I’m sitting upstairs at the Portsmouth Public Library, after almost twenty years of planning, development and construction this space was completed in 2006 and now, eight years on it is still a fantastic space. I really enjoy coming down to the library, not only to avoid the blistering heat in my non air-conditioned apartment but also just to soak up the silence, calm and community that permeates through the building.
From my quiet seat here at the desks, on the second floor, full of fellow writers, students, and retirees I can see down into the elegant courtyard that sits nestled in among the building and even on this glorious day I just can’t think of a better place to be than this literary sanctuary.
As I look up from my work, and I watch generations of people enjoying the space, learning to read and sharing a good story – I can’t help but marvel at what a wonderful thing a library is. As a community we have decided to contribute, through taxes and other means, to a space, a home for words, knowledge and exploration.
In April 1881 Portsmouth City Council passed the ordinance to establish a library building but they were by no means the first. Officially the world’s first free public library was founded in 1833 in, none other than our very own, Peterborough, New Hampshire. Today we have 231 public libraries in the state providing free reading materials, computer access and community resources to our population.
Often run by a small group of staff, these organizations are supported by faithful groups of volunteers that keep the shelves stacked. But libraries don’t just offer books – libraries across the state are responsible for providing, often free, programs to children, as well as adults. Programs in computer skills, adult and children literacy, crafts – alongside movie nights, book groups and special public events all happen inside these buildings.
Here are a few of my favorite things coming up in the libraries around the state over the summer months:
Portsmouth Public Library, on August 2nd has a How-To Festival where you can learn the basic of 25 different activities, crafts and skills in five hours including basket weaving, soap making and beekeeping.
Laconia Public Library, on August 12th has its latest Summer Book Discussion looking at Ben Hewitts The Town That Saved Food.
Keene Public Library, throughout the summer you can listen to the Walden School Players perform classical music whilst you eat your lunch live in Herberton Hall. Dates available online.
Howe Public Library in Hanover has lots of free drop-in sessions all summer and throughout the year. Take your child along to Spanish Playtime for songs, games and fun in another language, or drop-in to the informal chess sessions held regularly in the library.
Rodgers Memorial Library in Hudson holds a free film night every Friday. What a great way to see the latest movies! Film schedule available online.
There are great things going on all over the state, and check out your local library for their full list of summer programs and events. It’s only in supporting these great organisations that we will keep them thriving. When budgets are tight, libraries often receive drastic cuts if resources are under-used, and it would be a terrible sight if these buildings of learning, of sharing and of community started to disappear from our towns and cities. So this summer, head down to the library for the latest summer read, or to learn something new or perhaps even to volunteer your time. It’s free and you will be continuing the wonderful history of New Hampshire and its public libraries every time your card gets swiped.
For more on my favorite activities happening in libraries this summer, please visit their individual websites using the links above.
We would love to feature you and/or your organization in the next Doing Good Blog, please get in touch with us at email@example.com to share your story.