My Childhood Library


I grew up in Hyattsville, Maryland (from birth through mid 1980’s). Since this was a time before the internet and eBooks, where did one go for books when on a limited budget and for research? The public library! We would spend hours there, if not for borrowing books, then for school research. Most of the research books could not be checked out, so you spent hours do your project right there in the library. I remember being able to go into a very small room (closet really) and watch old cartoon on a movie project that you had to feed the film into and turn the knobs to make it go. I remember the humongous dictionary on a wooden stand that for some reason captured my attention. I remember the nice librarians, the card catalog (the wooden ones are my favorite) that you needed in order to find the book on the many shelves of the library, the book checkout cards with the date stamp that told you when you needed to return your books.

Something I realized while starting to write this post is that my children very seldom have to use the library. When they were younger, we visited every few months to borrow videos &  DVDs, check out books, story time when they were really young, and every once in a while research for a school project. My oldest is now out of state in college (and she has a very state of the art library on her campus) and my youngest is a high school freshman. He has not visited the library for a school project in over 2 years! It used to be a guarantee that a trip was needed for science fair and history fair projects because teachers insisted on some print references and not all internet sites. This year, he completed his science fair project completely on information obtained on the internet – what an eye opener!

I make it a point to visit my current county library every few months. I check out mostly cookbooks lately as I do most of my reading on a Kindle. My library does offer eBooks to “check out”.

The Hyattsville public library was my library growing up. It was opened in 1964 and was dedicated to President John F. Kennedy, who was assassinated the previous year. The library’s landmark, a flying saucer canopy, was a fitting tribute President Kennedy since he was a NASA champion. The “saucer” is concrete and dome is Plexiglas and stands taller than the building.


The Hyattsville library is scheduled to undergo renovation to modernize it and there were rumors that the flying saucer was going to be permanently dismantled as part of the process. Word is the flying saucer has been saved (thanks to the efforts of a local community group “Save Our Saucer”) and will be used as an accent feature on the new building. I haven’t visited this library in over 20 years. Had I heard sooner that the library would close for renovations, I would’ve loved to go back and take a look around again.

Link to future designed library:

What are your memories of your library growing up? Does your town have a public library and do you visit it?