Friday, June 14, 2013

The David A. Howe Public Library

How about a picture essay! Let's take a virtual swing around the David A. Howe Public Library in Wellsville, Allegany County, New York--my mother's hometown library and social and intellectual incubator.  (Hi, Mom.)

The 76-year-old building is full of beautiful architectural touches and accessories.

The spacious reading room and research area is studded with helpful little pamphlets, like this one spelling out the library system's online catalog...
...and this one about the Dewey Decimal System. I haven't seen a resource in quite this user-friendly format before!  Maybe in academic libraries, but not public, in my experience.
A lot of nice 'soft programming' (I just made that up, I think)--

--invitations to the community to interact with the collection and intellectual material in self-directed, meaningful ways.

The children's room is the heart of the building.  Those chairs, that table, the toys and posters...all original from the 30s.  What an amazing place to learn to read.

Nice touches of local flavor abound, like this painting in a meeting room showing the famous Wellsville Balloon Rally.

There are lots of things that make this a perfectly fabulous library.  It seems distinctly suited to serving the needs of its community--quiet yet active, with a lot of focus on its sizable print collection (the above photo underscoring the collection of photo books, for instance, or a daily-shifting author birthday display near the front door that shakes occasionally-dusty classics to the top of browsers' considerations).  On the other side of things, the Howe seems dedicated to ensuring its patrons come along with its 21st-century advancements through its handy pamphlets and guides to technology.  All in all, the building carries a sedate, weighty presence appropriate to its position as a local landmark; and yet there's a vibrancy to the proceedings as well, between its sprightly children's room complete with Batman action figure and the full-size theatre in the basement.  My grandmother once staged a full-scale production of an original kids' play there--my earliest experience with some seriously non-traditional library service. (Perhaps I have her and the David A. Howe Library to thank for my interest in such things!)

If you find yourself in the southern Tier, consider taking a look around this great institution.  And if that's not in the plan, why not poke around the library website instead?


  1. Who is your grandmother? Mrs. McHenry?

  2. His grandmother and my mother is Roberta H. Corcoran. She sdtasge her play, The Kingdom of the Kajoon, some 15-20 years ago in the David A. Howe theater.

  3. Very nice article...makes me want to take a trip down there..just to visit the library...
    will send this to my sister in law who is a librarian in Alaska..
    thanks great article