National Library Week ended last Saturday. This will not be the first time your humble typist will be accused of - allowing for inflation - being a week late and $10 short.
Besides, National Library Week was no sooner over than April Break Week started at the Attleboro Public Library, which scheduled extra attractions for local students on school vacation. And, uh, National Library Week was immediately preceded by Brain Building in Progress Week, when the APL put special emphasis on early childhood development. Whatever "week" it is, Attleboro's library is engaged in a celebration of reading and learning. Generally a quiet celebration, but celebration nonetheless.
I've been spending a few hours a week at the edifice at 74 North Main St. in connection with the items about the Town of Attleborough's transformation into the City of Attleboro that have been appearing in this newspaper under the heading "On the Road to Being a City." I don't know where to find a phone booth/time machine like Dr. Who's. I don't even know where to find a phone booth that doesn't double as a time machine. The APL's collection of editions of The Attleboro Sun from 1914 on microfilm is the next best thing for getting an idea what life was like when Attleboroeans were on the road to cityhood.
The Local History Room, where the microfilm and the microfilm reader are kept, is a busier place than you might imagine. I count myself lucky that I have only had to wait a couple of times for use of the single microfilm reader. At the same time, it's not exactly unlucky to have to wait, which gives reason to browse the stacks, continuing a love affair that started 60 years ago when then-children's librarian Edna Guillette issued my first library card and sent me home with a picture-book edition of "Wind In the Willows."
It hasn't, I regret, been a consistent love affair. Prior to the cityhood centennial-related visits, I hadn't visited in a couple of Christmases, since the one where Santa slipped a Kindle reader into my stocking and made book acquisitions an exercise for the fingertips.
But the Attleboro Public Library is more than a building; it's more even than the most beautiful public building in the city that library staff like to think it is. It's also a member of SAILS, a network of 40 school libraries in the southeast region, which greatly expands your book-borrowing power. And it's also, gasp, a website.
And www.attleborolibrary.org is worth a visit.
Especially if you've got a Kindle or other e-reader. Through SAILS's Overdrive program, you can borrow e-books just as you do paper books; the Attleboro Public Library is also a member of an Advantage program that makes additional titles available.
Especially if you've got kids. Downloadable TumbleBooks are likely to be a big hit with the younger ones. Older ones might want to take advantage of the free passes to a wealth of New England attractions, from the Boston Museum of Science to Pawtucket Red Sox games.
Especially if you're involved in research. If you want to get beneath the superficialities provided by Google and the like, try the Online Resources, a listing of online data bases available to APL patrons.
And that beautiful building is also a good place to go if you're looking for company. No less than seven book clubs meet there, as do a knitting group and audiences for a wide variety of talks.
National Library Week is a week behind us, as noted at the onset. But it's never too late to thank a librarian. And it's never too late to read and learn.
The research on the cityhood centennial is scheduled to be complete and published in mid-June.
The library played a role in the transformation, albeit an indirect one.
Critical to old Attleborough's metamorphosis to the City of Attleboro was the expectation that Harold E. Sweet would be elected the first mayor. Sweet was an executive of the R.F. Simmons Co., a member of the school committee and of the Attleboro High School building committee and one of Tufts University's most active alumni.
But no small part of his reputation came from his initiation of the fund-raising drive to get the Attleboro Public Library out of rented reading room space and into a building of its own. Joseph L. Sweet Memorial is engraved into the facade of the building as an honor to his father, the R.F. Simmons president and leader of the effort to create Sturdy Memorial Hospital, but I've never heard the building called anything but the Attleboro Public Library. This beautiful building is truly a place of the people.
MARK FLANAGAN is a retired Sun Chronicle editor.