Era’s end, new library bring a twinge or two

By Regina Villiers. Originally published March 31, 1993 in The Suburban Life, added November 2022.

Some people hang out at the mall. Others head for the golf course or the local pub, and I know one woman, who just gets in her car and drives around.

Me? I hang out at the Madeira Library.

My affair with the library began back in the 60’s when we first moved to Madeira. I was a 
radio fain and. when I turned on my radio to get acquainted with the local stations, I 
discovered a running contest that intrigued me.

This was back when radio was still radio, and to win, you actually had to know something
and give some solid information

This contest gave an obscure clue about a rather obscure character from literature. To take
the cash prize, you had to identify the character and the author.

I was certain I knew the answer and kept saying to myself: “I could win that.” But before I entered, I felt sure I should check my knowledge, just to be sure. All my books 
were still in cartons, and with a small baby, there were more important things to unpack
than my books.

So, I headed down to the library  where  I  met  Mary Van Pelt, who was just about the first 
person I met in Madeira.

Mrs.VanPelt was so friendly and helpful to me that day that I started off with a most favorable 
impression  of  the  library. She worked at the library and was a well-known  figure  there 
for many years until she retired a few years ago.

After going to the library that day I entered the contest and I won. The prize was $215. 
Not a giant giveaway, but it was still quite a bit of money at that time.

I felt rich, and I felt proud Knowing I had won it by the sweat of my brain.

After that first visit to the Madeira Library I never stopped going back. The library is only two
short blocks from my house, and it’s the perfect place to walk to when I need a quick refresher.

I took my kids, and then it became their place too.

Over the years I have come to know and appreciate the many good people 
who work at the library in addition to Mrs. VanPelt.

There’s Helen Bachman, an imaginative, cheerful person who makes any morning better the minute I walk m. She’s in charge of the magazines, and I try to spend one morning a week there reading the Sunday New York Times and  all the magazines I don’t subscribe to.

Helen knows my favorites and alerts me when the new ones arrive. She has even brought her own magazines from home to lend me, ones not subscribed to by the library.

She also makes available to me for research a “Madeira file,” a collection of articles, pamphlets, and information about Madeira. It contains almost everything ever written about Madeira.

Alice Penrod is the delightful worker with the delightful name. I wrote a brief story about 
her several years ago. At that time, she was the children’s librarian. It seemed to me that a woman named “Penrod” was a most appropriate choice to be a children’s librarian.

Then there’s the lead librarian, Janie Pyle. Miss Pyle makes it work and holds it all together. 
If I go to her with a need for information she’ll go to all lengths to help me find it.

Once when I went in she showed me a book she had just read and thought it might give me
an idea for an article. It did. I wrote it and it was published.

As librarians go, she’s tops. She was also a great boss for my son.

Even the custodians are an integral part of Madeira’s Library.

Ellis Burch, who died several years ago, was much-loved by everyone. He was an artist masquerading as a gardener, and he kept  the  library  grounds beautiful. One of his most ad mired creations was an eye­ catching 
bed of bachelor’s buttons running the entire length of the library front.

Currently there is Bill, who takes care of the library inside and· out. Always friendly and ready to  
help,  Bill’s  friendly wave and cheery greeting make just walking by the library a much better occasion.

These are just some of the people I have known at the library who make it a better place 
to hang out, people who know me when I walk in.

While I look forward to the library’s return, closer to my home than the temporary location,
I also view the new, expanded library ·with a few anxieties. I never  really wanted “my” library
changed. I loved it the way it was.

First, there’s the name: Madeira-Indian Hill-Kenwood Regional Branch Library. 
It’ll still be time Madeira Library to me.

Then., I’m told it will. be doubled in size, as well as .name, and will have twice as many 
books. The old one was big enough for me. If I wanted a book they didn’t have, they’d get 
it for me from .the main library almost immediately.

In the old library, I knew where every book was shelved and could put my hands on it.
I may never get to that point in the new expanded version of the library.

And there’ll be an expanded personnel s1ate. There’ll be new people working there –  people 
with unfamiliar faces who won’t know my face. They may never know me.