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History of Dumbarton Library, Part 2: Dumbarton Area Library Opens

12 May

Dumbarton School, 1936. Photo courtesy of Library of Virginia, School Buildings Service Collection SB 01158

As Henrico County moved forward on its late 1960s plans to establish a library system, finding an appropriate spot for a large library for the Northside proved controversial. Disagreements revolved around the former Dumbarton Elementary School, located on Staples Mill Rd. and Penick Rd. A modern Dumbarton Elementary opened in September 1971. The old building wasn’t vacant, however: the new Hermitage High School building had its opening delayed because of a plumbers’ strike, so for at least one semester in 1971, high school students used the old elementary school.  Some thought that renovating the former elementary school for use as a public library would be cost effective and that the location was a good one. But at least one board of supervisors member thought Staples Mill much too busy a road for a library, and that realizing the property’s commercial value would be more worthwhile. In the end, the plan to use the property for the library went forth. County officials declared the old part of the school unsafe and razed it in June 1973; the part closest to Penick Rd., built in 1956 — the “cafetorium” — remained and was incorporated into the new library as the Children’s Room.

 

1956 Dumbarton Elementary School

Copy of an older photo donated to Dumbarton Library. Cafetorium at left.

Dumbarton Area Library opened for business on November 26, 1976; it was 22,500 square feet and had one meeting room that could hold 120 people. The children’s room, at 2,408 square feet, was just bigger than all of the Lakeside Library. The first two days saw 110 people register for new library cards. At the January 8, 1977, dedication ceremony for Dumbarton Library, Virginia Secretary of Education Robert R. Ramsey, Jr., praised the new facility for supporting an American “need to know.” Furthermore, Henrico libraries recognized our “role and potential as a center of continuing education. . . ” and so Dumbarton would be “a role model of a progressive, modern library. . . .” Ramsey called the reuse of the old Dumbarton School “the rebirth of the soul in a new body.”*

This series anticipates the opening of north Henrico’s new Libbie Mill Area Library in November 2015.

Full bibliography for this series, here

*Ramsey, Jr., Robert R. “The Crowning Glory.” 1977. (typescript remarks from Dumbarton Area Library Dedication Day, library collection).

History of Dumbarton Library: Part 1, Lakeside Library

16 Apr

The Henrico Public Library system traces its roots to the 1960s, when a Citizens’ Committee and the Board of Supervisors began researching contemporary library practices and drawing up strategic plans. The late 1960s saw the opening of libraries in buildings adapted to the purpose: Fairfield Library in a former real estate office, Lakeside Library in the former post office on Lakeside Ave., and Tuckahoe Library in the former Vandervall School (now Pemberton Elementary School). A fourth library, Sandston Branch, joined the county’s library system when the Sandston Women’s Club donated its private library to the county in 1967. Even as these modest locations started serving their communities, long-range planning began for the construction of bigger libraries. In 1973, County voters passed a $1,750,000 bond referendum for new libraries in each of three sections of the county: east, north, and west.

lakeside library location 2015 kroll photo

Lakeside Library building today

The Lakeside Library, located at 6943 Lakeside Ave., occupied the former post office building. The public space was 2,400 square feet. It opened in September 1968, with 69 adults and 42 children signing up for new cards that day. A report from 1974 indicates how tight space had become in just a few years: the branch owned over 33,000 items, but “[b]ecause of limited space, some of the collection is stored in cartons at Tuckahoe.”* Plans indicated that the County could not afford to operate this little library and the new Dumbarton Library, so Lakeside closed on November 19, 1976, a week before Dumbarton opened, having served the neighborhood for nine years.

This series anticipates the opening of north Henrico’s new Libbie Mill Area Library in November 2015.

Full bibliography for this series, here

*[County of Henrico Public Library]. “A Guideline for Expanding Library Services in the County of Henrico 1975-81,” October 22, 1974.

Great Tips for Touring Colleges with Your Teen

27 Mar

For many high school juniors and seniors, spring break means roadtrips to look at colleges. Jenna Johnson of The Washington Post recently wrote up some great tips; read the whole article, here, or give this summary a look:

  • use categories (“no massive universities” or “only a big university”) to narrow your search
  • look at virtual tours
  • don’t go to campus on their break – you want to see it full of people
  • follow school newspapers and other sites online
  • make a plan with your folks to break free from them for a while: think about what feels best for you

More on this topic, here.

Useful book:

Originally posted at HCPL Teen Scene

Free Comic Book Day

3 May

You get free stuff from the library all the time: normally, we just ask that you bring it back to us. Saturday May 7, five libraries are giving away something teens can keep! From 1 – 4 p.m., at Dumbarton, Fairfield, North Park, Tuckahoe, and Twin Hickory, pick up a free comic book — while supplies last — as part of Henrico Library’s annual Free Comic Book Day celebration. This year, new comics have been donated by Diamond Comic Distributors.

The library’s Teen Advisory Boards have held this event for several years, and teen librarians enjoy the opportunity to highlight a collection beloved by regular readers — but still unknown to others. Henrico County Library members may check out collections of comic strips (Garfield, Peanuts, etc.), collections of comic books (Spider-Man, X-Men, etc.), manga (Japanese comics), and what I think of as “graphic novels without superheroes.” The latter category includes wonderful adventure stories like Bone, by Jeff Smith; historical fiction like the excellent Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow, by James Sturm; girl power/chick lit like Plain Janes, by Cecil Castellucci; poignant memoirs like David Small’s Stitches; and so much more. Some may think of enjoying a comic book as “not really reading,” yet teachers find, and studies show:

  • That reading comics helps “reluctant readers” learn to follow narratives.
  • That graphic novels can be stepping stones to adventure books.
  • That children have such great “ownership” over comic characters, plots, and the rules of the comic or graphic novel’s world that they become quite proficient in skills needed in school: summarizing, critiquing, and debating a story.
  • That students exposed to art (including following a pictorial story or drawing characters on one’s own) do better in school.*

While this event is for teens, the library collects comics, graphic novels, and manga for kids, teens, and adults. To find them, stop by your library and ask a librarian, or use the online catalog: choose Advanced Search; for location pick “graphic novel”; next choose your reading level; then click search. For collections of comic strips, books on comic drawing, and books about comics look in the non-fiction area of the library under 741.5.

Hope to see you on Free Comic Book Day! Event details, here.

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*Sources:

Bonny Norton,  “The Motivating Power Of Comic Books: Insights From Archie Comic Readers,”  The Reading Teacher. (October 2003)

Valerie Strauss. “Educators Differ on Why Boys Lag in Reading: Gap Stokes Debate Over Teaching Approaches, Curricula,” The Washington Post (3/15/05).

Teen Advisory Boards

12 Jan

Teen Advisory Boards (TAB) give people in grades 7 – 12 a voice at the library. TABs help the teen librarians figure out if vampires are still hot, if real magazines are necessary in the face of so much good stuff online, or whether people want to email questions to librarians. We turn to TAB for answers about what teens really like and want. TAB members may also help plan and carry out events — for people their age, or for little kids — decorate the teen area in their libraries, or make a library-themed movie like this one.

TAB groups meet once a month.  Beginning June 1, 2011 TAB members must be at least 12 years of age, and  in the 7th through 12th grade or the equivalent. All TAB groups will be limited to 25 members.  Regular attendance is required; choose one group from the list below. If you are interested in joining TAB, complete an application form and give it to a teen librarian at your library.

Northside TAB-Dumbarton and North Park Libraries
East End TAB-Fairfield Library
West End TAB-Tuckahoe and Gayton Libraries
Northwest TAB-Twin Hickory and Glen Allen Libraries
Varina TAB-Varina and Sandston Libraries

Teen librarians look forward to seeing you online or at the library!
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