Public Square

Julia Ideson Library

A Part of the Houston Public Library

As a child, my Mother would often take me and my sisters to the public library; it was of course an inexpensive diversion, but it was also the place where her endless curiosities could be addressed. I do not remember her ever saying “you can only check out one book” instead it was more along the lines of “we have arrived at a smorgasbord – go, enjoy, conquer!”

My parents both loved books; I not only love books, but I love where and how they are housed – I love libraries! Too often, when we venture to unknown parts and explore new cities offerings, we do not think to step away from monuments, amusement parks, and natural wonders and into a library; but strolling through a cities library is a wonderful way to peer into the cities soul.

I remember coming across the Los Angeles Central Library, in downtown, on one of my walks, and gingerly venturing into it, almost as if I was stepping inside a cathedral. The exterior architecture superbly sublime, beckoning me up the steps and into its sanctuary, awed by the splendor, I felt a desire to touch everything in sight, because I do so love to touch the world that I am seeing, but also a longing to absorb the words the magnificent building housed.

I often stop at contemporary libraries, on my travels, to inquire about friends of library type book sales; but I also love finding a city’s first, historic, or main library. In Houston, I happened upon the Julia Ideson Library, named after the first head librarian of the Houston Public Library, which houses a copy of Don Quixote, from 1615, and a first edition of Moby Dick, as well as many other rare books and manuscripts, photographs, maps, and architectural drawings, many of course, focused on Texas, in general and Houston specifically.

As I walked through this building, absorbed in its Spanish Revival architecture, imagining a life for it, before its 1926 opening, thus sheer fantasy, on my part, I felt quite grateful to be able to step back in time, with such grandeur, surrounded by history, literature and art – what a perfect afternoon!

I so recommend adding a stop at the library to your venture, whether it is in a new city to you or your home town, you will not regret it.

So inviting

I cannot possibly do this splendid carved celling justice – I believe those are magnolias

Look at the details

Go on in, you will be welcomed

I appreciate public art

There are many displays worth stopping to explore

Feel free to investigate

This building replaced one donated by Andrew Carnegie; the corner stone has been saved and is on display.

Recently, I heard I’m Walking on Sunshine in Spanish, for the first time, and as I listened to the familiar tune, my memories floated back to Paris, and going into the Pompidou Center, with Peter and John, and strolling through her stacks – I remembered John listening to I’m Walking on Sunshine, on headphones, in Paris, in the library – go to the library and make a memory that will last a life time!

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