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June 16, 2011 / Linda Hartong


Reading and being read to was one of my greatest childhood pleasures. Mom read to me so often that we had soon exhausted the children’s section of the Wichita Public Library. The Librarian would call my Mom when new books came in.

She checked out records to introduce us to the world of classical music and soon had my friends and I doing pirouettes around the living room to the strains of the Nutcracker Suite .

When I took art history in college, many of the paintings I studied had hung in our home, courtesy of the public library.

So I can not possibly blog about Carmel without sharing Harrison Memorial Library.

  It is a stormy January day and I am feeling a little house-bound. While Bill tinkers with his latest project, I walk up 2 blocks for my first visit to the library. Lately, I am disappointed with my Kansas City branch library – it is all media and computers. As I step in the door I glance to my right and rewarded by the view of a spacious, light filled reading room .

There are stacks of books and library tables.

But the huge fireplace with a crackling wood fire just takes my breath away. In front of the fire , patrons are lounging in easy chairs deep into a book , skimming a newspaper, or even catching a cat nap

As I look up I see a book filled balcony

and as I go up I see still another set of stairs leading to more books.

Oh joy! A real old-fashioned library with real worn and loved books to check out.

And yes, there are computers and a reference room.

OMG, there is even my beloved card catalogue.

I thumb through gardening books and ask the librarian if I can check out books. All I need is $5.00 and proof of my address, I have it.  I sit by the fire for a while and read and then carry my treasure home.

My Mom would have loved this. She was still reading 3 books a week just months before she died.

When we go out this March, I also find out that Bill can use the card for access to the internet to print our boarding passes for our home trip and we check out many DVD’s to watch after dinner. This time I am treated to a look at the new landscaping with its native plants.

Local garden clubs helped redesign this worn out garden and it is looking fresh and cheerful.   Later, at home in Kansas City, I visit the library web site and find that

Library service in Carmel began in 1906, when the Carmel  Free Association began lending books from a little redwood building. For a fee of one dollar per year, people could borrow any one of 500 books from the Association’s “Reading Room” heated by a wood burning stove. It is not surprising that the library was so important.  Writer, poets and artists like Jack London, George Sterling and Sinclair Lewis all came to Carmel in the early 1900’s and helped establish this small community.

Ida Johnson was President of the Library Board in 1906.  She also worked as a librarian in the little redwood building that then housed the library’s 500 books. Like many of Carmel’s early residents, Ida was an artist, who supported herself.

The current Main Library building was designed by the renowned California architect Bernard Maybeck and financed by a bequest from Ella Reid Harrison as a memorial to her husband, California Supreme Court Justice Ralph Chandler Harrison. The Harrison Memorial Library opened in 1928 and services were expanded with the addition of its Park Branch facility in 1989.

 This library is literally at the heart of Carmel , located as it is on the NE corner of Ocean Ave. And Lincoln Street. 

Carmel Area Authors    I love this link. One of you wrote to say you grew up on Perry Newberry St just down the block from children’s author Beverly Cleary.   

  Novels set in Carmel   This one is also fun. The local book store, The Pilgrim’s Way, carries many of these books. Other links I like are:

Follow our Book Blog and

Book Club recommendations

As the sign says



One Comment

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  1. jeanette sclar / Jun 18 2011 12:15 am

    A real treasure!

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