When I was younger, we lived in a small village called Sea Cliff on Long Island, New York. It had two great advantages: it was by the beach, and it had the best library. What was really awesome about it was that there were actually two libraries. One was the senior library, which I remember as being really big, in an enormous old, church-like building. The other one was the library just for kids. How cool is that? A special library just for kids? I think that’s genius – give the kids a special place to go where there are books just for them. And they don’t even have to sit around and be quiet all the time, they can be kids. It was across the street, a small, white building, and you would go in and could browse among the books for hours on end. I went just about every time I could and would pick up books to read. Some I would take out again and again. There was a Maurice Sendak mural or something on one wall – I think either the library or one of the librarians had a connection with him, so we all felt a special relationship with him and of course, Where the Wild Things Are. The librarian always called me Jennifer, though. I don’t know why she did, especially considering that my name was on my library card. And I was in there all the time. She was always very sweet about apologizing for it, but she’d do it again the next time.
I was thrilled the day that I got to go to the adult library and use my adult library card (because of course there were special cards for kids to use at the junior library while you got a different card to use at the adult library. I think the library card for the kids library was a light blue while the one for the adult library was the color of a manila folder. It was made of a thick card stock.). Even though I was only 10, I remember getting the chance to go into the adult library and roam among the bookshelves. The books were so grown up! Even the building was grown up. The junior library was a simple, straightforward white building, whereas the adult library was shaped more like a church (see the image below. Turns out it did used to be a church, which explains a whole lot, doesn’t it??). I have this memory of it being dark inside, but that’s most likely a false one, as I don’t really recall going into the adult library much. I did love the outside of the building though – it was beautiful, made of dark brown stones, and it had a central place in the village. I think that was one of the best things about it – that the library was essentially given pride of place in the town.
What a beautiful building, and what a fantastic place for a library. I’ve always had a special place in my memories for the Sea Cliff library.