Spending time in libraries is one of my favorite things to do. I am fortunate to be living just one block from our library in Ashley.
When I moved here, there was already a small library on the main street in town. Over the years, it has grown by having a new addition in 1981, and then another addition in 1991. I was on the library board over the period of time these additions were built. That’s probably why I often refer to it as “another room in my house.”
While growing up in the Delaware City Schools, I always went to the Carnegie library on North Sandusky Street in Delaware. (It now houses the Delaware County commissioners’ offices.) I often stopped on my way home from school to use their encyclopedias to help with my homework.
Due to Delaware County’s growth, and having insufficient parking spaces, a new library was built on East Winter Street where an Albers grocery store used to be. I remember hearing the story that in order to afford to build it, they used one of the walls from the original Albers store as part of the building. That was done to be able to get a tax break by saying it was a part of an old building, not a brand new one. A couple of months ago, I visited the Delaware library and, with the help of the director, we think we found that very wall.
I was fortunate to get to spend an hour in the Delaware library recently and I enjoyed every minute of its quiet hustle and bustle. My first decision was to read the front page of one of the newspapers on display. When I’d had enough of reading about how bad of shape the world’s in, I walked through the children’s section and looked at the titles and covers of all their new books. While there, I noticed a couple of mothers with small children checking out books. For the very first time, I saw a self-checkout place where the little 3- and 4-year-olds were checking out their own books! I know I’m behind in today’s technology, but now I find that I’m even behind some 3- and 4-year-olds.
Gone are the days of looking for jobs in the “want ads” of newspapers. Now you have to get on your computer. If you need one, the library has a whole room of computers for you to use. Back in the day, “want ads” were divided into two categories: one for male jobs, and the other for female jobs. (The world has changed a lot since then.)
When it was getting time for me to leave, a lady at the copy machine wanted to show me her family pictures she had just copied. That’s when I found out that the library has a copy machine that will produce color pictures. Good to know!
As my waiting time was about to end, I decided to wait in the area between the double doors. This is where they keep the books that are for sale. They charge $1 for hardbacks and 50 cents for paperbacks. They have a beautiful wall there that has stained glass artwork of children reading books. Thanks to the Don and Eleanor Byerly family for financing this beautiful entryway.
If I have any extra time, I usually pick out one of their sale books to take home with me. I recently found out that you really “can’t judge a book by its cover.” Due to the fact that I was in a hurry, I took the first book that had a cover that interested me. When I got home, I found out that the above quote really is true.
I was on the board of trustees at the Ashley Wornstaff Memorial Library for 30 years. During that period of time, in addition to the experience of building on the ‘81 and ‘91 additions, I learned where the real money comes from to fund such a wonderful place. I also learned about the jobs of all the employees who keep the doors open six days a week. And, most interesting of all, I learned that the Chesley Wornstaff family donated the funds so the original part of this library could be built back in 1928, in memory of their son, Albertus.
Just today, an interesting fact was added to my knowledge of our Ashley library. I was told by one of the librarians that it is haunted! They have a visiting ghost with the name of Mildred, who had been a patron and loved cats. She liked to read magazines and has been seen by at least three employees. And I think I was told that she was seen in the vicinity of the magazines. And also — something about seeing a lot of cats in the basement.
Just when I thought I had finished this story about libraries, I found the picture of that wall from the Albers store that was used in the building of the Delaware library! I had left it in the box I use for stories I had already written. I recognized it from seeing the St. Mary’s Church in the background, along with the recognizable white building housing the dry cleaners down on the corner of the alley.
Kay E. Conklin is a retired Delaware County recorder who served four terms. She graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University with a degree in sociology and anthropology.