Thursday, July 9, 2015

Does your local library have any secrets?

Dumbledore's office/library from Harry Potter. (courtesy of

Have you ever wondered how your library came to be? I have, which prompted me to investigate a few. I discovered several of our libraries here on the Cape have some interesting history.

Consider the Brewster Ladies Library on Cape Cod. 

In 1852, Sarah Augusta Mayo and Mary Louise Cobb felt the need for a library in their town. They began talking to their friends and convinced them to join together and open one in the home of Captain Mayo at 1772 Main Street. In 1853 on January 29,  Brewster opened their first library. Because of the growing demand for more books as years passed, Captain Joseph Nickerson donated $1000 towards a new building fund. In 1868 the current structure was built at 1822 Main Street. (Facts courtesy of Brewster Ladies Library.)

Fun Fact:  Men were allowed to borrow books but had to pay for them, not the women! This rule didn't last very long.

The library was enlarged and included two front parlors with cozy fireplaces added to the front. Today library patrons are invited to use these rooms. Take a stroll to the front of the building where you'll find some creaky floors and comfy chairs to relax in or...

...spread out on a beautiful inlaid work table.

If you travel to the bordering town of Orleans, the Snow Library has a few unique displays inside. It was built in 1877 on a triangle of land at the corner of Route 28 and Main Street. The building burned down during a blizzard in 1952 and was rebuilt across from its original location in 1954.

 What's interesting about this library are the maps on the second floor.

There are two framed maps down a hallway. One is from 1858 and shows the whole of Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket Counties. The other lists all the stores and commercial establishments of these counties during the same time period of 1858.

When I was writing my second historical novel, The Old Cape Teapot, I went in search of old maps from the lower cape as did my fictional character, Nancy Caldwell.

I studied a close–up of Eastham and the area around Doane Rock. It gave me the idea for a plot twist in my second novel, The Old Cape Teapot. The historical chapters in this book take place from 1724 to 1744 on Antigua and Cape Cod.

And I also discovered that the rock was originally called Enoch's Rock, named by Deacon John Doane after one of his son's. You can see the words, 'Enoch's Rock' near the bottom right of image.

Stay safe throughout the summer and make sure you visit your local library for all their secrets, weekly events, and the opportunity to explore with the magic of books! 

What does your library have that's waiting for you to discover?

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