The Lavishness & Simplicity of Michigan Library Interiors: 1880-1960
Back in the day, a kid used to really love going to the local library. When the schools became involved, it became a little more fun (imagine that?). How? By having contests as to who could read the most books; the winner might get either a gold star (redeemable for nothing), or.....come to think of it.....there was nothing else.
Just a gold star.
The kid would take out maybe four or five books...and when they were brought back, the librarian would note how many books you (supposedly) read. Supposedly, because just because a kid took out some books and brought them back doesn't mean the books were actually read...maybe skimmed through or the pictures were looked at...but read? That was debatable. Our librarian kept track of our “read” books by coloring in the rings on a caterpillar...when all the rings were colored, you got a gold star. The star was a sticker that was not even as big as a pinky fingernail...but we thought we kind of accomplished something.
Our little town library was a one-roomer, down in the basement of the town hall: a dusty, musty, and claustrophobic little basement room with a smattering of kid and adult books. It was a far cry from the libraries found in the big cities: sprawling, lavish, mahogany-laden walls, ornate stairwells, and marble floors. As splendiferous as the outsides of the mammoth libraries were, the interiors were far more impressive. They almost seemed like they were exclusive country clubs.
As the decades wore on, the interiors seemed to get more, well.....boring. Looking back on some of these old libraries from the inside, almost makes you wish libraries were still like these. Sure, we still have nice, attractive libraries...but not like these: unnervingly quiet, dimly lit, with a few cobwebs for good measure.
Here's a look back at a handful of old Michigan libraries...from the inside.
An Inside Look at Michigan Libraries: The Interiors, 1880-1960