I can read them
with my eyes shut
from: I Can Read With My Eyes Shut
written and illustrated by Dr. Seuss
Random House, 1978
The library my mom took me to when I was growing up was in a mansion. She told me that before it was a library, it belonged to Frances P. Bolton, first woman to represent Ohio in Washington, D. C.
After finding out a lot of interesting facts about Mrs. Bolton, I found out my mom was wrong. Mr. and Mrs. Bolton donated land adjacent to their homesite to build the Hawken Academy, an exclusive school for boys. Now it's a co-ed pre-K through grade-12 day school.
The mansion that became my library belonged to a man named William Telling (1869 - 1938). Growing up, Will sold strawberries and milk from his family farm, but his childhood dream was to be a conductor on a horse-drawn streetcar. After three years of living his dream, Will left his streetcar at age 22, with $1,100.00 he had saved. He also gained some valuable insight from the successful businessmen who talked to him while he toted them about the city.
Since Will knew the industry, he bought a milk route for $1,000.00, but it was a customer’s request for ice-cream that launched him on his journey to becoming a millionaire. He bought a small second-story storefront and, with his brother, sold ice-cream there. Still on the path to success, the Telling brothers merged their company. The Telling-Belle Vernon Company of Cleveland was once the largest dairy in Ohio and had franchises all over the state. Kraft bought the company in 1930, and it became the “Sealtest” Foods Division.
Telling started building his mansion in 1928. By the time the house was finished, the Great Depression was in full swing, so Telling shared his house with his brother Frank and sister-in-law Gertrude as well as a cook and a gardener. The dormers, turrets, and chimneys turned the mansion into a castle.
The building was acquired by the Cuyahoga County Public Library System in 1951. Detailed interior photos are found here. The building was listed in the National Registry of Historic Places in 1974.
I don’t know how many of its 26 rooms were used to hold books, but I spent most of my time in children’s biographies and roaming the halls and the passageways that connected room to room.
Security must have been a nightmare for a library. And the re-shelving! Just maneuvering book carts through the narrow hallways makes me shiver. And there are three floors.
I know all this has nothing to do with libraries, as such, except for my Frances P. Bolton “research” rabbit hole that ended in a place I had never heard of before today.
William Telling was new to me. I knew Sealtest, though. They sold the best cottage cheese, ice-cream and milk! I wish you could ask my mom.
My plan was to write about libraries, though. Especially since so many people take them for granted. Of course, no one reading this does that!
Libraries are one of the last bastions of our democratic way of life. All are welcome. All are served. All questions are answered to the best of the librarians’ abilities. Reading recommendations are made. Storytimes are presented. And everything is free. Most libraries don’t even charge late fines.
A Classification and Subject Index for Cataloguing and Arranging the Books and Pamphlets of a Library was produced by Mevil Dewey in 1876. He began working on his system three years earlier while he was studying at Amherst College. Now, so many areas are identified by their Dewey Decimal Classification numbers that the 23rd edition (published in 2011) is contained in four volumes.
Here’s my short (alphabetical, of course) list of what you can find at your library. The list is not meant to be inclusive and lists services as well as tangible and borrow-able items. Dewey numbers are, sadly, not provided.
Jewelry Identification Guides
Kitchen Floor Plans
Telephone Reference Service
Vocabulary for Texting and Gaming
*Any library lovers have an idea for X or Y?
“Like with like” may not have been Melvil Dewey’s motto, but it could have been. I still remember some Dewey numbers. They come in handy when I’m looking for a quilt pattern or information about elephants or donkeys. All quilt patterns are 746.46. If you know that, you can find what you’re looking for in any library in the world.
Now, where did I leave my glasses?
-—stay curious! (and organized)