Friday, February 8, 2008

Library Profile: Noyes Library for Young Children

Wizards Wireless is proud to feature a guest post about the Noyes Library for Young Children. Thanks to Candice Ransom of Ellsworth's Journal for her lovely post about one of my very favorite libraries. One word of caution if you're planning on visiting: the library is only open three days a week, so be sure to check the hours before stopping by.

Without further ado, here's Candice's post:

In the mid-1970s, I was living in Maryland, working as a secretary, and trying to become a famous children’s book writer. As a native Virginian, Maryland felt alien to me (they had sidewalks!) I was an efficient but surly secretary—efficient because it’s my nature, surly because the famous children’s writer goal eluded me. Libraries were my salvation.

On my lunch hour, I bolted a sandwich in the parking lot of the Greenbelt library in Prince George’s County. Inside, I sat at a table in the children’s room, scribbling articles for children’s magazines. My first ever sale was written in the library, a one-page piece called “The Memory Box” that Highlights for Children bought for a whopping $50. To my knowledge, the article has never been published.

Closer to home, I browsed the children’s room of the Kensington Park branch of the Montgomery County public library system. One day I was driving around, lost in my own neighborhood (probably dazzled by all those sidewalks) when I stumbled on a tiny scrap of a library. Shaded by a welcoming sycamore tree, the little beige building stood alone on a triangular wedge of land, surrounded by turreted Victorian houses. The old-fashioned sign above the door sported a carved owl and the words “Noyes Library.”

I opened the door...

and, Alice in Wonderland style, tumbled into a single room lined with short bookcases jammed with picture books.

A rocking chair with a comfy cushion beckoned me to quit trying so hard to be a famous children’s writer, sit down and read. On my knees I examined the well-used books and discovered forgotten favorites: Ping, Make Way for Ducklings, The Little House.

The Noyes Library for Young Children, I learned, was built in 1893, the first library in the county. Later, the one-room library was dedicated to the needs of preschoolers through third graders. The Noyes Library is designated a historic landmark, though it was slated to be closed in the early 1990s. The powers-that-be somehow came to their senses and kept the library open.

One of my wilder dreams is to build a gingerbread dolls’ house of a library just for young children. I even have plans that I peruse every so often. I will fill my library with picture books and stuffed animals and reading nooks in the window seats, throw in a couple of library cats for added coziness. Then I’ll sit on the rug with lots of little children and we’ll happily leaf through picture books.

Until then, I’m glad to know the child-sized Noyes Library gives young readers a room of their own, a place where they can enjoy books quietly and peacefully.

Thank you, Candice!

This post is part of the Wizards Wireless series of library and bookstore profiles. If you'd be willing to write a post about a library with a great children's department or a terrific independent bookstore that specializes in children's books, I'd love to feature it on my blog. See this post for more details about my search for guest bloggers.


  1. What a cozy and adorable library! I would love to work somewhere like this.

  2. Well, what do you know! A classmate and I co-wrote a paper on the Noyes Library for our "baby reference" class. (We went to Catholic University for library school and called the core 500 classes "baby reference," "baby cataloging," etc.)

  3. Lisa- it really is a cozy library. If you're ever in this neck of the woods, it's worth a visit.

    Alkelda- you went to Catholic for library school? I wish I'd met you when you were local!