I like libraries, so I suggested that John Robert Colombo and I explore the Beach Branch while his wife Ruth shopped for sandals. We paused outside to examine Wordsworth, the bronze owl. It looked stylistically similar to the Lion/Griffin pair flanking the entrance to the College Street Lillian H Smith Branch. Sure enough… made by the same architect/artisan team of Phillip H. Carter and Ludzer Vandermolen and installed in 2005 as part of the library renovation and expansion.
Colombo’s expression is hard to read. Is he just humouring my photo request? Or does he have some doubts about the owl? I’ll go with the latter, because doubts are in order. The librarian inside pointed out that the owl is female (baby owls hide at her feet), yet the unheeding public chose “Wordsworth” the winner in the naming contest. “Should have been a female name,” the librarian asserted. Well, yes, but technically, since Wordsworth is a surname, let’s say it’s uni-sex. Moving right along…
Striking paint job, eh? It looks even more vibrant against all the greenery showing through windows that look out onto adjacent park.
I took the photo from a small mezzanine, to show the second floor which had been closed to the public for many years before the refurbishment. A new addition on the west side expands shelf space considerably and adds a window-lit reading area with big, comfortable chairs.
It’s a Carnegie library. One of the great things about visiting with Colombo is his encyclopedic knowledge. He was able to flesh out my “Carnegie” labelling with the fact that the great and lasting program of philanthropy had been enacted in order to whitewash Carnegie’s reputation as a ruthless union buster.