Recently, I went to the main branch of the Albany Public Library on Washington to see if they had a copy of Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman. The movie is coming out in November and I wanted to read the book before hand. I found the book and loved it but it made me realize that I don’t go to the library as often as I used to. It made me think of the various libraries I have taken books out over years.
I don’t remember the actual library in Elmira, NY that I went to when my family lived there in the early 60’s but I certainly remember the book mobile. It used to park at a strip mall a block from our house. I never minded waiting in line. I remember we only had a couple of minutes to pick our books and kids like me were directed to the children’s section. I was not allowed to go back to the adult section. Heaven forbid if I wanted to read Payton Place instead of an insipid picture book about cows. I remember the book mobile smelled of gasoline and the date stamp was loud, but to me it was paradise.
When my family moved to Colonie in the early 70’s, there was a branch of the library next to the firehouse on Albany Shaker Rd near Osborne Road. It was in the basement of the building and it felt very cool in the summer. There was also a branch at Colonie Center next to Albany Saving Bank, which is no longer there. I remember this branch had a large selection of mystery novels to choose from. One book I took out was from the Toff series by John Creasy. I’ll never forget the there was a butler who was murdered by suffocating inside a rolled up rug. I think that was the only Toffee book I read. Eventually though both branches closed when the library on Shaker Road was built. I remember I went to the dedication ceremony on the 4th of July. I used to walk or ride my bike over as a teenager all the time. It’s now the host to The Day of the Poet, run by Brian Dorn.
I have been going to the main branch of the Albany Public Library since I first moved downtown back in 1988. I used to walk from my apartment on Dana to the library at least once a week. I usually would take out poetry anthologies. I remember unfortunately the library got rid of two anthologies I liked: one was one comprised of American and Australian poets and the other was of gay and lesbian poetry. You can’t find too many anthologies of Australian poetry and it would be nice to see a copy of LGBT poetry in the library
I miss the book sales they used to have in the basement. They had a lot of great books and I usually would get a number of books at a time. They also sold CDs as well. It usually was very busy on Saturday. I could spend hours there and I was limited on by how many books I could carry on the bus.
The main branch has many changes over the years but I love the lounge at the back of the first floor. It’s a perfect place to sit and read before going to Dan’s reading. I hope everyone liked this look back at libraries. What are your stories?