Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Jewel of the Coast

We like to stop at public libraries as we travel. It's a continual appreciation of the services offered in the heart of our communities for the improvement of all.

These libraries, with wealth of information, diversity of resources, professional staff, comfortable seating, often good views, or perhaps a historic setting, add to the understanding and perception of the places visited. Whatever its size a good library makes you feel right at home.

Yesterday's library was on Pine Island (Florida). Talk about an open door policy. Doors were open on both the side and main entrances as we walked in. The equalizing nature of libraries seems to apply here in a special way. The outside, as we interpreted it, is put on the same footing as indoor space.

This idea is reinforced by the plantings around the library building. The different shrubs have identification markers. It's like an arboretum comes free with each library visit.

The Pine Island library was pleasantly busy. A patron new to the island was applying for a library card. Retirees read the local newspapers, a young woman studied in one corner and the book section for kids, as in most libraries, is a favorite place.

This obviously popular island library is fifty this year as incorporated within the Lee County library system. But the desire for access to books and information precedes that time.

These Gulf shore islands were previously served by book boat. (And if that isn't romantic what is?!). Volunteers later loaned out books before the present library system was up and running.

Another Lee County library we'd like to visit, but haven't so far, is at Ft. Myers Beach. In my books it gives the beautiful sandy beaches on which it's located a run for the money.

Others must think so too. The library is presently undergoing an expansion project which will make it even more a jewel of the coast.

Ft. Myers Beach library got its start in the mid 1950s. The first library was miniature in square feet if not in its aspirations. It was a tiny cottage.

It was so little that if more than five were inside one stepped out. Stories like this, learned while traveling, is what for me gives travel much of its appeal.

Ro Giencke - January 11, 2012

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