The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

20 December 2006

And another one gone

Once again I tap Lileks for my opening:

Got an email today from a photo editor at the Fargo Forum; they wanted a copy of a picture I had on the old Fargo site. Nixon at the Public Library. I said Iíd try to find it. Incurious me, I didn't ask why — but tonight while googling for Fargo blogs I discovered the reason. The old library is closing. The old library will suffer the Ball and the Claw, and a new one will rise on the spot. Presumably they're getting the books out first. Itís a good idea, I suppose — the old library (built in 1967) was a perfect expression of library design at the time, and that's the problem. It had two wings of equal size — kids and adults — and this, as you might imagine, put a crimp on the grown-up collection. The building was two stories tall, but the rooms had only one floor, with a mysterious librarians-only mezzanine connecting the wings. (Mortals were not allowed up there.) The previous library was a cramped drafty Carnegie joint with clanking registers and creaky floors, and I'm sure they wanted the latest modern design for intellectual contemplation. White walls, stark black chunky letters, stainless steel fixtures — I tell you, it was like a lab from "The Andromeda Strain," and I loved it. All libraries are embassies, and this one represented a logical place ruled by benevolent rationality. All hail Dewey and his blessed decimals.

The shock of recognition hit me toward the end of the paragraph, for the most obvious of reasons: I've been there. I spent half a week in North Dakota during World Tour '04, and at least an hour of that time I spent combing through the Fargo Library, because it was there and because it looked interesting. I had, of course, no idea that it was Marked for Death.

The current Fargo library will close its doors for the last time Saturday. The city is spending serious money on Books 'N Stuff; a new storefront branch opened this past summer on the city's north side, and the storefront branch on the south side will be replaced by a new facility next year. As for the downtown library, it will be given a shot of explosives and will be replaced by something different. Maybe better, though Lileks isn't sure:

The new one, I expect, will be Fun and Engaging and a Vital Part of the Community, and Iím certain books will always be involved. But Iíll miss [the old one].

We did okay here in Oklahoma City when we replaced our old Stern Institutional Facility with this neat place. And now I have an excuse to go back to North Dakota some day.

Posted at 11:41 AM to Almost Yogurt