A little over a week ago, Vonette gave our grandson, Benjamin, a choice: The beach, the playground or the library. The 3-year-old, never at a loss for words didn’t waste any.
“The liberry,’’ he said cheerfully.
And so we drove from St. Simons to the Brunswick-Glynn County library where he played at the Lego table, worked a picture puzzle with an excavator in it, arranged magnetic shapes on a board and fed gauzy cloth squares into a vertical Plexiglas tube where a fan blew them out the top.
He had been to the library only once before, and that wind tunnel was among his favorite things in the children’s section. A few days after Benjamin’s visit, Mila Rose Seibert, 3, delightedly fed the scarves into the clear tube, sometimes all at once.
As her little sister, Ava Grace, crawled and tried to stand on her own, the girls’ mother, Sara, said they had moved to Brunswick from Florida and was sad to hear the fun would be lost for months.
“We just finally got our library card,’’ she said. Mila Rose loves playing games on the kids’ computers and story time is excellent.
The library will close August 18 for renovation and reopen Dec. 3, although with limited services and a limited collection.
I got a hint of that Monday when I checked out a book and saw a due date of Dec. 2 which is a long time considering I’m an average to fast reader. I never pause for a dictionary when the author throws in an Ivy League word or some French like Henry James often did. I just plow ahead.
As part of the renovation, part of the library’s space will be set aside as a conference area. The library can spare the space, I guess. The homeless who come in from the cold or the heat, depending on the season, can go to The Well, a day center down the street. The Well has been good for the library, director Geri Mullis told me. Sometimes, there are people who are strangers to soap and it can be hard to browse the shelves with watering eyes. At least the staff has a place they can recommend for a shower, she said.
I won’t comment on the city’s plans for a conference center. Nobody is listening to common sense, which I have in only limited supply.
As some people napped in the reading area, more than half of the three rows of public computers were taken.
During the renovation, the computers will be set up at the Boys and Girls Club at McIntyre Court, and some laptops will be added at the St. Simons branch.
Meanwhile, story time will be at the recreation center at Howard Coffin Park where Tuesday yoga will also be held.
I took yoga for awhile, and my back never felt better, but I was uncomfortable with that little thing the instructor said at the end. It wasn’t French, but I never looked it up. For all I know, I may have been endorsing a progressive candidate.
The library promises a “pop-up library” where books will be available for checkout at Brunswick’s First Fridays and other events.
“We’re bringing the books to you!’’ the library says.
Maybe a previous library director was wrong in permanently parking the bookmobile, but books are mobile anyway. The two-library Marshes of Glynn system is part of the statewide network and a book in circulation at one is available to all. A library card works anywhere in Georgia.
The St. Simons Island branch is a long haul for people living in northern Glynn County so Leila Yoder, children’s coordinator at the Ida Hilton Free Library in Darien offered, “If some of them want to come here...”
Ida Hilton was nearly empty at high noon, so she busily checked in books locals had requested from around the state. Others sat waiting for return to their far flung home shelves.
They don’t go via U.S. Mail, FedEx or UPS.
“Every region has a courier,’’ who travels to the neighbor regions. A book that comes from Rome to the coast will be relayed through a lot of couriers. You wonder how many miles Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road” has traveled via courier and how many times Hemingway’s “A Movable Feast” has been moved.
That may be a service some of us will use more regularly, because when the library reopens with less space and lower shelves, there can’t possibly be as much room for books. Collections around the state are shrinking because of a policy that old and worn books are retired. The public only wants pretty books, they think. I’m sorry, but that’s stupid because the dedicated reader cares about the contents. I’ve read some great classics that had been sturdily rebound. Librarians, it seems, do judge books by the cover.
Those who don’t want to wait for the courier can try the Friends of the Brunswick Library’s used book store, which stays pretty busy.
Joan Shinnick, wife of a former library director, was minding the store Monday, and warned a regular shopper, “You know we’re closing three months.”
“Noooo,’’ the woman answered.
Soon after, Joe Burkhart came in and began looking through paperbacks. He had recommended a book to a friend and was buying a copy for him. Finding it, he said, “This is probably the one I donated.”
The price was 50 cents, but he gave Shinnock a dollar and said keep the change.
Still, it was less than half a cent per tightly written page.
There’s a popular saying now that I doubt young Benjamin will ever use: I have no words.
That’s not always a bad thing. When some celebs say it on TV, I’m glad, because I have no interest in what they have to say anyway.
The library has a lot of books filled with words arranged phrases wise and silly, many of them worth quoting.
We’ll still have words when this construction is done, but I fear we won’t have nearly as many.
Terry Dickson has been a journalist in South Carolina and the Golden Isles for more than 40 years. He is a Glynn County resident. Contact him at email@example.com.