In May 1961, the then-new Central Library opened for business on Quincy Street, near the intersection with Fairfax Drive (the two and two-tenths acres had several previous owners such as Horatio Ball).
The library could hold 100,000 volumes, although, at the time of opening, the library could only fill one-third of the shelves. Central staff for the financial year 1961-1962 was 23.
The headline project for the Children's section of Central Library was the Summer Reading Club. The theme for the summer of 1961, when the photograph above was taken, was "Diving for Books". Four branches, including Central, participated in the program and signed up 607 children who collectively read 1,792 books. According to the 1961-1962 Annual Report, 234 participants received achievement cards for reading six or more books. This program was augmented by film programs and storytimes for preschoolers, and an initial visit from a group of physically disabled children from the Edison School. This visit to Central reaffirmed the library's commitment to serve all Arlingtonians. There were even spontaneous carpools organized by parents and teachers to bring children to the library throughout the summer.
Many of the children's library activities from 1961 are mirrored in today's programs. The Get Caught Reading program has been in place for several summers and has been expanded to include adults as well. For the summer of 2007, there has been a spotlight on the upcoming release of the last Harry Potter novel. There are special programs beyond just storytime for all children such as magicians and science programs, and all libraries participate. For over 45 years, Arlington libraries have helped spread summer reading fever!!!
What about you?
Did you participate in a library summer reading program as a child? What about the old Central Library? Let us know what you remember!
Before Central was built, I used the Clarendon Library, [I think it was next door to the bowling ally, which had duck pins!]. It was a small library, but a great place to go curl up in a window seat and read for hours. Susan Clay [firstname.lastname@example.org]