behind the scenes tour of the closed exhibits, including boats, carriages, and sleds. There are some interesting commonalities between Maine and the Adirondacks, including history and art. (Both Rockwell Kent and Winslow Homer spent time in Maine and the Adirondacks). We also enjoyed Jerry’s perspective on life in that region, an area “forever wild.”
We also stopped into The William Chapman White Memorial Room/Adirondack Research Center in the basement of the Saranac Lake Free Library, and chatted with the slightly overwhelmed looking librarian, who was cataloging tuberculosis patient cards. Saranac Lake was known as “the Western Hemisphere’s foremost center for the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis,” from the 1890s through 1950s.
Both libraries gave us a glimpse into the history of the area. Visiting libraries on vacation can be a great opportunity to get a flavor of the community, whether exploring exhibits or meeting people in the community, including visitors who come to our own island library.