The Library and the Community

Pollard Memorial Library viewed from within the Pollard Memorial Library. Photo by Tony Sampas

Mimi Parseghian shares her thoughts on the Pollard Memorial Library which is closed indefinitely due to water damage from a burst pipe.

Hearing the news of the damage at Lowell’s Pollard Memorial Library was as if I heard a friend got into a bad car accident.  I know the injury is severe, and the rehabilitation may be painful and long but the library will return to its glory days.

In case you have not heard a pipe burst and damaged all three floors.  Currently the library is closed while the cleanup and repairs are taking place.  A satellite location is set up at the Senior Center. The City Manager has publicly stated that we will find the funds to refurbish the library.

For those who believe that the internet has diminished the role and needs for public library, you are wrong.  Pollard plays a major role in the educational life of Lowell residents.

Not everyone can afford an Amazon Prime account; a Netflix account; or an ITune account.  Not everyone has personal access to reference material.  Not everyone has a computer or a printer at home.

The library has books, films, music, and reference materials not only for those who can afford it but more importantly for those who cannot.  The library is another arm of public education. It is the most democratic institution in the City.

Established in 1844, the first city library supported completely by public funds in the United States, Lowell’s public library has seen another major setback such as the fire of 1915 but it always came back to life.  Its latest incarnation was the major renovation at the turn of the century, when the City allocated $10 million for this major restoration project. The library moved to an empty space on Middle Street and perhaps it was inconvenient for a while but it was well worth it.

Today’s library offers so many services in addition to lending books and audiovisual material.  They also have a large collection of newspapers, magazines, and reference books. Its website  gives you entrance to all of its unique, necessary and outstanding services and equipment: Low Vision Work Stations, Checkout Mobile Hotspots Devices, Public Computers, Book Club Kits, Citizenship Preparation Program, Printers, Adult Literacy Program, Study Rooms, a TDD machine, large print books, and interlibrary loans.

The first floor is devoted to the children’s section.  It is one of the busiest areas of the library.  And the third floor is the reference floor; my favorite room.  If you go there to do some work, be prepared to naval gaze.  There are grand murals that adorn the walls, high ceilings, and large windows, the place is peaceful and you are surrounded by books.

Of course, the Library has an app “BookMyne,” which allows you to manage your account, search the catalogue and download electronic content. You can also borrow audio books and e-books by using another app, “Libby, by OverDrive.”

And let’s not forget the Museum, Zoo, Aquarium, Parks Pass program.  At no charge or a for a reduced fee, you can borrow a “pass” to visit 13 major attractions in our area; such as the MFA, the Aquarium, Discovery Museum, Children’s Museum, the Zoo and many other places.  The funds for this program do not come from our tax dollars.  It is just one of the many beneficial aspects of a public library.

If you are interested in helping the Library recover and would like to make a donation, there are two groups that work towards raising funds for the Pollard Library: One if the Friends of the Pollard Memorial Library. It is a volunteer group that raises funds for library programs such as the museum pass, author program, movie night and genealogy workshop. They also sponsor the book sale.  Annual membership is $15 for families and $10 for adults.

The Pollard Library Foundation  is a 501(c)(3) organization that raises funds to supplement the Library budget.  Every spring they sponsor a lecture inviting popular and best-selling authors such as Andre Dubus III, BA Shapiro, Michael Tougias, and Chris Bohjalian.

For those of you do not have a library card or for those of you who have not recently been there, I would strongly suggest you visit the Library when it has its grand reopening.  You can then experience for yourself all the wonders of that institution.

6 Responses to The Library and the Community

  1. Sheila says:

    That is a well-loved vintage library card and it speaks volumes. Thank you, Mimi, for this tribute to a city treasure. Lowell won’t be whole until it reopens in its restored splendor.

  2. Chris jones says:

    What a wonderful post, Ms. Parseghian. I think you covered everything that is wonderful about the Pollard Library except for the sheer beauty of the building and all its artwork. I sometimes walk in to just experience the marble staircase, woodwork, vase, paintings…It’s all about how you perceive what is in front of you. To all the naysayers….the Pollard Library is one of the real standouts, besides City Hall, of all the beautiful buildings in Lowell. It’s worth keeping!!

  3. Gail says:

    Thank you for your comments on the library. The building its contents, and the services it provides are important to the community. Doesn’t the city library manage the library at the senior center, where it is providing temporary off-site services, such as library pass and book hold pick-up? There are a lot of services that are available to library card holders. For example, in MA if you have a library card in your local community, you can get a library card in a different community, such as Boston, which further expands your access to resources. I love Overdrive, one of the best inventions ever. You can download audiobooks to your smart phone, MP3 player, computer or tablet. I love listening to books on long drives or while doing chores. It makes both more enjoyable. The museum passes are provided by the Friends of the Library through their annual book sale, and it is a wonderful program.

  4. friend says:

    A great reminder of what a treasure and resource the Pollard is for all Lowell residents. I would like to also commend the librarians and other staff members for their dedication to the library and its mission. Thank you as well for mentioning the Friends and the Foundation. As someone involved with the former, I can add that the library is also a place to connect with and contribute to your community and to make new friends. We all look forward to the work to be completed and for us to all reconnect at the Pollard.