April 13, 2015

Celebrating National Library Week 2015, Preservation-Style

  • By: Jamesha Gibson
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National Library Week is April 12-18, 2015.

In honor of National Library Week (which runs from April 12-18 and is sponsored by the American Library Association), the National Trust is using a preservation perspective to spotlight three historic buildings that have been repurposed into a bookworm’s paradise. These three libraries are an excellent example of National Library Week 2015's theme: "unlimited possibilities." So, prepare yourselves, bibliophiles, for an impromptu road trip!

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The Jackson Public Library was originally a barn for Jackson, New Hampshire's first inn.

Jackson Public Library -- Jackson, New Hampshire


In 1858 Trickey Barn was erected and served as an appendage for the town of Jackson’s first inn. Three years later, Jackson’s first library was built. Though seemingly unrelated, the futures of these buildings would be surprisingly intertwined.

In 2008, town officials observed that there was a severe need for a new library facility, as the early twentieth-century building was out of date and dilapidated. Plans were drawn up to erect a new building. However, these plans were not cost efficient for the town of Jackson.

As this crisis was taking place, another building in Jackson was endangered. Trickey’s Barn had fallen into disuse and disrepair. By 2008, the land it resided on was bought for the use of a community center and Trickey’s Barn was in danger of being demolished. The Jackson Historical Society, seeing the barn’s architectural and historical value, was prompted to look into properly dismantling and storing the barn.

Since Trickey’s Barn and the Jackson Public Library were in a relatively similar situation, Jackson town officials and the Jackson Historical Society was soon collaborating together to dismantle Trickey’s Barn and reassemble it for use as the new Jackson Public Library facility. In 2009 work began on the project and in 2010 the reassembled Trickey’s Barn opened as Jackson’s new public library. While environmentally sustainable materials and methods were used to reassemble the building, the new facility retained many of its original features.

The reference desk, work room, children’s, young adult, fiction, and nonfiction collections occupies the first floor. On the second floor, the computer lab, office space, lounge areas, and genealogy reference desk overlook the entrance and ground floor.

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The Jefferson Market Library was once a courthouse.

Jefferson Market Library -- New York, New York


The Jefferson Market Library originally served Greenwich Village as a courthouse. Built between 1875 and 1877 by architects Frederick Clark Withers and Calvert Vaux, this Victorian Gothic-style building included a prison, a market, and a signature firewatcher’s tower that rose high above the Greenwich Village landscape. Court proceedings permanently ended at The Jefferson Market courthouse in 1945. Afterwards, the building was occupied by various groups including the Police Academy.

By 1958, the Jefferson Market courthouse was left vacant. A year later, the city of New York considered demolishing it to make way for apartments. However, before this plan could be enacted, Greenwich Village members Margot Gayle, Philip Wittenberg, Lewis Mumford, E.E. Cummings, and Maurice Evans came together to save the courthouse. Due to their efforts, the wrecking ball was stopped and in 1961, the city announced that the Jefferson Market courthouse would be repurposed into a public library.

Architect Giorgio Cavaglieri was commissioned to transform the courthouse into a public library. Construction began in 1965, and two years later, the Jefferson Market Library was opened to the public. Today, the Jefferson library is a repository not only for numerous books, but also for a collection of rare and interesting books pertaining to the history of New York, and in particular, Greenwich Village.

In 2012, the Jefferson Market Library participated in the Partners in Preservation program, wherein it was awarded $10,000 for use in preservation projects.

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The Palisade Branch of the Mesa County Library System was formerly an art gallery.

Mesa County Library, Palisade Branch -- Palisade, Colorado


In 2011, the Mesa County Library’s lease on its 711 Iowa St. location was up. Concluding that the terms of the lease were not cost-effective, the Mesa County Library sought out a new location in Palisade for its library branch.

Before long, the owner of Westwood Rental, LLC approached the Mesa County Library administration and offered to sell their 70-year-old main street building on West Third Street. The Mesa County Library District Board of Trustees evaluated the terms of the lease and, in July, voted to approve the move of the Palisade branch from 711 Iowa St. to the downtown main street location.

The building, which formerly housed an art gallery, has large glass windows that provide the Palisade Library with ample natural lighting. In addition, the building’s courtyard effectively serves as a multipurpose space for events like story time and for receptions.

Know of any buildings in your hometown that have found new lives as a book lover's toy land? Tell us in the comments.

Jamesha Gibson is an Editorial Intern at the National Trust. She is passionate about using historic preservation as an avenue for underrepresented communities to share their unique stories. Jamesha also enjoys learning about other cultures through reading, art, language, dancing, and especially cuisine.

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