Friday, April 13, 2012

The Clarksville Library

With my love for reading and for libraries as repositories of things to read (specifically, books), it's no surprise that the local book-lending institution here, the Clarksville-Montgomery County Public Library, should be significant in my life. Indeed, of all the public buildings in Clarksville it's most likely the one in which I've spent the most time!

I remember the original facility; at least, it was the one I knew of during my first sojourn here. It was downtown on Main Street between Third and Fourth, and was small and overcrowded. It was decidedly "quaint".

In the late 1990s the former Harvey's department store in Montgomery Plaza off Madison Street got completely overhauled into a new library facility. This one was very spacious, with plenty of room for expanding the holdings. It had a computer lab for public use that carried programs that, while not as up-to-date as those of the library at Austin Peay State University, were certainly adequate for most of my needs. Ditto the electronic "card" catalog.

Indeed, when I moved from C'ville to San Antonio in 2002 and began patronizing the much larger city's library I found the Texan system to not be as user-friendly. But when I moved back to C'ville last year and resumed usage of the C-MCPL I found that the catalog and the computer lab programs were the same as they'd been a decade earlier. And again the adjective that often came to my mind by which to describe the local library was "quaint".

As of last Wednesday (4 April) this attitude changed. The local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) conducts occasional genealogy classes or workshops in the C-MCPL. One was the afternoon of the Fourth, and I attended it. Reference librarian Tim Pulley gave us a tour of the Brown Harvey Sr. Genealogy Room. I was impressed with the variety of materials in the room, which I had known only to contain volumes of Tennessee counties history, military records, a few family histories and microfilm rolls.

After the tour I returned to one end wall, which held bookshelves of genealogy-related and local history books from surrounding states. Since my Graham line goes back into Georgia I zeroed in on that set of tomes. I was wondering if they had anything about Pike County, adjacent counties or that area of the State, just south of Atlanta. (Yes, I'm talking "Gone with the Wind" or Tara territory.)

To my surprise and great delight, I found a large book (a couple inches thick!) of Pike County history! The Tennessee State Library and Archives in Nashville, where I work, offers one or two books about Pike County, and both together are not nearly as voluminous as this one at C-MCPL.

I suppose it's time to drop "quaint" as descriptive of Clarksville's library, don't you?