Built in 1960, the S. Walter Stewart branch has a pleasing interior openness to match the friendly round shape of the building. Near the checkout desk, circular shelves of videos and DVD’s echo the shape of a skylight above. Wooden beams in a radial pattern support the glass dome, and a blue band featuring the four compass points in gold letters circles the area below the dome. With such a classy setup, I imagine 18th-century dancers could glide about under the skylight with ease and grace, as long as they minded the re-shelving carts.
Along the periphery of the main floor are large open study stalls with wide desks between the brick partitions. The readers can gaze through expansive windows to the lawns and bungalows beyond. Tall and steady shelves of books in Chinese, Greek, Macedonian, and Serbian fan out behind the tables, as well as rows of fiction, non-fiction, and reference books.
The basement level seems equally shiny and appealing. The blue linoleum floor is embedded with moons, stars, and planets which lead the way to vending machines, a large auditorium, and a lively KidsStop complete with a rocket and enormous turnable letter blocks with pictures, text, and shapes.
The KidsStop room also has three original Barbara Reid plasticine illustrations that she made for Read Me a Book (2003). A giant copy of this book is attached to the wall, and as I flipped through it, I recalled the other original Reid pieces on display at Parliament Street and Oakwood Village Libraries.
From inside to outside, I love S. Walter Stewart’s architectural commitment to circles and arcs. The central atrium, shelving patterns, reading lounge, curved window bench in the Teens’ section, downstairs auditorium, and even the carpet design celebrate the circle and semi-circle. For me, these eternal shapes make for a very pleasing library experience indeed!